RunStrong program helps teen achieve his athletic goals
photo by: Contributed
Jake Loos first fell in love with running when watching his older brother John run for Free State High School cross country and track. As the youngest of three boys and the son of an avid runner, Jake has grown up watching the positive impact that running can have both physically and mentally.
“Jake has the mental toughness that we see in distance runners and has always been attentive to healthy eating and an active lifestyle,” says Kevin Loos, Jake’s father.
In middle school, Jake was always active in theater, choir and academic activities such as Future City and Model United Nations, so he didn’t have time to participate in seventh grade track.
“I started doing the Free State summer conditioning after my seventh grade year, and I really enjoyed it,” he said.
When eighth grade came around, Jake was ready to give track a try, but COVID-19 put a stop to that. He spent that time running with his family and getting ready for high school cross country. The following summer, he was able to run with the experienced varsity runners and really start his preparation for high school competition.
Jake’s freshman cross country year was a success despite dealing with some quadricep and knee pain during the season. He was able to break 20 minutes in the 5K twice during the year and was at the top of the C team, just shy of making a very competitive JV team. His post-season goal: work hard and make the varsity cross country team.
When Kevin heard about LMH Health’s RunStrong training class from a friend, he recognized an opportunity for Jake to gain strength and learn more about running. He signed him up, and Jake has been working out with one of the high school training classes since October 2020.
photo by: Contributed
“I have enjoyed watching Jake’s confidence grow throughout the winter,” says Mitchell Montgomery, a RunStrong coach and physical therapist. “Not only has he become more social, but he consistently pushes himself further and further during each class period as he gains confidence in each movement and his abilities.”
When off-season running for the Free State team started, Jake began experiencing knee pain again. His dad reached out to the RunStrong team for their expertise on ways Jake could better manage his pain and training. They were able to assess his knee pain and provide recommendations for pain management and exercise.
But there was still one more option for Jake to make sure his knee injury would not limit his upcoming track season: video analysis of his running mechanics to better understand what may be contributing to the occasional knee pain.
“The video analysis provided an easy scientific means to clearly highlight gaps in running form and technique versus standard benchmarks,” says Kevin, who was present for the analysis. “The staff provided drills to help kick off the desired corrections for Jake.”
Kevin says it made him want to “jump on the treadmill and get my own analysis done.”
With the knowledge that he has gained from the RunStrong team, Jake has renewed optimism and excitement about the upcoming track season.
“Running has become much easier over the past few weeks,” Jake said.
He feels he is running with more stamina and endurance compared to last fall and is confident his track times this spring will reflect that.
Jake has learned a lot in a short amount of time — that there’s more to running than endurance and that getting started with strength training early in the off-season will have a big impact on his season. Both he and the RunStrong team are excited to continue to work together in the off-season and then watch him progress throughout his high school running career.
“I want people to know that it is a lot of work, but it definitely pays off in the end,” Jake said. “I am excited to get out there and compete again.”
— Nami Stone and Mitchell Montgomery are physical therapists with LMH Health Therapy Services.