Climbing the mountain or "4 weeks to 80% cardio"

I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago, but have been holding onto it. This was written after my 3rd treatment.

We love to put challenges out for our members. Opening a gym is easy. You rent a big space, put some stuff in it to train people and start kicking ass. Creating a community is harder. Changing people is harder-er. And getting people to believe in themselves is the hardest.

We have a great community that encourages personal growth through consistent challenges at KDR. We are always having member contests/challenges as well as getting people to do their “first” of something.

I did my first KB competition!

I ran my first marathon!

I did my first Tough Mudder or Spartan Race!

I did my first pull up!

I did my first powerlifting competition!

We never push competitions on our members, we just offer the challenges and encourage them to do it with our support.

This past weekend we had a competition kettlebell clinic for some of our members that will be doing their first KB competition at Seacoast KB in two months. I was feeling good so I went in to help Jamie teach it.

5 minutes in to coaching and demoing the movements with an 8 kg bell (about 15 pounds) I was breathing like I just did a 20 minute sprint work out! It blew me away. I usually can coach and demo the same concepts and movements with a 20 KG bell (about 45 pounds, almost 3 times what I did on Saturday that kicked my ass!) with out being out of breath at all.

But…ya know…the whole cancer thing and all.

I was embarrassed a little bit, but then I thought, “Hey…I am here doing this right now, that’s good enough for me.” But it made me reflect a little bit. That was a great example of how far I have fallen in the last 4 months.

Then we went to visit some friends in Vermont after the class. They live on the side of the mountain and ever since the “C” hit, I feel much better when I am outside. So we went on a hike. Let me set the stage for you.

There was:

Jon – my longest best friend, 37-year-old, hadn’t exercised in two years.

Missy – Jon’s wife carrying their 16 month old the entire time. Way to go Jon. She just started doing a kick boxing class. I was blown away by Missy.

Paul – a very good friend of mine who is a PTA and is married to Kristin. I wouldn’t say he’s a stud, but raising three kids on the side of a mountain in rural Vermont means he gets a lot of activity. So compared to me…he’s a stud…right now ;) Paul carried his 12 month old the entire time.

Kristin – Paul’s wife, another one of my longest best friends. She just started training for her first mud run, so her conditioning is pretty good when you consider their lifestyle and that fact.

Reese and Declan – Paul and Kristin’s kids, 8 and 5 respectively.

Jamie – Voted one of America’s Hottest Personal Trainers by Shape magazine and my squeeze!

Me – currently going through chemo, used to be a fitness stud. Now…walking and talking kills me.

FYI: Missy and Kristin weigh about the same – 110-115ish, but Missy carried their daughter, Alex, the entire time in some kind of awful carrying contraption that was in no way made for hiking. The bio mechanist in me cringed whenever I looked at her.

This is what paul used. Decent ergonomics, good placement, ideal for a hike.

It was a pretty mild hike when you consider that two people were carrying about 20 lbs each and we had a 5 and 8 year old. But…it was me that made everyone stop. Not slow down. STOP.

As in, hand on my knees, sucking wind, panting…stop.

This is what Missy had. Kind of. Very fashionable. not ideal for a hike.

FYI - IMO, the best type of pack for hiking is a back loaded pack. From a load standpoint it just makes more sense as having a weight in front you can really screw up your balance. Plus...if you fall and your kid is in front of you that's just wrong.

I used to run up Mt. Cardigan - for my non-local peeps, it’s a mountain close by. Not like an Everest or something, but still a pretty good mountain that would take us casually hiking, about 60 minutes to get to the top. For reference - I could run up that mountain and back down in under 60 minutes when we are in training mode for obstacle course races.

I am a big fan of hiking, in fact while I was working on this post this article came up into my newsfeed.

Read up and get educated! I think everyone should go for at least one 90 minute hike per month or a total of 90 minutes per week. That's only about 15 minutes of hiking per day people! (I am still working my way up to that).

Below is a video that I absolutely love because it really appeals to the above article, specifically the kids part and because I think in New England we are gifted with just so much great and challenging terrain to exploit!

This is a great video, not because Jamie loses to Kristin in an up hill sprint (I think Jamie was slacking off a bit plus she carried Declan for a while and did some hill sprints before this...with the Declan on her back), but because if you watch it all the way through Declan finishes with a big smile on his face. How many people (let alone kids!) do you know finish sprinting up a hill with a smile on their face?

That's how exercise should make us feel. GOOD! HAPPY! ACCOMPLISHED! If you don't leave a work out feeling better then you did when you came in then there's one of three things going on (or maybe all of them!):

1. Your working out too hard. Yes...that's a thing.

2. Your working out for the wrong reasons. A work out should be something you look forward to...not a chore.

3. Your in pain and need a break.

If your smiling on the inside and grieving on the outside...I'll take that!

But, I digress...

The hike made me really reflect on two things:

  1. How far I have fallen.

  2. When someone comes in and says “I just want to be able to hang with my kids, play games with them and go for hikes with out getting winded” – I know exactly how they feel.

Thankfully I understand that to get back to where I was it will not take as long as most people think. In fact, 80% of your cardiovascular gains can be acquired in 4-8 weeks. Someone that gets winded walking up a flight of stairs will see an improvement in the first week. By weeks two to three they can generally walk up the stairs with out breathing hard. By week four – they can run up the stairs.

If you want to read more about this concept, check out this blog post.

So even though I know that in 2 months TOPS of being done with chemo I will be back to 80% of where I was before I started it…it still sucks.

But, I can now relate a lot better to someone that says “I just want energy to play with my kids”. I feel you Betty. I am in the same boat. Rest assured, give us 2 months and you will be a totally different person.

I am going to leave you with two pictures, one of nature...because you probably don't get out side enough to enjoy how beautiful it is.

And one of the feast I cooked for everyone the next morning! In all honesty if we did more feasting with friends and less nibbling alone we would all be happier and healtheir!

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