Thursday, February 28, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Reading Nutrition Labels for Dummies

Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday.  This is the weekly post where I share older posts from Running for Dummies that you may have missed (and maybe an excuse to share some self-indulgent throwback pictures from my childhood.)

I have to tell you that this week, I am so excited because my lovely mother and sister are making the trip from Pennsylvania to Texas to visit me and hubby!  I am so excited for their arrival.

In honor of their visit, I thought I would share this picture and some thoughts on perspective. I have loved this picture for a long time. I had it framed in my first apartment as a young adult. I love the sad faces of me and my big sister, we look so cute with our pouty lips and tear-stained eyes.



It only occurred to me very recently when looking at this picture how my mother must have felt that day. She dressed up her two beautiful daughters for a photo session at Kmart, paid her hard-earned money, and all those brats could do is cry and fuss? I imagine she must have been frustrated with us for "ruining" her pictures. 33 odd years later, is it too late to say sorry, mom?  It was kind of eye opening to me to realize that in all these years (even when I was older), I never considered my mother's perspective. It reminds me to make an conscious effort to always consider other people's outlook.

OK, On to the post!

Throwback Thursday: Reading Nutrition Labels for Dummies

This week's throwback Thursday post is about how to read nutrition labels. I spent way too many years checking the calories, fat, and sugar content on the label and thinking that was enough information to make an informed decision. The problem is that if you are not reading the ingredients on the label, you are missing a major piece of the puzzle. Check out the original post here.


Please click over to the original post and let me know what you think!


Keep Running,





Monday, February 25, 2013

Apps for Runners: The Good, The Bad & The Scary


I admit it. I am completely addicted to my smart phone. I wonder how, just a few short years ago, I lived without it.  How did I not get lost drive anywhere without my GPS app? How did I keep up with email and Facebook? More importantly, how did I let every person I know see my food plate before a meal without Instagram? Or most baffling, get married without the genius of Pinterest?  It was a sad time before the smart phone.

The good news is that while I work through my addictions, there are some perfectly healthy apps that can help you, and maybe even help others.

The Good:

Charity Miles

Let's start with Charity Miles. This is an awesome app. You are going to run those miles anyway, why not run them for charity?

From the site:

Ready to become a sponsored athlete? Simply turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. As you exercise, we'll track your distance and the money earned. When you're finished, accept your sponsorship, spread the word, and we'll send you a note confirming your good work.

How it Works It's as easy as this: get moving. Bikers earn 10¢ a mile and walkers and runners earn 25¢ a mile, up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.

Basically, you run, choose your charity and Charity miles donates money to your charity of choice based on your mileage. Run more. Help Yourself.  Help Others. Win-Win.

MyFitnessPal


MyFitnessPal is a free calorie calculator, fitness and diet journal. It is one of my favorites because you can track calories and workouts in one app. You can add your friends to encourage them and they can return the favor. I particularly like the iPhone app, because you can scan the bar code of the food you are eating and it automatically adds all the nutritional information to your food log. It is so easy.

Yes, I eat peanut butter for breakfast.

Reader's favorites

I reached out to you on Facebook and I asked you to share your favorite fitness apps since I haven't tried everything and I mostly use my GPS watch to track pace and distances. This is what you said:


  • Runtastic:
    • "It links to myfitnesspal, sends me motivation to get up and go every Sunday, and my husband can send me cheers through it while I'm running!" - Natasha
    • "I like runtastic because it seems to be very accurate with the GPS and pace. I have a hard time with that on other apps living in a rural area." - Shelley
    • "I love all the cheers from friends all over the world." - Aimee  
  • Runmeter:
    • "I use Runmeter because it emails my family a map of where I am while I'm running and emails them when I'm finished so they don't worry." - Desiree 
  • RunKeeper: 
    • "It keeps me from having to spreadsheet everything." - Jon
    • "Loving their little push notifications recently - nicely reminding us to run." - Ribbonworthy. go Run. be Proud.  
  • Nike Training Club:
    • "Because it's easy to use and rocks!" - Flor

The Bad:


While I hesitate to say anything negative about Jillian Michaels because she might come to my house and kick my ass, her free app has much to be desired. It seemed liked everything I wanted to do was locked behind the paid version. Maybe the paid version is worth your while, but I got frustrated with the free version quickly enough to delete it from my phone. While I love the Biggest Loser, I love her DVD's, and I love her hard-core, no-nonsense approach to fitness, I just don't love her free app. Sorry Jillian, don't beat me up.




The Scary: 

 

Zombies, Run! What is more fun and scary than being chased by zombies? The thing about running is that it can be more of a mental challenge then a physical one. Once you get past your brain, running is easy. Take it from me. What better way to distract yourself from your pesky brain than to have a zombie chasing you? If that doesn't make you run fast, I don't know what will. This app is so fun! You get so caught up in the action, you forget you are working out.
From the site:
  • 30+ gripping missions
  • “Zombie Chase” interval training
  • Run with your own music
  • Play outside or at the gym
  • Build up your own base
 


What are your favorite running or fitness apps? Which ones aren't worth your time?

Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



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Friday, February 22, 2013

Tri-ing For Dummies: Guest Post from Tri-ing to be Athletic

I think it is no secret that I adore TriGirl from over at Tri-ing to be Athletic. So when I ran out of blog post ideas I decided to ask her to do a guest post on Running for Dummies, so you guys could love her as much as I do.  She wrote (and drew) an awesome post for us about being a tri-athlete (for dummies). Who knows, maybe she will motivate me to pick up a bike or jump in a pool!  Thanks Tri-Girl!


Tri-ing for Dummies


Hello everyone!  When Lea asked me if I wanted to guest post on her blog, it only took me about 0.2 seconds to say "Yes, please!"  I am a big fan of hers and so honoured that she asked me to write here today. I write my blog about training for triathlons and running races.  When (if) you think of triathletes, you might very well think of lean, mean, racing machines.  I may have named myself TriGirl, but it's really more for irony's sake.


That's me.
I started doing triathlons due to peer pressure from a co-worker.  The everyone-is-doing-it-so-you-should-too-come-on-it-will-totally-be-fun-don't-you-want-to-hang-with-the-cool-kids mentality is not the recommended reason for starting a sport.  Especially if you are not a sports person and don't know how to swim or bike.  Or run. My less than auspicious start with the triathlon (hypothermia and dehydration with a trip to the ER after the swim) made me question whether or not I should tuck tail and run, or buck up and train properly.  I went with the latter.

While there are those incredible Ironman races you see on TV, I do the "sprint" distance.  I should tell you this name is a misnomer.  There are people who finish the race in about an hour.  Me?  Not so much.

Make no mistake, I am going as fast as I can.  I'm just slow by nature.
But, that does not mean  there is no reason to tri (see what I did there?)  Anyone who wants to can do a triathlon. In order to swim in a triathlon if you are not a confident swimmer, I have one word for you:


A triathlon wetsuit, to be precise.  If I ever go on a cruise (which will be never) I think I will take my wetsuit with me.  It's warmer and more buoyant than a life jacket.  But, word to the wise, you should wear your wetsuit in the lake a few times before your race because it takes some getting used to.


Now that we've covered the swim--assuming, of course, that you're going to the pool at least a couple of times a week--let's move on to the bike. When buying a bike, do not be swayed by the salesperson who tries to sweet talk you into a sleek, fast road bike so that you can speed by all the other racers.  If you have not ridden a bike since you thought Barbie and G.I. Joe should get married and have lots of Skipper babies, then you should look for a bike that:  
A)  Fits you.
B)  You can balance on.
Just kidding.  You want to make sure you can just stay upright.
C)  You can stop on...without having to jump off.
Jump, fall, whatevs. 
Granted, I may be in the minority on the biking issues, but my hybrid and I get along much better than my road bike and I did.  By the by, anyone need a road bike?  I'll give you a good price. You can take spin classes and put your bike on a trainer to get practice in the off season, but if you're like me and actually do forget how to ride a bike, grab a friend (or reluctant spouse) and hit the bike paths.
Once you've gotten the bike part out of the way, you have the last leg of the race:  the run.  Or crawl walk.  You might have to weave through people going more slowly than you who are using those 3 miles to catch up on the latest about what Chandelier said to Salmonella on the Bachelor this week, but you just have to slink over the finish line at this point and grab that finisher's medal!
And that's it!  You're done! So, if you have thought you could never do a triathlon, I am living proof that you absolutely can.  There are even indoor triathlons that use a pool, treadmill, and stationary bike so you can tri very safely.
Oh, one little, itty bitty thing I forgot to mention:  transitions.  A.K.A. how to get out of your wetsuit and onto your bike in a jiffy, and off your bike and into your run in a millisecond.
But I think I'll save that for another day. Thanks so much, Lea, for letting me take over your blog today!




From Lea:
You can check out more of TriGirl here:

Blog: www.tri-ingtobeathletic.com
Twitter: @triingathlete
Facebook: Tri-ing to be Athletic
Pinterest: TriGirl
Instagram: TriGirl13
Zazzle: Tri-ing to be Athletic (Seriously, you need to buy her stuff, so cute.)

Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



"LIKE" the Running for Dummies Blog page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter @GeaLenders
Let's track each others workouts on Dailymile
See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
Follow me on Instagram @runningfordummies

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Throw Back Thursday: I Hate Weight Training & Other Lies I Told Myself



I really am starting to love Throwback Thursday.  This is a weekly post where I dig into the dusty old archives (OK, just from last year) and share an older post that you may have originally missed on Running for Dummies, back from when my mother was my only #1 reader (she still is).

I love it because it is fun to dig through old pictures and brag about share how cute I was when I was five.  Yeah, I know I promised to share more of the pictures from those awkward years, trust me those pictures are plenty, but it is much more fun (for me) to show you how cute I used to be as a toddler. I definitely hit my cute-peak at age five, and it is has all been down hill from there.

Let's compromise this week, you can laugh at with me while I share a picture from high school when my hair was much too big and stiff for my own good. Who didn't love Aqua Net back then? I'd love to tell you this is from the 80's which would excuse the embarrassing hair, but it was actually my high school senior year portrait taken in 1992.

Laugh at with me.
There is a full-grown-legal-to-drink-aged person between me in this picture and me now. 


But the real reason I love Throwback Thursday is because I always end up re-motivating myself with these old posts.  Sometimes I read things that I wrote 8-9 months ago and it triggers something. "Oh yeah, I am sooo smart," (and modest, apparently).  Sometimes we all need those gentle reminders of all the things we already know.

This post, "I Hate Weight Training and Other Lies I Told Myself" reminded me not to listen to that negative self-talk, to not place self-imposed limitations or labels on myself, and to remain open minded. 

I hope you'll click over there and check out how I learned that despite what I always thought, even though I self-identify as a runner, I actually love weight training.  Who knew?




 Don't let who you think you are keep you from being all that you can be. 

 


Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



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See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Conquering Your Inner Night Owl: How to Get up Early to Work Out and Love it!



Conquering Your Inner Night Owl

How to Get up Early to Work Out and Love it!




To the people that know me best, I may seem grossly unqualified to share tips on how to get up early. As a teenager, I would often sleep through my blaring radio alarm clock, not to mention smoke alarms. Getting up early was non-existent in my teenage life, it was quite a miracle if I managed to get up in time to make it to the school bus. To say that I’ve never been a morning person is the understatement of the year.

As I got older I had more responsibilities that hinged on me getting places on time, for example, my first real job. I would somehow manage to get up on time, but would never get up one second earlier than was required. I would hit hit snooze on the alarm for an hour and a half before finally rolling out of bed. I often would negotiate with myself for more sleep.

  • If I don’t wash my hair today, I can sleep for an extra 30 minutes.
  • If I skip breakfast, I can sleep for 15 more minutes
  • If I don’t take a shower at all, that gives me an extra 15.

I’m just kidding about that last one (as far as you know).

So how did I, a self-proclaimed sleeping queen, transition from a night owl to a morning person? These are the things that helped me become a morning person who really loves it.

There are plenty of acceptable reasons to sleep in: It is your rest day, you slept considerably less than 7 hours the night before, your baby spent the better part of the night decorating the walls with vomit. “I don’t feel like it,” is not a good reason.


To Get up or Not to Get up, That is NOT the Question:

 



Stop thinking of getting up early as a choice. If you are anything like me, you probably have to work a day job. I haven’t found anyone yet willing to pay me a decent salary to write all day, so I will likely punch the proverbial time clock until my blog starts to make millions (read: for the rest of my adult life). There are many mornings when the alarm goes off and I think, “I don’t feel like going to work today.” But I do it anyway, because like most people, I have to. I don’t have a choice. My boss wouldn’t take too kindly with me staying home from work every time I didn’t feel like going into the office. In fact, I would probably never go at all if I only based my decision on how I felt.


I go to work because I need the money. The job requires me to arrive at a certain hour. You can apply the same principle to getting up early to work out.


Working out isn’t a choice. It is for your health. It is for your body. It is for your mental sanity. It’s for you. In fact, it might be some of the only “me time” you get all day.


Don’t Lose Sleep Over it:



Shoot for eight hours of sleep. If you are going to bed at midnight and getting up at 5 every day, you are not doing yourself any favors. Losing precious sleep to get up early to work out is counterproductive. The more rested you are, the easier it will be to get up early. One of the first things you need to do is get used to going to bed early, the exact same time every night.


Don’t Negotiate with the Enemy:



You are your own worst enemy. Only you can talk yourself out of getting out of bed. Stop the negotiating. I have learned to turn my brain on autopilot. Don’t think about it, just do it. If you listen to your thoughts at 5am, you almost will always go back to bed. Sometimes I turn on my headphones to upbeat music shortly after waking to distract from my own self-sabotaging thoughts.


Be Prepared:



As I learned in the Girl Scouts many moons ago, Thin Mints are delicious be prepared. The best way to ensure success in the mornings is to be prepared. If you are fighting dust bunnies under your bed in the dark, scrambling for your missing running shoe, all while trying unsuccessfully not to wake your spouse, you’re more likely to get frustrated and go back to bed.


To ensure that no brain power will be required in the wee hours of the morning, lay out your workout clothes the night before. I’ve even heard people say that they sleep in their workout clothes so that in the morning, they just have to slip on their shoes and they are out the door.


Plan your workout the night before. Know exactly what you want to accomplish. Write it down. Don’t rely on your 5am brain to think clearly enough to come up with a plan.


Waking up is Hard to Do:

 



Isn’t that a song? Waking Up is Hard to Do? Oh no, wait, that is breaking up. Well, getting up is hard too. Getting up out of bed is usually the hardest part. Once I’m up, I usually good enough to keep going. Try setting the alarm clock in another room so that when it goes off, you have no choice but to get up and turn it off. Sometimes hubby has to give me a gentle nudge under the covers, but I have to get up out of bed and turn the alarm off. You’re up.You might as well stay up. Don’t talk yourself out of it.


If You Snooze, You Lose:

 



I was the snoozing queen until I got married. Turns out hubby didn’t really like waking up every nine minutes for no apparent reason, who knew? That snooze button isn’t helping. You will never be more rested from nine more minutes of sleep. The interrupted sleep actually makes it worse. Just get up.


Don’t Be a Feign for Caffeine:

 


I know what you must be thinking, “You want me to get up early and give up caffeine? This is crazy talk!” Hear me out.

You know that feeling you get when you first wake up? You're exhausted, You have no energy, you’re achy, you kind of feel like a truck hit you? I know it well. I was having so much trouble getting up in the morning, even after 7-8 hours of well-rested sleep. Someone suggested that I give up caffeine, because sometimes that tired feeling is actually caffeine withdrawal. Once you have your coffee you feel better, but if you didn’t drink the coffee in the first place, you wouldn’t need it to feel better, because you would already feel great.

It was amazing, once I switched to decaf I stopped having those morning withdrawals, I woke up feeling well-rested and great almost every morning. Don’t knock it until you try it. Give it a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference for you.

If not, drink and your coffee and go. 


Love it or Leave it:

 



I am willing to bet that most kids don’t have any trouble waking up super early on Christmas morning. They are genuinely excited about starting their day. I’m not suggesting that the gym is like Christmas morning to an 8 year old, I’m just saying that it is all perspective. If you are generally happy to get up and do something you enjoy, you are more likely to do it.


Do you dread the treadmill? Well, by no means should you drag yourself out of bed everyday to run for an hour on the treadmill, especially not in the beginning while you are still adjusting. Find something that you genuinely enjoy to do while you are making the transition into an early bird.


Misery Loves Company:

 

The awesome ladies of CrossFit SuperSport in North Richland Hills (not me)


Getting up in the morning doesn’t have to be miserable, but if you are going to be miserable, it is better to do it with good company. I have found that having an early morning running partner got me up and going every time. It is not right, but we often feel more accountable to others than we do ourselves. My running partner and I had a no-texting rule. This meant if one of us decided to sleep in, we were not allowed to text the other one to tell them we weren’t coming, as to not influence their own choice. Turns out that the very thought of leaving my friend out there wondering if I would show up or not was enough for me to never miss a workout. I always went, even when I really didn’t want to go.


If you don’t have a friend crazy enough motivated enough, to want to get up before the sun to work out, try joining a morning spin class, boot camp, or CrossFit box. Other members and trainers will keep you accountable, plus nothing is more motivating than knowing that if you sleep in and miss a class you are flushing perfectly good money down the toilet.


Having an accountability partner works too. In my short time writing this blog, I have learned the internet fitness community is a vast place of liked-minded supportive men and women. Find an online friend and promise to text or email each other early in the morning confirming you are up and ready to work out, then email again when you are done. Sometimes just having someone to brag to report to is enough to get you going.


Fake it ‘til You Make it:



You hate the mornings? Keep telling yourself that and you it will always be hard for you. The trick is to lie to yourself. Tell yourself how much you love to work out in the morning. Get an index card and try writing down some positive thoughts, even if you don’t believe them at first.

  • I love to get up early to work out.
  • Morning workouts set the tone for my whole day.
  • I totally rock!
  • While most people are sleeping, I am making myself a better person, inside and out.
  • I love the time to myself in the mornings.
  • I can’t wait to get my workout started today.
  • I will feel so amazing when I am done.


Put your index card by your alarm clock. When the alarm goes off, read your positive thoughts, even say them out loud. Since I can’t rely on my memory at 5am to remember these positive thoughts, it helps to have them written down. I also read them before I go to bed. Your mind believes what you tell it, so if you tell yourself you are tired, and miserable, and you hate morning workouts, you will believe it. If you tell yourself repeatedly that you love morning workouts, you also eventually will believe it. So much of this is a mental battle. It may sound a little hokey, but it really worked for me.


Consistency is Key:



At first it might be hard while you are adjusting, but the key here is consistency. Make an effort to go to bed at the same time every night. Get up the same time each morning, even if you are not working out. Maybe Thursday is your rest day, stay on schedule by getting up early anyway and getting a head start on your day. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish while everyone else is sleeping. You could spend the time to get caught up on personal bills, paperwork, a cleaning project, school assignment, or a blog post. Maybe you just want to spend some alone time reading, relaxing, or meditating before the kids get up. The idea is that you get used to the routine of getting up early, even when it is not to work out. The more routine it is, the easier it becomes.


Even if it is not a scheduled rest day, tell yourself that even if you don’t workout, you still have to get up. Then the choice of getting up or not is already made. Even if you don’t work out, you can still get up and be productive. Chances are once you are up, you will get to the gym after all.


Remember the 99% Rule:



I can tell you from experience that no matter how crappy I feel when I get out of bed, 99% of the time I feel better once I get to the gym. 100% of the time, when it is over, I am glad I did it. That feeling you get after completing a morning workout is way better than the feeling you get from sleeping in an extra hour.


Just getting there is half the battle. Tell yourself you can quit after 15 minutes if you are not feeling it, most of the time once you get going, you will be fine. What about those off days, where you really do want to quit after 15 minutes? Sit in the sauna or go home and read a good book. Don't be too hard on yourself, as these days are likely few and far between, and a 15 minute workout is still better than a 0 minute workout.


Are you ready to do this? What time is your alarm set for tomorrow? Do you have any tips to share?


Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



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See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
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photo credit: jamelah via photopin cc
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dear Running: A Valentine's Day Love Poem



Dear Running,

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
You clear my head, shrink my butt,
And bring me happy days.

You are always there
When I need you most,
To run away stress
Through the mile posts.

When I need to unwind
You are heaven sent,
I just lace up my shoes
And hit the pavement.

When I take you for granted
Or neglect the burn
You patiently wait for
For my inevitable return

When much time has passed
And you're calling my name
I always know
We can re-spark the flame.

Running, I thank you
For all that you do,
For my heart, my soul,
And my head, I love you. 






Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:

















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Throwback Thursday: Valentine's Day Edition

It's Throwback Thursday! This is a weekly post where I dig into the archives of Running for Dummies vast history (not really, just from last year) and share an old post that you may have missed.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Since it is Valentine's Day, I thought I would use the opportunity to share throwback pictures of me and hubby. Who would have thought these little cuties from opposites coasts would end up together for 15 years and counting? Hubby will probably kill me for sharing (shh, don't tell him.)

Happy Valentine's Day from little Running for Dummies and little hubby.

OK, enough bragging about how cute I was (until next week, of course.) On to my Throwback Thursday post.

This week's Throwback Thursday is my most popular post ever, "A Dummies Guide to Waking up Early to Work Out," originally posted on June 23, 2012. This single post has more page views than the next nine most popular posts combined.  Why do I think it is so popular? I think a lot of people struggle with getting up in the morning to work out. It can be hard to adjust to an early morning routine, but when you do, it is totally worth it. Click through to read some suggestions for making it a little bit easier to transition into a morning person.



Please click through to check out the original post,

I need to confess to you that I need to take my own advice regarding this one. I haven't been getting up early to do my work outs in the morning. If you're interested in morning work outs, let's recommit and do this together!  I really feel best when I get my work outs done early.

What time is your alarm set for tomorrow?


Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



"LIKE" the Running for Dummies Blog page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter @GeaLenders
Let's track each others workouts on Dailymile
See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to Win Her Running Heart: Valentine's Day Gifts For Runners


With just a couple days until Valentine's Day, time is running out. If you haven't figured it out already, us runner chicks are not like other girls. Sure, we like flowers and candy like any girl, but we also run 26.2 miles for fun.  If you really want to win her running heart on Valentine's Day, you will need to get creative.

How do you show that special runner girl that you really understand her and love her like no other?  Pay attention.

Lingerie:

What you think you should buy:



What a runner girl wants:

Source: oiselle.com via Running on Pinterest


Flowers:

What you think you should buy:


What a runner girl wants:




Stuffed Animals:

What you think you should buy:


What a runner girl wants:


Jewelry Box:

What you think you should buy:



What a runner girl wants:

Source: amazon.com via Running on Pinterest

Bling Display

Watch:


What you think you should buy:



What a runner girl wants:

Source: amazon.com via Running on Pinterest


Chocolates:

What you think you should buy:



What a runner girl wants:



OK, maybe on this one, we will take the chocolates too!!!!

Of course each runner girl is unique and while I am sure any girl (runner or not) will be appreciative of your love-inspired gifts of flowers and candy, a runner girl will appreciate that you understand that she loves running almost as much as she loves you.


Keep Running,

Lea

Ways to (legally) stalk me:



"LIKE" the Running for Dummies Blog page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter @GeaLenders
Let's track each others workouts on Dailymile
See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
Follow me on Instagram @runningfordummies

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