Happy Holidays everyone! As much as I love the holidays for the festivities, fellowship, food, and celebrating the birth of our savior, another reason the holidays are fun is the fact that our annual trip to Disney World for the Disney World Marathon weekend is just a couple weeks away!
While May and I do a very good job with eating a healthy diet most of the year, for us the Holidays are a time to indulge in some of those guilty treats that are set to the side the rest of the year. In my mind I justify our “celebration of the not so good, good stuff” by the fact that we are usually running high mile weeks (60+ for me) through the first of the year while adding in strength training and some swimming. Add in the fact at Disney we will be on our feet all week and end the vacation with a multi-day romp through Walt’s world all makes for a somewhat guilt free indulgence.
This year has been a bit different and I have been a “scrooge” thus far. Don’t get me wrong, we have decorated the house and tree, have had fun shopping and have loved watching Elli take in all the excitement. Today is set aside to make marshmallows, caramels and mocos (a cake treat from my childhood) and several batches of peanut butter while Jazz Holidays plays on Pandora and the NFL is on mute in the back ground! The Vokaty’s are blessed and this has been a great Christmas so far!
So you may ask “how can you be a scrooge with all of that?” Good question! As you may know I have been suffering from a left knee and left IT band issue since IRONMAN Augusta 70.3 in late September that has dramatically decreased my mileage and increased my frustration. Not sure how the injury happened but it did so nothing to do but deal with it.
The IT band can be a “fickle” friend or foe, nowhere to be found one day and the next day it shows up unexpectedly the first minute of your run. Having some lower left knee pain as well and having no signs of healing over two months, I made an appointment to see Dr. Scott with Moore Clinic in Columbia this past Tuesday. (as with most good doctors, it took a while to get in so the apt was booked well in advance)
Highly recommended by Jen Coleman, Dr. Scott is a runner and an Orthopedic Doctor specializing in sports injuries. Somewhat apprehensive to make the appointment as I wasn’t sure I was going to like what he told me due to having the Dopey Challenge coming up in two weeks (5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon on consecutive days) I somewhat reluctantly went to my appointment on December, 17.
Doctor Scott and staff and AWESOME! He took x-rays of my knee and put me through a series of tests to check the integrity of my tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Being more nervous than a teenage boy about to go on his first date I anxiously awaited Dr. Scott’s verdict.
Being human our minds always go to the worst possible place and I just knew he was going to tell me my knee was trashed and that I was going need surgery and be out of commission for six months. I kept thinking of ways I could still run the Disney Dopey Challenge. After all it was only 60 miles (add in warm up for good measure) over four days I told myself….that wasn’t so bad. Maybe I could run on crutches or just drag my left leg behind me.
The verdict was in and my knee was fine. No structural damage, no arthritis and no tendon, ligament or cartilage damage! Praise God! That was an early Christmas present and I nearly hugged him! Trying to stay calm he confirmed the pain was from my IT band and that is what we needed to treat.
He explained as a “high mileage” triathlete, I run linear, bike linear and swim linear. This linear, forward motion has built up my quads, hamstrings and calves but has not done anything to strengthen my IT bands. That makes perfect sense. So what do I do now?
ICE, rest and my foam roller has been the course of action, I am happy to say that I have been able to get back to running on a regular basis last week. I started slow and short with a knee brace, then no brace running easy and then finally added on some miles with no issue.
While the above has helped, I also got off my statins (check with your doctor before you do this) for a couple weeks as one of the side effects is blocking the body’s natural ability to heal injuries. I also added back some animal protein to my diet to aid in recovery. With high mileage and high intensity workouts, and having an injury that needs to heal, my protein intake needs to be no less than 125 grams a day. Unfortunately in my all vegan diet I was only getting about half that and was also missing some key amino acids only found in animal protein that aids injury repair. So when your Ox is in the ditch, you do what you need to do.
With adding back some dairy, eggs and meat, we have been very selective in choosing only organic (steroid, antibiotic and hormone free) foods that have also been grass fed. (May has prepared us some organic, grass fed beef from a farm in NC and it is the most lean, amazing tasting meat I may have ever eaten!) In addition I have taken (OK the holidays are the exception) a great deal of sugar and other refined carbs such as white rice (less sushi as I just can’t let that go), white breads, white pasta, etc. out of my diet. I feel great!
It has been an interesting experience as this combination of no statins and higher protein and lower carbs (basically the Paleo diet for athletes) has done wonders to get my knee in running shape in three weeks where the I did not make any progress over two months on a strictly vegan diet.
Being able to run relatively pain free, Dr. Scott is helping me not only help with temporary relief; he has prescribed the following to help me strengthen my IT bands. First he prescribed abductor and adductor exercises that will strengthen the insides and outsides of my upper legs. While I do most of my weight training at home, the YMCA and Gold’s has the machines and I need to work on these areas. Being a personal trainer I know what to do and that weight training starts tomorrow.
Next is six weeks of physical therapy where I will work with a PT on other strengthening exercises and trust me I will be a good patient as I never want to go through this again. Finally the last course of treatment is, ready for this, soccer. Yep, good old soccer or football if you can believe it. What soccer does is helps me run laterally in a way that does not bore me to tears.
I have asked Santa for a soccer ball and some small orange cones so I can work on my lateral running skills (and ball handling skills) in the field next to the tennis courts twice a week. Hey, the world cup is coming next year so I might as well get into the spirit of the games now! I am also looking to join a recreational soccer league at Plex Indoor Sports in January. I will continue with stretching and my foam roller and even have a topical anti-Inflammatory cream that was specially made for me by ABC Plus pharmacy. More on this very unique non-NSAID topical treatment in a future post.
With Christmas three days away, I received an early present in the form of good news from Doctor Scott that my knee was OK and more importantly the Lord answered my prayers that my knee would heal and I could run the Dopey Challenge at Disney. I realize I won’t be able to run the race at the pace I want, but I don’t take for granted the ability TO run and will enjoy the journey. The real prize is arriving at Coeur ‘D Alene for my first IRONMAN 140.6 race in June.
So today is all about making peanut butter, caramels, mocos and marshmallows with my family, getting a little shopping in and thanking God for all the gifts he has already given me. This is today for tomorrow morning at 4:30 I have a date with my Saucony’s and the road for 10 miles and another date at the Y for some strength training for my legs.