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.

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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.

Can Physical Therapy Get Rid of My Headache?

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I get this inquiry a lot and, yes, physical therapy can help! It all depends on the cause. Headaches caused by restrictions in the muscles, nerves and fascia can respond well to physical therapy. For example, when muscles of the jaw, neck and upper back are tight or weak, they can pinch nerves and blood vessels resulting in headache.

For treatment, I use a combination of Dry Needling (IDN), Active Release Technique (ART), and functional exercise. Check out this full article on the CoachAmyPT blog to read more about the effectiveness and qualifications of these treatments for severe or “pop up” headaches.

Active Release Technique (ART) and Dry Needling Can Boost Recovery

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Nothing is more frustrating than becoming injured during training. Even with a sound training plan, injury can occur and completely derail race plans and goals. Physical therapy early in the injury process with a practitioner that specializes in endurance sports, can keep athletes training and racing with minimal to no disruption in training.

Lauren, a CoachAmyPT patient, shares her story of how Active Release Technique and Dry Needling helped her recover from injury within weeks of race day, only to compete and PR for that course! Click the full article link below from the CoachAmyPT blog to hear Lauren’s story, and discover the powerful results from these state of the art treatments.

Take Care When Riding Upright on the Trainer

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Who’s guilty of warming up on the bike trainer or stationary bike sitting upright, hands free, scrolling through social media?  Me!  Riding upright in the saddle with unintended excessive lordosis (arch) in the lower back could cause back pain and injury (see photos above). 

Mike Irwin, owner of BicycleFit Rx recently weighed in on this subject: "For triathletes, the nose of the saddle is purposefully adjusted in more of a downward tilt for proper fit, so sitting upright will tend to cause even more anterior pelvic tilt.  Once the athlete starts pedaling in the upright position and the hips are moving, it forces the back into more extension (tilt)." 

So, friends, be aware of proper posture when riding upright and use a strong core to stabilize and prevent back injury.  Otherwise set that phone down and lean forward, hands or forearms on the bars!  

Article Co-contributor:  Mike Irwin

Coach Amy Across the Globe

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I was pleased as punch to get a message from Michael in Germany telling me about his 5K training, “I’m now in the third week of your training plan and getting better and feel a bit stronger.  I just wanna say thanks, and I’ll keep going forward to reach my personal goals.”  

Hearing athlete’s stories about their training and race adventures is one of my favorite parts of coaching.  I was thrilled to learn that not only is Michael finding my training program helpful, but due to Garmin Coach's incredible reach I can help someone I've never even met and who lives so far away.  

“Congratulations, Michael, on reaching your third week of training!  I'm so pleased to hear that you're getting better and feeling stronger.  I know you can reach those goals.  Please keep me posted on your progress!”

It puts me over the moon with joy to hear how all of my Garmin Coach, CoachAmyPT patients, and Roadrunners of Kansas City athletes are doing.  Receiving updates not only helps keep me in the loop, it also creates a community of people when we share your stories in an effort to inspire and motivate each other.  Thank you, Michael, for reminding me how big of an impact a simple message can have. 

Share your update by Posting a Review on our Facebook Page, or email Coach Amy by clicking the envelope icon below (info@roadrunnerskc.com). Keep 'em coming, people!

Don't Run on a Balance Beam

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Ever have muddy, bruised or bloody shins or ankles after a run? This can happen with a crossover running gait. Not only does it leave unwanted scuffs on your ankle, it is inefficient and can cause IT band pain, knee pain or shin splints. 

Most runners don’t even realize they have faulty gait patterns. In this article from the CoachAmyPT blog Coach Amy explains (and demonstrates) what the crossover gait looks like, and why runners lose power and increase their chances of injury with this run gait.

Like us on Facebook and Instagram for more training tips and trends.

Get More From a Strong Core

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In today’s fitness focused world, we’ve all heard a lot of buzz around “strengthening the core.”  Wondering what all of the hype is about?  Focusing on improving core strength on cross training days can improve athletic performance and prevent injury during training.

With a strong core our movements are more efficient, and we gain more power and function from the upper and lower extremities.  With a weak core, we are like a “rag doll”; our arms and legs move less efficiently, and energy is wasted. For endurance athletes, a strong core translates to more power in the arm and leg swing while running, the pull and kick while swimming, and the push and pull while cycling. 

Contrary to popular belief, having a strong core doesn’t just mean having strong abs.  Our core encompasses the entire cylindrical column of muscles ranging from above our shoulders to below our hips.  Athletes have to be very strategic about how they engage these muscles and make them stronger.

CoachAmyPT offers core strengthening classes designed for both beginners and advanced athletes. Phoenix Core classes focus on slow, controlled, quality movement patterns.  While Phoenix Rising classes incorporate higher intensity moves to train runners to be more explosive and push off the ground with more power. 

Choose the class that’s right for you, and join us for the first Spring session beginning the week of March 4th.  Hurry, space is limited.

Like us on Facebook and Instagram for more training tips and trends.

To Treadmill or Not to Treadmill?

Ice, deep snow and sub zero temperatures are driving many endurance athletes indoors to the treadmill this winter. Unfortunately, running a long distance on the treadmill may do more harm than good especially if used as a short term substitute to overground running without adjusting for the fact that it is a different surface. In this article, Coach Amy explains why runners should exercise caution when choosing the treadmill and shares tips on how to treadmill safely.

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The way our joints and muscles respond to running is different on different surfaces such as grass, mud, rock, sand or rubber track. There is not yet a consensus among researchers as to the differences between overground running v.s. treadmill running, however many sound studies show a significant difference in the forces or load on certain muscles and joints when comparing the two surfaces. Riley, P. “A Kinematics and Kinetic Comparison of Overground and Treadmill Running.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008.

Because of these differences, runners could sustain injury if they try to run too long or far on a surface that is new to them. I see injuries in the clinic every winter when non-treadmill runners jump on a treadmill to “get in a long run.”

So what is an endurance athlete in the winter supposed to do when a 20-mile long run is on the training schedule but it’s icy and -10 degrees outside? I recommend splitting up the mileage (or time) amongst several different options. For example, alternate running 30 min on the treadmill, 30 min. on an indoor track and 30 min of elliptical. Repeat if necessary. This will break up the monotony and give the chance for muscles to adapt and recover from the varying loads/stresses of the different surfaces.

To prevent injury from running on a treadmill follow these tips from Coach Amy:

  • Keep at least 1-2% incline to account for lack of wind

  • Vary the incline throughout the run to spread out the load to a variety of muscles as you would with the natural grade of a road run.

  • Start with a short distance/time e.g. (20-30 min)

  • Vary the speed of the belt throughout the run rather than staying at the same speed (helps prevent changes to gait with fatigue)

  • Make sure the belt is in good working order (stiff, not loose)


Need for Speed

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Improve race pace, feel stronger crossing the finish line, and prevent injury with your run buddies! RRKC’s 6-week Winter speed work session starts on February, 12th.  Sessions are held at various outdoor parks on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 p.m.  New location this round at the paved trails at Somerset and Nall! Space is limited, so act fast to run fast!