No. I definitely would love to share it because I feel like the call I had to make was a tough one and a lot of people could benefit from hearing. Getting into World’s Strongest Man, I got the invite less than a month prior to preparing for another show.
Then I suddenly get called to the biggest show in the world. A lot of my focus went to making sure I was strong enough and drilled enough at the events we were going to be tested on to do well, because I didn’t see myself anywhere but in the finals.
My cardio took a back seat, unfortunately, in my training. I wasn’t doing the frequent 2,000-meter rows. I wasn’t doing any of the frequent conditioning I do to keep my [inaudible 14:50] very smoothly, but I was building a lot of mass and a lot of strength.
I get to World’s Strongest Man, the heaviest I’ve ever been, 330 pounds. I feel like an absolute tank, but I know my cardio isn’t too great.
First event, farmers walk. Rip has always been an issue for me because I’ve had lots of little ligament issues, injuries in my fingers over the years. I still did pretty well for how big and awkward those handles were, but I finished towards the bottom of the pack.
Deadlift came about the second event of the competition. It was a max rep, 760-pound big circus bar. Deadlift is my event. I put on a hell of a show there. Pedal to the metal, I gave it as much as I absolutely could. Got eight, almost nine reps with that barbell in a minute time.
After the event was done, I felt like I was catching my breath for a long time, much longer than felt normal. Five minutes pass after an event like that, you’ve pretty much caught your breath, or you’re feeling good to where you can talk and walk around.
I still felt like I was fighting for calming down my heart rate. Even later on, we had gotten back to the hotel after being at the convention and competing. I was sitting at dinner with the guys, and I’m like, “I don’t feel like I’m calm down yet. My heart is still pounding.”
What anyone else would do, think, “Oh, good night’s sleep will do the trick.” I wake up the next morning, and it’s still there. I get to the convention center. I’m concerned because I feel very tired. My heart’s beating out of control. I’m checking my own pulse. It seems like I’m skipping beats.
At this level of athleticism, at this level of competition, I would feel like I was not doing my due diligence as an athlete if I did not make someone aware. They had a full medical staff there. If I told someone, maybe they could give me something. Maybe they could do something that could help, or at least they would be aware of what was going on in case something else happened.
When I went to go get evaluated by the doctors on staff and the medical team, they listened to my heart. They gave me an electrocardiogram when I was there. They saw the readout. I was in atrial fibrillation. My heart was skipping beats. There was electro-miscommunication from the top down to the bottom.
Although that’s not a life-threatening situation in itself, with the nature of what we’re doing, especially on that day, we had a big load to carry mentally. We had stones. We had logs.
At any time, if I put the man on my heart, that was too great for it to match. The lights are going to go out, whether or not I have an object overhead or not. I was told by the medical staff, “You can’t compete today. We can’t advise you that’s a good idea to compete today.”
I had to pull out. That was the toughest call I’ve ever had to make, having such high ambitions and knowing that I belonged there, World’s Strongest Man, my first year ever there, my pro debut. That’s my first pro show too, and I had to pull out of the two events.
When it comes to issues of the heart, especially in this sport, there have been so many names over the years that had their careers cut short because of a heart problem. You have to listen to that.
You have to listen to what the doctors are telling you. You have to listen to your body. As tough as that call was to make, it’s not about that one competition and whether or not I placed, whether or not I did well, whatever. It’s about all the competitions yet to come. I don’t want to just do one World’s Strongest Man. I want to do many.
That’s the call that I have to make for the future. If there’s a weak link in the engine of the body, the heart, then we need to go back to the drawing board and fix that, make sure it never comes back again.
That’s exactly what I’ve done since. I feel like I’m in a good spot. Both myself and my doctor, and my health team behind me, don’t think it’s anything more than a freak issue brought upon by a very hasty prep.