Published on April 12, 2021

RunStrong training increases Free State runner's confidence and control

If you watched Isabelle Pro compete in the March 26 track meet at Free State High School, you wouldn’t guess that this was the freshman’s first time running track. She was joined by many of her fellow RunStrong training partners to compete in the first meet since the sport was shut down due to COVID-19.

The daughter of two collegiate runners, Isabelle was exposed to running at a young age. She initially participated in soccer and then started running cross country in sixth grade where her mom was her coach.

“I enjoyed playing with my friends and going for runs with my mom, but didn’t really compete or push myself,” she said.

Isabelle Pro undergoes a running analysis

The yellow line from Isabelle's running analysis shows her initial hip drop, typical of runners with hip weakness.

It wasn’t until the eighth grade that Isabelle started truly enjoying running and learning how to push herself to her limits. As the start of her first high school cross country season approached, the RunStrong team invited her to complete a comprehensive run analysis.

“When I did the first run analysis I felt like my arms and legs had no control. I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said.

Following the analysis, Isabelle learned some basic hip exercises and was encouraged to participate in the off-season RunStrong training classes at the conclusion of the cross-country season. This led her to a successful season competing with Bishop Seabury and helped her team to a 4th place finish at the 2A state championship meet. Following that success, she joined area female high school runners to start off-season training with RunStrong.

To help track her progress and provide individual guidance for her training needs, the RunStrong team relied on the video analysis they previously completed.

“We were able to target Isabelle’s opportunities for improvement and help her recognize when her mechanics were not optimal,” shared Nami Stone, RunStrong coach.

Isabelle trained with the RunStrong team twice per week, focusing on strength, plyometrics and running mechanics.

“It’s been great to work with her,” said athletic trainer Zack Sanchez ONeill. “Isabelle’s work ethic and attention to detail in our training sessions was very impressive. I look forward to watching her grow as a runner over the coming years.”

Isabelle Pro performs a second run analysis

The green line shows Isabelle’s post-training hip drop, which is considerably less and is consistent with her gains in hip strength.

Following completion of the training classes, the RunStrong team decided to do a repeat video analysis to be able to provide an objective measure of Isabelle’s improvement.

“Her repeat gait analysis only confirmed what we were seeing during her training.  Her running gait is more efficient and perhaps most importantly she demonstrates more confidence in her running,” shares Dr. Stephan Pro, OrthoKansas orthopedic surgeon and physician champion for the RunStrong team.

Dr. Pro, who is also Isabelle’s father, was a collegiate runner for Wake Forest and understands the importance of running mechanics.

“I have been impressed on what the RunStrong team has been able to accomplish for all of their athletes in only one offseason,” he said.

“I really learned how to train in the off-season, working on cadence and my running mechanics,” Isabelle said. “I now run with more confidence and feel like I have more control and can stride out easier.”

Now, all that hard work is paying off. At her first-ever track meet, Isabelle led her new teammates on the Free State High School 4x800 meter relay team to a victory and then turned around and ran a two-mile race, setting the bar very high for future competitors.

“Isabelle ran a very smart race. She competed against fellow RunStrong participant Natalie Kennedy, who attends Lawrence High. Both girls pushed each other to success,” Stone said. “Isabelle is on track to break the 12-minute mark for the two-mile distance this year, which is a fantastic time for any female runner.”


About the author

Nami Stone is a physical therapist with LMH Health Therapy Services.

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