By Christopher Cudworth
It is 6:00 in the morning at the Batavia (IL) High School indoor track facility. Kelly Krause is dressed in full running gear along with three of her female proteges. All are up early to work on running form with Kelly, who is a certified trainer through the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and an RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) running coach.
Kelly specializes in coaching running form. One of her athletes is doing timed drills to improve tempo and balance in her running form. She does rapid step drills forward and sideways. The rhythm of her shoes tapping the track surface is a reminder that to run fast, you need to be able to move your feet fast. It’s that simple. And that hard.
Each time the coached athlete moves into another minute-and-a-half-long drill Kelly keeps a close eye on the form and purpose of the drill. She issues words of encouragement and instruction. When the runner finishes the drill, there is no “collapse” or relieved sigh. Instead there is focus along with some sharp breaths of recovery from the effort. There is talk about how the foot strikes are working, and why they make a difference.
True to form
“We’re building strength so that when you go to race, you can hold the proper form over the entire distance,” Kelly reminds her. There is acknowledgement, and more breathing. Then another drill begins.
Later Kelly warms down her three athletes. One has been doing intervals while the other ran a prescribed distance at pace. Their programs are personalized. All three jog together around the track to cool down.
Light on her feet
Observed from the other side of the oval, it is obvious Kelly Krause practices what she preaches. Her own running stride is buoyant and clean. It actually looks like gravity does not affect her in the same way as most people.
She also advocates off-track training outside the typical realm of endurance running to build strength for running. One of these is kickboxing which strengthens the core and works the legs and arms in a greater range of motion. “It’s also a great winter workout alternative when the streets outside won’t let you run.”
Krause has the body of a runner, lean and strong. She’s earned it. Over the past couple years her work with a company called Ethos360, a fitness training organization based in North Aurora, Illinois, has honed her own approach to fitness, diet and strength training. “It changed my life!” she enthuses.
Interestingly, that’s the same phrase one of her coached athletes uses when asked what she likes about working with Kelly Krause. “She’s changed my life!” the 40+ athlete smiles. There is sweat on her face as she pulls on her sweats. “I didn’t think I could ever do any of this!”
Life imitating art
That’s how it is for so many personal trainers. Life imitates art imitating life. Kelly Krause recently had the opportunity to lead more than 400 athletes through warmups at an event sponsored by Under Armor. “I was awed,” she smiles. “I just didn’t think it would lead to all of this.”
That’s probably not precisely true. Kelly gives off the feeling of a natural born leader, albeit a personable, somewhat self-effacing one. That comes out in her conversation. “I’m not that photogenic,” she says as she trots back a few meters to have her photo taken while running.”
Of course her statement is not true. The running form she so carefully coaches is evident in her own efficient stride. She runs over the ground, not at it. Her strong lean figure is well-aligned. There are no flailing feet. No excessive knee lifts. No overreaching strides.
She’s also smiling. Naturally. That’s one of the components of running so many people forget to embrace. Enthusiasm in movement is what Kelly seems to coach. Moving the right way matters. You’ll be happier if you learn how to move properly, she maintains.
She wants this to be true for more people who run. “Not many runners go through this type of training,” she observes. “They discover the sport and just head out the door. Then they get hurt or have joint problems. My job is to educate people how to avoid that.”
Trigger point therapy
To compliment her educational approach and help people along the way to better running health, Kelly is also trained in helping people maintain and treat muscle and joint pains. Specifically, Ethos360 focuses on trigger point therapy to help identify, treat and release tendon or joint-specific tension. “It’s all the knots, the aches that hold people back,” she notes. “We focus on better mobility through our education and training techniques.”
Ethos360 is owned and managed by Mike Miller, a personal and group trainer whose business at 1061 West Orchard Road in North Aurora (IL) recently added space that was formerly an art and photography gallery next door. “People love the floors for training,” Kerry observes. “They’re smooth but they look like barn wood. It’s just a nice atmosphere.”
A third trainer on the staff is TJ Booe. All focus on sports performance training for people of all ages; kids, adults and people who simply refuse to act their supposed age.
Reading running form
Kelly Krause was a reading tutor in her prior life. Now her job is reading the running form of those who want to get better at their chosen sport. “Speed will come over time,” she reminds her running students. “It’s about repetition of the right things and building endurance so that you can sustain them over the course of a race. So I teach technique and build confidence in people that they can hold that form over the entire time they are running. You want to be able to cover the distance without a breakdown in form or energy.”
Some of her techniques are literally time-tested. “We do 400 meter repeats as a test,” Krause notes. “That’s how we measure progress over time.”
A running ethos
The difference is in the baseline structure of the running form and how it relates to endurance and sustained effort. That aligns with the name of the business. Ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.
It’s an interesting notion to consider that good running form can actually be an “ethos” and even part of a runner’s worldview. Many great runners in history have taken running form to be an almost holy writ when engaged at top levels. None other than Bill Rodgers once commented that during one of his victories in the New York Marathon, he had a sense that he should pay attention to form. He even wanted to hold his hands in the correct positions. There was a sense that he wanted to do everything right.
That is indeed an ethos, and once from which more runners, cyclists and swimmers can benefit.