The Journey – Change of direction and venturing into the unknown.
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Martin Luther King.
I had just kicked my 3rd goal of the day to bring my team Heatherton within 3 points of the home team Doveton at the 15 minute mark of the last quarter. Chasing down a Doveton player, I laid a bone-crunching tackle that made the ball spill out. Jumping to my feet, I swooped up the ball and kicked the ball through the big sticks from 25 metres with 2 opponents hanging off me. That was the last positive memory I had on a football field.
The next play, the ball was kicked into our forward line and we managed a point to drag the margin to 2 points. Then it happened. In what was a routine kick out, I chased my opponent who led to the ball and I felt a very devastating and familiar feeling. I had re-injured my hip and I knew that I was in trouble immediately. This was the 4th time in 2 seasons that I re-aggravated my right hip socket and I knew that this one was the worst of the lot. Far too proud and stubborn to come off the ground, I played on for the rest of the game. We lost by 13 points.
After the match, when the adrenaline had worn off, I had to be carried off the ground and back into the change rooms. The emotion was a little too much for me and I broke down and cried as I knew that this would be the last time I would ever step on a football field and play football again. The emotional pain by far and away exceeded any sort of physical pain that I was going through and the fact that I let my emotions out in from of my team mates was a little bit embarrassing to say the least. I think they thought I was having a sooky-la-la because we lost a game that we should have won but they didn’t know that it would be the last game I would ever play.
It was only my 3rd game for the club and my 3rd game back from my 3rd hip injury…things happen in 3’s they say.
Previously, I played for Lyndale and I injured my hip in round 3 2014 against Carrum Patterson Lakes in the first 2 minutes of the game. I didn’t play that game out. After 4 months of excruciating rehab, I played in round 16, 17 and 18 before our push into the finals. I didn’t tell anyone but in the Elimination final against Black Rock, I had reinjured my hip but played out the game as well as our semi-final against Sandown and our Preliminary final that we lost to Mount Waverley. I had never played in a grand final in football and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity. Some of my PT clients on Monday would see me limp in to their sessions and kindly give me advice such as that I should hang up the boots and focus on other opportunities in the future. I didn’t listen. I didn’t want to listen. I just wanted to do what I loved doing.
Leading up to the 2015 season, I fielded a lot of potential new clubs’ offers to play for their team. Most of them saw me play a pretty good game against quality opposition in the Preliminary final and the money was too good to ignore. I switched teams to Heatherton. As I was going for a run before preseason and after my 2nd stint in rehab, I felt pain once again in my hip joint. I decided to try and be a hero once again and push into a preseason campaign on pretty much one leg. I broke down in the second week of preseason and missed the first 5 games of the regular season. During my 3rd rehab, I switched specialists and was incredibly impressed with the progress I was making. It felt better than ever before after the 4 months and I made my debut in round 6 against Oakleigh Districts. We got smashed off the park but I was named best on ground and I felt happier after that loss than any other loss because I was back doing what I loved. No pain either.
I went from being jubilant and thrilled about playing pain free to calling it a day in 2 weeks. That’s footy for you!
The weeks following the last hip injury, I was incredibly depressed. I put all I had into my rehab and my preparation and my body had just let me down. I was miserable. Not being able to do what I loved really had me down and nothing could take that pain away. I cried at night countless times and faked my enthusiasm in a lot of PT sessions. It was like wearing a mask and hiding behind it all day and taking it off at night and letting the outpour of emotion come out at the end of the day. I had no drive, no passion, no belief and nothing to really aim for. I cruised through the month of May 2015 without a care. I still cared for other people however but as for myself, I couldn’t give a fuck.
The next chapter and the start of a new beginning came from something that I have always been extremely passionate about. Personal training. We decided as a team to run our 2nd annual 8 week challenge during the months of June and July. Smack bang in the heart of winter. This is because it is the hardest time for people to find motivation and the hardest time for our clients to achieve positive results due to lack of motivation, the dark and cold conditions and the crazy illnesses that had been present this year. Apparently this year’s flu strains were one of the most severe on record. Although it was a tough time for others, it was the absolute perfect time for me to regain my drive and focus and give me something to push for. It also gave me motivation because the results from the trainers were going to be published on the Facebook page and I didn’t want to let myself down or embarrass myself in front of my fellow trainers and clients. I wanted to set a good example for my clients and that was the sole piece of inspiration that got the ball rolling again for me.
I weighed in at 104.8kg with a body fat percentage of 24.2%. That was my starting result taken at the start of the 8 week challenge on Monday the 1st of June 2015. My playing weight 3 weeks prior was at 100.3kg. I always liked playing at about 100kg because my physical strength was always an advantage to me when I was playing football, however I put on 4.5kg in 3 weeks in my depressed state post football. I knew that it would have skyrocketed because of my atrocious diet that consisted of take-away hamburgers, starburst lollies, cans of coke and ice cream. I wasn’t the least bit surprised with the results as I knew that I had fallen off the wagon and big time. My goals over the 8 week challenge was to clean up my diet, train 6 days a week for at least an hour and no matter how I was feeling, not to give up no matter what.
The first 3 days was absolute hell. Cutting my caloric intake by about half, cutting out sugar and most complex carbohydrates and drinking about 5 litres of water a day instead of soft drink severely drained my energy. I had ridiculous headaches and body shakes due to my body not being used to the clean food that I was fuelling it with. To top that off, I had incredible pain all over my body as I was trying to get used to the new program that I had set up for me. This included 6 strength sessions a week with bench press, squats and dead lifts and 3-4 cardio sessions a week for me. It was safe to say that I was not enjoying week 1 of the 8 week challenge. I was sore, irritable and very unpleasant to be around and that is my own reflection on me! I’d hate to think what the people close to me were actually thinking about me at this time!
It was day 4 when the headaches started to go away. I felt better for my diet change and I definitely had more energy. Being a PT usually means getting up very early and working all morning before having a gap in your day. You start up again in the mid-afternoon followed by tackling your evening sessions and usually finishing well after 8.30pm. Before the 8 week challenge, I would nap when I finished my morning sessions and was exhausted by about 9am in the morning. By day 4, I felt energized and had heaps of vigour and drive to get through the day. My early morning session with Sam was usually a grind (The 5am start times are an absolute killer!), but even she noticed a huge increase in focus and energy in me and asked what I was doing to get these results. I simply told her that all I did was cut out sugar and complex carbs and increased my water consumption. It was amazing how awesome I felt and how quick it actually happened. Yes, those first 3 days were horrible but the reward greatly surpassed the struggle.
I would continue on this path until about week 4 when I was struggling with my hip and back. I hurt my back doing a dodgy deadlift and was in a lot of discomfort. Looking back, the most pleasing part of my journey was not giving up at that point. I very easily could have rested for a week or two but that would have thrown my momentum out of the window and I would start falling back into old habits. As a good trainer can do, we worked around it. I stopped lifting heavy, trained for reps and volume and increased my cardio on the stationary bike. I’m very proud to say that I did not miss a day of training and that my back healed itself about 9 days later. There are ways around injuries and it is not the end of the world if you have a minor injury. It is certainly not an excuse to stop altogether and quit on all of your hard work and progress.
At the start of July, there was a worldwide bike tour on the electronic stationary bikes at the gym I go to called “Le tour de Expresso.” It was like the Tour de France but only on stationary bikes and nowhere near as arduous or long as the actual tour itself. This tour required you to log in to the bike and do 21 courses over the month of July. They could be done on any day but to finish the tour, you had to successfully complete the courses by the 31st of July. The courses ranged from quick 2km sprint courses all the way up to the demanding 35km mountain stages. Some courses finished in 3 minutes and some taken over an hour. I had a little bit of friendly competition from one of the older locals at the gym. His name was Rick and he is in his mid-40s. Rick owned most of the records on the bikes at our gym and offered to challenge me over the 21 courses which I gladly accepted (I love a good challenge). This little bit of friendly competition turned into a full blown obsession for me as I would try and beat every single one of his times over the 21 courses. No matter how sore or how tired I was, I would always muster up the energy to have a go at Rick’s times. Much to my amazement, by stage 5, I had opened up a 3:36 minute gap on him and although I had a lead, I knew his biggest strength was in the hillier courses that came towards the end of the tour. I never really felt like I had it in the bag from the start. It got to stage 11 and it was time for one of the most intimidating courses on the tour. The course was called “The Odyssey” and this course is 12.6km of some of the most brutal hills of the tour. I remember actually getting very nervous about doing this course because I knew if I had a bad ride; Rick could have closed the gap significantly. I gave everything I had for the 12.6km and after I crossed the finish line, I made a bolt for the toilets and proceeded to projectile vomit for a good 5 minutes! When I looked at the times afterwards, to my absolute shock, I recorded a time of 22:09 as compared to Rick’s time of 24:10. To beat his time by two minutes confirmed that I was going to beat him on this tour. Just for the record, that time was the 13th best time on that course out of everyone in the world on that course.
At the end of the tour, I finished 45th in the world in a time of 5 hours 30 minutes & 23 seconds out of about 19,000 participants and my now good friend Rick finished 128th and almost 24 minutes behind my pace. I’ve never participated in a bike race like that before and the experience was amazing. It was such a physical and mental challenge and I can’t wait to have another crack at it next year! We can make competition out of friends and we can make friends out of competition. Rick has my respect and hopefully I have his.
Coming into the end of the 8 week challenge, I was very confident of getting very good results. I never missed a training session, I had very little cheat meals and I was in a very positive mind frame coming into the end of the challenge. I knew that I had done all the hard work and that I was going to reap the rewards from it. At the end of the 8 week challenge, my weight dropped to 98.5kg and my body fat percentage was reduced to 15.5%. To lose 6kg of weight and almost 9% body fat in 8 weeks was such an amazing feeling. That feeling when something is earned and not given to you is a feeling of absolute satisfaction and one that I wanted to continue pursuing. At the presentation gala evening, I was blown away with the kind words from my clients, other trainers and their clients and to be recognized by your clients and your peers as a source of inspiration is very humbling to say the least. So I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Part 1 of 3 for the next part of Brads Journey Click here www.4ubodyfitness.com.au/the-journey-part2
For the third part of Brads Journey Click here www.4ubodyfitness.com.au/the-journey-part3
4 U Body Fitness Mobile Personal Training Specialist