Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Heeling Powers

     Hi VeGALs (Vegan Girl AthLetes).  Foot problems got you down?  Perhaps this VeGAL can offer you a few painless steps to take to remedy what ails your precious little tootsies!  As an avid distance runner, Skechers Endurance Ambassador, Kung Fu Black Belt, etc. it is safe (or unsafe for that matter!) to say that I pound the pavement quite a bit!  Whatever your discipline VeGAL, whether running, walking, tennis, Cross Fit, p90x, Insanity, Zumba, cardio kickboxing or martial arts, you too run the risk of encountering foot pain, more specifically, plantar fasciatis, heel spurs or achilles tendonitis, at some point in your training.  When your feet are compromised, so is your overall fitness, not to mention your mental/emotional integrity!!  When a VeGAL is sidelined by pain or injury, serious irritability is a shoe in (grrrrr!!!).  My recent encounter and how I dealt with it, through trial and error, may indeed help fellow VeGALs prevent such an event or at the very least provide you with some fresh ideas on some ancient old soles!  As VeGALs, it is true that we are also goddesses but by no means angels.  Therefore, it is acceptable, if not advisable to inflict bodily harm upon ourselves on a regular basis within our chosen disciplines.  However, it is forbidden to harm innocent animals to benefit ourselves.  Thus, a devoted VeGAL must uphold a plant-based, cruelty-free paradigm at all times, no exceptions!  That said, I will now share my footnotes with you...
     Five marathons, one ultra, some half marathons and a few 10k's all within a span of 4-5 would think that would be enough for the season, right???  I could've walked away unscathed, called it a day (or season!).  But noooo!!!!!  My running partner and I, both OCD, both in denial of our advancing ages and limitations, just couldn't put on the brakes despite the warning signs (for me anyway).  So what did we do?  We moved on to trails!  Although they may be softer than the road, depending on the trail, they can throw you off your natural form and put you at greater risk for injury. My partner is more of a superhero but this VeGAL still possesses some human-like qualities and ultimately they got the better of me!  From trails to road back to trails again, I continued to run, even though I began to feel a twinge of pain in the left anterior/medial portion of my heel.  I live by the words "run it out" which used (operative word) to work, especially with plantar fasciatis, but this pain was relentless, no matter what I did.  I felt the stabbing of needles digging into my foot all the freaking time!!!  Heel cups, ibuprofen/naproxen (wreak havoc on the stomach), stretching and rolling were proving ineffective for the most part.  I couldn't bring myself to stop running (yes, I'm an idiot) so I would try taping/wrapping my foot precisely where it hurt (wrong approach), tightly lace up my running shoes and head out the door only to stop dead in my tracks after two miles in utter agony, ripping off my shoe and then the wrap!  I would hobble back every time.  Finally, I put my pride aside, called my trusted podiatrist/running friend and "ran" to his office, white flag in hand and the look of "dafeet" written all over my face!
     An X-Ray revealed I had a major heel spur which was most likely piercing through my plantar fascia to cause a double whammy foot injury!  With corresponding bursitis to boot!!! My podiatrist described the spur as looking like the tail of a cruise ship (if you know my friend then you understand his reference!).  Owww!  He gave me the option of a cortisone injection right at the sight which I immediately rejected.  One, it hurts like the dickens and two, it could cause permanent weakness of the fascia and three, the doc said he himself would never do it as he is terrified of shots!  So Plan B was a Medrol Dose Pack (prednisone) for a week, absolutely no running, p90x, yoga or elliptical machine but rather biking, swimming and pool running.  Any VeGAL would shutter to think of taking such powerful oral meds to deal with pain all the way at the other end, especially when it is not exactly a natural approach.  In desperation, I filled the script and popped the pills.  One week later, with the risk of having a steroidal moon face/bloated belly reveal in addition to acid reflux, I had expected to be cured to no avail.  I did indeed experience some relief but it was only fleeting!!!  So after the potent anti-inflammatory and safe cross-training, I was still very much inflamed!!!  Yikes! I began googling frantically in desperate search of websites and blogs to see what other sufferers rather than professionals suggested.  And eureka!  I found one which was benign, natural, affordable, sensible and doable...athletic/kinesiology tape (Rock Tape of ActiTape) applied in a specific way to support the foot during exercise:  place one strip along the outer part of your foot from the base of the toes to the heel.  Then place another strip along the length of the interior portion of the foot and then the third diagonally across from the outer to the inner, covering the area of injury. Proceed with desired fitness regimen with caution.  Suddenly, I was able to run again, albeit slowly, but be back on the road again, doing what I am passionate about, was so freeing after all those weeks held in captivity!  To accelerate the healing process even more, I froze a plastic water bottle and rolled my heel over it religiously for 30 minutes at a time, at least three times a day, more specifically, upon waking and after running. In addition, I purchased the Count'r Force arch support brace online for $15 which I try to wear throughout the day with sneakers on.  I read on one website that heel spurs can form due to a calcium deficiency.  Even though a proper plant-based diet, rich in leafy greens, nuts and legumes, can supply a VeGAL's RDA of calcium, it's possible that our rigorous workouts, not to mention our stressful lives, can impact negatively on our body's ability to absorb essential calcium.  Calcium deposits can then form in the weaker areas, including the calcaneous bone of the heel. 
     Currently, I am running virtually pain free with some residual peripheral foot soreness secondary to overcompensating/misuse. I realized that once the heel spur and related swelling had been reduced, the Rock Tape was no longer needed (it may do more harm than good).  I am diligent to this day about icing after every work out, no matter what!!  I  continue to wear my arch brace as needed.  The only pills I pop are my vegan calcium pills derived from red marine algae.  Oh and did I mention a little vodka a.k.a. "Mommy's water" from time to time doesn't hurt either!!!  VeGALs know this potent potable is all natural and vegan friendly!  Cheers!!!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pre-workout fuel suitable for VeGALs

Working out in the sweltering heat of Summer Everywhere USA may help you look svelt but can leave you feeling exhausted and fatigued. If you don't take the proper steps to hydrate prior to and during rigorous exercise then you run the risk of becoming severely dehydrated and then it's...TOO LATE (see Jerry Seinfeld on Jimmy Fallon, YouTube). Your healthy-looking VeGAL facade may suddenly turn you into a gaunt-looking Edvard Munch muse.  But hey, don't sweat it!  Finding plant-based nutritional drink products specifically formulated for pre/during workouts has become a lot easier these days.  From your local grocer to a specialty markets like Whole Foods or online health/nutritional stores (Tunie's,,, there are several different products I would like to suggest which support the demands of the vegan endurance/hard core fitness athlete (VeGAL).  Such products support endurance, extend stamina and maintain mental focus while reducing fatigue. The one product which is most readily available is plain old coconut water! Found by the bottled water just about everywhere, CW is relatively affordable, palatable and mixes well when combined with powders or juices.  It contains all the essential electrolytes that can be lost when schvitzing!  I make my own concoction consisting of an Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak with a scoop of ActiveFuel or Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer (the latter two contain electrolytes and plant-based proteins), some water and ice.  All products are natural and free of animal ingredients.  If you are in a bind and have no choice but to drink Gatorade then use it sparingly as it contains bromide, a flame retardant, which studies have found may be carcinogenic. In extreme heat, with workouts over one hour, or when you are running from water fountain to water fountain, bring along some electrolyte capsules to wash down with H2O. Get creative and be your own vegan mixologist and see what works best for you.  But don't get careless or think for one minute that you don't need any of that stuff because although you are a bad ass VeGAL, you are still human and if you neglect your personal temple long enough, it will be TOO LATE!