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Being Resilient: Don’t Stop Moving, Don’t Stop Growing

For many of us, our sport is our oasis. What would you do if it was taken from you? Do you think you have the self-awareness, know-how, and drive to get it back? In other words, how resilient are you?

According to some neuroscience research, there are 6 Domains of Resilience, which we are born with or can develop. Want to know how resilient you are? You could take a test on an app, or you can see how your life unfolds when adversity lands in your lap.

Meet Jayden Chapman, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and triathlete from Tyler, Texas. In 2012, Jayden’s resilience was tested when he broke his neck in a car accident. As a Firefighter by trade, and a runner and triathlete by passion, you could say his world - along with his neck - was shattered.

Here’s the rest of Jayden’s story, in his words.

Q: Jayden, clearly, you have determination and an intrinsic motivation and drive to overcome adversity. Where do you think this comes from?

I look at challenges as opportunities to grow, physically and mentally. I'd rather try something than look back and feel like I missed out on that experience.

Q: Tell us about the recovery process after your accident in 2012, from a mental perspective. How did you determine where to take your career, as well as your passion for running and triathlon?

The hardest thing for me was losing the ability to run. It really was my favorite thing in the world. It was also challenging not knowing how much recovery I was going to have. I found that things got a lot easier for me when I decided to embrace everything I can do right now, and not worry about the things I can't do. I'm grateful to be able to push myself physically, to be able to race, and to have had a lot of options I never would have considered when it came to choosing a new career path. I wanted a career that was integrated into my passion for health and fitness in a way that would help myself and others to be healthier and to perform better.

Q: What lessons have you learned from running and triathlon that have brought you success in your new career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Some of the lessons I've learned from running and triathlon are to not be afraid to set big goals, to have a plan and be consistent in following it, and to be flexible because life is unpredictable.

Q: With so much on your plate - new city, new career, new way to train - and an extensive knowledge and background in your sport, what made you decide to start working with a coach?

Shortly after moving to Texas I saw a flier for a triathlon camp with Fly Tri Racing here in Tyler. That's where I met Coach Gina Rymal. I wanted to start working toward some longer races, and I got a lot out of working with the coaches at the camp. I think having a lot going on makes it even more important for me to work with a coach- I don't have to figure out what to do, I just communicate with my coach and do what she tells me to do! Working with a coach is also really great for injury prevention. Anytime I have pain or concerns, she has exercises and modifications to work through it.

Q: There’s no doubt you’ve been overwhelmed, maybe even feeling hopeless, many times on your path during recovery and settling into a new career. What advice can you give to someone who is facing adversity - in their career, training, or life - and doesn’t know how to take the next step?

In general, I would say don't be afraid to take that step. Things may or may not turn out the way you think they will, but the journey will be interesting, and you'll have greater perspective in the end.

Rapid Fire (1-10-word responses):

Favorite workout: A long swim with some sprints in it

Favorite hobby, unrelated to endurance sports or your work: Cooking, trying new recipes, making healthier versions of recipes.

Pop culture guilty pleasure (food, music, TV show, … anything you want): Reading about astrophysics

Bucket-list race or athletic goal: 70.3

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