Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

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.

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

It might sound obvious, but consider your
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, '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

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).

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

-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:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Opedix R1 "Knee Saver" Running Tights Review

Levi Dodd
August 2011

I'm nearing the end of my summer section of the reviews of various products and brands.
At the end (close now), I will publish all of the reviews in a PDF and make that available to anyone who wishes.
Note that I am reviewing products that I have done a good bit of research on First before including them in my list of products to review so I am anticipating most all of the products will receive favorable feedback (these are not 'blind' tests).
Also, all reviews will be posted on my blog and on my facebook page as well (The blog will include all the pictures)



Opedix is one of those companies you just Want to do well. Their story is something out of Runner’s World special report – The company was founded by a businessman who had a vested interest in his own products and we he decided to step out and create a company to help him and others like him, the saying “Go big or go home” simply falls short.
Opedix labels themselves as “Evidence Based Apparel” and they strive (and achieve) to move the advantages of their compression based “Knee Saver” tights (designed to “unload” the pressure from your knees while running or skiing) from the anecdotal to the scientifically proven. Kim Gustafson didn’t only want top athletes to swear his products were helping, he wanted proof. So he “went big”. Opedix partnered with Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation and Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic; 2 world renowned institutions leading the way in preventative research and diagnosis and prevention respectively. These institutions have played critical roles in the research, design, testing, and evaluation of the Opedix R1 and R2 Tights. Dr. Decker (Michael J. Decker is an Applied Biomechanist Scientist interested in neuromuscular coordination, rehabilitation and sport performance. Mike was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado and was previously an Instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mike is now working in a new orthopedic research facility at the University of Denver. Over the past decade, Mike has presented at several national and international meetings, published 16 manuscripts and been involved in 18 awards for research, academic and teaching excellence) extensively tested Opedix’s Tights and a Power Point Presentation summarizing his findings can be found Here.

OPEDIX R1 “Knee Saver” Running Tights

I wasn’t sure these tights would mean, but I was certainly intrigued by the premise! With everyone touting how they can “Save your knees!” my skepticism is always on high alert. However, when I spoke to Kim and Dr. Decker on the phone, I found myself getting wrapped up in their passion and found myself getting more and more hopeful about… could this thing really work??

On first look when I unboxed the tights, they look good… really, as in, aesthetically speaking, I didn’t feel like I was wearing ballerina tights. Does that help my knee? No… but certainly doesn’t hurt, now does it?
The tights are marketed as “year round”, but here at home, most of the summer had heat indexes in excess of 110 degrees, so I kept putting off my review, fearful of the heat. That said, I finally broke down and ran in them when our cold front moved in (91 degrees) and I was extremely impressed! They were, in fact, quite cool – to the point that I honestly didn’t notice them, A+ on that front.

The sizing was right (just the guidelines on their site and remember that women’s and men’s can be interchanged based on size if necessary) and that was another great concern of mine. I was a bit nervous about finding a pair that would accurately fit my famously towering presence of 5’ 6”, but I was pleased to see it fit great, compression level was Perfect, and (my biggest concern) the “unloading” knee portions lined up just right.

I really can’t stress how these tights completely disappeared once I put them on. The compression level was just right, no bunching anywhere, no riding, I never once had to tug or readjust anything, stayed perfectly in place, and (a huge plus for me) they were amazingly cool, temperature wise.

Now the big test: it’s all well and good that these tights are good compression running tights, but that’s not their claim to fame:
“’Save the Knees’ campaign – Knees take a pounding from running, but now you do something about it. The Opedix Knee Support System is scientifically proven to reduce an average 16% of the load stress exerted on knees while running”
THIS is what I wanted to see! So I decided to put them through a torture test with the idea that if they worked, I would Definitely know it, and if they didn’t, my 6 surgery knees wouldn’t work for days. I set off on a 10 ½ mile “Hill” run, on old, uneven concrete sidewalks with the most elevation change you can get here. I felt… great. Now, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t some miracle where I got home and the next day my knees didn’t feel a thing, my knees are still shot, but there was Certainly a real and measurable difference for me – and I Loved it! The great thing is, in a normal review I would have to point out that my “feelings” were anecdotal, but with these, we actually have scientific evidence to point to where I merely have to confirm that they are, in fact, doing what biomechanical testing has already proven.

Running form 3: Lift Off

This is the 3rd entry in the 7 week series on Running Form. Today's post is moving up into your stride and focuses on your lift off - a Huge component in efficiency (and one that is a bit harder to grasp for many).

Lift Off
Now, after your foot has landed nearly flat on the
ground (please note here that in order for your foot
to land flat it must land underneath your center of
gravity), how do you pick it back up?

You roll through your foot:
your flat on your heel
and then you roll, as if you are walking, through your
mid-foot, forefoot, and then almost to your toes.
You must remember though, that when you get to
your toes, you do not “push” back off with
your toes.

As you reach your toes you simply lift
your foot back off the ground. So as one foot
touches the ground, your other foot lifts off, and you
as soon as that foot touches the ground, your first
foot immediately lifts off. This action creates a quick
cadence (how you can produce speed, increase efficiency,
and maximize your forward momentum).

Also, on the lift off, remember that you are barely
lifting your foot off the ground. You are not bringing
it high up in the air (what purpose does that serve in
going forward?), instead, the sole of your foot is
never more than an inch or two off the ground. You
aren’t high-stepping, you aren’t marching, you’re
gliding, with your soles just above the surface.
This method of lifting (the “pull” as it is known in
Pose Running) your foot off the ground instead of
pushing your entire body off the ground focuses on
utilizing your hamstrings and then quads more so than your
calves if you are one who pushes
off with your toes. Therefore, you are using your biggest
muscles (hamstrings, quads, and butt) instead of your smallest muscles
(your calves).
In the gym, you way do calf raises with 45 pounds. You may squat 450
pounds. You want to move your running muscles away from the the 45 pound
calves into the 450 pound hamstrings and quads.

Additionally, by lifting your foot off the ground
instead of pushing off you help create that soft run
while eliminating headbob.

As I said, this is arguably the most complicated part and truly
requires demonstration for most people to fully

For the rest of the chapter and more information, please check out the book,
"Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed"

10.5 miles of church

This week looks to be a busy week on this blog! I have a 1/2 dozen posts that I 'need' to get on here (including this one), a few of which should (and may...) go up today.

I often tell my trainees to ditch the watch, leave the GPS in the car, and just go... don't worry about times, forget splits, have the distance and maybe even your route unknown, throw on some good tunes (for complete distraction - so you can even forget to focus on your breathing) and let your muscles do what you've trained them to do and just... run.

Yesterday I took my own advice and for the first time in a Long time, I ran alone (all my runs of late have been with a training group, or training an individual, or pacing a friend, etc.). I left my watch at the house, left my phone on the counter, stuck my earbuds in, and very intentionally made sure I didn't know what time it was when I left the house so I couldn't even guess at how long the miles took me or attempt to worry about a pace. I didn't drive anywhere, I just took off from my house.

As I ran, the trees, the hills, the water, the breeze, everything was new again. It was running for why we all run - the pure Joy of it. I found the number one thing that was present on this run that is, at times, absent was this ridiculous grin that I simply couldn't shake - the earbuds filling my head with sounds of joy, hope, and love in motion (Mat Kearney, Sidewalk Prophets, Need to Breathe, and a dozen others) and I just ran.

In the end, I went back and drove the route (can't help it ;)
and the run came out to 10 1/2 miles - which for me and my knees is a very long run on a Monday morning! It was 10.5 miles of church. Me, alone with my thoughts, my music, my prayers, and the priceless stares from other runners looking at me like I was the most insane thing they'd ever seen in my VFFs and that ridiculous grin!

So remember, sometimes you HAVE to ditch the watch, forget the GPS, ignore your time, run a completely new route, and just run to run. Remind yourself why you're Really doing this. If running isn't a vacation, a stress relief, an escape, and a joy... you're just not doing it right.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Running form 2: Stride Mechanics

As promised, here is the 2nd entry in our 7 week study on running form. Today (as we move up from the feet to the head) we have an entry on Stride Mechanics. This is an excerpt from my book 'Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed'

Stride Mechanics

The stride is one of the most important aspects of
running (after, you know….breathing) and also the
most complicated.

Though many people will point to
the differences in runner’s stride length as a function
of height, the mechanics don’t actually change.

There are toe runners, forefoot runners, and even
heel strikers (ouch!).
There are “twinkle-toe”
runners (a minority yes, I was one of them for a long
time, knowing to go against the shoe companies and
not let their heels touch the ground, but not
understanding why and, therefore, never letting
their heels touch at all),
“gazelles” (stretching their
legs as far as possible, overstriding to the max and
destroying their joints with every counterproductive
breaktorque stride),
“ballerinas” (pressing off at the
toes and bounding up in the air into their next stride,
heads vaulting with ½ a foot of vertical movement) ,
and “elephants” (clop clop clop, pound pound
There are also specific adaptations of each
making varying amounts of splash on the
mainstream including: Chi Running, Evolutionary
Running, Pose Running, Barefoot Running, and all
kinds of variations/combinations found therein.

With all of the approaches, all of the hype, and all of
the research and sponsorships from yoga classes to
University of Stanford marathoners, to CrossFit, to
the United States Military running programs, to the
myriad of conflicting, and self-serving, opinions from
the shoe companies, how in the world is anyone
supposed to actually “learn” anything??

Well, here goes: many of them are right, and many
of them (often the same ones) are wrong. Make
sense? Yeah, thought so… See, you have to take
bits and pieces from several different ones in order
to make something that “works for you” and is still
built upon efficiency and true injury prevention.
My personal form I suppose you could say is a hybrid of Pose, Chi, and
barefoot styles.

Over the next few weeks (Tuesdays and Thursdays), I'll be adding to this information and expanding on the notion of stride mechanics (what this series is all about). The next Tuesday will elaborate on this a lot with an entry on Lift Off.

Remember the principles: straight body posture, everything (toes, knees, hips, chest, shoulders, arms, and head) pointing and moving in the direction you want to be going, loose, loose, loose, lift your foot off the ground using your big muscles (the "Pull" in Pose) instead of springing into your next stride with just the use of your calves, land lightly on the ball of your foot and roll flat, breathe In the mouth and out the mouth, smile ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week 2 training run:

What a great run with the group last night! Everyone that came out did so well, you should truly be proud of what you have Already accomplished and be more and more confident each day in your ability to do this!

Again, such great questions from everyone and I really enjoyed getting the one-on-one time with so many of you. The difference in everyone's form from last week is just fantastic - strides are shortening, people are getting lighter on their feet and looser through their bodies.
land on the ball of your foot (almost flat). Exact form is to land on the outside ball of your foot, just behind your pinky toe, and roll flat.

Lift your foot off the ground using your big quad and hamstring muscles, don't push off with your calves - it's about efficiency, make it easier on yourself by moving away from your smallest muscles and focusing on your largest muscles.

Then, most importantly, relax

As Caballo Blanco says (in Chris McDougall's 'Born to Run'):

“Think Easy, Light, Smooth and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a $h*+ how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that for so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one — you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1. Foot Strike:

I've fielded several questions of late regarding running form. Lots of the questions stem from "my ___ (heel, knees, back, shoulders) hurt".

I want to address some key points on form.

Over the next several weeks (Tuesdays and Thursdays) we will address each part in detail, with a new topic each day, starting at the foot and working our way up

(*Note: The following information that will be posted are excerpts from my book "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed")


You should land on your forefoot (think ball of your
foot) followed by your arch and then your heel
landing almost simultaneously after.

Many people(myself included for years) confuse landing on the
forefoot to mean landing on your toes and never
allowing your heel to touch the ground.
This is incorrect. This doesn’t allow your calf muscle
to ever relax (by never having your heel touch to
take the pressure off) which will put you in a world
of hurt (it’s not efficient due to relying too heavily on
your calves instead of your quads and hamstrings as
well as putting you at a much higher risk for shinsplints).
So again, land on the ball of your foot, and
then your arch (the mid-foot) and the heel will land a
split second afterwards.

For some people, it is easier to think of this process
as landing flat (but try to think of your forefoot
landing even a thousandth of a second earlier than
the rest of your foot).
Do not, under any circumstances, land directly on
your heel.

To feel this proper form in action, take your socks and shoes
off and tip-toe (like you're sneaking through your house).
Where/how does your foot land? You land on the outside ball of
your foot (think just behind where your pinky-toe starts)
and roll in, and down to flat. That is your perfect foot strike!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running form Tuesdays/Thursdays!

Ok guys, here goes:

For the next 7 weeks I will be posting detailed information on Thursdays (some weeks will get the Running Form posts twice a week on Tuesdays And Thursdays!)

All of the information will be direct excerpts from my book "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed"!!

We will start with the feet and work our way up to our heads - the topics will include detailed information on the following:

1. Foot Strike
2. Stride Mechanics
3. Lift Off
4. Knees
5. Waist/Hips
6. Center of Gravity
7. Arms
8. Head
9. and complete, correct, Running Posture


Most of you know that I'm on Facebook and use it quite a lot (any/all of you are welcome to friend me there). I'm now going to start a Twitter account (LeviDodd)

Follow me for running information, tips, and thoughts, SeizeAbundantLife notes (my other blog), mass hilarity (of course ;) and to Help me figure it out!!/levidodd

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What a fantastic clinic and training run last night! We had a great crowed of 35 people and everyone did so well! There were excellent questions all around and I got reminded of why I do this -- I LOVE the light-bulb moments and seeing the looks of fear, doubt, and apprehension turn to realization, joy, and determination!

I got a lot of questions about shoes last night (or lack there of ;)
so I want to take a few minutes to address very basically some things to look for, some things to avoid, and why.

Here are a few things to think about:
Your foot is designed to flex, and bend, and move. Lots of shoes prohibit your feet from doing Any of those things (stability webs, roll bars, carbon injected crash plates, etc.).
Think about your arch. How many people have been told that you have a weak arch, so you need arch support? What's the strongest shape in nature, or in construction (think bridge building).. the arch. Ever seen anyone build a bridge and then stick a support up underneath their archway? Of course not, and why? Because doing so completely defeats the design capabilities and the function of the arch! - (more on that next Tuesday)

Consider also that studies have proven (Harvard University, American Society of Biomechanics, Nike's own Director of Nike Sports Research Lab, American Journal of Sports Medicine, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, etc. etc. etc.) that the greater the padding, the greater the impact. Let that sink in for a second (yes - you read that right). The more padding your shoe has in it, the harder your foot (and knees, and hips, and back) will smash into the ground - again.. more on this next Tuesday.

Then there's the fact that all of our running shoes are high heels. Most all running shoes have a much higher heel than forefoot (ie a 32mm heel height and a 20mm forefoot height). Would you choose to run in high heels? not only does it put lots of extra pressure on your knees and shins, it nearly forces a heel strike. To be continued... next Tues ;)

Finally, there's the issue of weight. You are picking up your feet a lot, more so than most of you every imagined if you are transitioning into correct running form. Each time you do so, you're having to lift the weights on each of your feet (those shoes). A typical corrective running shoe will weigh in somewhere around 12oz a piece (or more), where a pair of FiveFingers will weigh less than that a Pair - only about 5-6oz a piece. And your barefeet... they tip the scales at zero.

Here's what you want to remember:
Less is more.

In buying a shoe, you want to look for:
Zero-drop shoe (one where the heel is not raised higher than the forefoot)
This one isn't a big deal, but one where the toes don’t curl straight up into the air (set a running shoe flat and look at all the space underneath the toes)
A wider shoe (your toes need room to splay out)
A shoe that does not attempt to overwrite and control God’s perfect design ("ZOMG bionic neo ion infused krptontastic!")
A shoe that is super light weight
A shoe that is flat on the inside (no jutting up arch "support")
A shoe that bends (that you can roll up toe to heel)
And a shoe that isn't incredibly "squishy" (if it feels like a house shoe when you put it on it will kill you, your feet, your heels, your knees, and your lower back by the end of the day).

So in short, avoid any shoe that boasts any of the following: “Control”, “motion control”, “high arch”, “stability”, “stability web”, “narrow last”, “bounce”, “rebound”, or anything that brags in regards to excellent cushioning or high technology.

An easy, over simplified way to ask your shoe store salesperson for the right thing, ask for a "Zero drop shoe". What this means is that the shoe will put your forefoot and your heel on the same plane - they will be the same height.
This way you wont be running in high-heels. While not 100% of the time, typically, if the shoe has a zero-drop, then it has the other features you want to be looking for.

Remember, just because a shoe is labeled "Minimalist", doesn't mean it's any good. There are lots of "minimalist" shoes out there that are anything but, and, on the other hand, there are lots of good minimalist shoes out there that can make great strides (pun intended) in helping your form and helping you to run pain free

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Training Run Tuesdays start TOMORROW!

I'm excited to announce that tomorrow we will kick off our Training Run Tuesdays at the World's Fair site lawn at 7pm.

Come on out and join myself, Lori Tucker (WATE), Kim Hansard (Mark & Kim in the Morning 102.1), and Karol Harper (VMC) for a fun and informal clinic to include group instruction, individualized instruction, Q&A, and a training run.

Also, everyone who comes out tomorrow will receive a free "Dormant to Dominant - 7 Weeks to your first 5k" training schedule to get you ready to run the VMC 5k on Sept. 24th!

Monday, August 1, 2011


With heat indexes varying from 95 - 111 degrees, running in the middle of the day is Brutal! I have had several out-and-back runs lately (on lunch break) where I've gotten half way out and regretted my timing!

We have to be careful in extreme heat, being sure to hydrate and stretch even more than usual. Sugar drinks become very important (gatorade, powerade, FRS, EFS, etc). Also, remember that you can't simply wait until after the run to recovery hydrate, you can't even wait until the middle of the run, you really need to be drinking and hydrating before you head out on your run in the first place.

Now, the obvious solution to this is run early in the morning or late at night to avoid the heat and the direct sunlight, and I would strongly recommend this to everyone! However, you also have to remember that if you are preparing for a race, you need to prepare for it under race conditions. If you are running a race that will take you through the mid-day heat on asphalt, then running only first thing in the morning on grass isn't going to prepare you for the race ("train how you will compete") and your body will have a huge shock on its hands if race day is the first time you experience those conditions