Learning to fly with the AMPLA FLY

Disclaimer: I received a pair of the AMPLA FLY running shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

For the last month I’ve been able to test out these really cool looking AMPLA FLY running shoes. When I saw the design, they were so different I had to try them out! They look so space age and technical!

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AMPLA was founded by Harvard trained sports scientists who developed and designed the shoes. They engineered them to “amplify athletic ability.” They are designed to efficiently use force and promote better running mechanics.

The most noticeable thing about the AMPLA FLY shoes is the carbon fiber plate on the forefoot sole. It works almost like a little springboard to maximize force at toe off. It also helps align the foot for better ground contact position.

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These shoes are designed for shorter, faster distances. I did not run in these exclusively for the past four weeks. I used them for speed work and shorter tempo runs to break them in and see how they felt. My notes on the shoe:

  • I immediately noticed a difference in my running stride. I’m a chronic heel striker and these shoes really made me shorten up my stride and increase turnover. I loved this about the shoe because it did it in a way that I didn’t have to overthink my stride. It just started to feel more natural. This translated into actually learning, if you will, how to run more toward my forefoot in my other running shoes as well.
  • I felt a little speedier with these shoes. I’m not sure if it was a placebo affect or the promotion of a more efficient stride, but my tempo runs with these shoes were some of the  quickest I’ve seen in the last two months. And my legs felt good at the end…I was just out of breath.
  • They are definitely more “shoe” than I’m used to. At 9.8 oz they’re heavier than a lot of my other shoes. It took a few runs to break them in and get used to how they felt.
  • The sole is more rigid than my other shoes. Again, just took a few short runs to break them in and get used to the feel. Now I really don’t notice it so much.
  • The sizing is on point with other shoe brands. I wear an 8.5 in Saucony and HOKA and the 8.5 in the AMPLA FLY fit great.
  • I like the seamless upper toe box. It is lightweight and stretchy and I felt like I had a lot of room to let my toes splay out naturally.
  • The 4mm heel to toe drop is a really good drop for me. I really like around 3mm to 4mm.

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This was a really, really cool shoe to test out. With so much thought and research and design put into it I almost felt like the bionic woman running in them. I’m going to keep using them for my shorter run days because I really feel like they promote a more efficient stride. The more I wear them, the more I’m re-learning how to run. I just recommend you break these shoes in slowly since they feel different than a lot of other running shoes.

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Run Analysis with Therapydia NOLA

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary run analysis from Therapydia NOLA in exchange for this blog post. However, all views and opinions are my own.

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I recently had the opportunity to visit Therapydia NOLA and work with their wonderful physical therapist and Clinic Director, Jonathan Burke, DPT for a full Run Analysis. I’ve always, always wanted to do this but never knew where to go or even, what, exactly it entailed. During a previous interview with Jonathan I was able to ask him, “What exactly IS a run analysis?”

“A run analysis is a screening specifically designed to apply to running mechanics. A physical therapist will put markers on you and you’ll run naturally while they observe and take a recording. Afterwards, they’ll use a video analysis coupled with a movement assessment to look at your angles and how you move through the 4 phases of running. We can identify any joint and soft tissue restrictions as well as strength and motor control deficits. The goal is to see how joints across your body move through their necessary ranges of motion and see what injuries you might be at risk for. It’s not just about how your feet hit the ground—your knee, pelvic, and trunk positioning all come into play to when considering your gait. It’s all about getting you to train correctly so your body processes force efficiently as you run. That way, you can prevent future injuries you’re at risk for and prevent joint and muscle overuse.”

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The Run Analysis first started with a full exam to determine strength, flexibility, and body movement patterns. This was very similar to a physical therapy exam you may encounter on your first visit if you’ve suffered an injury. You lay down or sit on the exam table while the therapist puts you through a round of stretches and body movements (squats, side twists, leg raises, hamstring stretches, etc.). At this point, they are evaluating for any weaknesses or pain points you may be experiencing.

I knew my right side was weak due to a past knee injury. I favor that knee a lot and it manifests in a weaker quad. But I’ve been having some hip pain in my left hip flexor as well as tightness in my right back shoulder (from carrying a 30 lb child on my right hip all the time). Jonathan found those immediately and saw the limited range of motion in my trunk (due to the shoulder) and hip.

Next was the treadmill! He placed several blue dots on my right shoe, knee and hip. These were markers for the software to pick up and follow while I was running. He set up the iPad to record my stride as I ran and told me to start up the treadmill slowly and crank it up to a comfortable pace. He recorded my stride for a few minutes from the right side and then the rear.

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I relaxed for several minutes after while Jonathan reviewed the software and wrote up my Run Analysis. You get a nice one-page report analyzing the various phases of a run stride: ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, trunk flexion, knee flexion, toe off and contact. Here’s what the analysis told me:

  • I’m a heel striker – yeah, a big one. Ha.
  • My trunk flexion is -2.79°  to 4.12° through all phases when it should be at least 10°. This means that I’m standing up WAY too straight and upright when I run. I need to work on leaning forward more, which takes more stress off my knees and will help promote forefoot striking.
  • My knee flexion is a little below ideal at 37.73°. Ideal is 40°. I’m a foot shuffler and need to work on picking up my heels more.
  • Hip flexion fell a little short before contact, again indicating shuffling, heel striker.

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For a data geek like me the analysis was SO COOL! So much to look at and take in. But Jonathan didn’t leave it at that. He showed me all the good things I was doing too and gave me recommendations to increase glute strength (they were found to be really weak during the initial analysis too) and work on activation exercises to improve stability and motor control. He walked me through a handful of exercises to do at home and printed them out for me to take and work on.

I really learned a lot with this run analysis. I’ve been more conscious about my form on recent runs and have been working on several of the things that Jonathan found: leaning forward, picking up my feet, shortening my stride. I’ve also been doing the exercises he gave me at home several times a week as well as adding plank sessions to build up my core strength.

I highly  recommend setting up an appointment with the folks at Therapydia NOLA for a Run Analysis. It was such an interesting, LEARNING experience. I can only come out of this a better runner.

Therapydia NOLA is located at 2701 Airline Drive, Suite L in Metairie, Louisiana. You can call them at (504) 507-9375 or email them at hello@therapydianola.com to set up an appointment.

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