KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Ready to Run group had our final training day for our first 5K race.
The group, which includes myself, Star 102.1's morning show personality Kim Hansard, Volunteer Ministry Center's Mary Beth Ramey and Karol Harper, and my daughter, Kelsey, has grown over the weeks to about 30 runners of all ages and fitness levels.
Trainer and author Levi Dodd said to the group gathered at World's Fair Park, "I'm absolutely thrilled with all of you. It's amazing to see."
Dodd remembers the group looking miserable those first few weeks of training. We're now running 30 to 35 minutes without stopping and actually enjoying it.
Dodd teaches his own unconventional method of running that's catching on in some circles. It's called minimalist running. He often runs barefoot.
The group doesn't follow suit, but the running shoes we're wearing are deceptively lightweight, and the strides we're taking are short.
"It's all about efficiency. It is the efficiency in stride. It's taking your impact down to almost nothing," Dodd said.
When the group first started running, Dodd told us to think about tip-toeing to avoid waking a baby.
"When you tiptoe through the house, you land right there on the outside (of the foot)," Dodd motioned. "(You land) just behind your pinky toe and then you roll flat. That's how you do it as you tiptoe through your house, same style you're looking for when you're running."
It's not just a style change for Dodd, who once ran the more traditional method.
But after six knee surgeries in 14 years and doctors telling him he'd never run again, Dodd says, "It was devastating to me because it's such an integral part of who I am and what I love to do. I became more and more determined to find a way I could do it and when I found that way and it worked. That's what prompted me to share it, to get to share it with other people."
Now training runners has become a calling for Dodd, much like his role as youth and family life minister at Highland View Church of Christ in Oak Ridge.
Slowly but surely, our group is learning why running is more than just running. Along with building stamina, we're building onto friendships and adding new ones.
For more information on Levi Dodd's book "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed," and for running tips visit his blog: secondwindbook.blogspot.com/.