How a head injury helped my trail running

How a head injury helped my trail running

Mike Field

Mike Field

April 19 4 min read

If you’d told me back in early 2022 that I would be running ultra-marathons the next year, I would probably have laughed you out of town… 

Let me rewind a little and fill in some gaps. 

After running (and running and running...) a total of 201km to be exact, I was declared the Athletics New Zealand 24-Hour Men’s National Champion in September 2019. With that, I qualified to represent New Zealand at the 24-Hour World Championships in Romania in March 2021, and I planned to compete in the Moab 240 desert run in Utah prior to that. Unfortunately Covid had other ideas. And life threw me a curveball. In mid-2021, I was the victim of a random home-invasion that left me with a traumatic brain injury. Life as I knew it was put on pause. I was unable to work, run, or be a normal dad or husband. 

Fast forward a few months, and I was still suffering from dizziness, brain fog and word-finding issues. It was clear that I wasn’t improving, and my recovery had stalled. Frustrated and worried about my long-term health outcomes, I decided to search out alternate treatments. 

In February 2022, I heard about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), and after examining the research, studying the science and speaking to several people who had used it successfully, I purchased an HBOT chamber and installed it into our home. Within two weeks of using it for 60-90 minutes a day, I started to notice improvements. After such a long time with no progress, I was ecstatic. Around four weeks later, I was able to add more working hours to my week, I had far fewer issues with forgetfulness, dizziness, and slurring of speech, and I could finally get back to running every day. In 2023, I was running ultra marathons again.

And, as it turns out, HBOT is not just helpful for illness and injury. It can also help the body recover from a hard day on the trails. We all know that feeling of sore muscles after a tough run or workout. It's like your legs are screaming at you to take a break. But who has time for that when there are ultras to run and trails to be conquered? By flooding the body with extra oxygen under pressure, which is essentially what HBOT does, it helps reduce inflammation and promote faster healing of achy muscles. I’ve been able to bounce back quicker after workouts, which has helped me get more mileage under my belt!

You may have heard of the likes of Le Bron James, Serena Williams and Michael Phelps using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. That’s because it's also a powerhouse when it comes to boosting endurance and performance. Oxygen is like fuel for our muscles, so the more oxygen they have access to, the better they can perform. By supercharging the body with extra oxygen through HBOT sessions, you're essentially giving yourself a turbo boost for your next run. And you don’t need to be an elite athlete to reap the benefits. I was so convinced by how it’s helped recovery, that I started Hyper Healing to support other regular people like me. 

So what exactly is HBOT? 

Mike Field in a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) chamber

HBOT involves breathing up to 95% pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. Sounds flash, but it's not just some high-tech gimmick. There's real science behind it, and the benefits for us runners are pretty cool.

Are there any risks? 

No. HBOT is a completely safe and natural way to recover faster, boost your endurance or heal a nagging injury. It is actually an approved treatment by WADA - the World Anti-Doping Agency. You start off with low pressures and short time frames, and gradually build up from there. The only sensation you will feel is a 'popping' sensation in your ears as the chamber pressurises, just like you do when flying in an aeroplane. 

How can I try HBOT?

There are various HBOT clinics around New Zealand. If you’re keen to give it a crack, and you’re in Canterbury or Central Auckland, get in touch and we will tee you up with a free trial. Wild Things VIPs will also get 15% off any subsequent sessions. Your muscles will thank you for it, and who knows, you might just shatter some personal records along the way. Here's to happier, healthier, and speedier miles ahead!

VIP discount

Wild Things VIP's you can grab 15% off at Hyper Healing by using your VIP reward.


Wild Things members will also have the chance to win a one-month rental of a soft-shell Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy chamber in either Auckland central or Canterbury. Keep an eye on our socials to be in to win.