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How a Veteran Uses WHOOP To Prepare for the Invictus Games
Patrick Nugent served in the US Marine Infantry from 2013 to 2020 until an unfortunate gunshot wound ended his military career in 2017. Patrick spent nearly 2 years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center recovering – and was told by doctors that his prognosis and future were bleak. Patrick was told he’d never walk again, he’d never be able to use the bathroom independently, and that he’d never be able to have children. After 15 major operations and hundreds of hours of physical and occupational therapy, Patrick proved them wrong, and has since gone on to walk and function independently, despite the odds.
This year, Patrick was elected as Team USA’s captain for the upcoming 2023 Invictus Games, an international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick service members who are serving or veterans, something that wouldn’t have been possible years ago. Patrick shares more about what it took to overcome substantial hurdles. From understanding his body more than ever before with WHOOP to a growth mindset, Patrick’s story showcases the strength of the mind body connection.
The Injury That Changed the Course of His Life
In his high school years, Patrick was a three-sport athlete, playing football, hockey, and lacrosse. For him, being physically active and competitive in sports was the norm. Patrick then continued to play football before eventually turning his focus on training for the military. He ultimately chose to join the Marine Corps, which he believed best fit his personality and his life goals.
Patrick’s military career was promising. Patrick graduated as the Cadet Regimental Commander, and went on to Infantry Officer School, where he served as a rifle platoon commander. He was deployed to Southeast Asia and then was selected to serve as his company’s executive officer – its second in command. Patrick was set on going to Assessment and Selection for MARSOC, the Marine Special Operations Command, and making a career out of his time in the military. Then, in 2017, a gunshot wound changed the entire course of his life.
Five days into their first overseas deployment, his unit stopped in Hawaii for training on their way to the Western Pacific. During nighttime live fire exercises, a bullet ricocheted off a pile of rocks and hit him in his lower back, shattering his pelvis, piercing his abdomen, and severing his sciatic nerve. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where they were concerned he wouldn’t even survive.
After several life saving operations, it was clear that the most challenge Patrick would experience in his recovery would be from his severed sciatic nerve, which controls the leg, foot, and thigh. For months after his injury, Patrick was wheelchair bound, and he spent nearly a year in a hospital bed recovering from his injuries.
The Road to the Games
Patrick’s time in the military demanded he maintain peak physical condition – but all of that changed after getting injured. While focusing on his recovery, his occupational therapist turned him on to the Invictus Games, and making the U.S. team became the focus of his recovery process. Patrick found that focusing on making the team gave him clear direction after his life trajectory was upended.
That journey started by taking part in the Marine Corps Trials, where he signed up for rowing, track, cycling, and powerlifting – and ultimately took home gold in rowing and powerlifting. Fueled by his success and his ultimate ambition of qualifying for the Invictus Games, he went on to compete at the DOD Warrior Games.
In this year’s Invictus Games, Patrick will be competing in powerlifting (bench press), indoor rowing, and cycling.
How WHOOP Has Helped Him Understand His Body
Recovery hasn’t been about just returning to normal life for Patrick – it’s been about being in peak shape to compete at the Invictus Games. Aside from working with his coaches, Patrick has been focusing on improving his sleep. He optimizes every bedtime with an eye mask, ear plugs, nasal strip, mouth tape, and a white noise machine. Patrick has seen significant improvements in his green recoveries now that he’s focused heavily on his sleep – which has in turn allowed him to push his training in advance of the Games.
In the three months leading up to the Games, Patrick has an average Sleep Performance of 91% – proof that he has been prioritizing time in bed to let his body recover. He has been diligent about balancing his training with his recovery. His average Strain Score is 13.8, and his Recovery Score has averaged nearly 70%. Patrick also tracks his habits and behaviors in the WHOOP Journal to test and see which behaviors have a positive (or negative) effect on his body, all in an effort to show up to the global stage ready to perform at his peak.
If you’re interested in watching the Games, they will be available to stream here.