October 10, 2015

“I come from a family where independence and perseverance are keys to success no matter your natural ability. So, there was no other choice than to believe in a bright future for myself.”

– Steph “The Hammer” Hammerman

I met Steph (Not Stephanie) earlier this year during an Adaptive Athlete “Wheelchair Gang” Seminar at MBFit in San Jose, California.  I learned that Steph was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy (CP).  CP is a result of the loss of oxygen to the brain causing it to affect motor skills. For Steph, certain messages sent from the brain to the rest of the body don’t connect as quickly. She is able to move around with crutches and uses a motorized wheelchair, allowing her to live completely independently.

Steph doesn’t make excuses, loves her independence, and is focused on defining the “wellness curve” for individuals with CP. During our first of six workouts this day, I learned that Steph’s limited range of motion was restricting her workout intensity.   The second workout involved running.  Yes, I made the Wheelchair Gang run!!   Steph runs with the use of her crutches. Interestingly, Steph was able to get her heart rate easily above 180 beats/min during her 50m sprints.  This insight is what started our collaboration.  Steph asked me if I’d be willing to generate a running based progression that would have a traditional focus on cardiorespiratory fitness, endurance capacity, and muscular stamina.  Steph’s motivation was gaining a better understanding how motor control and signal fatigue interact with these variables.

Yes, the below track workouts are challenging.   Steph will attack one workout at a time and gradually build her knowledge, ability and confidence.   We both recognize that we have lots of unanswered questions and lots of unknowns.  As a coach, discovery is the purpose of training.

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