Because I don’t like posting about myself unless it has a greater purpose, today’s agenda is two-fold: to provide a cancer update and to look at the worthiness of short cycles of training. As you might have noticed, my blog is transitioning back to “normal”, meaning everything’s not just about cancer. This will hurt my numbers, as cancer is ridiculously popular for some reason, but help me feel the we’re not losing site of what’s it’s about: fitness, adventures, and weird antics that might (or might not) connect them. Not that it isn’t about cancer but there is more to life. This is true even when you have cancer. Allowing it to fully take over everything you do unless it’s absolutely necessary is a huge mistake. You’ve got to go on living as if it wasn’t there. Give it the attention is needs, and no more. Beyond that and you’re wallowing, which I’m pretty sure any psychologist will tell you reverse progression.
So, anyway, let’s get into short cycles of training and whether or not they are effective. The Specificity of Adaptation is the primary principle of which almost all training is based around. According to it, your body needs at least three weeks in order to go through a proper periodizational “peak” in which you benefit from training. Basically your body adapts to the stresses of training, which is a short period of getting worse before you get better, followed by a “growth” period where you make accelerated gains. Short cycles are defined as anything under three weeks, which basically means you don’t have time to utilize your body’s adaptation response fully. To end the suspense, they can be effective (I wouldn’t be writing this if not) but they do require strategy. Getting after it like a headless chicken will lead to too much breakdown and regression, so my case here should be particularly useful since doing too much is more of a likelihood than possibility.
As for the cancer part of this post, I’m about to embark on a short cycle of training and goal prior to my final nuking, (aka high dose chemo and stem cell transplant). The reason is that I got an infection, which affected by recovery after my four rounds of HyperCVAD. With no immune system to fight with, my lung function dropped to 57% of normal. I couldn’t go straight into transplant so I’ve time to recover. I’m looking at a couple more weeks, and am recovering well enough that things are getting strong enough to properly train, so I’ve given myself a pre-transplant fitness goal of sending two old routes of mine before I go in. I tried them recently, and got killed, but I think I can gain enough fitness with a short cycle to make them happen–of course that remains to be seen, so there still is some suspense here after all. Here they are, in an old vid where they were warm-ups, with Beata–miss her!
Hmm, perhaps my grading is a tad off. I flashed ever V3 in the gym last night and couldn’t touch any of these, even the V2, after much work. Given I’m the only one who climbs here I guess it doesn’t matter.
Also, more importantly, is that I want to go into transplant as fit as I absolutely can be. I’ve regressed through my rounds of chemo (of course) and the more I can get back the quicker I’ll recover. On the flip side, it’s absolutely vital that I don’t overdo it and go in overtrained. That could not only slow recovery but be dangerous, since high dose chemo puts your body on its limit by design. So this should be a nice test of what a short cycle can do.
I’ve written about this before, likely many times, over the years. Here’s an old article on both using P90X to train for skiing and how to set up a short cycle of training.
and here’s blog post about setting up short cycles of training or climbing. This also references Steve Maisch’s blog, which is super useful.
Today we have another template to use because I’m deconditioned to the point where those schedules are too much. As those who watch my F/B page have seen, my fitness level blows to the point I had a “Lance Armstrong moment” of chemo where I got passed on a trail by some very unfit looking people (something he cited in his book It’s Not About The Bike). Though I’m fitter now than then (during my last chemo cycle) I did a complete fitness test and would say the 57% lung function is higher than many of my strength parameters. Post transplant I’ll be even lower, which is why going in as high as possible matters.
Let’s look at a few short cycle rules before I carve out what I’ll be doing.
#1 – Don’t over-reach/train. Your body’s fast twitch and “emergency” muscle fibers are easily broken down. If you go too hard out of the gate you’ll break them down and, in cases of total breakdown, they take about two weeks to recover. One hard workout can blow an entire short cycle. In fact, I did some Kundalini yoga a week ago (this is easy) and went too hard and was sore for a week! Yep, I’m in bad shape.
#2 – Get stronger each workout. Start slow but increase the load every single workout based on how you did. You don’t have much time so this is key. You must learn to read your body’s response time, which will increase quickly as you get fitter (if you don’t overdo it) and utilize that. A good way to gauge this is by looking for shaking, drop in muscle coordination, or any type of breakdown that forces you to hyper focus. When you’re fit there are times when you want to push through this to some degree. Getting weaker in order to get stronger is vital in long training cycles. This is NOT that time. No matter what you have on the agenda you go through your entire workout looking for signals to shut things down.
#3 – Nail your nutrition. Kind of a duh moment but often, when training hard, you allow yourself some indulgence to ensure that you have plenty of nutrients, worrying about things like weight loss/fighting weight to come later. With short term goals you can’t do that. In my case, however, I also need to address transplant, and I’ll want to go into that with some extra reserve. This means my fighting weight can/should be higher than I’d normally want it but I’ll still want my nutrition to be as healthy as possible, since eating during chemo (I’ll get to this in another post) isn’t always very healthy and getting chemo certainly isn’t.
#4- Don’t skimp on anything about recovery. Nutrition, sleep, and recovery modalities are the absolute keys to a successful short cycle. The faster you recovery the quicker you can increase your workloads and the faster you’ll get strength. Because my ability to recovery is diminished, recovery “training” during this cycle will greatly exceed actual training. I’m kind of an extreme example because my fitness was so high at one point, meaning I can do a lot of damage by going really hard compared to someone who has never been fit, but it’s a solid template for any short cycle. You can’t spend infinite time training but you really can’t do too much active recovery (unless it’s too hard). What I’ll be doing, besides the normal stretching/restorative/stability stuff, is a lot of breathing exercises, which I may go into if my numbers come back quickly (testing new protocols so I don’t want to post unless they work).
The Schedule – which as you should get from the above is subject to change daily.
Daily exercise, not in schedule, includes morning breath and mobility work, including some Kundalini yoga (which focuses on natural functions of the body, breathing, organ function, mobility, etc). Everyday includes “dog cardio”, which varies in intensity and length but is based on how I’m feeling. Some days might be three hour uphill hikes while others are just walks to the park and ball throwing. Night includes restorative yoga and light core work.
Day 1 – Easy bouldering followed by 1 set of 6 reps on finger board (10s at limit every 2 minutes) and specific core work.
Day 2 – core/mobility/recovery work
Day 3 – Slightly harder bouldering followed by 2 set of 6 reps on finger board (10s at limit every 2 minutes), core & body tension work.
Day 4 – ARC Training (recovery bouldering), followed by fully body endurance training (30 reps but not to failure).
Day 5 – core/mobility/recovery work
Day 6 – Slightly harder bouldering followed by 3 set of 6 reps on finger board (10s at limit every 2 minutes), core & body tension work.
Day 7 – ARC Training (recovery bouldering), followed by fully body endurance training (30 reps but not to failure).
Day 8 – SCC core/mobility/recovery work
Day 9 – SCC core/mobility/recovery work
Day 10 – SCC? – Slightly harder bouldering followed by 2 to 4 (based on feel) set of 6 reps on finger board (10s at limit every 2 minutes), core & body tension work.
Day 11 – SCC? – ARC Training (recovery bouldering), followed by fully body endurance training (30 reps but not to failure).
Day 12 – SCC? – Rest
Day 13 – Project weekend
Day 14 – Project weekend
NOTES – SCC is stem cell collection, which could affect training. There may be more time at the end so progression will be based on feel. Project attempts are, of course, weather dependent and we’re hoping for bad conditions. We need snow.
pic: finn and iris ready to spot me on pain don’t hurt