RUNNING WITH CANCER: A Survivor’s Guide to Marathon Training

Posted on May 23, 2023, by

By: Susan Christel, certified instructor for LIVESTRONG at the YMCA

There is strong evidence that moderate-intensity aerobic training and/or resistance exercise during and after cancer treatment can be beneficial in reducing anxiety, depressive symptoms and fatigue and can improve health-related quality of life and physical function.

That’s why running continues to be a popular venue among cancer survivors, many of whom set goals to get themselves moving or to keep moving, despite health challenges.

Before beginning any new exercise or training regime, you should be cleared for exercise by your healthcare provider. But for beginners, or those resuming a routine, training can be overwhelming. But if you do it right it’s very attainable. Here are six tips to get you started

1. Start Slow

Run at your own pace. If you start too fast you won’t last long, and you could injure yourself. Slow and steady in the beginning will allow you to pick up the pace later and help you run longer distances.

2. Proper Equipment

You may not think runners have “equipment,” but proper shoes and clothing will prove helpful. The best way to find the perfect shoe is to go to a specialty running store. And don’t forget the sweat-wicking socks to help prevent blisters!

3. Consistency

Running at a time that fits your schedule can help you stay consistent and less likely to skip it altogether. Finding a running buddy can also help with consistency and accountability and it’ll make the time go much faster!

4. The Right Motivation

Using upbeat music and having a playlist that coincides with how you want to run can help you stay motivated and on track with your pace. Don’t be afraid to walk during your run. This can help you mentally and physically and may allow you to run faster towards the end.

5. Cross Training

Incorporating strength training is also key to help build speed, maintain strength and help stay injury free.

6. Fuel Your Body

And fueling your body with the right carbohydrates will give you the right energy to keep going and achieve your running goals.

If you are surviving cancer and looking for an activity that will improve your mental and physical health, running is a great option. If you’re not sure where to start, the YMCA of the Fox Cities is a great resource. Did you know the Y has a program for cancer survivors called LIVESTRONG at the YMCA®? This is a physical activity and well-being program designed to help adult cancer survivors achieve their holistic health goals. To learn more about the LIVESTRONG visit

Susan Christel has been a certified LIVESTRONG at the YMCA instructor and supervisor since its inception in 2011. She has been in the fitness industry and a runner for over 30 years, completing 3 half marathons. Susan is committed to teaching and motivating people to be the best they can be through the various aspects of fitness: body, mind and spirit. For more information on LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, visit the YMCA of the Fox Cities website at

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.