A Case for Changing Cadence: Injury Prevention

Caption: Coach Amy evaluating a client’s running form. Video taping the runner is always useful in a personal run evaluation.

Cadence is a measurement of run gait that we can easily measure with our smart watches, but knowing what do with the data is a mystery to most runners. A quick Google search reveals debate among coaches and scientists creating even more confusion. Let’s solve the case with some clues! 

Clue #1: Cadence is a measurement of steps taken per minute (s.p.m.). Most runners naturally adapt to a cadence that is most efficient for them. Studies conducted show that attempting to run at a cadence that is lower or higher than a runner’s naturally chosen gait costs more energy. EEK! Expending more energy while running is the last thing a runner wants to do. If it costs more energy to change cadence, why in the world do we care about measuring it in the first place?  

Clue #2: A runner’s naturally chosen gait may not be the safest gait. Adapting to a higher cadence typically causes a runner to use a shorter stride length which decreases forces on the lower extremity. Minimizing forces is one of the key ways to prevent injury.  

Clue #3: Avoiding injury is a runner’s number one goal, but what about the increase in energy cost? Some studies do not test whether efficiency improves after training at a new cadence. My experience has shown that with sound training, a runner can become more efficient at running with a higher cadence and at the same time decrease risk of injury. That’s a win in my book. 

Increasing the number of steps run per minute may help prevent injury but making changes to run gait without professional assistance and feedback can do more harm than good. A thorough evaluation and guidance from a physical therapist that specializes in running is the safest way to change cadence or any component of run gait. Case solved! 

Physical Therapy or Surgery?

Ever been doing something you love with your kids, like shooting hoops or playing catch, and injury or pain strikes? You’re not alone! Repetitive motion over and over again can take its toll on joints and muscles, especially as we age. Muscle and joint damage that was a minor problem in our younger days can resurface as a major issue.

Most people want get back to “normal” life as quickly as possible and some perceive surgery as the quickest or only route to recovery, but it has its associated risks and is expensive. Is there an alternative to surgery? A way to eliminate pain and return to a full active lifestyle? Yes! Physical Therapy.

Read the latest CoachAmyPT blog post to hear how patient, Kirk E., a former pitcher, avoided surgery on his shoulder with physical therapy treatments, and if this could be a viable treatment option for you.

Kirk returning to doing what he loves with his kids.

Kirk returning to doing what he loves with his kids.

“Race for the Planet” with RRKC and Athleta Town Center

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Join Roadrunners of Kansas City in partnership with Athleta Town Center on Saturday, August 24th for a “Race for the Planet” 10 mile Training Run. The event is FREE, and the first 25 to register will receive a $25 Athleta Shop Card to use after the run. Participants can also enter to win a $200 Athleta Shopping Spree at event check in. More information and registration are in the link below.

For RRKC members, this run will replace our normal Saturday morning group run. However, since this is a community event bring one, bring all! Friends and family are most welcome. Event details below:

  • 6:00am: Onsite registration/check-in begins.

  • 6:30am: Group run begins (led by RRKC’s Coach Amy and Jennifer Wolf).

  • Run will start and end at Athleta Town Center (4844 W. 119th St., Leawood, KS).

  • Route will wind through South Leawood. Details and course map at RRKC Events Page. Printed copies of the map will be provided at the run.

  • Winner of the Athleta Shopping Spree will be drawn at conclusion of the run.

See you at the starting line of this FREE fun event!

New "Amp'ed Up" Run Clinic Series: Register Today

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Roadrunners of Kansas City is about to kick off the 2019 Run Clinic Series! Formerly known as Speed Work, these new sessions are revamped and fully loaded with more training techniques to change your running game. We will address running form for efficiency, strength for power, strategies for embracing “the suck”, taking over the hill, and more. Open to beginners and advanced alike.

Three sessions are offered in a variety of locations the Prairie Village, Overland Park and Leawood. Attend one or all three. Those that are racing this Fall will get maximum benefit by attending all three.

All sessions are held on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 PM.

  • Summer Session (4-weeks): Aug. 6 - Aug. 27, 2019

  • Fall Session 1 (4-weeks): Sept. 3 - Sept.24, 2019

  • Fall Session 2 (4-weeks): Oct. 1 - Oct. 22, 2019

Space is limited, so act fast. Registration is open today!

Power of "The Walk"

When I suggest an athlete walk for cross training or an injured runner walk in lieu of a run, they typically respond with a furrowed brow and the stink eye. I get it. For most runners, walking is akin to quitting; it feels like a failure. It certainly doesn’t come with the same post workout Serotonin high, but hear me out.

Walking has many benefits for runners including improved recovery between workouts, which enhances the next day’s performance. Walking can also be used as an alternative to running for injured athletes, or as a strategy to return to sport. Read the full article on the CoachAmyPT blog to learn how to take advantage of the “power of the walk” not just for your run health, but for your mind and soul. 

Stinky Shoes!?

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Running shoes got the funk after a muddy, sweaty or rainy work out? Trail running or running in Mother Nature’s unpredictable elements can make for memorable and fun runs, but they often leave running shoes in need of some TLC. Follow these quick and simple tricks of the trade to dry them out, freshen them up, and get them ready for the next run.

  • Wash with a garden hose to remove excess mud or debris.

  • Loosen the laces and open the “mouth” of the shoe nice and wide.

  • Sprinkle baking soda generously inside of each shoe.

  • Crumple up old newspaper and shove several newspaper wads inside of each shoe.

  • Set the shoes outside in a sunny location to dry out, and bake out the stink.

Depending upon humidity and amount of sun, your shoes should be dry and ready to go for tomorrow's run.

For useful tips, information on the latest PT treatments, and endurance training trends and advice subscribe to our blog.

Such a Pain in the Knee Cap!

My first serious running injury was a pain in the knee cap! I was 17 years old running my fastest mile times during the indoor track season. This came to a halt with patellofemoral pain syndrome AKA Runner’s Knee.

Back in the 80’s the advice from the orthopedic specialist was, “Stop running.” Sadly, some physicians still give that same advice. But I say, no! Don’t hang up your run shoes. Seek an alternative. I wish I’d known back then that physical therapy was an option.

With early intervention, physical therapy can prevent or decrease time off. In chronic cases, modification or a break from training may be necessary, but physical therapy can help return runners back to sport earlier and healthier. 

To learn about the causes, signs, symptoms and treatment options of Runner’s Knee, read the full article on the CoachAmyPT blog.

Don’t let a pain in the knee cap put an end to your running game!

Personalized Coaching Makes Doing the Hardest Thing You’ve Ever Done Stress Free and Fun

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My favorite part of coaching is helping people achieve goals they previously thought impossible. Through Personalized Training Plans and Individual Coaching, I work with athletes to develop short-term and long-term goals. Each plan considers your personal lifestyle, and your running history including prior injuries.

Individual coaching is designed to help runners reach their performance peak, while taking the stress and guess work out of training. Following is a Q&A with Kathryn, a CoachAmyPT client. Her motivational journey outlines the logistics of how individual coaching works, as well as the benefits.

Read on, dream on, and reach out to Coach Amy to personalize YOUR plan.

How long have you been a distance runner? 

I have been a distance runner since I was in 3rd grade. I remember winning the mile run in gym class and was hooked. My parents were marathon runners so I watched them growing up. We used to run together as a family. I went on to run track and cross country in high school. When I graduated from college, I started running marathons.

When you ran your first marathon what type of training schedule/program did you follow?  

When I was 25 my mom asked my sisters and I to run a marathon with her to celebrate her being 20 years cancer free (our FIRST marathon, her 15th marathon). I did not do any training or follow any sort of plan. I only did long runs on the weekends with my sisters. We were too busy having “fun” to train. In hindsight, that was a bad idea. We ran the Chicago Marathon in 85 degree weather. It was awful. I thought I was dying. We all thought we were dying. Except my mom—she was literally running circles around us while simultaneously telling us how much harder a 5 hour marathon was than a 3 hour marathon. We finished in over 5:30, near the end. It was the most horrible 5+ hours of my life!

What motivated you to seek a personal run coach? 

I went on to run a few more marathons—not nearly as bad as Chicago, but not great either. I started lifting weights and saw immediate improvement in my running. As I started getting faster, I set a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. But I knew I needed help. At the same time, I was seeing Amy for an Achilles injury. She mentioned she was a running coach. I was hooked immediately and asked her to train me.

How does Coach Amy's training schedule differ from what you were doing before? What benefit does the coaching offer?  

Where do I begin? Everything is different from what I was doing before. When I trained in the past, I would just go for a run. My main goal was to get in the miles. With Amy’s plan, I have a purpose for each run (as outlined in Training Peaks). The purpose can be anything from speed and hills, to a slow easy run on tired legs. Each run means something. There are so many benefits of having a coach, but the biggest benefit is that I do not stress about what I should be doing. Amy has the plan done for me, and my only job is to complete it. It makes training fun and not stressful. If I miss something because I am sick or traveling, she adjusts the training schedule. Amy also gives me feedback on almost every workout—she tells me to slow down, and she also tells me when I need to pick it up. She truly takes the guesswork out of it, which makes training so enjoyable.

What was the first race you competed in with the guidance of a personal coach, and what were the results? 

The first race I ran after training with Amy was the KC Marathon in October 2018. Probably one of the best days of my life (outside of my wedding and children being born of course :)) I ran a 3:36 marathon on a tough course. The day was perfect and I have never felt so strong in any other race, than I did that day. I truly give Amy all of the credit—her training had me 100% prepared for the run. I literally felt like I was flying through the air. It was so much fun. And I qualified for the Boston Marathon! 

Are there benefits to being a long-term (continual) client for personal coaching, vs. just learning the disciplines and then implementing on your own? 

 There is so much to learn in the training world and different obstacles to overcome. Sure, I could just have self-implemented Amy’s training for my next marathon but I would NOT have any of the benefits of having a continual coach. Amy is currently helping me train for Grandma’s Marathon in June 2019. I’ve had some knee issues, so she has completely changed my training plan and adjusted all of my workouts. This is something I could not have done on my own. I think the accountability and the feedback she gives is bar none. For people who want to continue to improve, she adjusts the training accordingly with specific speed goals. I could not put a price on how beneficial continual personal coaching can be. I plan on using Amy to train me for every major race I want to run whether she likes it or not. :)



Staying Cool on the Run

Coach Amy Practicing Topical Cooling During a Hot Run

Coach Amy Practicing Topical Cooling During a Hot Run

“Bzzz” my smart watch alerted me three miles into a grueling hot and humid run. I looked down to see what all the “buzz” was about: my fitness level was a negative 3! What the heck? Despite all my recent training, my watch determined that my current fitness level was down. URGH! Spying the creek along the trail, I thought about ripping the watch off and throwing it in there. 

But why kill the messenger? The fact is my pace WAS slower and my heart rate WAS higher, as was my RPE (rate of perceived exertion). It was not due to lack of training but rather the heat and humidity. I know I’m not alone and it’s completely normal as our weather shifts from spring into summer. 

You can expect your run pace to be as much as a minute per mile slower than normal with a much higher RPE for that pace. It takes about 3-4 weeks of running in the conditions to acclimate, assuming you run about 4-5 days/week, and assuming that you are exercising in that heat for about 1-2 hours at a time. During that period, your body undergoes metabolic changes and learns to utilize sweating more efficiently. 

It is tempting to avoid the “pain” of acclimating and run during the cooler early morning hours before the sun is up, but this is only going to prolong the process. Eventually you won’t be able to avoid it so you might as well face it now before your training runs get longer, especially before race day. Start with shorter distances/time. You may need to walk before/after or even during to extend your fitness in these conditions. 

Keep in mind, acclimating to heat is much more difficult for people over age 60, and for those taking certain medications. If you are concerned about this check with your doctor. 

Here are some tips to Staying Cool on the Run:

  • Run through lawn sprinklers, pour water over your head, put ice in your bra or in your cap, and/or a cube under your tongue. 

  • Drink Fluids and Electrolytes: Do NOT skip these. Take at least 4 oz every few miles. For runs on your own, choose routes with water fountains or gas stations so you can take advantage of some water for topical cooling and drinking. Wear a water bottle belt or carry a handheld water bottle: fill these with electrolytes that work with your gut. Examples are Gatorade or Nuun. 

  • Wear Caps/Sunglasses and Visors. Blocking the sun from your face will make a world of difference. Your own personal shade tree for your face! 

  • Take Salt Tabs/Sticks: As you sweat you lose a lot of salt and in order to absorb the fluids you are taking in you must have enough sodium in your body! Hard to do when it’s leaking out. You may have to experiment with the amount and type of salt replacement you use. Training runs are good time to practice. Do not wait for race day. 

  • Run your long runs with a support group like Roadrunners of Kansas City (RRKC) that provide ice, water and electrolytes every two miles at aid stations. 

No matter what, stay tuned to your body and know the signs for heat related illnesses and heat stroke.

For more tips on training and wellness Subscribe to our Blogs.




Glitchy Technology? Temporarily Go “Old School.”

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Imagine this…after a long day at work, you muster up the willpower, throw on your running garb, squeeze your feet into your bike shoes or yank on your swimsuit for a workout. Against every fiber of your being, you pull energy from seemingly nowhere and step outside, hop on the trainer, or jump in the water. You turn on your training device and wah wah wah, it stops working!

Need advice on what to do when our training device fails (which inevitably will)? Read our blog post on CoachAmyPT for tips on how to let it go, and press on with training plans by going “old school.”

Reminder- Filming Day is Tomorrow at our Group Run!

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Reminder! Filming day for Roadrunners of Kansas City will take place during our group run tomorrow/May 25th. We will be taking footage at the beginning, at the aid stations and at the end of our run. Start time is scheduled for 6:30 a.m., however, please be patient if we’re filming and have a slight delay. Come looking your dapper best and with energy and smiles, as many of you will be featured in our promotional video. Don’t forget to wear your RRKC gear and colors: royal blue, turquoise, orange/red, grey and white. See you soon!

Customize Your Own Roadrunners of Kansas City Swag

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Time for some more RRKC shirts/tanks. Just like we did a few years back, you buy your own shirt (this time in royal blue) and RRKC will get the logo screen printed on it. Items are due to Coach Amy by May 30th. The photo collage is a sample of items in the royal blue available at Dick's Sporting Goods. Note some brands refer to their royal blue as cobalt or indigo. As long as it isn't really dark like a navy or too light like a baby blue it will work. Can’t wait to see your style!

Filming Day!

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Heads up! During our Group Run on May 25th, we will be filming our Roadrunners of Kansas City promotional video. We will be taking footage at the beginning, at the aid stations and at the end of our run. Start time is scheduled for 6:30 a.m., however, please be patient if we’re filming and have a slight delay. Many of you will be featured in our video, so please come with energy and smiles and don’t forget to wear your RRKC gear and colors! Colors: royal blue, turquoise, orange/red, grey and white.

Roadrunners Swag for Sale!

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Show your RRKC loyalty and pride while pounding the streets sporting the latest in Roadrunners of Kansas City running gear. Coach Amy will have RRKC swag for sale at the run this Saturday.

  • Roadrunners of Kansas City ankle running socks: $15

  • CoachAmyPT ankle running socks: $15

  • Roadrunners of Kansas City visors: $25

Bring cash or check to the run on Saturday. You can also preorder and pay online at CoachAmyPT Pay My Bill. Enter the item in the invoice box so we know what you want. Can’t wait to see you Saturday!

Run Your Socks Off! FREE Fun Run May 9th 6:30-8:00 p.m.

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Join Roadrunner’s of Kansas City and CoachAmyPT for a walk/run for charity. The event is FREE with a donation of socks for Cornerstones of Care. We've loved running with you over the years, and our goal is to expand our running group so we can hit the streets with more running buddies every month. So, grab your family, friends, and co-workers who may be interested in our run group, and join us for this community building event. Wear your crazy socks, and walk or run for up to 50 minutes on the Trolley Trail, starting and ending at Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in Waldo. 

A raffle, prizes and discount ice cream from Betty Rae’s will conclude the event. By checking in at the registration table, participants are entered into the raffle drawing for a FREE month of RRKC Saturday Group Runs. 

Step up your participation and win some RRKC swag.  Prizes go to:

  1. Participant wearing the craziest socks

  2. Participant who brings the most friends

  3. Participant with the most donated socks

This run is FREE, but registration is required, and all are encouraged to donate socks! All participants must register at the following link below to reserve a spot. 

Event details:·       

  • May 9th, 6:30- 8:00 p.m.

  • Meet at Betty Rae's Ice Cream in Waldo (7140 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64114), check in at the registration table upon arrival. 

  • Run or walk the Trolley Trail north for 25 minutes and turn around. Feel free to run or run/walk a shorter period of time.

Enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with family and friends as we help our greater KC community with this weekday workout!

Meet Up Details for Rock The Parkway

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Racers! Meet at 6:30 AM in the parking lot of the Colonial Presbyterian Church: 9500 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64114. Coach Amy will not be at the start of the race this year as she is run lead for the RRKC group run. We recommend you pow wow on our FB page and exchange cell numbers so you can meet up without a hitch. In the past we walked down to the race start together, asked a friendly bystander to take a photo, went for a mile warm-up run and then hit the porta-potties before lining up. Best of luck to all the runners for a happy race day!

Why a Coach Needs a Coach

Coach Amy on the podium (far right) while her coach takes a photo with her phone.

Coach Amy on the podium (far right) while her coach takes a photo with her phone.

So, I get asked this a lot, “Why do YOU need a coach when you ARE a coach? 

Looking from the outside in, I can see how that may seem odd. But let’s think about it; a surgeon doesn’t perform surgery on herself. That’s an extreme example, because logistically it’s nearly impossible to perform surgery on oneself, but the underlying reasons that professionals seek other professionals is the same: practicality, accountability, impartiality and experiential learning.  

As a wife, mother and owner of a coaching business and physical therapy practice, I tend to put myself last on the totem pole.  So getting around to creating my own training schedule and modifying it is impractical; it just doesn’t happen. Instead, I rely on a coach to design a training plan personalized to my goals, experience and schedule. This way I don’t get forgotten or lost in the shuffle.  

A sound training plan is one thing, but actually following through with it is quite another! Reporting to a coach on a daily basis holds me accountable. I’m not just checking off the completion of a workout. I’m sharing physical data and subjective reports about how I feel physically and mentally, so modifications can be made. 

With recommended modifications, a coach is objective and impartial. Practicing what I preach is hard to do. My athletes and patients will oftentimes hear me say, “Do as I say, not as I do!” Many health care workers and coaches are the worst patients and athletes when left to their own devices. It is easy to do too little on days I’m feeling tired or lazy, and it’s easy to push myself too hard when I should be recovering. Having a coach saves me from myself!

Planning, training and modifications aside, the most profound thing I have gleaned with years of professional practice and coaching is that the more “expert” I become, the more I realize there is still a lot I don’t know. There is so much more to learn, and always room for improvement. By having my own coach, I’m not only becoming a better athlete but I’m also learning how to be a better coach.  

Spring Pep In Your Step!

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This week is the start of a new month. It's the beginning of spring, green grass, and rebirth.  If you haven't been feeling the Spring momentum, let’s change that! You CAN do it!

I have to tell myself this a lot! Coming home from a long day at work, I’m tired and emotional from the stress of LIFE. My advice as a coach and a fellow training friend: Take each day and each workout, ONE AT A TIME. Get dressed and ready, start the workout easy, and build into it. If you fall apart during the workout, that may be because you are sick or over trained. But usually by pushing through (this goes for my own training), I feel better afterwards!  

Those of you on taper, TRUST the training. Sometimes you feel great during taper. In that case hold yourself back this week. It may be tempting to go fast on your easy runs this week with those fresh legs, but you need to save it for race day! Most taper days, leave you feeling sluggish. Do not freak out! It's NORMAL. No amount of training is going to help you now - it will only hinder. Keep the pace and distances down as prescribed. And for goodness sakes, don't add anything new or different to workouts this week! 

Carbo load with “good for you” carbs on the front end of the week and taper that load down towards race day. Hydration is the key to absorbing carbs, so be sure to drink lots of water and electrolytes. 

Best of luck to those running a race this month!

And speaking of racing…It's time for our local KC area Rock the Parkway race! Please email Coach Amy (amy@coachamypt.com) if you’re racing RTP next weekend (4/13). We are making plans for meet up and warm up before the race. Stay tuned for details.