Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Well, we have ended the first year of this Second Wind blog!
This first year has seen huge growth in traffic (thanks completely to all of you!), about 90 posts, and over 25 product reviews.

I have had a lot of fun, enjoyed all your comments and emails, and look forward to an even bigger and better 2012!

With 2012 in mind, give me some of your thoughts on the blog:  what do you like, what do you hate, what would like to see more/less of, and let me know what brands, product types, and Specific products (shoe x from brand y) you would like to see reviewed on the blog next year.

Thank you all for your continued support and for spreading the word!  As always, all of you are more than welcome to visit me on facebook and/or twitter as well!

Merry Christmas everyone, have a Wonderful season with family and friends!

-Levi

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are you afraid of the cold?

As cool weather is now beginning to reach cold weather in many places around the globe, I pose this question: Are you afraid of the cold?

I often get asked "Do you run all year?"/"do you run year round?"/"Do you run around the holidays?" which all translate to "do you really run when it's freezing cold outside and all you want to do is grab a cup of hot chocolate and sit inside by the fireplace instead?"

This is a perfectly legitimate question.  I do love my fireplace, and my wife makes a homemade hot chocolate mix every winter that I swear is magic (no... really.), so I certainly get the appeal.  On some days even, the appeal gets me.

However, it's times like these that the often cliche running quote nails it: "The hardest step a runner ever takes is the first one out the door".

Truth is (I challenge you to test this - it will change your entire outlook on winter running), running in 20 degree weather is Much Better than running in 40 degree weather.  No, I did not transpose those two numbers.
Seriously - think about it:  if you run in 40 degree weather, you layer up (because it's cool out), you step outside and you're cold, you take off, and not even a 1/2 a mile down the road you're starting to get hot.  Then a mile in and you're sweating.  So now you have to start shedding layers, but now you have to Carry the layers, then you get hotter, and you're running awkwardly because you're now carrying all the hot clothes that you are wearing, so now you're mad, and this run sucks.  Sound familiar?
Now, running 20 degree weather (and colder), you start out bundled up and you're cold.  The difference is your body warms up and you're no longer cold, but you do stay cool - ergo you don't sweat, so you don't get too hot, And you don't get sweat-chills, you don't have to strip the layers, therefore you don't have to Carry the layers, therefore you don't get mad, so then your run doesn't suck.

In all seriousness, the colder weather really does make it easier and more enjoyable to run - it's the transition (if you're new to running or cold nature and put on too many layers) temps that make it unenjoyable, and when "even 40 degree temp isn't working, then there's no way I'm running when it gets even colder!".

Try it out, I bet you'll love it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Second Wind:

If you ask a runner if they've ever experienced "Second Wind" (not my book - 'The' second wind) and they respond with anything like "uh" "well" "huh" or "I think this one time" then they haven't.

Second Wind is a pure high that is unmistakable - a time when you're tired, your breath is shot, you're inching closer to the dark side (quitting) and all of the sudden the heavens open up, the stars align, God smiles down upon your wandering feet and you... fly.  It's a high - you can all of the sudden run at peak performance with seemingly no effort, your feet, muscles, heart rate, and breath all of the sudden feel like you've just started your run, and 'that' undeniable grimace turns to a smile of elation.

Some people claim that this is a moment of your body's oxygen level balancing out perfectly with your muscles, some that it's a balance or 'flush' of lactic acid, some say it's a sudden and enormous release of endorphin, many others that it's purely psychological, and  still others that it's simply a myth.  What most runners will tell you who have experienced it, it's a high like no other.  They will also tell you that if you are a 3r (run 3 miles 3 times a week) you're likely to never experience it - that it usually occurs at long distance, the earliest many people ever experience it is 7-15 miles, still others say nothing other than an Ultra triggers it.  Everyone will tell you one thing.  They don't know.  We don't know when it will happen, we don't know what causes it, it happens rarely (sometimes only once - sometimes never) and it can't be replicated.

The runner's second wind is like a good orgasm... if you go out Trying to find it, you likely never will.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cold weather running

So, as happens from time to time, I get so many great reviews out at once that there's something missing... you know... like a blog post.

As weather begins to cool (I say "begins" because we've now had a couple weeks of colder weather with a couple of days in the mid 30s... followed by this week of 3 days in the 70s #welcometoeasttennessee) I begin to pay more attention to my cold weather gear.

One of the first things I tell people for running in colder weather is to start of with a negative split:  make sure you start your running at a slower than normal pace and then gradually build your speed up so as to allow for your muscles to pre-heat before you really take off.

Secondly, be sure that you ARE cold when you first take off.  If you are comfortable before you hit the start button your GPS than you are going to be having a heat stroke before your warm up is done!

Layer:  if you are new to winter running than allow yourself sometime to learn what suits you best in different temps and practice layering.  This gives you the option of "oh crap I dressed to warm" so take a top layer off and keep going instead of just ruining your whole run.

Remember that your largest source of body heat loss is your head.  Beanies go a long way towards keeping your entire body warm.  If nothing else, start there.

Though not a huge source of body temp loss, a huge source of moral loss from cold comes from your hands!  Your hands are out in front taking the brunt of the wind and frozen digits can be a big run killer.  Try some nice thin gloves - nothing to serious, but something to cut the wind off.

There are all kinds of options now for baselayers, compression baselayers, lightweight tops, technical jackets, etc.

For me, I stay in shorts for a long period of time, even if I bundle up the rest of me, and honestly it's just preference.  Lots of cool weather runs I will simply use shorts, a long sleeve shirt, and then put on gloves and a beanie and go.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: VIVOBAREFOOT Off Road Hi Minimalist (and waterproof) BOOTS


Levi Dodd
November 2011







This will mark my 3rd pair of VIVOBAREFOOT (/Terra Plana) shoes that I personally own and I am very impressed with the company’s direction.  They have had their VIVOBAREFOOT line for going on 8 years now (certainly ahead of the curve).  What I really like is that with each new shoe they put out, they are listening to minimalist minded people and addressing their concerns – getting better each time.


First impressions were great and the boots look good.  I am a minimalist shoe and barefoot runner and let’s be honest… the good shoes typically ARE going to get you all kinds of attention, but the not the attention a fashion minded individual may want… 


The boots feel great – to me they feel like a perfectly broke in pair of hiking boots right out of the box!



·         The ~4.5mm multidirectional lugs on the bottom provide traction that I found Very impressive, while the unique ‘v’ design of the lugs sheds mud quite well also. 
·         The leather is very nice, good looking, and I found it to be quite abrasion resistant
·         The polyurethane mudguard around the edge (overlapping the sole to the leather upper) provides excellent protection against nicks, cuts, and scratches while also helping provide an added layer of protection from the elements (in rain proofing).
·         The tongue/collar is gusseted for water proofing and is padded on the back against your instep which I loved!
·         Standard speed lacing hooks provide stability and varied level of tension
·         The 3mm sole is extremely flexible  - just what you would want and expect in a minimalist shoe of any kind.  The boot will roll up toe to heel and will also roll and torque side to side.  There are no stiff points, no stability webs or the like
·         The sole is very thin (the sole itself is between 2.5mm and 3mm) but with the combination of the lugs (somewhere between 4mm and 5mm) you get no ground feel.  What I mean by this is that you won’t feel pricks of individual rocks underfoot.
·         There is, of course, no heel-to-toe drop (zero drop).  This is the only mass produced ‘boot’ that I’m aware of that offers a zero drop.
·         The boots are very light weight, weighing in at only 1 pound!  For reference, my Vasque Sundowners weigh in at just under 3 ½ pounds.
·         One of the most important features of this boot to me is the fact that they are waterproof – and they really are!  There are so many times where I require a waterproof platform but can’t stand my traditional (heavy, stabilized, and substantial heel drop) boots and these offer me a completely waterproof platform to fit my needs.


Final Thoughts:

I love minimalist shoes.  That’s all I use, no… really.  At work, while running, dress shoes, hiking, working out, around the house, mowing the lawn, every shoe I wear is a zero drop minimalist shoe.  That being said, I love to hike, I love to hunt, and I love to camp and there are times where I really miss my boots!  There are times where solid leather, a hi-top, and (most importantly for me) waterproof become extremely important.  I’ve long waited for a company to come out with true minimalist boot to fill this void and I am pleased to say that VIVOBAREFOOT have done just that.  I am thrilled at their marriage of “minimalism” and “boot” and will thoroughly enjoy these new Off-Road Hi boots.

http://secondwindbook.blogspot.com



Friday, November 4, 2011

KEEN A86 TR shoe review


Levi Dodd
November 2011






KEEN is known for a lot of things:  exceptional support, bullet proof toe guards, good wide lasts, solid traction, and great customer service.  However, they have never been known for anything minimalistic. 

Well, like a lot of other forward thinking companies, KEEN is wanting to put their best foot forward (yuk-yuk-yuk) towards minimalism.  Enter the A86 TR.

(As an aside – I think it’s important to mention that nowhere, at no point that I can find, does KEEN ever specifically market this shoe as a “minimalist” shoe.  They do not explicitly brand it “barefoot”, they simply market it as a “light and fast trail running shoe”.  To that end, it is amazing!  And, therefore, anything that fits perfectly into minimalism on this shoe is truly just a bonus!)

KEEN introduced their A86 TR to resounding applause from trail runners everywhere and recently they were kind enough to pass on a pair to me to review for you guys.

The A86 marks KEENs first shoe in the ‘minimalist’ category.  They did a lot of things right.
KEEN, I believe, made a wise decision in sticking to their market and going after trail runners and not road racers.  As you know, trail runners have been asking many companies to come out with a ‘middle ground’ shoe as they desperately wanted the lightweight shoe and to push towards minimalism, but still wanted a little more support and a little less ground feel for technical trails (you might say they wanted to a shoe that would be as minimalist as comfortable instead of as minimalist as possible).
The A86 TR fills this spot quite well. 

·         The A86 is a light shoe (weighing in at about 9oz) – much lighter than traditional shod shoes.
·         It has an excellent glove like fit, especially considering the design of the shoe
·         KEEN has created an amazingly breathable shoe in the A86 – the textile mesh provides excellent air flow both in and out of the shoe
·         Perhaps the best part of the shoe is the sole.  The “3mm multi directional lugs” are amazing.  The traction (on trails, in mud, on rocks) is second to none!  I felt more sure-footed in these than any pair of hiking boots I’ve worn – truly an excellent design
·         The sole is very flexible!
·         Ground feel is close to zero, but that’s not a fault, it’s by design.  The sole itself is quite thin and it doesn’t have excessive padding and sports no extra hyped up support or protection.
·         The stack height, even for a racing flat, is quite low (9mm under the toes and 15mm under the heels).
·         I have heard some people complain about the lace design -  I, personally, really like the aesthetics of the “cool” lacing design, but also appreciate the functionality of being able to choose the level of “snugness”
·         Another + for this shoe is the fit.  I like that it has a narrow “snug” heel and then it widens as it goes forward.  The toe box is wide (all the way out to the end of the toes-not just where the toes join the foot) and allow for fairly good toe splay, though not quite as wide as some of KEEN’s other shoes.

So, on the conclusion end:

I really appreciate what KEEN has done with this shoe and I think it fits a large (and growing) segment of the market – those wishing to transition into minimalism.  I didn’t mind the traditional ‘shod’ look of the shoe, I didn’t mind the cushioning/stack height (as it was perfectly done to provide just enough to minimize ground feel on technical trails and still provided excellent flexibility and natural foot flex), and it met all of my other minimalist shoe requirements except for one thing.  The heel to toe drop.  As most of you know, that is my single biggest sticking point on any shoe.  The 6mm drop is ½ the drop of a traditional shoe and will be a great improvement for a lot of people, and also, therefore, makes this shoe an excellent transition shoe.  However, for me, the 6mm heel-to-toe drop was just too much for my knees, my form, and my taste (as someone who runs, walks, hikes, hangs out, and works in Nothing but zero drop shoes – 100% of the time). 
What I see is a fantastic technical trail shoe, one of (if not) the best 1st round minimalist shoes by any major shoe company, and I am hopeful for more (zero-drop) minimalist shoes from KEEN!











Thursday, November 3, 2011


icebreaker is a very unique company.  They have taken a stance (a real stance – not a marketing ploy) on environmental conservation, from their materials, to their factories, every step of the way. 
Now, this isn’t done by throwing a couple bucks at Al Gore to offset a carbon footprint, instead, icebreaker took a holistic approach:  from the raw materials, the farmers, the supply chain and transportation, to the manufacturers and their employees, icebreaker is striving (and doing an amazingly good job) to be in control every step of the way. 
Icebreaker is making a valiant effort to not only have a great slogan, “It’s about our relationship with nature and to each other”, but taking ground breaking steps in transparency all the way down to the end user on how they are living that slogan out (check out their ‘baacode’).




First impressions upon unboxing:  The top looks fantastic and I’m a big fan of the shoulder accent (and reflective piping) that is a bit of an Icebreaker trademark.  As with most of their products, I found this top to be just as much at home sitting above a pair of designer blue jeans as it would sitting above a pair of sweaty running shorts. 

The cut is very detailed, the fit is just right, and it’s tapered to sit perfectly on your form while not being at all compressing. 


Icebreaker included a perfectly sized zipper pocket on the bottom right side(truly on the side – not on the front where it swings out and smacks back down on your waist each stride) that is small, thin, and tight so that whatever you put in it doesn’t jostle around.  I thought the size of this pocket to be a really big deal – the size is perfect (I put an ipod and a key in that pocket with plenty of room and they fit in nice and tight and don’t bounce around).
Additionally there is a cord hole at the top of the pocket (on the inside) to run your headphone cord up to the back of your neck where they included a loop to hold them in place on your run.  I really like this up-the-back design and under the top – this keeps all the wires hidden and out of the way where you aren’t brushing them every stride or catching them with your hands.


Icebreaker fashions, with no exaggeration, the softest, lightest, most comfortable apparel I have ever worn and this top is no exception.  The LS Ace Zip is made of 97% Merino wool (not synthetic, pure, natural New Zealand Merino wool) and 3% Lycra.  This thing has an amazing amount of stretch to it.

Remember that even though ‘wool’ has a bad connotation with a lot of athletes and is known for being hot and scratchy, this Merino wool is like nothing I have ever felt.  It breathes wonderfully, is weightless (I swear it floats with your body instead of lying on it), and, again, is the softest material I’ve ever felt (forget ‘wool’ – think 10,000 thread count Egyptian cotton and you might get some idea of what I’m talking about).


Their Merino wool regulates body temperature so well that this is honestly a 3 season jacket (from early fall to late spring).  I’ve worn it on days where the temperature reached 70 degrees and it was a pleasure, and this morning I wore it at 38 degrees and it kept my body just the right temperature.  It’s nice to finally have something that works so well that you don’t have to layer different weight jackets. 
On the layering note, this shirt does work perfectly over a base-layer, however you can wear the LS Ace Zip with no undershirt and it feels great directly on your skin as well.


One of my favorite things about Icebreaker apparel is that it is so effective at being naturally anti-microbial that it doesn’t stink.  Ever.  You can wear these tops in the heat, sweat enough that it changes colors from being drenched, throw it in the corner, pick it up the next morning and it smells WAG approved - but whenever you do decide to wash it, you just throw it in the washer.  No fancy washing bags and delicate cycles, no dry cleaning, 100% machine washable and go.


A+ product icebreaker, very well done.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nada update.... Take 2 (Good news!)


I have had an enormous response from my blog on the Nada shoes and a record number of you stating that you have already or will be ordering a pair.  In an effort to resolve some confusion created here and other places, I want to update everyone with the best information I have on these shoes:

Ok, so those that follow the blog knew a few things:

1.  I review a lot of shoes
2.  I recently (for the first time) announced that the Nadas are, in my opinion, The best minimalist shoe made.
3.  We then had tons of confusion and heartache as we tried to figure out what in the world happened to them with rumors of them going out of business, etc.

So here's another update:  after speaking to the folks at Nada, here is some information that I can share --

www.nadasports.com IS up and running and is accepting internet orders.  Almost all of their shoes are in stock (2 styles in lots of different colors), and you can order directly from their website.

As many of you asked about, the website does only list women's shoes.  This Is by design "at this time, 95% of all orders for nadas have come from women, so at this time, in order to accomplish what we need to do to be the best and provide the best, to our best customers, we are focusing on the female gender exclusively"

With those figures, and that logic, this seems like a very sound decision, and though somewhat disappointing to the male gender, it's important that the company focuses on what is going to sustain it.  That said, men can always order 1.5 sizes larger in a women's shoe and get the same fit (made even easier when the Nadas run a full size to big... so in reality, if you're a man, you can pretty much just order Your true size in women's and you should be good).

Check them out:

www.nadasports.com

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mid-run check-ups

It's a cruel trick really...  proper form helps you run efficiently, run easier, get tired less, breathe better, etc.  And when we get tired, what's the first thing to go?  Our good form.  So when we get tired, we lose our form, which then makes us run with less efficiency and breathe with reduced efficiency, which then compounds that "oh my goodness is this run ever going to end" feeling that we already had that made us lose the form in the first place.  ....  got it?

So remember to perform mid-run check-ups as you go:

When you first start feeling tired, start at your feet and make your way up, running through a list of items to check off to make sure you're not killing yourself, all by yourself.


  1. Are my feet landing flat (forefoot - ie, Not heel)
  2. Is my cadence quick enough or am I leaving my feet on the ground too long (quick step)
  3. Are my knees bent (Really bent)
  4. Am I Lifting/Pulling my foot off the ground (with my quads & hamstrings) or am I pushing off (with my calves)
  5. Am I clinching my fists (or locking my elbows or holding tension in my shoulders)
  6. Is my back straight, my shoulders back, and my head tall
  7. Am I breathing.
Check through the list ever-so-often and use it to "reset" yourself and your efficiency - you'll be amazed at how doing this simple 30 second check-up can completely obliterate feelings of early fatigue




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Post Marathon" video

I saw this video this morning on a friends facebook wall and just had to share - LOVE this!

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Balance introducing 4 new Minimalist shoes

This Winter and spring, New Balance will be releasing 4 new running shoes to cater to the minimalist market.

As many of you know, New Balance introduced a couple of "minimalist" shoes prior to this (with between 4mm and 10mm heel-to-toe drops, stability, support, and cushioning) that I was not a huge fan of...

That said, I WAS glad that New Balance was making the effort and they were moving in the right direction - a direction that I hoped would lead them to where they are now heading:

In January they will be releasing the MT110 trail running shoe.  This is their 3rd rendition of this shoe, and what appears to be the best one.  The shoe is lighter, closer to the ground, more flexible, but does still have a 4mm drop - I don't find a 4mm drop to be huge, but at the same time, I've never understood if you're willing to go to a 4mm (as a manufacturer), why wouldn't you just go to a zero?


Well, in March New Balance is introducing its first line of true Zero-Drop shoes (yay!).
They'll come in 3 versions and be available in men's and women's (in each)

The first is the MR/WR 00 "Road" designated shoe.  This shoe is a zero drop, even less padding, more flexible, no signs of support (yet to be seen), and even lighter (6.4oz or so)

Next up is the MT/WT 00 "Trail" designated shoe.  Same as the road with a zero drop, seemingly no padding, and the lightest of all weighing in at 4.4oz.

Now, my question is this:  typically, when companies make trail and road shoes is because trail runners (at least in their belief) require more stability, more cushioning, more protection, etc. and road runners (since they're running on flat pavement) don't need much at all.  But in this case, it appears that the trail shoe has less padding than the road shoe, and the trail shoe weighs less than the road shoe... I'm curious as to how/why that is?

Regardless, it's ALWAYS great to see more companies introducing zero-drop shoes, and bravo to NB for (even though many may feel they didn't get their minimalist shoes exactly right the first time) listening to the runners and their own product testers and truly designing a better shoe each time around.  I am thrilled at their progress and looking forward to these new additions - and looking forward to hopefully trying them out myself


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Product Review: Saucony Hattori running shoes


So, last week when I wrote the review of the Nadas and I said that to date they were the best minimalist running shoes I have ever run in?  Yeah... these are not.

The Saucony Hattori's are currently Saucony's "most minimalist" shoe in their 3 steps to minimalism.  I tried them out and was pretty excited to see how they did.  They have zero drop, which is good, they are very light weight, which is great, and they have a fairly substantial chunk of foam underneath them for padding/cushioning that I didn't like/see the need for, but I thought they would be nice for recovery days when your feet get a little sore or when you just need a little more protection on certain terrain.

The day I got them I was leaving to go out of town that day, in just a couple of hours, and hadn't started packing (one of those days) but I was intrigued so I grabbed them up and took off on a quick 1 mile speed run.  It was strange.  I couldn't put my finger on it... nothing hurt, nothing was bad, but for some reason I just didn't like them as I expected.  Oh well, I threw them in the closet and took off on my trip, chocking it up to too short a run and not enough time to really think it through.

I got back in town, went for another run (big hill course - 1 way track with about 75% being down hill).  I felt like I was flying down the hills.  I was pounding out the downhills in record time and felt pretty good after the race, but again, for some reason... I just didn't love them.
The next morning I woke up and my left knee was the size of a grapefruit and both of my knees were killing me.  I RICEd it up, shelved the Hattoris and went back to other shoes for the next couple of weeks.  After some time, I decided I wanted to try them again, give them a fair shake, and see what I thought.  After all, there's nothing glaring in the makeup of the shoe that should make them that bad....

After the run, my legs were way more fatigued than normal and my knees were already hurting some.  The next morning, my knees had pain like I hadn't experienced in 3 years.  My muscles were sore (when they shouldn't have been), my knees were killing me, and my feet hurt.

Again, it's a zero drop shoe, it is very light weight, the fit is good around your foot (glove like - very elasticized mesh - much like a water shoe), but for me the "padding" killed the shoe.  I'm not an elitist who thinks that all padding is the devil, though I do not like it myself for road running, and I don't think that was the issue.  It's somehow What the padding is.  The Eva they use is a dull "thud" and not a traditional rebound, which I thought would be better, but for me.... I hate them.  Honestly.  I definitely wont ever run in them again, and I would never recommend them to anyone else either.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Naked Foot 5k

Hey everyone - the Merrell Naked Foot 5k is This Saturday in Nashville, TN!

http://www.thenakedfoot5k.com/events/nashville-tn/

I wanted to pass along to all of you that you can use discount code "NFdiscount2011"  to get $10 off your registration!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Product Review: Somnio Nada running shoes


Levi Dodd
October 2011

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





I was thrilled to receive a pair of Nadas from Somnio Running (now Nada Sports?) as this was a shoe I had heard about and seen a few posts on but never actually tried.

Usually I try to hold my full opinions until at least mid way through the review, but let me just go ahead and say it… this is THE best minimalist running shoe I have ever run in.  Period.

Now, what makes this review a little interesting is that I received the shoes in a box on my doorstep one day with no note, no request, no return address, no packing list, nothing.  To add to the mystery, the Nadas are not the red/white/black ones that everyone has seen (and that are pictured above), they are black with metallic silver – the color isn’t listed on their website, or anyone else’s, and google has no images of this shoe.  I don’t know if it’s a new color that’s coming out, a 2.0 version of the shoe… I just don’t know.  Furthermore, Somnio has apparently launched a new “branding” for the Nadas in “Nada Sports” – however the website only has women shoes, no men’s shoes at all (and again – nothing in this color).  That said, I will definitely add pictures of the shoes soon, my camera phone isn’t working for some reason at the moment (thanks Moto) and my regular camera is charging.

Ok, enough of that, on to the shoes:

I actually got the shoes in a few weeks ago.  I first went on a short run and loved them – but I loved them so much that I was afraid I wasn’t being fair and that it was just because I took such a short run.  Since that time I have continued to run in them almost every run through different conditions and distances.  Here’s what I’ve found:

The shoes are completely seamless, no rubbing, no irritation, no hot spots; you can easily wear them with socks or without.

They are made of a sort-of stretch mesh that is very thin and unbelievably breathable. 

The mesh is so thin and stretchy that the shoe is “held together” by these strips of overlays (what a lot of people refer to affectionately as the Somnio duct-tape) that are made of Thermo Polyurethane – these strips keep your foot from sliding but that’s about it – they don’t restrict and they are Not stiff at all.

The sole is listed at 6mm but due to the material (very very soft) it honestly feels even thinner than that and provides excellent ground feel. 
One thing that will be interesting to see on this shoe is how well the sole holds up in the long run just because it is so thin and soft.

The toe box is wide and, again, the mesh is so stretchy that I would wager almost any foot width could be accommodated. 
This leads me to my only complaint… sort of.  Though it doesn’t bother me while running (I only visually notice it while I’m stretching), the toebox is wide, and the mesh stretches very well, but the actual Sole of the shoe (the actual white sole) is very narrow.  What this does is when I’m doing a wide hamstring stretch or a standing groin stretch (for instance), my foot actually slides over the edge of the sole.  Just an interesting point… not a hindrance that I can tell, but feels odd when not running – I wish the actual sole of the shoe were wider (I feel like the sole of my foot is wider than the white sole of the shoe… but not wider than the internal compartment of the shoe itself)


There is, of course, NO heel to toe drop - in fact, though never mentioned by Somnio that I can tell, people rumor that NADA stands for No Anterior Drop Applied.   Though possible, to me “NADA” simply means what it means in its truest form… nothing.  Nothing extra, nothing superfluous. 


That pretty much sums it up… this shoe has everything you would want (zero drop, complete flexibility, zero break in, seamless, sockliner, flat bottom, ultra lite), and nothing you don’t (no support, no arch, no drop, no… nothing) all in THE single lightest shoe I have ever seen…. That’s one of the greatest features:  these shoes weigh 3.6 ounces.  Yeah, that’s right, 100 grams – almost HALF the weight of a pair of Fivefingers!

Also, as a nice bonus, the shoes are $80 – which, in comparison, is Quite reasonable.

An important note on sizing:  they run HUGE – order 1 full size smaller than your regular shoe size. 
If you sometimes where a 9, sometimes an 8.5, order a 7.5.  I wear an 8.5 in almost everything and I got a “7-7 ½” and they fit very well and, if anything, might be Slightly long.

So again, let me reiterate, just in case there was any confusion:  these are, hands down, the best minimalist running shoe I’ve ever used, in all regards – really… I just can’t speak highly enough about them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Easy days...

Many people suffer from either pushing themselves too much or not pushing themselves enough.  Seems obvious enough, right?  The problem really lies in WHEN they push, or don't.

Too often people get stuck in a pace where they are working to get comfortable at a pace that is tough.  They then get acclimated to that pace, it becomes easy, and they stay there - never pushing harder on their "hard" days or during their speed work.  They continue along at a 120 heart rate never allowing their muscles (heart) to grow through strain.

The other side of that is that far too many people don't take their easy days... easily enough.  Pushing too hard (since it's a short distance) or, again, running at that same stuck in pace... just not as far.

Case and point:  today I drove to work, put my keys on my desk in the office, locked my truck, and took a spare key and stuck it in my zipper iPod pocket on my jacket.

I took off, ran my short run on my "easy" day and ran it... easy? no.  Hard.  I ran at race pace (what you are NOT supposed to do).  I got back, unzipped my pocket, took out my iPod, and... no key.  I took the jacket off, shook it out, walked around the truck, walked around the office door, hoping somehow this key would magically appear (I put it in a Zipper pocket with my iPod... the zipper was Still Zipped, my iPod was still there, there's no hole, and... no key... grrrr!)

So... I took out on the course Again, and ran the route, again, looking for this stupid key.  Which, of course, I did not find.  However, having to run the course a second time reminded me that easy days are supposed be Easy days - take them easy, run easy... you know... like at the pace I ran my SECOND lap...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ultras! part 2

This is the second part of the 2 part series on Ultras that follows ultra marathoner Zane Smith (of TN).
Please see "Ultras!  part 1"




The last race Zane ran was just a few weeks ago, the most iconic 100 mile race in the continental United States (made even more so by its prominent place in Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” book), the Leadville100.


The Leadville100 is a big race.  For ultras, it gets no bigger.  For a "normal" ultra (hard to call any ultra "normal") you might see anywhere from 50 - 200 participants.  In the Leadville100, typically over 700 register to run the event, and this year was no different.  
The tale of the tape of this monumental course begins with the simple fact that the 100 miles stretch across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  The "lowest" part of the course is a towering 9,200ft -- which, to provide some reference, the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains is Clingman's dome at a mere 6,643.
That's not all.
The highest peak of the course comes at the cruelly named "Hope's Pass" (which would be more accurately described as "Where Hope Comes to Die" Pass) at a staggering 12,600ft.  This is a land where outsiders struggle to breathe just while walking around and runners routinely suffer altitude sickness that requires hospitalization and This is the land that hosts these runners on a grueling 100 mile trail run.  It's no wonder that of the nearly 700 super athletes who participate (who must first qualify to even register for this event), nearly 1/2 do not make it to the finish line.

Zane Smith, however, did finish.  Zane, who ran (I intentionally did not use "competed" there - this is a group based so intently on comradery that truly the competition lies within oneself) in the 30-39M division, took 48th in his division and 112th overall, finishing the race in 26.27 (well under the 30 hour time limit).  If you do the math, that means that over the course of 100 miles, at 9,200-12,600 ft of elevation, up and down the Rocky Mountains, he averaged a pace of under 16 minutes a mile.  
Backpacking this course with a few overnight camp outs would be a fantastic feat - - for a down to earth, married father of 2, full time employed insurance salesman from a town with an elevation of 637 ft to run it straight through at a 15.52 min/mile pace is nothing short of astonishing.

-------------

Zane was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions for all of us here at SecondWind and I'd like to take this opportunity to share those bits of information:

Zane, tell me a little bit about your training?  What's your typical way to train?
First off, I want to say that I'm no expert - I just love to run!  All I can do is share what works for me, and for that, I'm happy to tell.
On the training, honestly, I think one of the best ways (and funnest ways) to train is to just train through races.  
What about gaps in race season, time preparing for said races, etc. - do you just take off and run?  What's your plan?
I find it works best for me to split it up and use varied training approaches to keep everything fresh while training your muscles for whatever the course may bring:  slow and easy run days, intervals, hills, speed work, and, of course, your long runs.
Speaking of "long runs", how many miles do you put in a week and how many days a week are you running?  Do you run 100 miles for a long run in training?
No, not at all.  I do usually run 6 days a week, always giving my body a day for rest and recovery.  But even at running 6 days a week, leading up a 100 mile race I'm (usually) logging 50-60 miles per Week.
Over the course of a 100 mile run, what do you think is most important?
Eating.  Many ultra runners joke, very truthfully, that the 100 mile races are more of an eating contest than a running contest.  Your body requires sustenance and the runners are really separated by who figures out what their body needs, when they need it, what, and how to consume it.
The most important thing is to practice it.
Eating?
Yeah, practice eating (I like the sound of that...) - you need to know how your body is going to react.  Some foods wont sit well on the stomach, what will cause cramps, what can your body process quickly and efficiently, how much, how often, etc.  There's questions about (Zane repeatedly encourages people to listen to their body and learn what works for Them - not necessarily what works for so-and-so) salt tabs (or not), solid food vs. gels, "synthetic" vs. natural, etc.  No one can know what will (or wont) work for them until they try them out in race-like situations.
Anything else?  Other than eating, what other piece of advice would you give to someone as they register for a big run?
Know the course - make sure you understand what's going to be required of you.  What's the elevation, what's the elevation change, will you cross through water (as different ultras do), what are the different surfaces of the course (packed gravel, loose gravel, paved road, dirt, rock, mud, "gnarly", etc.) - learn your terrain, and then practice for it.
What do you think the best way to learn the ins-and-outs of a course are?  
Well, I mean, obviously if you can get on the course that's the best way (most runners who finish the Leadville100 go to Leadville, CO for at least a week prior to the race to get their bodies acclimated to the elevation).  But I find other runner's race reports to be extremely valuable.  Read what they thought about the course, from them you can find out terrain, rough spots, distances (both real and felt) between aid stations, etc.  One of the most valuable parts of a honestly written race report is to see 'when did this person want to quit?'  Find out the challenging (mentally and physically) parts of the course so you can prepare for them.  I once read a race report where I noted that every time they felt like quitting was on a long uphill, and every time they said the course "didn't feel so bad" was on a down hill stretch.  Seems silly, but that's an excellent point to remember.  So now, whenever I start thinking "is this hill Ever going to end!?", I remember that guy's race report, get a quick chuckle at myself, and push on.
The other thing you really want to practice that lots of new people leave out is walking/hiking.  There are going to be times, over the course of 100 miles, that you're going to have to walk up some of the hills (it's more efficient), so practice that.  Walking/hiking uses different muscles than running and you need to train them as well.
Ever do any weight training or cross training?  What does that look like?  Do you lift heavy with short reps, or go light weight and long rep sets?
I definitely work out a lot for these runs.  I try to get to the gym when I can, but I also have some weights at home so that I don't have to be away from the family anymore than I have to.  I generally do a very traditional (muscle building) workout with 3 sets of 10 reps with pretty heavy weight.  I focus on legs obviously, but it's important to learn your body's weakness and try to work it (Zane goes on to point out that most people have a muscular imbalance between their quads and their hamstrings - recognize which one is weaker for you and give it extra attention).  Goblet squats are a great exercise, he adds, and stretching.  Lots of stretching.
The other important thing to work on all of the time is your core.  Your core plays a big role in keeping you up and keeping you going over 100 miles!
Do you ever use any of the 'programs' out there?
I use cross-fit and enjoy it a lot.  The important thing to remember about cross-fit is that, as competitors we all want to do the biggest, best, fastest - scale cross-fit according to your abilities.  I'm a runner - I use working out and cross-fit (etc.) to supplement my running.
If someone was just starting out, what would be your 1 piece of advice to get them on the path of their first ultra?
Sign up!  Find a 30 miler and sign up for one, surround yourself with friends to support you, talk to others who have done it, and just go.  Don't wait until you're "sure you're ready", pick a date, sign up for one, and try it out.  If the bug bites you, then before the week is out after that 30 you'll be signing up for a 50, and so on.

-------------------------------------------------------

Thanks to Zane Smith for the very candid interview, for the time, for the advice, and for a rare glimpse into this extraordinary group.  Thanks also to Ray Smith (Zane's father) for the photos used.

You heard the man - get out there and get running!



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear Ready to Run group:

Guys... You did it!

I am so proud of all of you for this fantastic accomplishment!  Over the course of 7 weeks we saw over 90 different individuals come out, with a "core" group of about 35 - about 80-90% of you had Never run a 5k before in your life.  You were scared, resistant, and doubtful... and committed!
You committed to the process, trusted your crazy coach, and exceeded all of your expectations!

Watching the 'light bulb moments' week after week were so exciting, and in the end, 100% of you finished the 5k, and 100% of you made it in under your individual goal times!!

I am so unbelievably proud of every one of you!  I can See the difference in you, and I'm not talking about your running ability (though that certainly did change!)
The BELIEF in yourself is so powerful, your pride, and joy, and sense of accomplishment is written all over you, and and your excitement that comes from your new outlook on your abilities is intoxicating!

Congratulations, to you all, I loved every minute of it and couldn't be happier for all of you!

-Levi

#VMC5k
#ReadyToRun

Friday, September 23, 2011

'Dormant to Dominant' program in the news:


Hey all, as many of you know, I was presented with an awesome opportunity recently that I would like to share with everyone:
I lead a 7 week (1 day a week) running clinic (1/2 seminar 1/2 training each night) in Knoxville, TN in partnership with a local 5k there (Volunteer Ministry Center).  Participating in this clinic were a prominent local news anchor (Lori Tucker for ABC's WATE channel 6) and the star of the areas largest radio morning show (Kim Hansard on Star 102.1).

Through them, the story got a lot of air time and they would actually bring a camera crew out to each run and then show interview clips as a story every Thursday for 7 weeks.  As it's not live (only 1 was), you never know what they'll keep and what they'll edit out obviously, but my "naked" feet did get some air time and they let me talk about this "crazy new running style" as it was affectionately dubbed.  
Over the 7 weeks we had over 80 different people come out with a core group of about 30-35 that made it to all 7.  For about 80% of the group, this will be their first 5k ever, and then about 20% of the group were already accomplished distance runners looking to improve efficiency, prevent injuries, shave time, etc.

I offer personal training and group training for running and my biggest program is 'Dormant to Dominant' which is a 'my first 5k' program where I can take Anyone and have them ready to successfully run a 5k in 9 weeks (my newest version of the program - the program this group went through - does it in just 3 days a week, less than 30 minutes each of those 3 days, and in only 6 weeks!).
For more information on how this group did, personal training, group training, speaking engagements, or general questions - please just shoot me an email and I'll be in touch.
The links to the videos/articles are below for anyone who may be interested/find them helpful - the very last one received the most instructional air time:


(The main page that has links to all of the articles/videos can be found here:  http://www.wate.com/category/217945/ready-to-run)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ultras! part 1


This is the first of a 2 part series on Ultra Marathons.  Today’s, the first entry, will focus on the personal story of accomplished ultra runner Zane Smith, and the second entry will tell the tale of his most recent race, the Leadville 100, and focus on a Q&A session I had with Zane on training, getting into Ultras, etc.

This past week I got to catch up with ultra-runner Zane Smith.  Zane is from Oak Ridge, TN and now lives in Columbia, TN. 

One of the things I want to stress about Zane is what he would like to stress.  He is not a runner.  Not in the sense that running is solely what defines him and what he identifies his life as being based on – not by a long shot.  
Zane is a Christian, a dedicated husband, and a loving father, who just so happens to run…. A lot.

Zane didn’t grow up as someone who enjoyed running for a hobby, he was no track star or cross country runner, but he grew up very active and always enjoyed hiking with his dad (Ray Smith) – hiking with his father was his first connection to the trails that would later in life become the place where he would spend a large amount of his time. 

Zane really only began running just a few short years ago (mid 2005) and he started out like most other runners, training for his first 5k and seeing running as a good hobby to help him stay in shape.  After completing his first 5k, again as with most of us, he got bit.  A friend asked Zane if he’d like to train for a ½ marathon which he eagerly jumped into and completed.  The disease was really setting in now.  After feeling good after his ½ marathon and wanting to see what else his body was capable of, Zane set out to find a marathon to try, only, he couldn’t find one.  Now, here’s the first departure from the norm.  As I stated, Zane started running like most of us, wanted to bump up mileage like most of us, and got bit by the running bug like all of us, but here’s where the story takes a twist:  when Zane couldn’t find a marathon he didn’t keep looking, he didn’t simply keep training until one came around, he didn’t even drive to another state to find one.  Instead, Zane skipped the marathon entirely and decided to, after just completing his first half marathon, go for his first Ultra; a 50k.

[an “Ultra” is considered any distance greater than 30 miles with the most common distances being 30 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles.  “Ultras” would also include your 12, 24, and 48 hour timed races]

After his first 50k (just a touch over 31 miles), Zane continued to wonder just what his limits were and soon pushed up to a 50 mile race, and then… 100 miles.  Zane’s first 100 mile Ultra was the MMT in Virginia (Massanutten Mountain Trail).

Since his first 100, Zane has continued to run numerous 100 mile races (including 3 of the most iconic in the United States:  Hardrock, Barkley, and Leadville).  
Zane has only failed to finish 1 race in the allotted time (which is 60 hours), and before you get too comfortable with the idea of that DNF, consider this:
since the Barkley race began in 1986, only 10 people (out of the over 700 who have attempted it) have ever finished it within the time limit. Ten. Yes, 10.  The unofficial slogan for Barkley is “No one finishes The Barkley”, and when you average just over 1 person finishing every 3 years… I’d say it’s a fitting slogan for this brutal behemoth located in Frozen Head State Park, right here in east TN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Running Form 7: Posture


I apologize for the delay in posts, I've been out of town for about 10 days
and made that time a "technology free" zone!

I'm excited to be back, to hear how everyone's running has been the 
last week, and to share with you the 7th (and final) segment on our
Running Form series.  This 7th part of the series covers complete/overall
running posture and is taken from my book 

Running Posture

Keep your body in a straight line. Think of a rod
going straight through your body, from the center of
the top of your head down through your ankle. 
With that rod in place, every joint has to stay in line and your
back must remain perfectly straight. 
At the same time, lean your body ever-so-slightly forward.

Now, in remembering that your body has to be
straight (you can’t bend that rod), you know you
can’t lean forward at the waist.
Instead, you create your forward cant from the
ankles. 

By creating a lean forward (from the ankles),
you enlist gravity to assist you in your run. Instead of
running being work, it becomes controlled falling.
You aren’t pushing off into each stride, in fact, if you
don’t do anything but stand still, with your body
leaning forward at the ankles, you will fall flat on
your face. To keep yourself from falling, you simply
place one foot out to catch yourself – 'falling' into
your next stride with half the effort.

Remember that everything (head, shoulders, chest, hips, knees,
toes) points in the direction you are moving - forward!

Knees are bent (before you can even think in your head "but my knees are bent"
let me just go ahead and assure you they are not.  Bend them more.).
Your knees must be kept bent your entire stride, up and down, lift and landing.
In order to do this, bend your knees, then bend them a little more, then bend them
until you feel mildly ridiculous and at that point you're probably about half way there ;)

  • Posture straight
  • 'Lean' from the ankles
  • All things pointing straight ahead
  • Keep knees bent



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Running Form 6: Head

This is the 6th installment in the 7 part series on Running Form: From the feet up

Today's entry is a short excerpt on the head:

All excerpts are taken from my book, "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed"


Head:

Your head should be still, fixed, straight ahead in the direction you are advancing.
That, obviously, is controlled largely by one’s eyes. So, unless you are admiring the scenery (which inadvertently you really should be doing from time to time), your eyes should be focused on the road ahead - straight ahead.

Your eyes, chin, shoulders, chest, hips, knees, your toes, everything should be pointing straight ahead.

The other issue with the head is “head bob”.
If you are running correctly, your head should remain flat (think of “finishing school” where they would make the children put books flat on their heads and walk around without them falling off).
If instead of lifting your foot off the ground and gliding (with your quads and hamstrings), you are pushing off and lunging your entire body in the air (with your calves), then your head will visibly bob up and down with each stride.

Stand in place and march (just march in place - right where you are).
You aren't using your calf muscles (your smallest leg muscles), you aren't pushing off - you're lifting each step (with your hamstrings and quads - you're biggest leg muscles) and, therefore, you're head stays perfectly flat.

How you march in place, in all regards, is how you should run. You are using the correct muscles, you are landing flat footed, your feet are landing directly underneath your hips, your standing tall, your head is still, etc - Marching in place mimics proper running form!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Running form 5: Arms

This is the 5th entry in our series on Running Form (Excerpts from my book "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed") and details information on our arms.

Arms:
You are an object in motion. As such, you want
every part of your body to be moving in the same
direction.

It might sound obvious, but consider your
arms:
what do you do with your arms when you run?
Have you ever really paid attention?
A huge number of people swing their arms across their body
(right hand swinging towards the left hip or even left
shoulder and vice versa).
Every movement across your body is wasted and creating directional energy
contrary to your goal: straight ahead.


So think of it like bowling. When you attempt to bowl a straight
ball, your arm has to go straight back and return
straight forward or else the ball, when thrown, will
veer off to one side or the other. Same concept,
only we’re talking about the energy and direction of
your body.

Since for every action there has to be an
equal and opposite reaction, for every bit of energy
you expend moving your arms to the side instead of
straight ahead, your body has to then also counter
that wasted energy (by wasting even more) to keep
your body aligned correctly.

Also on arms, even if you are moving them straight
back and straight forward, you can still be expending
valuable energy unnecessarily.
You want your arms to be loose and relaxed - your hands as well.

If you are clinching your fists, that’s costing you energy.
If you are rigidly swinging your arms in large arcs,
that’s costing you energy that you could be using
more efficiently elsewhere (like your legs).
Keep your hands open and loose, let your arms almost
flop, straight ahead, straight back, just enough to
assist in kinetic energy.

*Note: If you are holding to much energy in your arms
(clinching your fists, holding your shoulders or elbows tight)
this will cause your back to be sore after running! If you are
suffering from soreness in your back/shoulder blades - loosen up!


Finally, always focus on using small motions; you are
not a locomotive and, as such, you do not want to be
“pumping” your arms! Relaxation is the key.
The less energy you expend on all the “other” stuff, the
more your body has available for the essential
muscles utilized in running (heart, hamstrings,
quadriceps, and calves, ).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zensah Compression Giveaway

Hey guys, just a quick note: my friends over at Zensah Compression are giving away one of their new Racerback Tanks on their facebook page.

Just jump on over to www.facebook.com/zensahsports, 'like' their page, and & then click on the red star in the left info column "Dare to Win-Racerback Tank"

Running form 4: Knees, Waist/Hips, and Center of Gravity

Knees
Your knees play a Huge part in your running (big shock, right?)!
Your knees are the pivot point for your God given leaf springs!
Run with your knees bent! Your leg should never fully straighten out, not when landing, not when lifting, not when moving your foot out for your next stride - always, always keep bend in your knees and that will Save your knees! It allows your legs to become springs/shocks, absorbing all the impact of your body! Bend your knees to the point where you feel a little funny, and then bend them a little more (you can't ever bend your knees too much).


Waist/hips
Very basically - keep them pointing in the direction you are going! Don't torque your body one way or the other. Remember, chest, hips, belly button, knees, toes, shoulders, everything points straight forward.


Center of Gravity
As I mentioned earlier, in order for your foot to land
flat, it must be underneath your center of gravity.
You cannot possibly have your foot stretched way
out in front of you (over-striding) and land as
intended.

-Stand and march in place, that's how (and where) your feet
should land. Look down, you can't see where your shoes are tied
(you can't see the knot), that's correct. So, if you ever look down
and can see your shoe string knot when your foot lands, it means
you are over-striding too far and need to shorten your stride-

The “form” that has you over-stride was created by
heel striking, which was created by the invention of
“Jogging” (coined by Bill Bowerman – founder of
Nike and father of the modern running shoe).
It is virtually impossible to heel strike barefoot. Try
it. Once. You’ll never do it again.
So your strides are actually quite short, and in order
to compensate for using a shorter stride (as
intended), you turn your feet over faster.
As soon as one foot lands, you are lifting the other
off, you simply speed up that process (think of your
feet like a wheel) by turning them over at an even
faster rate. Think of it as running quicker, not harder
– it’s light, nimble, and natural vs. heavy and forced.


Read this article from Harvard University:
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/01/different-strokes/