NEW Class: Phoenix Core

CoachAmyPT is offering a NEW class! This is an 8-week, no to low impact strength class consisting of slow, controlled, quality movement patterns that strengthen the core (a cylindrical column from shoulders to just below the hips).

We will build a solid foundation for functional movement in daily life and sport. Phoenix Core compliments the Phoenix Rising class for patients and athletes who want to do both. This class is open to all experience levels, beginner to advanced.

Content created by physical therapist and running coach, Amy Parkerson-Mitchell.  Classes led by Jennifer Wolf. 

Class is held on Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM with the exception of the week of Sept. 9th. The make-up class will be held on Monday Sept. 10th at 6:00 PM. Space is limited! Register HERE.

Phoenix Speed Fall Session OPEN

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Improve your performance, efficiency, run form and run strength with RRKC speed training led by Coach Amy. Workouts are personalized to each athletes' goals and experience level. Workouts include dynamic warm-up, running drills, hill training and/or variety of speed workouts such as fartleks, intervals, supersets and more. 

Sessions are held Tuesday evenings in a variety of locations. Due to the nature of the training, we cannot accommodate drop-ins. Must be 18 years and over. Session size is limited to 12 athletes.

Twelve week session. August 14 - October 30th. Register HERE

Phoenix Rising Fall Session OPEN

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Phoenix Rising is 8 weeks of endurance sport specific strengthening for your fall racing development. Content created by physical therapist and running coach, Amy Parkerson-Mitchell.

Classes are led by former Jazzercise instructor, Jennifer Wolf. Great for runners, cyclists and triathletes! Must be age 18 yrs. or older. Class size is limited. This is an intermediate to advanced level class. Not recommended for beginners.

Phoenix Rising Fall 2018 is held on Thursday evenings 6:00 PM at CoachAmyPT clinic. August 16th - October 11 (no class Sept. 6). Class size is limited to 10 athletes. 

Registration is no open. Go HERE

Ironman Ohio 70.3 The Bike - Scarlett and I Tackle a Half Ironman

 Coach Amy embraces Scarlett after a successful bike leg at Ironman 70.3 Ohio.

Coach Amy embraces Scarlett after a successful bike leg at Ironman 70.3 Ohio.

Preface

Roadie is a term cyclists use affectionately to refer to their road bike. It’s designed for the open road and more stout than a triathlon bike. Some triathletes have one of each and use their tri bike minimize drag in a race. New to the sport, I opted to stick with my roadie for the 56-mile long Half Ironman course. I wrote this blog to inspire those chasing a dream, taking on a challenge or facing fears in this amazing ride we call life. 

The Bike - Scarlett and I Tackle a Half Ironman

A friend of mine once told me “every time a roadie passes a triathlon bike, an angel gets it's wings.” 

I met Scarlett two summers ago. Our relationship was tentative at first. Every week I saw posts on Facebook of triathletes lying in hospital beds, unrecognizably swollen and bruised with broken bones or missing teeth after bike accidents. Worse were the stories of athletes who didn’t survive their crashes. I was terrified, so Scarlett waited in the garage for months collecting dust until I had the nerve to take her for a ride.

We started our journey in a parking lot where I clumsily managed to clip my shoes in and out of her pedals and fumbled to control her gears. The first time I placed her on a resistance trainer, the smell of burning rubber began to circulate in the room. Ensconced in haze of smoke, we listed to the right in a slow, awkward fall to the ground in front of a room full of experienced triathletes . 

In order to save our budding friendship from further disaster (and embarassment), I consulted with bike expert, Mike Irwin. He showed me how to change Scarlett’s tires, set her up in the trainer, and work her gears. With his fine tuning and adjustments, Scarlett and I fit perfectly together. A summer later and one sprint triathlon race (10 mile bike leg) under our belt, we set about training for our first half Ironman. 

Many nights after work we sat for hours in the trainer glued to one spot and powering nowhere. I imagined Scarlett was a horse and instead of a room, we were running in a large field towards the smudge on the wall in front of us; the smudge became a mirage of a red barn. On Sundays, our scheduled workout was usually outside on the road. We escaped the sweet aroma of donut shops, oversized SUV’s and the texting drivers of suburbia to the Kansas countryside with rolling hills lined in cornfields, fewer drivers and only an occasional stop sign to slow us down. 

With each ride, we became a stronger team. Scarlet remained cool when I lost my temper at reckless drivers. She was steady when I threw tantrums or broke down crying in a bonk because I failed to hydrate or eat enough. When our Coach made us slow down because “The bike is all about fueling and saving it for the run,” we commiserated in our frustration, but agreed to concede. 

Once, we took a 62 mile pilgrimage in 102 degrees around the shadeless 3.5 mile airport loop with a vicious headwind that seemed to change direction against us at every turn. We discovered our grit, stamina and mental toughness that day; we finally had what it takes to complete a half ironman. 

Scarlett had her last tune up with Mike and we headed to Ohio. The day before the race, I adorned her in the required Ironman stickers with our race number, 864, and walked her to transition. She hung on the rack steadily and sensing my hesitation to leave, she winked, “Don’t worry. I will be here when you come back. Just make it through the swim and together, we will go out and kill it.” 

On race morning, after completing the swim (see The Long Swim), I ran up the hill from the beach, rounded the corner, and headed straight for Scarlett. Dutifully, she was right where I left her. I threw on my helmet, tucked nutrition into my kit, stuffed my feet into my shoes, and lifted Scarlett free. I ran her to the road and once astride, we became one. 

Itching to go fast, we begrudgingly held back as our Coach instructed, even as we were passed by riders on fancy tri bikes with their aerodynamic bars and high performance, carbon fiber wheels. One such rider sported black shorts with large white letters printed on the rear. “JUICY”, it read. As instructed, I let him go and kept my heart rate down, ate, drank and settled in.

I scanned for pot holes while we jockeyed for position in congested race traffic. We held strong, winding through long valleys of soybeans and corn fields. We waved at spectators and thanked volunteers. This was not loops around the airport; this was fun!

Occasionally, we passed riders stranded on the side of the road with flats or other mechanical issues. Some gave up with hands on their hips shaking their heads. Others worked furiously making repairs to get back in the race. With a heavy heart for their defeat and hopes they would soon recover, we pressed on. 

Miles passed quickly and at approximately 40 miles, I spotted a red barn. It was just like the one I visualized on my wall at home many months ago! We surged towards it, bridging gaps and pulling away from tri bikes; angels were getting wings! 

Two miles from the finish, we were still strong. I was energetic, well hydrated, and growing giddy with excitement for the upcoming transition when Scarlett made an ominous sound as though a small rock was bouncing around in her gears. "Oh, No! Come on girl. Hang in there!” The rock flew loose without noticeable damage. 

Threat averted, we cruised to the finish of the bike leg to find a growing back-up of stalled riders. Once free of the entanglement, I dismounted Scarlett and ran us to the second transition. I hung her on the rack, thanked her for a solid ride and said, “See you at the finish, girl. Right now, it’s time to run." (The Run recap coming soon)

 Ironman 70.3 - Ohio. Coach Amy has fun with the professional photographers on the bike course. 

Ironman 70.3 - Ohio. Coach Amy has fun with the professional photographers on the bike course. 

 Bike Stats from Coach Amy's Garmin Forerunner 935. 

Bike Stats from Coach Amy's Garmin Forerunner 935. 

Ironman Ohio 70.3 - The Long Swim

 Delaware Lake, Ohio. Morning of the 2018 Ohio Half Ironman. 

Delaware Lake, Ohio. Morning of the 2018 Ohio Half Ironman. 

Preface

The swim course of the 2018 Ohio Half Ironman was accidentally set .3 miles longer than the standard 1.2 mile Half Ironman course, hence the title. I wrote this short story to inspire those chasing a dream, taking on a challenge or facing fears in this amazing ride we call life. 

The Long Swim 

Success rarely occurs with luck or miracles; it happens with learning, consistent practice and execution - Coach Amy.

Two summers ago, I did not know how to swim. I swam head above the water with T-rex like arm strokes and toes dragging on the bottom like a trawling net capturing used bandaids and hair. One 25 meter lap and I was hanging on the edge of the pool gasping for air. To successfully finish a Half Ironman Triathlon, professional intervention was required. 

Enter Coach Liz Wielding, Josie Palmerin and David Mitchell who patiently transformed my feeble stroke to one with arms that actually lengthen, pull and propel me forward in an efficient way through open water. Oh, it’s far from perfect; some day I want to swim like my peers who seem to hover on the surface and glide effortlessly through the waves. 

Swimming in a triathlon is not JUST about the swim stroke. One has to battle terrifying “monsters” that grab at ankles, swipe off goggles and knock out breathing with a kick to the chest. And the worst of the monsters in the water is Self Doubt.  

When I walked up to the beach to scope out the swim course, I nearly buckled at the knees. It was the circumference of the lake cove I water skied and boated on for over 20 years. I never imagined swimming across it, let alone around it. It did not matter that I swam twice this distance in training. Looking at the distance laid out like this, a dread invaded my head and spread quickly to my heart and stomach! 

I spent the rest of the day and night pressing back the panic with positive self talk, “trust the training”, “chip away at it”, “stay in your bubble” blah blah blah! This worked for a few minutes before Self Doubt crept back in.

In the early hours of race day morning at Delaware State Park, I sat in the car feeling sicker each minute and wondered, “Why I am I doing this? Why put myself through this torture? This isn’t fun. All the sacrifices over the last 6 months just to feel pain, anxiety, unhappy, and literally believe I might die out there? WTH!?"

I looked out at the cars around me and the thousands of bikes set up at T1 (the transition between swim and bike). “Why are there so many people here doing this to themselves? Are we all crazy?” A disembodied Yoda voice interceded, "TRUST THE TRAINING.” I recalled what my triathlete buddies told me, “Enjoy the day. The race is the celebration of all your hard work and training.” With trust in them and my coach, I dragged myself to the swim start. 

When it was time for the spectators to leave the athletes at the start, I clung to my husband David like a child on his first day of preschool. Draped in a throwaway blanket to keep warm, I sulked and waited while my stomach turned increasingly sour. Eventually the stagnent mob of swimmers moved swiftly toward the water and like lemmings, we ran in 4 at a time, every 3 seconds.

Once in the lake and only a few meters out, I stopped in panic, unable to catch my breath. I whirled around to face the shore and back again to the tangle of limbs and churning water and I thought clearly, "I can quit. I can turn back now and it will all go away."

But that kind of relief is temporary. Failure would last and fester for however long it took me to try again. Failure became a greater fear than the fear of the swim itself. I resumed horizontal and took small, quick strokes with frequent breaths and listened to Liz’s coaching advice in my head, "you are trained for THIS. Just another swim. Keep moving forward.” 

In the mayhem of kicking and slapping limbs my goggles were torn off my face and my breath was knocked out with a kick to the chest but I drew upon the memories of training with my son Spencer at the lake where I practiced staying relaxed and in my bubble while he pulled me down, hit and kicked me. Tapping into this past state of success helped me recover until eventually I fell into my practiced stroke: reach, pull, breathe, reach, pull, breathe. 

As I rounded the second turn buoy, I felt a whirling sensation at my finger tips coming from the feet of swimmers in front of me. What’s this? I was gaining on other athlete’s? I began to sight for openings to pass. Before I knew it, the last buoy was in sight and I swam till my knuckles hit the sand. I felt energized exiting the water and was compelled to smile, wave and whoop as I ran up the hill to my bike. 

 Ironman 70.3 - Ohio. Coach Amy energized and relieved coming out of the LONG swim. 

Ironman 70.3 - Ohio. Coach Amy energized and relieved coming out of the LONG swim. 

 Ironman Ohio - 70.3. Swim Stats from Coach Amy's Garmin Forerunner 935. 

Ironman Ohio - 70.3. Swim Stats from Coach Amy's Garmin Forerunner 935. 

Running Related Research - Female Endurance Athletes Needed!

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Coach Amy, in conjunction with Dr. Janice Louden, is conducting a running related research project with the Rockhurst University Physical Therapy doctoral students. Testing began in February and will continue throughout the spring.

Testing takes place at CoachAmyPT clinic and will take only 30 min. It involves non-rigorous testing of stability and mobility. We are looking for more volunteer subjects that meet the following requirements: 

  • Over 40 years or under 30 years of age
  • Female (not pregnant) 
  • Trained for an endurance event in the last year (sprint triathlons are considered an endurance event). 

If you meet the requirements and are interested in contributing to our research efforts, please email amy@coachamypt.com. We'd love to have your help! 

Brain Power: Using Mental Imagery to Boost Recovery from Sports Injury

 Visual imagery during a cat nap can boost performance and recovery. 

Visual imagery during a cat nap can boost performance and recovery. 

I was reminded of the power of mental imagery recently when learning to breathe bilaterally (to the right and the left) while swimming. I started out visually rehearsing breathing to both sides as I fell asleep. I dreamt about it over and over again. The next day I hopped into the pool and tried to swim bilaterally for the first time. The first 200 yards were ugly; I swallowed a lot of water, but then I was able to do it!

Research has shown that even without physical practice, mentally playing through activity such as running, biking or swimming can carry over into the physical world. And, when combined with actual training has a significant impact in performance over training alone. 

If mental imagery works to enhance performance, then patients resting from sport could benefit from this practice, along with their other therapies, boosting the success of recovery until return to sport is physically possible. 

So, lay down for a cat nap - close those eyes and begin to imagine your moves. When we believe, great things can happen! 

How to Safely Run in the Snow

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There are risks and rewards to running in the snow. Knowing how to do so safely can be enjoyable and beneficial. Snow running provides resistance making it a challenging workout. Because of the increased resistance and uneven surfaces, injury can occur if steps are not taken to accommodate for it. 

To safely run in the snow, slow down pace, shorten stride and decrease planned distance. Consider decreasing the distance by 1/2 to 1/3 of planned mileage depending upon the depth of the snow. For example, a training plan that calls for 10 miles, should drop down to 5-7 miles in snowy conditions.

It is helpful to wear trail shoes or traction cleats such as yaktrax to improve stability with landing and power with push off on the snow. 

Expect your calves and hamstrings to be a bit more sore than usual. Running should never be painful. Pain = STOP. 

If snow is so deep that it requires high knees to clear the feet, consider snowshoeing or cross country skiing instead and skip the run! The hip flexors will be much happier. 

Be attuned to the weather conditions. Did we have a thaw and then a refreeze? This can cause snow to become icy on top or underneath. Running on ice is a no-no. The injury risk is too high for the reward. Consider running on an indoor track or cross training instead. 

Happy snow running!