Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Build a Home Gym

I cancelled three gym memberships in the last month. Hubby and I both had memberships to LA Fitness. My membership was $29.99 and his was $34.99. (What can I say? I must be a better negotiator.) I also had a separate gym membership for $10 a month at the Planet Fitness that is close to my office. One day I realized that we had three gym memberships that we didn't use enough to warrant $75 a month.

I plan on focusing on half marathon training again in order to get ready for the Dallas Marathon half. I haven't ran long distances in quite awhile and I know my priorities will need to be on running in order to get up to speed (so to speak) because frankly, time is running out.

With autumn's arrival, it is finally outdoor running weather again here in Texas. I never enjoyed the treadmill much anyway. I rounded up some of our fitness equipment from around the house, then made a mental note of the things we still might be missing to build our own home gym. I knew with my running routine and just a couple of strength training equipment basics, I would have everything I need.

When we were done, we had quite the home gym. All the basics were covered with plenty of options for variety and even an extra item that isn't a necessity for a home gym, but was a really fun addition!

The Basics:
All you need to get started building your own home gym are a few essentials. You'll probably need at least a bench and some free weights. I also suggest a stability ball and a foam roller to round out your home gym.

This was the most obvious thing that we were lacking. We headed to Academy Sports & Outdoors and picked up a sturdy basic bench for $40. We didn't need anything fancy, just a basic flat bench, and this one did the job for our needs.

Free Weights
I received this weight set as a birthday gift last year. They don't take up a lot of space and I like how the weights are adjustable. I plan to supplement these with a couple of heavier dumbbells to complete my set.

Stability Ball
The stability ball is great for ab work and balance training. Balance training is an important part of any routine. They are relatively inexpensive so I think it is a good investment for a home gym.

Foam Roller
Foam rollers are used for self-myofascial release. What's that, you ask? It's essentially a self-massage to release muscle tension. It is recommended to use on overactive or tight muscles. I've been using this foam roller that I "borrowed" from a friend. I've seen them for as low as $5 from Below Five.

To Add Variety:
These aren't necessities but they can add a bit of variety to your workouts to help keep things fresh and fun.

Kettle Bells
Hubby is all about the kettle bells. They are great for a full body workout, just make sure you understand proper form and technique before swinging a kettle bell if you don't have experience, to avoid injury. (You may look at this picture and be impressed that they are so muddy, they clearly have gotten some serious backyard bootcamp action, or we could have been using them to hold down a tarp. You decide what you want to believe.)

Medicine balls
We bought 10lb and 15lb medicine balls. They are great for power training when hubby and I work out together. I also use them to add weight to squats and lunges, and for ab work.

Resistant bands
I bought these when I was traveling a lot for work in order to try to get in some hotel room strength training sessions. They didn't get much action inside of a hotel room, but resistant bands are a great inexpensive option for your home gym.

Jump ropes
I love to hate jump roping. Jump ropes are a fabulous way to add some cardio to your work out. You can do it almost anywhere to add in quick bursts of cardio. Double unders anyone? I'm terrible at those, so I think I'll add them to my home gym routine.

The Extras:

Balance Board 
Balance training is a fundamental part of any fitness routine and it should not be ignored. We had our eye on a BOSU Ball like they have at the gym, but at $109 they were just so darn expensive, we decided at first on this instead. For $25 it was a great little affordable balancing tool. Of course, you can do balance training without any extra equipment at all, try doing one leg squats!  

So we caved on the BOSU ball for our home gym. It is definitely superfluous, I could certainly live without it, but I've had my eye on one for awhile. The price tag was a little higher than I wanted to spend, but I received a gift card for my birthday, so I used my gift money to pay for half of it.

Did I miss anything? What equipment is in your home gym that you can't live without? Or do you love your commercial gym too much to give it up? Let me know what you think!

It's not too late! There is still time to run in and enter the Running with Ollie virtual 4 mile fun run, scavenger hunt, and giveaway! It's free and fun! Are you in? Ends 10/5/14.

Keep Running,


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy FurDay Friday! Furry Friday Feature: Meet April & Cody

Happy Furday Friday, Friends! Welcome to the latest edition of Furry Friday Feature.  This month I am excited to introduce you to April and Cody! 

Hi, April. Tell us a little bit about your favorite running partner.
My best bud is a 3 year old german shorthair pointer mix. He was a pound puppy and came in as a stray to be neutered where I work at a veterinary teaching hospital. I put his name on the kennel - "Burt" at the time with "dibs" next to it. He was mine. 

handsome boy!

Where is your favorite place to run with your pooch?
We love going up into the woods and run off-leash. He likes to be way ahead but always comes back and waits for me. 

Have you ever raced with your dog? 
Yes and it was terrifying. He did great but I'm pretty sure he wanted to win the entire race!

Tell us about a running moment that made you proud.
Every single time I lace up my sneakers makes me proud. Motivation is extremely hard for me. I can play sand volleyball all day but 20 minutes of aerobic slow running is extremely difficult for me so every run is a victory!

What important running (or life) lesson can we learn from our dogs?
I look to Cody's enthusiasm as motivation for me. Always having the drive to go out and play is a very good life lesson.

Do you want to tell us anything else about you or running with your dog? Cody looks like a brown version of Ollie so I've always loved your blog! (from Lea - he DOES like like a brown Ollie!)

Any parting thoughts?
Love the blog and the dog related content - hard to find a lot of it...

Two sweet faces.
Thank you so much to April and Cody for sharing their story! Leave a comment telling April and Cody both how cute they are! 

Have you missed any furry faces? You can get caught up on past Furry Features here.

Are you a runner who would like to be featured with your favorite furry four-legged running partner?  Just fill out this form to be considered for a future furry Friday feature. (Bonus points if you can say that five times fast.)

If you want to check out some other great running dog blogs, check out Top Dog Running Blogs (spoiler alert: clicking on link will lead to cute pictures of running dogs).

It is not too late to run in the Running with Ollie four mile virtual fun run, scavenger hunt and giveaway until 10/5. Click here to learn more.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Neon Dash: A Glowing Recommendation?

I just turned 40...and I am taking it kind of hard. Yeah, I know. I know. You're only as old as you feel and all that crap jazz, but the number just doesn't match how I feel. I do know that 40 is young. Trust me, all my friends are 40 and they are all young and gorgeous. I'm just hung up on the number. I'm sure I'll get over it. Or as hubby said, it could be worse, you could be dead. I'll take 40 over the alternative. I'm sure I am getting all worked up over nothing. After all, my 20s were better than my teens, and my 30s were way better than my 20s, so I don't have any reason to believe the trend won't continue into my 40s.

With that being said, instead of a birthday bash this year to celebrate 40, I decided on the Neon Dash to celebrate the last day of my 30s. It was perfect. It was a 5k held on the evening before my birthday. I figured I'd round up my closest friends and we would do something fun and healthy to celebrate the end of another decade. We could act like silly 30-somethings the day before I mature into old-age (overly dramatic, I know).

Since the local retail stores declare Halloween as soon as school lets back in, I had no problem finding some glow accessories to dress up our running clothes. What almost 40-year-old doesn't want to wear glow glasses and glow skull rings? It was $7 well spent.

Since the Neon Dash told us we should wear white, my BFF made us all custom Running with Ollie t-shirts! My hair goes into pigtails and I am ready to run and glow! Now is this the face of a 40 year old? Don't answer that.

I can't be 40! I wear pigtails and take selfies!

The run was at the ballpark in Arlington, so it was easy to find with plenty of parking (although I wasn't thrilled about the $10 per car parking fee). When we arrived, it was still light outside while we activated our glow sticks and waited in line for packet pick up. Along with our race bib, they gave us a Neon Dash t-shirt, a cute headband, and some temporary tattoos.

As the sun went down, we started glowing! 

I loved the glow glasses! So dorky! 

My BFF has six eyes.

We had a great time. It was a really fun way to end my 30s. I was happy to do something active and spend time with my best friend, but the thing about the Neon Dash is that it is almost all about the pictures. 

There were just two "glow stations" on the 3.1 mile course. I would guess one about half way through and then another towards the end. When you ran through a station you were sprayed by volunteers with glow water (I don't know if that is what it is really called). If you ran continiously through the station, you may not get very glowy with just a passing spray, so I stopped and let them me spray me directly. You don't actually glow until you get under the black lights, so we ran a little further along the course until we arrived at the black light station, which was just a couple of lights and a ton of people trying to get under them to take pictures. It wasn't too hard to squeeze in and get some shots, like the ones below. I think the pictures turned out great!

We ran/walked the rest of the course, through another glow station and arrived at another black light picture taking station. At the finish line, all you could see were our glowing accessories because the water they sprayed only glows under the black lights. 

It was at night so the course was pretty dark. Plenty of people were wearing glowing accessories, which helped, and some parts of the course were lit fairly well by street lights, but most of the time we were just running in the dark, which is to be expected for a night run. I think I just had more expectations of glowing while running, but I guess the logistics of the black light course would be pretty complex compared to just setting up a couple of black light stations.

I think the great pictures made it worth it, but as for the actual experience, you can expect to mostly just be running along a night course and to stop at the glow stations and black light stations to get sprayed and take pictures. I brought a water-proof case for my camera and I was glad that I did, because the case was covered glow water when I got home.

So while I won't give it a glowing recommendation, I had a great time and really loved the way the pictures turned out. For $25 the Neon Dash was a fun and unique way to spend the last day in my 30s with my good friends.

Have you ever ran a Neon Dash or something similar?

Don't forget there is still time to run in the Running with Ollie virtual four mile fun run, scavenger hunt, and huge giveaway! You have to check out these great prize sponsors. There will be 14 winners. It is fun and 100% free. What are you waiting for?

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The BIG 4-0 Virtual Four Mile Fun Run, Scavenger Hunt and #Giveaway

Today is my birthday. It's the big 4-0 (oh, no!). I'm forty but my brain still feels 18. My metabolism isn't what it used to be, but I'm still that same gal I was back then, just a little smarter, a little stronger and whole lot more self-confident. I guess that what happens with age. As long as you take care of yourself, you really only get better over time. (Now someone go tell that to my grey hairs.)

I'd love it if you would celebrate with me by running (walking or crawling) the BIG 4-0 virtual four mile fun run and scavenger hunt! I've been working hard around the clock (except when I am getting my required 8-9 hours of old lady sleep) to round up the best giveaway sponsors who are offering amazing prizes that all participants will have the chance to win!

11 Sponsors. 14 Prizes. 14 Winners. No Entry Fee. Fun and Free!

Disclosure: These awesome sponsors have generously offered samples and prizes for the Big 4-0 virtual four mile fun run, scavenger hunt, and giveaway. All opinions are my own and I am under no obligation to recommend any particular company or item. Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I may make a very small percentage if you decide to click and buy, which helps support the maintenance of this blog. But of course, no purchase is necessary to participate in the virtual event or to enter the giveaway. These brands were hand picked by me because I genuinely love them and think you will too.

What is a virtual run, you say?
A virtual run can be completed at any location! Run it on the streets in your neighborhood, on the treadmill, or even at an local organized race. You run in your own area and report back online to join in on the fun with hundreds of runners all over the country. You can learn more about virtual racing by reading my Guide to Virtual Racing.

1. Run the BIG 4-0 virtual 4.0 mile fun run or walk
Run (walk or crawl) four miles wherever you are to virtually participate in the Big 4-0 fun run. There are no rules, no pace requirements, no pressure. Virtual runs are the best! There are no parking hassles and no long lines at the porta potty. Just get out there and get four miles in however you can! The winners aren't the fastest runners. The winners are the luckiest (via random drawing). Download your virtual race bib now by clicking on the image to enlarge it, then print. Or download your race bib here.

01113 = Ollie. Get it? 

2. The Scavenger Hunt
Bring your camera and take a few pictures of the things you see along your race route. Share with the world what is unique, beautiful, and what makes you happy about your runs (or walks)! Use the hashtag #OlliesRunHunt to tag your pictures and share on Instagram or Twitter.

Here is what to look for on your run to complete the scavenger hunt!
1. a running selfie (shoe selfies count too!)
2. something beautiful
3. something unique
4. something that makes you smile
5. a record of your run (examples: a GPS watch pic, activity tracker steps, or a pic of you with your virtual race bib.)

Running with Ollie Blog virtual 4 mile fun run and scavenger hunt

Don't forget to hashtag #OlliesRunHunt your scavenger hunt finds!

3. Enter to win on Rafflecopter
The winners will be randomly selected from entries on Rafflecopter. There are tons of ways to earn entries, but the only required entry is the blog comment! Complete as many or as few entries as you would like. Complete them all to get the most entries, or just choose the ones that interest you the most.

Let's take a look at our amazing sponsors.  It is my birthday, but the giveaway gifts are for you! I am beside myself with the amazing prizes I have for you!

11 Amazing Prize Sponsors

Your choice between a Motivate Wrap or Foot Notes shoe charm.
Sometimes it's the little reminders that we need. It's the mantras we repeat in our heads during our workouts, on our runs, or sitting in our cubicle in spreadsheet hell (just me?).  I look at my wrist every day and I am reminded to "live with passion." It's a physical reminder of my goals. What little reminder do you need? They have a ton of sayings to choose from! Momentum jewelry encourages you with the designs that move you.
Prize ships from Momentum.

Momentum Foot Notes shoe charms

Momentum Motivate Wrap
facebook: /designsthatmoveyou
twitter: @MomentumJewelry
instagram: momentumjewelry
Your choice of tank and yoga pant!
Shine Athletica is a local Fort Worth start up. I am all about supporting local business and love to meet people who are living their dreams! Shine Athletica embodies everything I love about heath, fitness, and fashion. And it doesn't hurt that their workout apparel is wicked cute.
Prize ships from Shine Athletica.

facebook /Shine Athletica
instagram @ShineAthletica
Your choice of Apera Duffle pack in black, blue or pearl! I personally use an Apera duffle and can't stop raving about it (to anyone who will listen). It's the perfect mash up of fashion and function (and health with their anti-microbroial properties). I adore this bag. If you win one, you will adore it too.
Prize ships from Apera.

web: Apera
facebook:/Apera Bags

Your choice of size and color. Ever since I did a review of the FlipBelt a last year, I've been an unofficial FlipBelt cheerleader. It solves the age old problem: What the heck do I do with all my stuff while I run and still look cool? Flipbelt is a sleek tubular belt that expands nicely to hold all your essentials without bouncing around during your runs or workout. I think I'll give up my purse and wear it to work tomorrow.
Winner will be awarded a coupon code for a free FlipBelt.

twitter @flipbelt
facebook: /flipbelt

Two winners will get to choose a pair of Pro Compression marathon socks or sleeves. Every runner needs compression socks/sleeves and every fashionista needs them to be pink...but you can choose your color. Plus if you're like me and don't have the patience to wait to see if you won, you can use discount code BLK14 to save 40% off now! 
Prizes ship from Pro Compression.

twitter: @procompression

Oh My Gosh. The Trailheads Power Ponytail headband is everything you ever wanted in a running headband: Athletic, fashion forward, and freakin' ingenious with the built in pony tail hole.  I need one in every color. It is my birthday, you know. 
Prize ships from Running with Ollie.

twitter: @trailheadsCT
facebook: /trailheadsusa

Gym Boss
Have you ever tried to use your iPhone to time intervals? One minute on, 30 seconds rest? Yeah, it just doesn't work. You end up spending more time worrying about your timer than you do your workout. Gym Boss saves the day with its interval timer that can set multiple times and alarms at once. Great for HIIT, running, planking, and just about everything else. Forget about the timer and focus on the workout.
Prize ships from Running with Ollie.

twitter @gymboss
facebook: /gymbosstimers
Loxley Sports
The winner will receive 2 rolls of black and 2 rolls of pink kinesiology tape. As a newly minted old lady (keep the old lady jokes coming) I know all too well the pains of running. I swear this stuff should be called miracle tape. Try it for yourself.
Prize ships from Running with Ollie.

web: Loxley Sports
Twitter: @loxleysports
Facebook: /loxleysports

My Running Partner Has Four Legs tank
You can choose size S-XL. Design is still under development, color and shirt style may vary slightly from what is shown. Especially for you from (me!) Running with Ollie blog. Please allow 4-6 weeks for shipping as prize will be custom ordered.
Prize ships from Running with Ollie.
Jay Robb claims to be the best tasting protein on the planet and it's my personal all-time favorite. It's the brand I go back to month after month because of its great taste and natural ingredients. Three winners will receive a Jay Rob protein powder sample pack including protein samples, a shaker bottle and a tote bag.
Prize ships from Running with Ollie
twitter: @jayrobbprotein
facebook: /jayrobbprotein

My new favorite fitness app, EveryMove, is offering a EveryMove t-shirt and water bottle. Feeling fitness app overload? EveryMove is the answer. Sync most of your current apps and devices to EveryMove to get all your data in one place. Connect with friends for some friendly competition, and finally, earn points that can be redeemed for discounts from EveryMove partners to reward yourself for all the hard work your doing anyway. win-win-win.
Prize ships from EveryMove.
facebook: /EveryMove 
twitter: @EveryMove

What are you waiting for? Ollie says, "Let's go running!"

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs from 9/21/2014-10/5/2014.
No purchase necessary.
Fourteen winners will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter.
Open to US residents 18 years of age or older.
Must have a shipping address in the US.
Winners will notified via email (if available from entry) and blog post, and will have 48 business hours to claim prize.
If original winners do not claim prizes within 48 business hours alternate winners will be selected.
Contestants must enter on the Rafflecopter form in order to win.
All winning entries will be verified that the required blog post comment was posted. If a winning entry cannot be verified, a new winner will be drawn.
Please allow 30 days for prize delivery.

ATTENTION BLOGGERS! If you are a blogger and you write a race recap about your experiences running in this event please share on Twitter @gealenders #Olliesrunhunt and I will retweet to my 10k followers. I have also created a group board on Pinterest all about Virtual Running. Please send me a request for an invite to pin to this board runningwithollie(at)gmail(dot)com and you can pin any virtual race related posts there and I will repin for you!

By running this race, I agree that running or walking a road race is a potentially dangerous activity. I should not enter and run unless I am medically able and properly trained. I assume all risks associated with running or walking in the event. In participating in this event I waive and release Running with Ollie and all sponsors, their representatives and successors from all claims or liabilities of any kind arising out of my participation in this event. I grant permission to all the foregoing to use any photographs, motion pictures, recordings, or any other record of this event for legitimate purpose.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

What is a Virtual Race? A Guide to Virtual Racing

In anticipation of the upcoming Running with Ollie BIG 4-0 Virtual Four Mile Fun Run, Scavenger Hunt, and Giveaway, I've decided to devote a blog post to virtual racing. This is everything you need to know to start participating in virtual races.

If you've seen some virtual races online and not really sure what they are all about, or had some questions about virtual racing, this is the resource for you.

A Guide to Virtual Racing

What is a virtual race?
A virtual race is an event that can be completed in your own location. You decide where you will run it, you map out your own race route, run or walk the designated miles, and report your participation online. You can run it in your neighborhood, on local trails, on a track, on a treadmill, or even at a local organized race. The beauty of a virtual race is that you choose the location!

What are the different types of virtual races?
Some virtual races are set up as charity fundraisers. In these virtual races you usually pay a registration fee, in which a portion will go to a charity. In exchange for your registration fee, which will vary by event, you usually can expect to receive a t-shirt, a finishers medal, or a gift bag. Before paying a registration fee, I suggest doing some research on the legitimacy of the charity and the race host. The vast majority of charity virtual races are legit, but before you shell out your hard-earned money, do some checking to make sure you understand where your money is going.

Some virtual races (like the Running with Ollie Big 4-0 virtual four mile run) are 100% free and are put together to motivate runners and walkers, build an online community, and to raise awareness of a blog or brand.

Why do people participate in virtual races?
Virtual races can be used as a motivation or training tool. Once you commit to the miles, you'll want to get out there and follow through. Another reason people participate in virtual races is because there may not be any traditional organized races nearby and it is fun way to be a part of a bigger running community without having to travel anywhere.

Is there a packet pick up? Will I get a race bib? How about a medal?
Some paid races will send you a bib in the mail, but the free virtual races usually offer a printable bib. You can choose whether you wear it or not. Many people hold up their race bib for the camera when sharing their experience online or on social media.

Some virtual races will send you a medal upon completion. These races usually have a registration fee to cover the cost of the medal.

How do I know how far I ran?
Since you don't have the benefit of a preplanned race course with mile markers in a virtual race, you will have to figure out how to log the distance you will run. If you don't have a GPS watch to track your mileage, there are a couple of other ways to document your distance. There are websites like Map My Run that allow you to create your own race (or training) route online. You can also use running apps like RunKeeper or Runtastic that use the GPS on your phone to log your distance. If all that technology is too much for you, you could simply get in your car and map out the mileage in your car.

Map My Run

Should I time myself?
Sure, but I wouldn't worry too much about getting it down to the exact second. If you don't have a GPS watch or other timer, you can just take note of the time you left and the time you returned to figure out your approximate finishing time, although it doesn't really matter in a virtual race. Some virtual races will post a results page after the run where participants can self-report their finishing times. If winners are announced, it is not usually based on finishing time, but by random drawing.

I ran a virtual race, now what?
Share it on social media. After all, what good is a virtual race if you run it and don't tell anyone! The whole point of a virtual race is to share it virtually! Often times virtual races will have designated hastags so you can find the other participants on social media and they can find you.

How do they know if I really ran it?
They don't. Virtual races are based on the honor system. If you didn't want to run it, you probably wouldn't have signed up. And those that collect money for charities probably don't really care if you ran it or not. It's up to you to run it because you want to!

Where can I find virtual races to enter?
Great question! You can sign up and run the Running with Ollie BIG 4-0 Virtual Four Mile Fun Run, Scavenger Hunt and giveaway now for free! You can run it anytime between 9/21/14-10/4/14. There is also a big giveaway and 14 winners will be selected by random drawings. Register now!

The Running with Ollie virtual four mile fun run, scavenger hunt, and giveaway!

After you run the Running with Ollie virtual race, you might decide you've been bitten by the virtual race bug.

You can search for virtual races, look for virtual racing groups on Facebook (like this one), or follow some running blogs, and you're sure to find plenty of virtual races! As another resource, Jost Running has regular monthly virtual races.

So what are you waiting for? Have you signed up for the Running with Ollie FREE virtual race from 9/21-10/5?

Register below or click on the link here to register.

Have you ever participated in a virtual race? Are you signed up for the Running with Ollie Virtual Race? Do you have any tips for virtual racing? Did I miss anything?

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