Elet Hall is nothing short of a marvel. This amazing athlete is a four-time competitor on American Ninja Warrior, where he is known as “The Natural” for his seemingly effortless runs. The first two years he successfully made it to the Las Vegas finals despite suffering from undiagnosed Lyme disease. Shortly after the 2013 finals, he woke up one day with facial paralysis and his joints and limbs numbed with fatigue. After being diagnosed and successfully treated for Lyme disease, he again returned in 2014 to triumph in his third attempt at the competition. After dominating Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the national finals, Elet finally succumbed to the floating doors in Stage 3, coming in 2nd place in his third attempt at the competition.
This year, Elet again returned to the ANW stage, with a dominating “run of the night” at the 2015 Pittsburgh Qualifiers. (Check out Elet’s facebook page for the video!) and then headed to the Pittsburgh City Finals on August 10th. At the finals, Elet had a tough run, narrowly surviving a missed grab on the monkey bars before finally slipping on the last few doorknobs. Even with the surprising fall, however, Hall still was among the fastest finalists, qualifying him to move on to Las Vegas for the national finals and the battle for a $1 million grand prize. [Read here for more about the August finals.) Unfortunately it was not Elet’s year to walk away with the grand prize but we will be rooting for him in next year’s competition!!
Here in a November 2014 excerpt from a longer story on our Faces of Lyme feature, he shares some perspective about the challenges of fighting Lyme disease as an athlete:
“I’m learning to manage, and I CAN still train. In fact during exercise is the clearest I usually feel. But I have to pay very close attention to how far I push myself.
My essentials for continuing to progress as an Lyme athlete:
1. Proper hydration to stave off muscle cramps and numbness/tingling in my fingers and toes when I become acutely dehydrated. I drink a gallon of water a day.
2. Eating clean. I don’t follow a specific diet plan but in order to reduce inflammation it’s important to keep track of what foods help you manage it. I eat mostly fruits and veggies, rice and beans, chicken, and eggs. Dairy doesn’t affect my inflammation but refined sugar and red meat do.
3. Sleep! Get enough! How much is up to you. If at all possible I try to take a quick nap before 1 pm. I feel almost like my old self in the few hours following this. It’s so important to get enough sleep to help our overtaxed CNS to recover.
4. Supplements – I use a lot of supplements and what I’ve found is a good effect. I’ve looked over the studies regarding most of them and experimented personally to find what does and doesn’t work for me. If you have the resources, I’d recommend you do the same. My mainstays: Probiotics – the immune system is built in the gut, a healthy gut will help fight your infection and help produce healthy neurotransmitter levels; Fish Oil – reduces inflammation, improves brain and nerve function; B vitamins – improve energy production, brain and nerve function; Ginkgo Biloba – improves blood flow to the brain, has been shown to help improve memory retention and speed; Glucosamine & Chondroitin – the building blocks of cartridge and connective tissue, provides resources necessary to regenerate joints.
5. Caffeine! I was never a coffee drinker before Lyme disease but it sure helps now. When I need to perform on a particularly bad day, a little jolt always helps. I can’t drink a whole cup or muscle cramps, palpitations, and dizziness occur. But there is a green zone where it definitely improves my performance, focus, memory, and direction. It’s like turning on the fog lights.
In the past few months some of my symptoms have been getting worse again. I don’t have insurance so I can’t affordably seek medical advice, but I’ve been able to manage pretty well so far. I’d like to hear what other people have found that works and also what doesn’t. So leave me a comment or shoot me a message with what you do!”
And check out this video of Elet being interviewed by WBAL in Baltimore talking about the challenges of competing and dealing with Lyme and his 2015 ANW run.
Image courtesy of Esquire Network, a Division of NBCUniversal