Recovering with supplements

As some of you may know, I have suffered from an unfortunate string of injuries over the past couple of years. Starting with a  badly bruised knee cap, which led to over-training to compensate for lost time. This, combined with a moderate sprained ankle, resulted in plantar fasciitis and compensating from that caused Achilles Tendonosis in the opposite ankle. I have tried everything I could think of and taken advice from a lot of different people (including other runners, doctors, massage therapists, etc.) to speed the healing and recovery. I’ve changed shoes, changed inserts, and added inserts to my daily shoes. I’ve learned a lot from my research and the advice others have given me, so I’m hoping some of you will benefit from my learning.

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First, there are many things I could have done to avoid the injuries in the first place. Like not rushing to train when I had missed training time, thus over-training. Stopping when I got hurt. Stretching better. An acute injury, like a sprain, or a bone bruise, will heal in its own time. On the other hand, fatigue injuries can be avoided. Once injured, however, recovery and avoiding further injury become the focus.

I am not a doctor, nor a physical therapist. What I am is a runner who has experienced injury and learned what helps the recovery process and what does not.

Total rest does not help Achilles injuries nor Plantar Fasciitis. To heal, these tendons need increased blood flow. Stretch, massage (Trigger Point worked well for me), and mild running. I was very tight each time I first started running, but it would loosen up as I warmed up. I stayed off of pavement and stopped if the pain started coming back. Shorter and less frequent runs seemed to help more than taking an absolute break. I also found that a good sports massage therapist can really work the right muscles and ligaments. The pain experienced during really deep massage gives great relief over time.

After about a year, a friend mine suggested some supplements that might help. Although the FDA does not back these claims, there is a lot of significant research that indicates some supplements aid in healing joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. My friend happens to be a representative for Young Living Essential Oils. The company offers massage oils and supplements to aid in general health and 3234well-being. The combination she suggested is specifically designed for bones, ligaments, and muscles (BLM). I decided to give it a try.

The suggested dosage for my weight is 1 tablet 4 times daily. A 90 count bottle costs $53.62, retail, and will last me about 3 weeks. There is an option to open a wholesale account and purchase it at 24% discount ($40.75). More information here. You do not have to sell anything in order to remain a member and receive the wholesale pricing. The included information claims that results will start being evident in 4-6 weeks, so I obtained two bottles and started taking the suggested dosage in addition to my regular supplements. I also continued my running in moderation, as well as stretching, trigger point massage, and foam rolling my calves.

I am not one to follow blindly in most cases, so I did some research outside of the Young Living website, into the ingredients and what they claim to do. Here it is:

Manganese Sulfate – believed to aid in bone and blood health
Glucosamine – for healthy joints, tendons, and ligaments (I give this to my dogs for the same reason)
Callogen – promotes cell growth
MSM – reduces swelling and pain
Balsam Fir Oil – aids in relaxation (I can find no research supporting the ingesting of this)
Wintergreen – pain relief, in particular nerve pain
Clove – reduce inflammation and pain

My Results

After 3 weeks, I had not noticed any significant change. I started the second bottle and at the end of the 4th week I started to notice that I was not waking up with the pain and stiffness I had previously experienced. My recovery after a run took less time and I did not have as much pain during the run. I still feel some mild discomfort, especially when I run on pavement. The most discomfort is during the first mile or two of my run, but then it subsides and only mildly returns when I stop running. This continued to improve for the remainder of the second bottle.

I did not notice any side effects, although my frequency of burping greatly increased and there is a strong influence from the cloves and wintergreen.

I’m not going to claim that the supplements healed me, but I’ve been out of them for about two weeks now and I have noticed an increase in morning stiffness in my ankle again. It certainly appears that the BLM supplements have been a significant part  of my healing process.

Truth be told, it is important to realize that these injuries happen over a period of time and healing usually takes time as well. Be patient. Take care of yourself. Staying healthy is easier than recovering.

… Just Got Real!

 

IMG_0281Starting out before light on a steep downhill trail with Mark and Lorelei, we were excited to be getting under way and looking forward to the day’s adventure. Although my light was not as bright as I would have liked, we picked through the rocky single track with a minimal amount of stumbles. We reached the bottom and the footbridge fairly quickly and dropped our bags of supplies for later on the return trip.

As the sky lightened and the sun began creeping up over the mountains, the beauty of the canyon became more and more apparent. The single track trail paralleling the North Fork of the American River provided amazing glimpses of the water below and the trees above. We could see the evidence of bears and mountain lions, although we didn’t see any face to face.

We made one small wrong turn that forced us to scramble up the hill back to the correct trail when the trail we were on came to a sudden end. Running away from the river, past the farm, up the road, through the gate, we came to the first climb and there is where the running came to a stop for a while. We hacked and bush-wacked our way through the blackberries up the old Pioneer Mine to find our first book and remove our respective pages. We stopped to read our pages (in order) aloud, which made us feel much better about tearing pages out of a book; we certainly were not destroying literature. Continuing on the, slightly better, trail, we soon reached a jeep road and could run again. Here is where we met up with Ingrid and Ray, who had missed the turn and were doing this loop in reverse. We continued back around, wondering if we would meet up with them again at the other end of the loop and increase our party by two. We made good time running down the gradual descent on good road and soon found ourselves on very runable single track again bordering the creek as we made our way towards book 2.

We repelled down a small drop with a handy rope left for that purpose and took a couple of pictures crossing the creek. The instructions we had directed us to proceed up “the steepest way possible.” What we were not quite prepared for is how steep Ebeneezer’s Highway turned out to be. Crawling, pulling, climbing! No running and very little standing up right took place on this. At one point I lost footing and slid for some distance back down toward where I had come from. I grabbed a tree and stopped myself just before the slope’s steepness increased dramatically and it was here, hanging onto that tree looking down at the creek, hundreds of feet below me, that I realized this was not your typical weekend run.

There were no safety patrols or sweepers. There were no EMTs or medics at aid stations. There were no aid stations. This was real risk! It occurred to me there that I could actually get seriously injured or even die out here.

From there we picked our own paths up to the ridge. We wove our traversing trails back and forth across each other’s. we came across others, one on his way back to a DNF and a couple on their way back to a complete run, as well as some going the same direction we were. We didn’t even all see the same people, re-emphasizing just how vast this hillside is. We joined forces again at Humbug Ridge and ran much of the way to the drop bag location. Although we somehow spread out, with Mark up front, Lorelei behind and myself somewhere in between. At least, until I ran past the turn and got a half mile too far up the road before Race Director, Sean, caught me and guided me back. Lorelei was resting and decided to cut the day short. Mark had already left to go back and Starchy, who had been on the same hill with us had just arrived as well.

After some food and refilling the water and Gatorade and some rest, Starchy and I headed back down the ridge. Our thinking was that, if we could angle down Ebeneezer’s and cross the creek closer to the river, we could save some time and make it back to the footbridge to maybe have time to climb the last hill and get our last book page. That’s where things went wrong.

We found a relatively easy way down the hill and, with a lot of zigging and zagging, we climbed down to the creek and took a couple of pictures before we crossed the ankle-deep water and found a way up the other side. Knowing that we would have to go right after crossing the creek, we angled up and right. We soon discovered that the climb was tougher, steeper, and longer than we thought it should be to get back to the road. If we could just make it up this cliff we would have a better vantage point and be able to get our bearings to plot the remainder of our course back.

Leaves and loose rock made climbing/hiking/crawling/scrambling difficult. It seemed like the top of an outcropping of rock would provide a better view and easier climbing. About 10-15 feet up a hand hold came free and I was headed back down, back first, head towards the bottom. I landed with a crash that sent leaves and rocks and dirt down towards Starchy. When the dust settled and he called out “you OK?” My response was that I was taking inventory. After a few moments I replied that I had hurt my thumb and my ankle, but nothing seemed broken. Once I could stand we made it to the top of the rocks and discovered we were no more than halfway up the side of this mountain. Time to check the map and compass.

Starchy discovered that we were getting further from our former trail and that, in fact, we had crossed the river and not the creek and that we were actually angling away from our destination. Time to turn around and head back. The climb back down to the river was at least as treacherous as the climb up and it took a combination of sliding, falling and climbing to get down to the water. Now we needed to head down stream to the creek and get back on course. But now we were almost out of light, the temperature was falling and we were miles off course in an area that no one would even think to look for us.

We crossed the river several times, but headed in the right direction, in order to walk on whichever side looked more walkable. Several times we had to scramble up and around and back down because the river was too deep to cross or walk thorough. Realizing that we were at least 3 miles from where anyone would look for us, I was beginning to feel anxious and thinking of news reports I have seen over the years that start with “the bodies of two hikers were recovered…”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, it comes naturally to me to pray in times of crisis, although often later than I should. So I prayed. I prayed for courage, knowing that fear was a huge adversary here. I prayed for physical strength. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for guidance. I suddenly felt calm and warm and prayed, “God, You told us that with the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains. I don’t need You to move a mountain, just a creek, or us. Put us on the right path.”

In the next five minutes we stopped to take another look at the map and Starchy suddenly got excited and scrambled up the hill. “Get up here!” He calls out, “I’ve got good news.”

“You found the creek?”

“Better”

“You found the path?”

“I’m not spoiling the surprise.”

I scrambled up the hill and found myself standing on the path. THE path. We were now on our the same trail we started on, at least two miles downstream of where we thought we were. We were on the other side of the creek, although we had not crossed it. We were less than 3 miles from the footbridge and food; 5 miles from the finish. One last climb. 1800 feet up… and drive home. What started as 25 miles with 10000 feet of climb ended up being 30 miles with 16000 feet of climb.

Much of the “adventure” I put in my life has no real risk. Many of the things I do to overcome my fears contains no real danger, but feigned danger… a safety net… a cushion. This didn’t. This was real.

Truth be told, many will probably explain God out of this, but I won’t.

First True Test

Today was the first time I repeated a race. I ran the Dirty Secret Trail Run in Cool. This was the first trail race over 10k that I had run last year and the first time I ran a race in which I had run before.

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Last week I ran a half marathon and both knees and my back were sore by the mid-point. I started out on pace to a personal best, but I slowed badly on the second half and finished in 2:10, 11 minutes off my previous best pace.

A 10 mile trail run compares well to a half marathon, so this was a chance to test my healing of my knee and to check my progress from a year ago.

Last year I completed this race in 2:20. This morning I finished in 1:54, a 26 minute improvement over a year ago. More importantly, my knee didn’t hurt.

This was encouraging for many reasons, but especially since I have signed up to make a second attempt at completing a 50k this year. I began a 16 week training program to prepare for the Run On The Sly in August.

I’m still on target to run in 13 races this year and, now, it seems, I am healthy enough to do it. My other goal to do 1000 miles for the year will be more difficult to reach since I am behind my pace for that, but it still could be possible if I train consistently and avoid any further injury.
I’ve also joined a gym to help me build upper body strength in preparation for the Tough Mudder in September.

Truth be told, my real goals are to run 13 races, including a 50k and a 4:30 marathon and my 1000 miles goal is something I thought could help me achieve that, but if I reach my main goals without it, that would be ok. Even if I don’t, the improvement in my health, the new friends I’ve made and the pleasure I get from running trails will still be worth it.

I’ll keep you posted.

Looking Forward Looking Back

At the turn of a year it is customary to reflect on the past and plan for the future. I am not a big fan of “resolutions” since, like most, I tend to forget about them and they fall, unnoticed and forgotten, to the wayside. I do, however, try to set some new goals and make some subtle changes that will, hopefully, make me a better person in some way.

This last year has been a year of firsts for me. I began by running my first 10k on New Years Day and since got very into trail running. I have completed 2 ten mile races, my first 1/2 marathon and my first marathon. I also climbed Half-Dome, which was both a physical and mental challenge, since I have a fear of heights. I guess I should also include the fact that I got my first tattoo, challenging my fear of needles and a general dislike of pain. My only “resolution” was running that 10k on the first day of the year.

This year started with running again, but the 10 mile course this time. I am signed up to run a 50k (31 miles) in March and the Tough Mudder obstacle course in Tahoe in September. I am considering another ascent to the top of Half Dome, but I would like to run it this time.

For the past several years, in lieu of a resolution, I have picked a word. One word to set a theme for the year. Honestly, I usually forget the word long before the year is over, but it sometimes comes back to me and I remember what my focus was to be and try to refocus and redirect. In recent years I have chosen ‘confidence,’ ‘peace,’ and ‘courage.’ This year, as I reflect on the tough year it has been in many areas of my life and the lives of those around me and on the way I have reacted to it at times, I have chosen ‘kindness’ as my word for 2013.

In choosing to be more kind, I spent time reflecting on the past, not just year, but several years. So many failures, missteps and poor choices have complicated my life. I often beat myself up about it. Maybe some of you do as well. I had an experience that may have been life-changing and was certainly perspective altering. In praying about my goals and my past, I heard an answer in my heart and mind. In that still, small voice God spoke to me and said:

“My Child, I never wanted you to sin, although I knew you would and I have already forgiven you. I wanted you to have those experiences. There were lessons you needed to learn and experiences you needed to have. You could only have them in those situations that seemed so difficult and even painful. I love you.”

Truth be told, I have already discovered that this may prove to be more challenging than I expected. ‘Sarcastic’ and ‘impatient’ are words that more aptly describe me than ‘kind.’ I usually choose words or goals that benefit me in some way. This year I want to benefit others and I hope my kindness will do that. In a conversation I had this past weekend, my friend made a sarcastic comment about my lack of compassion. I replied that I was working on being more kind and I have 300 more days to get it right.

Distractions

After running the 7 mile race last weekend I succumbed to the business of life and to some distractions that really interfered with my training this week. I didn’t run as much as I had hoped and my core work was severely lacking, as well. Today I ran 9 miles with the Folsom Trail Runners along Folsom Lake. I was able to keep up and ran the whole way. It looks like I am still on track with my training, despite my lax work ethic this week. Next week is a 10 mile run, as I continue to ratchet up towards my 26.2 in December, so I better step up my performance this week.

On the fundraising front, I have 4% of my goal. In the coming weeks I will have an chance to meet some of these children that I am running for. The important thing is to help these kids get the things they need and, hopefully, give them an opportunity to break the poverty cycle they are trapped in. You can help too… https://grouprev.com/kirkmcmorris

On Our Way…

I felt slow this week!

The Insanity workouts seem to be building up my wind, but the muscles are sore and I just can’t generate any speed while I am running. Then again, I ran 7 miles at Run On The Sly this morning and did it in only 4 minutes more than my 10K (6.2 miles) from the beginning of the year. I even ran the last mile in 7:36 while focusing more on form than speed (thanks Shaun T)… lift those knees, tighten those abs!

My training dilemma at this point is whether to work through the Insanity AND keep up with the running and hope (trust) that when the Insanity 60 days is over, I will have gained strength and endurance. Or, do I lay of the Insanity a bit so that I can make sure I complete the training for the marathon? Hmmm! Not sure yet, but I did end up skipping a couple of days of Insanity this week. For now I will continue to both as best I can.

I know I have several friends also training for the CIM… let me know how you are doing.

On the fundraising side, I see that a couple of friends have donated on my be change site (https://grouprev.com/kirkmcmorris). Thank you for supporting this great cause. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but we can change this part of it and it won’t take very many of us to make a big change. I can’t wait to see what we can do together.