I’m going to tell you a wild story. I have permission and this person is actually rather public about it. It’s one of those things that makes me love that I do what I do. Being close to these stories really helps one appreciate life.
Over the course of this year I’ve had the privilege of working with Mr. Brad White. He is a triathlete and as I’ve gotten to know triathletes over the years - we’ve gained quite a few at GHP - he is also a very hard worker. One of those athletes that has to be reminded to not do too much.
And to swim.
All you triathletes who were runners and bikers first seem to neglect swimming. You know who you are.
And that’s how Brad got into triathlons, by way of biking. He started biking at 30 which led to Ironman’s. Ironman’s are one of the most challenging endurance events on the planet.
Triathlons of all types are very hard. Ironman’s border impossible for many people.
Biking also led to the greatest challenge of his life that went to test if his will was as strong as the Ironman required.
He was in a biking accident summer of 2020 and suffered a traumatic brain injury that led him to be in a coma. He was in the hospital for over 3 months.
His milestones at the time were being able to follow his family in a room with his eyes. It was a celebration when he was able to speak. Make jokes. Stand. Go home.
The man has Iron will and has had a physical recovery over the last 22 months that doctors find remarkable.
I mean think, he’s training to go back to Ironman’s not even 2 years from a TBI. I should just end the story there because that’s just simply amazing.
But the sport scientist in me will tell you my personal glimpse of Brad’s perseverance.
So, with a TBI, the brain got really jacked up. Like I said, even being able to speak again was a feat. The regions of the brain that control speech needed to work, and the nerves that control the vocal cords, lungs, diaphragm, etc had to also synchronize to make the noises we recognize as words.
His right side was/is lacking cohesive connectivity. Nonetheless, Brad got back to lifting weights and running. He started getting on the stationary bike. And when I say running, I mean like, 8-9min/mile running. You know, regular people fast, running.
From when we met, my job was to help him run with regular gait and run faster.
Due to the damage his accident caused, the right side of his body isn’t wired as, effectively, as the rest. Particularly when it came to running, that leg struggled to lift as high, bounce off of the ground, and cycle as fast as the left. Think of the right leg as driving with a flat tire.
I feared it could lead to an overuse injury on the left leg over time.
Through trial and error: lots of gait drills, working on creating certain sensations in the feet, and creating a technique & focus that could allow Brad to create a rhythm in his stride, Brad was able to run with minimal “limping” in his running stride!
You can see in the videos below how his limp was and how he was able to correct that to carry a smoother gait.
It’s been a great puzzle to work on. And there’s still work to be done.
Our current focus is working on “rhythm endurance” which is working on maintaining that gait pattern for longer distances before fatigue sets in and causes the limping gait again. Making the cueing and focus we worked on be able to last beyond 1 mile but eventually extending out to the distance of several miles until it’s just second nature.
I’m proud of Brad and glad I’ve gotten to be a part of this ongoing story of resilience & perseverance. He’s a very energizing and confident person, that energy rubs off on you. You can’t accomplish something like this living in doubt.
Doubt is your shadow. Cling to that evidence of a better tomorrow, even if it’s small in light of all of the reasons you should fail that can outweigh it. It’s something even I battle with, it’s so easy to lose sight of what gives reason for what we are doing to succeed because of setbacks occurring. Our body weighs negative emotions much heavier than positive ones.
Believe in YOU like your life depends on it.
Because it does..