Since really taking fitness and racing seriously a couple of years ago, I find more and more often that I can figure out what's wrong with aches and pains. Now, I'm certainly NOT advocating diagnosing your own ills, but I do find that whenever something went wrong I'd get support from my PT or research extensively so that I myself could prevent or repair future problems. Being this in-tune with my body is quite a new experience for me, and realizing that where the pain is may not necessarily be where the injury is has been enlightening! Case in point was knee pain caused by the tiny and often-overlooked TFL in the hip. Trigger points have become quite familiar to me, as well, as I sometimes have a piriformis problem that I can solve overnight with a tennis ball, stick massager and detailed stretching. It's so painful when you do it that you think you're doing more damage; that is, until you wake up the next day with no pain! Self-massage has been most beneficial as well. The key to preventing problems in the first place (at least for me) is looong warmups, then intensive drills beforehand, followed by all-inclusive stretching after the workout.
The older I get the more valuable these lessons I've learned become....which leads me to something related to this: my plant-based lifestyle. I've been a vegan for about 30 years now. It wasn't always as easy as it is now to get vegan foods in the regular grocery store or to get truthful information about veganism. While veganism isn't rocket science, there are some things that vegans need to know and need to do to stay healthy. There are supplements that vegans absolutely must take (B12 being one; there are others) and we have to be very alert about the types and balance of plant-based foods we put into our bodies. So why be vegan if you have to supplement? For us, it's an ethic, not a diet. But then, the health benefits are immense as well. If you want some no-nonsense info on plant-based diets, there are two places that I rely on for real info. The first is Jack Norris . He's a Registered Dietician who painstakingly reviews ALL of the recent research and puts it in terms even I can understand...and I do mean all of the reserach, even if it shows veganism may be lacking. I trust him for honest, thought-provoking real information. The other is Matt Frazier over at No Meat Athlete where I get info specifically geared at athletes and fitness buffs. He has a great way of making veganism easy and also has a really acute insight into other issues as well.
I've never felt healthier or more in tune with my body...so much so that I think I should knock on wood! I mean, seriously, I haven't even had a cold in the last two years (since I retired from teaching elementary school - I can tell you all about the link between stress and illness)! Any problems I've had have been directly related to something I neglected (such as not staying hydrated enough - lesson learned!!!!). Here I am enjoying my retirement and thinking that maybe I can go along like this for quite a few years to come. I want to write a new pop song, "Living la Vida Revés" (Living Life Backwards); healthier and fitter now than when younger.