Power of "The Walk"

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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 is running’s first cousin. The mechanics are very similar with two major differences: at least one foot stays on the ground and there is no jump. These two factors considerably minimize the strain on the joints.   

Walking Benefits for Runners:

  • Recovery during and between workouts and races.

  • Adding volume safely for new runners.

  • Alternative for injured runners. 

  • Cross training for healthy runners.  

I didn’t personally experience the benefits of walking during my training season until recently. Last year, whilst training for my first half Ironman triathlon, I bought a puppy. Everyone told me, “It’s never a good time to buy a puppy.” At the time I was thinking this was especially dumb. Or was it? Walking the dog is important to their well-being, especially for a working breed like my Aussie.  

It turns out walking also became beneficial for my well-being! I enjoyed meeting new neighbors and noticing details in nature, landscaping and architecture in a way I don’t when running by at twice the speed. Even better, I noticed a significant improvement in post workout soreness and enhanced recovery between workouts (which were sometimes two per day). With improved recovery, one minimizes injury but also enhances performance by being ready for the next workout!  

There are lots of ways to add walking to your training regimen. Be sure to wear supportive footwear and use good form. Vary the terrain for maximum strength benefits. To add this to a current training regimen, consider walking a distance or time equivalent to twice that of a run distance or time (see below). Consult your coach if you need help. If you are injured, be sure to check with your physical therapist for how best to add walking to your “return to run” program.   

How to Boost your Run with a Walk: 

  • 10 min of walking = 5 min of running. 

  • Vary terrain for added strength benefits: steps, hills, technical trail.

  • Avoid over striding.

  • Wear run shoes e.g. not flip flops (you’d think I wouldn’t have to say this, but if I made that mistake, then someone else probably will). 

  • Consult your coach if you are a new runner using walking to increase fitness. 

  • Consult a physical therapist if you are injured and using walking as an alternative to running or as a strategy to return to sport.

Walking is highly beneficial for use in recovery, injury prevention and run strength, because it is similar to running yet less stressful on the joints. 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? Read these quick and simple tricks of the trade to dry them out, freshen them up, and get them ready for the next run.

This works for drying out any athletic shoes. So if you packed lightly for vacation, and need to restore wet shoes for the next day’s adventures, these tips could save the day!


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. 

My battle with Runner’s Knee was thirty years ago; now I regularly treat athletes suffering from the same condition. CoachAmyPT patient, Alyssa, suffered from Runner’s Knee and writes, “I’ve been doing the stretches you showed me, squatting properly and taking my pace slow.... excited to report that I ran my first pain-free three miles [in months].” Alyssa went on to run a half marathon this Spring. 

The first sign of Runner’s Knee is usually mild pain behind the knee cap after running. As it worsens, pain can become severe and occur after AND during running. A hallmark sign of this condition is pain in the knee while standing after sitting for long periods of time. Climbing up and down stairs can also be uncomfortable. 

There are many causes of Runner’s Knee including training errors and poor bio-mechanics. 

The pain in the knee is a result of altered positioning of the knee cap on the lower part of the thigh bone. This altered position means that forces are not evenly distributed on the underside of the knee cap; wear and tear and irritation result as it glides over the thigh bone improperly. Over time this can result in tears of the cartilage surface.  

What is causing this altered position? Weakness of the hips, imbalances in mobility such as tight Achilles and hamstrings, and poor dynamics at the foot with running are some of the possible culprits. A physical therapist that specializes in running injuries can accurately determine the contributing factors, and provide treatment that addresses them specifically. Proper diagnosis and treatment can also help prevent the injury from coming back.

Most running injuries are caused by a combination of things, and training errors typically do play a part in Runner’s Knee. Common errors include increasing volume and intensity too quickly, and lack of recovery between and within training seasons. A physical therapist with a background in run coaching and training can be helpful in assessing if training error is part of the puzzle, and work with you to make necessary changes. 

So what to do if you suspect you have Runner’s Knee? At the first sign of a problem, it is best to rest for a few days, take NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and apply moist heat (soak in Epsom salts). After a few days, resume activity gradually. If symptoms continue, seek evaluation and treatment as soon as possible. The longer this problem persists, the greater the potential for more damage, and the longer the rehabilitation process will take. Not all knee pain associated with running is due to Runner’s Knee, so an evaluation by a professional is important.

Note: Running while taking NSAIDS is not recommended.

Alyssa listened to her body, sought treatment, put in the work, and went on to run a half marathon this Spring. “I missed running so much and I feel more like myself than I have in months... thank you so much for helping me get back in the game.” -Alyssa. Don’t let a pain in the knee cap put an end to your running game either.


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.


Staying Cool on the Run

Coach Amy Staying Cool on a Hot Run

Coach Amy Staying Cool on 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!

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.

Check out the article on the Roadrunners of Kansas City blog for strategies on how to properly and safely acclimate to running in the heat and humidity.

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! You don’t receive heart rate, pace, cadence, power…whatever it is that you want or NEED to track. 

We’ve become evermore reliant on technology to provide us with helpful data. Coaches prescribe, tailor and assess workouts based on a number of parameters such as cadence, pace, power, and heart rate. As athletes we rely on this information to meet goals during the workout, but the completed workout also becomes part of our log. We even tease each other, “if your device didn’t record it, it didn’t happen.”

So what to do when our training device fails? It inevitably does, whether it’s a connectivity problem, a battery problem or even worse a software programming issue! Should we take a hammer to the device and pulverize it? Oh, I’ve recently spent several trainer rides envisioning that option when my device kept failing. Thankfully, I didn’t follow through with my grand plans for a temporarily gratifying solution. Several chats with helpful and knowledgeable tech support and a software update later; it’s working and I’m back on track.

When technology fails, what can an athlete do besides exclaim obscenities? Use it as an excuse to bail altogether? My advice is to just press on. Not the “ON” button - maybe pressing OFF would be good actually. What I mean is, just keep going.

Don’t give up. Instead, go “old school.” In the not too distant past we trained with nothing more than a stop watch. In the pool, we used a poolside timer. For heart rate, we stopped and counted beats per second. We didn’t have power output on our road bikes, unless we were in a research lab. 

Use what you have on hand like your phone’s stopwatch (another piece of tech that is hopefully charged and working), and your brain. Do the math to determine your splits. Take your pulse at your wrist: count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your beats per minute. 

Most importantly, listen to your body. It will tell you what to do. How do you feel? What is your rate of perceived exertion (RPE)? Are you supposed to be pushing your threshold? If so, go for a “feels like” hard difficulty level.  Be flexible, and know it’s not just ONE workout that makes or breaks your training. It’s consistency and effort that lead to success. So allow yourself a moment of frustration when things don’t work as planned, and then let it go, press on and go “old school.” Soon you will get your device working and will have that precious data  back. Even though you may end up without any technological proof of your workout, you know you did it and so does your body, and that’s really all that matters. 

Insider Secrets to Scheduling your Appointments at CoachAmyPT

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Best tips on how to work the system to get your PT appointments when you need them! 

  • Book ahead to ensure you maintain consistency with your PT care and secure times that work best for you. Follow-up and tune up appointments can significantly improve the overall results of treatment. The CoachAmyPT scheduling system allows scheduling 4 weeks in advance.

  • Set a reminder in your calendar each week to book your appointments out up to the full 4 weeks. 

  • Get on the Waitlist. When the schedule is full, the best way to let Coach Amy know that you need an appointment is to get on the Waitlist. To do so, select ONE time for each day of the week that you are available. This selected Waitlist time is not set in stone, it simply alerts Coach Amy to notify you if anything opens up on that day. When possible, Coach Amy comes in early and stays late to be sure her patients are seen in a timely manner. 

Coach Amy is Keeping KC Moving - Running, Working, Living

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Coach Amy PT’s Mission is to Keeping KC Moving whether it’s running, biking, swimming, lifting grandchildren, fighting fires or working with animals like patient, Rachel who is a physical therapy assistant for canines!

Rachel had such intense elbow pain that she couldn’t perform at work before coming to CoachAmyPT for treatment, “I am so thankful for Amy! Before I was treated by Coach Amy, my pain was so bad that I couldn’t even squeeze a bottle of ultrasound gel at work. I had dealt with the pain for about 6 months prior to coming to her. I endured the pain and issue for so long, that I wasn’t sure if PT would even help.

Amy’s capabilities with Dry Needling combined with Active Release Therapy (ART), manual therapy, and “at home” exercises relieved my epicondylitis. This combination of treatments really got to the root of my elbow and nerve pain. Within 6 visits my pain was almost gone, and the range of motion in my elbow and shoulder was restored! Amy is so caring, she really paid attention to what I had to say, and she’s always upbeat! She is phenomenal! Thank you for getting me back to where I am today, and back to my job!”



Protein and its Role in Injury Prevention and Recovery

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Athletes and patients often ask me questions about nutrition. From my experience as a coach, therapist and athlete I’ve gleaned some knowledge on the topic.  As we all know proper nutrition is key for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Our diet not only affects our athletic performance, but it also plays an important role in how quickly we recover from injuries, and helps prevent injury in the first place. 

A protein rich diet is particularly critical for athletes.  Everyone needs protein for rebuilding and repairing the body, but it’s especially important for patients recovering from injury and for endurance athletes. During injury rehabilitation we are trying to repair injured connective tissue (muscle, nerves, fascia, tendons and ligaments). Athletes in training are trying to build muscle at the same time their muscles and connective tissues are undergoing micro tearing. This is where protein comes in! The primary job of protein in the body is to repair tissue, including muscle cells that were damaged from exercising to the point of fatigue.   

Protein is processed by the body in small quantities, so nutritionists recommend that we take in protein throughout the entire day, at every meal and with snacks. Most athletes are aware of the importance of taking in protein after a workout, especially within the first hour. But many athletes do not realize the importance of taking in protein throughout the whole day. The protein requirement for athletes is about 60% higher than non-active counterparts. If we rely solely on stuffing ourselves with a high protein meal one hour after a workout, we do not have enough protein in our systems for repair and rebuilding.  

So what foods are high in protein? Here is a list of a few healthy sources that pack a lot of protein per serving: lean roasted meats and fish, red beans, cooked eggs, low-fat yogurt, skim milk, fresh nuts and nut butter with no added sugar (peanut, almond, cashew). 

One of my favorite go to’s immediately after a workout is chocolate skim milk. I also like gluten free protein balls for snacks. Do you have a favorite recipe high in protein? Share with us on our CoachAmyPT Facebook page. We’d love to have you chime in! 

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. Bring your family and friends, 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!