There are few things in this world that are stronger and more beautiful than the human spirit, the relentless desire to overcome and an enduring joie de vivre in the face of daunting adversity. These qualities are crystallized and amplified in the life of Allison Tai of Inspired Movement, who placed first in Women’s Elite at the Spartan Race in Vancouver, BC this year.
This feat is even more impressive knowing how much she overcame to get there and that this is just one of many athletic achievements since her life was changed by an unfortunate accident. Nine years ago, she was riding her bike and was struck by a vehicle, breaking her back, pelvis and left arm. Her doctors were not optimistic about her ability to resume an active lifestyle. They could not have been more wrong. Allison made use of five months spent in a body cast earning credentials in personal training and nutrition. She refused to give up on her dreams and herself. She took some time to speak with me about her experiences.
Inspired Movement: Perseverance Tai’ed to Athletic Achievement
a Perspective on Health, Family and Living Life to the Fullest
Q: Were you always athletic? Why did you start?
I used to do show jumping. I went back to school and went from jogging, cross-country to road running, ultra marathons to Iron Man.
Q: Physical activity can become part of identity. How did injury impact how you saw yourself?
It was easier initially; it was obvious I was overcoming something from the crutches and body cast. It became harder trying to do things around people who don’t realize I have a disability and nerve damage. I learned you can’t get too attached to perfection and to focus on what I’ve overcome.
Q: What does self-care look like for you?
Activity lessens PTSD symptoms and is the best therapy. I’m the best when I’m doing something.
How did you respond to your expectations around your future athletic activities being managed during recovery?
My doctors gave advice from experience that didn’t involve highly fit people. I took it with a grain of salt, worked hard and did my best.
Q: What did recovery teach you about compassion?
I’ve held up the bus line and couldn’t plank more than five seconds. Recovery helped me relate to people starting out in fitness and the elderly because I’ve been in their shoes.
Q: It’s hard to come back post-injury. What was your first workout like?
It was gradual, walking around the block. My biggest barrier was mental: fears of re-injury, being hit by a car and the bike.
Q: How do you feel when you see your scars?
I’m not concerned about aesthetics. It’s who I am, my character, and a reminder of who I am and what I’ve come through. I’m proud. I still get palpitations when I look at the bike in my dad’s garage or go to a hospital.
Q: Has recovery affected how you parent and coach?
Clients get upset when they don’t meet their expectations, but it’s about getting out there and doing what you can do. I can’t do everything I want to, but I will do what I can. That’s the best take away for my clients and my kids: don’t give up! I’ve learned not to use my kids as an excuse to avoid activity.
Q: What advice do you have for others recovering?
Keep going. Ask yourself “What does my body need? Will what I want to do hurt or help me?”
Q: What are you most proud of since your accident?
Placing second in World’s Toughest Mudder. These events expose self-doubt and you can’t allow excuses; you have to keep strong, even facing sandstorms and hypothermia.
Allison’s story is one of astonishing perseverance and commitment to a dream in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
You can’t help but feel inspired just listening to it, nothing seems impossible considering what she came back from.
What do you feel inspired to overcome in your own life?
You can follow Allison Tai on her blog, Twitter, or Facebook.
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Alison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops
Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.