Guest Blogger: Melanie Bowen + exercise and cancer

cancer_more than ribbonLiving with cancer can be one of the most difficult things that you do in life. You might be wondering about your future and what you can do in order to feel better each day. The truth is that exercise and a healthy lifestyle can be wonderful options for just about any cancer patient. It does not matter if you were recently diagnosed, undergoing treatment or are in remission, exercise is still a great way to improve the quality of your life. There are a few ways that exercise can accomplish this for anyone who’s suffering from mesothelioma, breast cancer, or any other type of cancer.

Exercise helps you both physically and emotionally. Physically, exercise helps to provide you with more energy and releases feel-good endorphins into the body. If you can remember that great feeling you got after your last workout, just imagine that feeling being incorporated into your daily life and the impact it will have on you during treatment. As a cancer patient, you may be dealing with anger, depression and sadness. Exercise can help you to feel more alive and energetic when things around you seem glum.

When it comes to the emotional aspect of exercise, it is easy to see the benefits that it can have for you. For one, just getting away from your everyday surroundings is a way to feel better in general. Whether you decide to join a local gym or just make regular trips to the park, it is easy to see why so many people exercise every single day, whether they have cancer or not.

As always, you should speak with a health professional before you begin an exercise regimen. Your doctor will be able to tell you how much exercise is enough for you considering your current state of health. This will help tremendously when it comes to helping you get the best out of your daily routine, especially during treatment. Exercise is healthy for just about anyone of any age, so incorporating it into your everyday schedule is a fantastic thing for when you’re undergoing cancer treatment or are even in remission. You will find that the benefits you reap from exercise help tremendously when it comes to your physical strength and your ability to feel better about your situation. Speaking with a knowledgeable health professional will help you to determine what is right for you when it comes to an exercise schedule.

Melanie Bowen 

Day 115: 5km run through #GlenmoreReservoir with Wedgie a.k.a. Sunday-Funday-Runday

asics best running socksToday was my first day back pounding pavement – it was tough! I knew it would be and that I’d probably have a hard time motivating myself to get out, stay out and finish, so naturally I called on my great friend and running buddy, Susan (a.k.a Wedgie). She obliged (thankfully.) I bought a pair of Asics socks last week, anticipating that I’d get to try them out for a long run. However, when I got sick they just sat in the drawer so this morning I pulled them out, put them on and laced up. They were fantastic! They’re not the typical ankle style (as you can see.) They stayed dry, breathed and didn’t let my foot move around in the shoe. The best part: NO blisters! YAHOO!

running buddies!We hit the trail at around 10:30 a.m. It was snow covered, slippery and cold out there but we had a great run and finished very strong. Our pace was good and consistent and faster that it usually is when we pair up! I’m still a little bit congested, so my breathing was the hardest thing to keep consistent, but I’m glad I held off all week and didn’t push myself because I think it would have been to my detriment. We had lots of laughs, saw many faces as people were out walking, running, skiing. Oh and I was lunged at by a dog – side note: did not have my glasses on and wasn’t sure if it was a full-grown, medium sized dog or a puppy, turned out to be a “puppy”. It was so bizarre. The guy was just waiting at the gates with his dog, watching us come along from several hundred metres back. He didn’t move and was definitely trying training him to stay. Dog failed. I nearly peed my pants. Thank you for making us part of your lesson!

Anyway, it felt so nice to get back and especially doing so with a friend. Thanks for coming out, Sue!

Here are todays stats:runkeeper

  • Distance: 5.02
  • Time: 33:40
  • Pace: 6:42
  • Best Pace: 5:50

Day 77: #Speed training at the track. Ouch.

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” -Ken Doherty

Tonight was speed training at the indoor track because it was way too slippery outside. I’m not much of an indoor runner (as you know) for a few reasons: (1) it’s boring, (2) I feel like people stare and (3) it’s too stuffy. I do find a huge difference running on the rubberized floor though, my knees are thanking me rather than hating on me this evening. However, my quads are still incredibly sore from TRX the other evening. No joke. I’m still bracing to go down and up stairs, as well as sitting (first time I have ever wished I had those senior handles in the loo). But the stubborn person that I am, I cannot bare the thought of losing another day of training so I felt like powering through it. Not going to lie, literally half-way through I was almost ready to quit.

The internal struggle:

“Don’t be silly Kat, no one else would continue in this pain. Quit. You have blisters on your feet. Your quads are burning. Your chest is burning. You’re red and sweaty.QUIT!vs. “You can do this. You’re half-way done. Everyone else has had awesome runs this week, join them. Dig deep. Take a break if you have to, but DON’T QUIT!!“.

So, I grabbed a quick drink of water and hopped back on the track. And then when I had about six minutes left I took another break to stretch. I didn’t quit.

In total, I did ten minutes of sprinting and twenty minutes of regular pace running. So the intervals were one minute sprint, two minutes regular running (sometimes slow). I have absolutely no idea how many laps I completed, but I didn’t really care this time I was just thrilled to finish. I felt really good for the first 15 minutes, but it took a lot of willpower to continue the sprinting once I hit the halfway mark. I am proud to say that I finished on a sprint interval and finished strong. I took a half lap around the track just walking – my legs felt like rubber! It reminded me of the days when we would be training for basketball and had to do suicide after suicide after suicide (without the throwing up afterward). I wouldn’t say it was completely miserable because I actually felt like I showed the track who was boss but I would say that I’d take hill training over speed. Nuff said.

To cool down was some yoga and of course, planks. I did lots of stretching and drank lots of water and now I’m just relaxing in front of the tube.

Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday out there!

Day 64: Six miles. It’s no marathon but it’s a start!

Today was the longest distance I have done in a very long time – six miles, also known as 9.6 kilometres! Generally for a distance this long I would never complete it on a treadmill, but since we’re still in Invermere I decided that I’d rather be safe than sorry and went down to the gym.I can’t say I hated every minute, but from mile 1.5 onward I wasn’t really enjoying myself. It was hot, my legs were warm and I was sweating like a pig! I really wanted to keep my time under sixty minutes, but it didn’t happen. However, I’m convinced I could go faster outside; I just found the treadmill so boring.

I kept my pace at a speed of 5.7 (10:30 min per mile) and 6 (10:00 min per mile). For the last fifteen minutes I started my speed at 5.4 and increased it by 2 every 2 minutes or so. I was eventually ran at 7.5 speed. I tried to be consistent, but to be honest there were times I just wanted a break and walk!! (but I didn’t, I kept going).What kept me going was thinking of Martin Parnell. Remember that guy from Cochrane, Alberta who ran 250 marathons in one year to raise money/awareness for Right to Play? He started running when he was 47 years old. He wrote a book called, “One foot in front of the other” – you should check it out! Anyway, I figured, what the heck is six miles compared to a frigging marathon on a daily basis??

Anyway, I finished my six miles in 61:25. I wish I could have shaved that darn 1:25 off, but I know I can get faster if I just work at it. When I finished the run I did a little weight training and yoga. I am so ready to resume the rest of Sunday watching thriller movies to celebrate Halloween.

Hope everyone is having a splendid weekend! And wherever you are in the world: stay warm. cool, dry and happy!



Day 57: 8km. Snow. Bah.

It feels like forever since I’ve written a blog, but it’s only been a few days. We flew back to Alberta on Thursday. The flights were terrific and F was a little superstar. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail about the trip itself, because it’s not running related but I do want to share something from a fellow I met on the plane. I won’t share names but this fellow doesn’t fly much. In fact, the flight he was taking was the first leg in a trip west in order to find work to support a wife and six (6) kids! What struck me about him was his friendly demeanour and humble personality. He was so kind to both myself and my son – a typical Cape Bretoner. He didn’t mind that F kept leaning across him, playing with his TV buttons or screeching every now and then. He was unbelievably patient and for any of you with kids, I know you’ll understand just how much this was appreciated as I was travelling alone.

During the two and a half hour flight we shared many stories. In there, he told me about his daughter who had been a double kidney transplant recipient at the age of nine; how they didn’t know she was even sick until she went into renal failure; that the fact that she is 14 and healthy (5 years post transplant) is a miracle. And that he has another child with special needs who requires special care. Never once did he complain about the cards they were dealt. In fact, when we talked about the sacrifices of moving west he spoke about his resolve to work as much as he could so his family could stay in Cape Breton. Yet, despite his determination and working sixty hours (plus) a week they could barely make ends meet. And this is where I want everyone to pay close attention: He smiled lots and said:“That’s life. When you think that things are bad, thank God that you have healthy kids because there’s nothing worse than spending each day at your child’s bedside praying to God that she gets better.” Needless to say, I walked away from the flight totally inspired. And I know the chances of him ever seeing this blog are slim to none (as he claimed he wasn’t really much of a computer person) but I owe him a big thank you. He put life into perspective; and there are many people who could stand to spend a couple hours with someone of his integrity and resolve. I’m just glad that I got to.

Anyway, back to what I’m supposed to be writing about. Before I went to bed last night I thought I would be organized and lay out my running clothes for today. Of course, yesterday wasn’t a cool day at all so I just assumed (wrongly) that today wouldn’t be any different. DUH! This is Alberta, the weather changes from minute to minute. I woke up this morning, lazed around and watched a movie all without realizing it was snowing out! I have to admit, as soon as I saw the white stuff I thought there was no way I was going to push myself to the door. However, with some heckling from the peanut gallery (P) I went out at 5’ish (I had initially planned to run at 9 am).

The run itself was awful. I did not want to be running. My legs felt like cinder blocks. Every step took an incredible amount of effort. And to boot, due to the snow and leaves the sidewalks were nasty. My time was slower. Oh and as I approached the 3 km mark, a woman walking her socially inept dog just let him lunge at me. And said “Oh! Sorry!”  And truth be told, I wouldn’t have been annoyed except that I saw her coming from a kilometre back and it was very evident that the dog was walking her (it was a bigger dog, looked like a shepherd mix of some type.) There was nowhere for me to go, so I kept going. Then about 2 km further I met a guy running with his muzzled dog. The two of them took up the sidewalk and he refused to follow general etiquette of staying to the right, so I had to hop out into the street with cars at my back (what a gentleman, eh?)

And as I felt my skin go crimson with rage (hah) the words from my seat mate on my flight back west came back to me –  don’t complain. You have nothing to complain about. And so I started to feel like a jerk. So I believe I’m just grouchy because I miss Cape Breton and my family, I loved most of my runs there and it’s hard to get back into the swing of things here. BUT I have no reason to complain, so I’ll just zip it because tomorrow is another day and another run. YAHOO!

Here are todays stats:

  • Distance: 8.02 km
  • Time: 48:32
  • Pace: 6:03 min/km
  • Best Pace: 4:14