Ironman competitor Mike Campbell discusses The One Mile Project

This week on ADVENTing, Dr. Kandula and Dr. Handler speak with Ironman competitor Mike Campbell about training for such a grueling competition and The One Mile Project for Race Across America.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Hey, Dr. Madan Kandula, founder at ADVENT and your host of ADVENTing. I'm here with our co-host, Dr. Ethan Handler, and we actually for the first time in the history of ADVENTing we have a guest. Mike Campbell is here and he's gonna tell his story.

It's kinda odd. We've been doing these virtually for the last few months. I think, now that we are back in personal space and so it's some getting used to. But really, I mean I think, kind of the point today I think is really telling your story and just kinda I think maybe helping those out in the world out, just who are you? How did our paths intersect? But more importantly, who are you and what's your story?

 

Mike Campbell

"Absolutely, no, no. Thank you by the way. First time I got a chance to tell my side of the story officially. My name is Mike Campbell, my background is more of a contact sport, football player.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

"Okay, what position?"

 

Mike Campbell

"Quarterback in high school and then defense back in college and wasn't until after that, that I got into the endurance side of the world, like a lot of us. Just out there as a weekend runner trying to stay fit and trying to just stay healthy. And as time went on, I got more and more serious about the endurance world, became triathlete. That's kind of the quick story of my background with regards to, obviously how we met was through another athlete. I realized that what I was going through with my sinuses and my inability to breathe well and being congested, that we had this conversation about that, they'll be like, you know you could do something about that. And unfortunately, later in life, I'm really? I can? Other than the over-the-counter medicines or the neti pot, or having to go see the doctor after the fact that I've already got a sinus infection, and that kind of brought me to you guys."

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Gotcha.

 

Mike Campbell

- And like I've told everybody and I've said it time and time again, it really is in my world, endurance sport, it's a game changer.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

- Yeah, absolutely.

 

Mike Campbell

- The ability to breathe well, it's first and foremost, I mean it's really is.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

- Yeah, we kinda, we talk about it. We talk about internally all the time. I think it's really, really helpful to hear personal stories because every person that we treat has their own particular story. Obviously, we kinda talk about internally a lot is breathing, if you're living and you wanna live your best life, it starts with breathing, but then I think, especially for those that are competing. You don't have to be a pro-athlete, but they're competing. I don't know if you think about your time back when you were playing football, for instance. I would imagine you wanted to win the game and if you want to win the game, you wanna be at your peak performance. But I think for whatever reason, at least, I haven't seen it and we're trying to start it here is, I have not ever seen athletes start at the beginning of, if you're going to be competitive, you need to breathe well, whether it's a training or in competition. And if you can't breathe well, it's a problem but I feel like, at least I played lots of sports growing up and when you're playing all sorts of sports, you get elbowed in the nose and this and that and all these sorts of things. And at least in football, I saw many times personally is, your nose is over here and they'll straighten it out. Nobody really thinks about, well is it working now? And so we see a lot of athletes through the course of their career and unfortunately, a lot of athletes on the tail end of their career that have noses that didn't work and I always wondered, I often wonder like, jeez, how much more competitive could anybody have been if they just had the tools that were working for 'em? So yeah.

 

Mike Campbell

"It's not only competitive, again, it's that post-athletic career where most of us are. When you're young and you're athletic, there's so many little factors go on but when you when you're post-athletic career and then you become the avid weekend or just the runner, or the athlete. Your story is my father. My father played in the NFL. My father, is that snorer that you can hear three rooms over. And I don't think it's, my dad's, what is he? 86, 87. But back when they played, it was leather helmets. The nose was broken many times and so, that same story, right?"

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Sure, absolutely. And I think it goes both ways but I'd say, the end of the day, I think that fundament, I don't even think, I think even from an athletic community, I think it's really behind that way. I don't think trainers, I don't think anybody is, it's one of those things, it's outta sight outta mind, and it's either working properly or it's not working properly. At least from our experiences, many people suffer, with airways that aren't proper. And I think, the times again, where I think it's most important is when you're pushing it, and that, generally it's one or two things. There's one is if you're competing, if you're athletic and anyway, I shouldn't say competing. If you are exerting yourself, and then the ability to breathe properly makes sense, and I'd say sleep is another big one. And then again, nowadays, those things go hand in hand. If you're an athlete, sleep is paramount for recovery and so if you can't breathe well, you can't sleep well, if you can't breathe well, you can't compete well. Why would you want anything less than the best and we were talking about it earlier is like, as athletes as they should seek that competitive edge, that's where all sorts of things and crazy sort of out there things come into play, but it's just, to me it's almost crazy that folks will go to those extremes and never really think about that fundamental building block.

 

Ethan Handler, MD

And it's a relatively, I mean, it's an easy thing to fix. And I think it starts from awareness. And you and I talked it like, I didn't know I had a problem. And a lot of people and patients don't know, and you said this, you shared it with your stories like, I didn't know that this was an issue, and so it's about asking the right questions and understanding what should it be? And certainly, we think about when you came in for that initial visit, a lot of like how we treat patients and even athletes like yourself, it's history. All I have to do is know the right questions to ask to start teasing out some of the information that I need to understand like, has this been a problem for you or not? And you suffer from sinus infections and breathing issues and things like that but, between history and imaging, which we can do quickly and easily in the office, I have now a blueprint for what's going on anatomically and I have your history and we can kind of put it together in a nice little picture and understand how to treat you.

 

Mike Campbell

It's not a conversation we have often. We don't talk about how are you breathing. And like you talked about, we talk about rest and recovery, we talk about training, we talk about gear, we talk about these, all these things that we put a lot of effort and money and time into, we never talk about your breathing. And then if you do have that conversation with established successful athletes, most of them, I don't have a problem breathing and you're like, wait a minute. Now this is an unfair advantage. Because you're right, we just don't know, we don't know. And again, that is one of my takeaways is, you don't know how well and how well you rest and feel and breathe and it isn't a day in life change. It's every day all day, but as an athlete, you just realize when you're out there, that you're pulling in and you're just able to breathe so much better. And you're not just that mouth breather, that you're trying to exhale the same time you're trying to inhale. Or I tell the funny story once in a while as a cyclist. Even those long training rides or even in competition, you've got to consume food. Well, try consuming food when you're riding really hard and the only way you have to breathe is through your mouth.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Sure absolutely. Yeah, it's rough.

 

Mike Campbell

It doesn't go well and we laugh about it, but ultimately, it's a serious sign that you're not breathing well.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Right, absolutely. Yeah, and that's where we see it. Oftentimes and again, today the focus is athletes which is fine, and I'd say it's, we see it all the time where somebody has been. A lot of times it's folks who've been sort of, not beaten on but reprimanded, breathe through your nose, just shut your mouth, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and they cannot, they can't and so they kind of have been whipped by their, whatever, their coaches, their trainers, blah, blah, blah, or they're just not, they sort of can't do what others are doing, and maybe they just can't do it. But I'd say, if you can't do it because you can't, because you don't have the right tools, to me it's sad sometimes when we see folks, and it's sort of not too little too late, because they've got their whole life ahead of them but I'd say, boy, yeah, it'd be nice to know that 10 years ago, when you're at the start of your career, or at the peak of your career, versus the tail end of your career. Now, the flip side of that is in athletics, especially when folks are young and right in the heart of it, there's not time for downtime. And so, it's the easy thing. I mean, if you tear your ACL, okay buddy, you're gonna get your ACL repaired. If your nose doesn't work, it's sort of almost a luxury and it's like, it's fine, I can deal with that. I guess the nice thing kind of with what we're able to do nowadays, and it's not just here at ADVENT, but there are other places that can do this as well, which is doing in-office procedures. So really, for an athlete, when we do something in the office to get things working, it's not like there's no downtime but I'd say there's no, you can keep training through that process. You're not dealing with going under anesthesia, you're not dealing with a whole lot of things. And so it's similar to having dental work done where, yes, there's gonna be some sorta healing processes there, but you can kinda have a bit of a pit stop, get it taken care of, keep up and running, and then, just how the nose heals up and how our procedures heals up, it's usually over the course about a month, six weeks, where things are happening behind the scenes, you're able to push through that whole cut time course. And so, I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about, what are we talking about? What is it gonna actually take to make a change? And nowadays, it doesn't take much time to make a really, really big difference, it's really we're impactful.

 

Mike Campbell

Well, we were talking about it earlier, when I had mine, two weeks later, I've got Ironman Wisconsin. And I laugh about it now because looking back, it's one of those where Ironman Wisconsin's a firm date.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Yeah, they're not moving around for you knows--

 

Mike Campbell

They're not moving around for anybody. And, you know that the amount of training and effort and everything you put into it. So you're right. To be able to have the procedure done, knowing I had a couple weeks and we talked about it. Couple weeks and it's like, well, for a while, stay out of the lakes, just be smart about it. You just don't want that kind of exposure, but other than that, it's a little bit, hey, if you feel okay, go for it. You might have some sinus bleeding or drainage, and I had no problems. And by the time I got to Ironman, it wasn't even an issue. It was a nonissue throughout the day, throughout the prep, I didn't have to worry about it. It's already breathing better already. I mean instantly, it was phenomenal. But again yeah, so I can attest going from procedure to one of the biggest events of my life, two weeks later. Because you're right. A lot of athletes and I know a lot of athletes, will put off those surgeries. It could be a knee, it can be an ankle, it can be something that they're gonna put off until the off-season. But sometimes life gets in the way, so that can get kicked down the road. So they're trying to base their procedures of other ailments, on the time of year and how much downtime and is it gonna affect my racing, is it going to, yeah how long are we laid up and a lot of athletes are more worried about that, than they are sometimes about getting things fixed. We'll put up with a lot. It's like, ah, I don't wanna deal with it. 'cause I don't wanna know what the doctor is gonna say.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Yeah, two weeks is, and so just for those that don't know, an Ironman is what? What does that entail from a running and all that?

 

Mike Campbell

Sure, so the traditional full Ironman is 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and then traditional 26.2 marathons.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

So piece of cake, right?

 

Ethan Handler, MD

And you had procedures in the office two weeks before?

 

Mike Campbell

Yes.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

- Yeah. Which I wouldn't recommend for peak performance, meaning, but I would say, it sounds like you did fine, which is great but at two weeks on the back-end of an office-based procedure, you're still healing, as you said though, meaning that things are still opening up, which is good. So you were at two weeks where you would have been six weeks or whatever down the road, but I would say, the fact that you were able to do that is awesome, period. It's awesome period, forget your nose, but it's a awesome and quasi-incredible to do it a couple weeks after having a procedure on your airway.

 

Ethan Handler, MD

I'm usually, as far as patients go, I say let your body be your guide. I've been working out, things like that, like you'll know you're pushing it too hard if you have little bloody nose or dripping or something but, it worked for you and so roll with it. Was that a good, obviously any Ironman that's completed is an awesome accomplishment but how was that one for you?

 

Mike Campbell

It was great, one of my better Ironman. Obviously, time also plays a factor, age starts to creep in.  Sometimes I'm just not as fast as I used to be in some categories, but it had nothing to do with my training or my ability. But no, no, it was great. It really was.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

And you might have mentioned before, but what prompted you to to seek treatment for the nose and sinuses?

 

Mike Campbell

You know, it's a conversation. Again, another conversation with another athlete. It was just, what I do now is just talking to somebody, having that, in fact, I think we were biking, having that conversation, and I might have been congested at the time. And it was a little bit like, have you ever thought about and, it opened my eyes to the opportunity which then led to the phone call, then the visit, then the CT scan, and then we scheduled the procedure. And it really was, it was that you guys live it but it was that easy, that simple. And again, we talked a little bit before, since then, I would say there's probably six to 10 of my teammates who've gone through or and who have scheduled to go through the procedure because they too, are sitting back going, wow that sounds a lot like me.

 

Madan Kandula, MD

No, it's common stuff. It's common stuff, period. I don't know if it's any more common in endurance athletes, but I would say the impacts are significant. I'm sort of making an assumption, but I'd say if you're an endurance athlete then, on one hand, you want every advantage that you can have, but on the other hand, you don't want a disadvantage. I think for somebody who's trying to figure out, God, is this really an issue? Is that big of a deal? I would almost say if it's at all something that's just a question mark in your head, it doesn't hurt to get it checked out by any means. I think that's one of those like, not always, but it's a more often than not, if it's even a little bit of a question mark, there's something going on there. And then it's up to us as physicians and providers to present the information to you and meaning that, if your nose has shut down, you have to know that your nose has shut down. If your nose is really compromised, same thing, if it's like, whatever it is, it's not my job or to kinda cast judgment over what you should do about it, but it's our job to really present the options and then that's usually, it's a pretty nice dynamic there where, if folks can kind of come in without, how you wanna say it, but freely and get the information and then live your life, but--

 

Mike Campbell

Yeah, I mean, I look at couple different things when you talk about kind of your overall business and there's a quality of life issue. And then that's a big part of your business so that I'm sure gets into the sleeping and all the issues that everyday people have all the time, and there's no question. My side it's a little bit more on the athletics side, I run a couple endurance teams. So I'm a little bit more familiar with the athletes. And it's just different awareness, quality of life and some of it performance related. As athletes, we're always looking not necessarily, like you said for an unfair advantage, but just to make sure that we're optimal. And I would agree. Your point of, if you think you're going through something, or if you think you've been struggling, to come in and have it evaluated. We talked, did a CT scan, came in and told me exactly what you saw and what my options were gonna be. And it was kind of up to me to take that information, say okay, this is what I think I wanna do, and move forward from there. But I agree with you, if you're not willing to at least have the evaluation done, that you're not quite ready to

 

Madan Kandula, MD

Well, crazily enough that our time is here, our time is done. We'll definitely have to do more 'cause it's really interesting. I guess, one thing just, we know about your shout-outs but I just one thing to toss your way is can you talk a couple minutes about One Mile and what that's about and you started it right?

 

Mike Campbell

Yeah, so One Mile started off kind of as a networking brainchild. I was realizing there was a lot of disconnect between endurance leaders, people that are out there with the mission to inspire and to motivate others. And they were in positions to do that at the grassroots level but there was no network, there was no connection. Along with, that I also realized that, those characteristics are not, they're not only athletes, but they are community leaders, they're former military members. I always say it's the same individuals and it peels back couple layers. That it's how we're wired, it's how we think, it's how we process, The differences is life path So we're probably very, very similar, we just going through life, we just chose different paths. And so my goal was to find those individuals, and then bring them together. So we did that and we're 550, 560 of handpicked, hand-selected members. And it's a melting pot of athletes, professional, olympians, I mean, all levels. And then also from a military standpoint, we've got a lot of special forces, a lot of people that have been out there and really hitting that pinnacle of their career. And then the endurance runners and authors and people that are really making an impact all over the world. So it's not just a Midwest or US, it's a worldwide program. So, taking One Mile, all this social media energy, what do you do with it? And that, like you guys talk about, how do you get the word out? What do you do with it? And how do you put action into it? So what we've done is we've decided to take our first action step, and that is in 2021 to take on the toughest cycling event in the world, which is Race Across America. We figured if we're gonna do it, let's do it big. And so we've compiled an eight-person team, and then along with that, we'll have a crew side of it that's probably another eight to 12 people on the crew. And it's, yes, next June, June of 2021. Your sponsorship and really what it is to me is your belief in what we're doing. The sponsorship, I think sometimes it takes away from the fact that you have to believe, in not only me, but our mission and what we're trying to do, and again it goes back to the quality of life. We're trying to raise hope, we're trying to raise people paying attention, people being inspired to take care of themselves at all levels. And it kinda goes full circle to what you guys are doing. It's like guys, we're just here to offer a procedure that improves your quality of life so individuals like me walk away and go, wow, thank you, thank you so so much. So it is a full circle, and it's so much appreciated. Hopefully that makes sense in a nutshell.

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