Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'm So Busy in April, I Plan to Sleep Through May

I run two blogs. Over on Lea Genders Fitness, I regularly post fitness and nutrition articles and weekly workouts. LGF is my business blog. My goal is to help people with the content I publish and attract new personal training and nutrition clients. If you're interested in running and health-related topics I'd love it if you would subscribe to receive all the news and updates on my strength and running blog. 

This is my personal blog. It is my sanity-saving personal outlet. I can't even tell you how much it means to me that you read it. Here I write about my personal experiences with fitness, my Ollie, and my life. I realized recently how important it is for me to both have a business blog and a personal blog. It's a lot of work to keep up with two blogs, but so worth it.

"What are you doing this weekend, Lea?"

The answer is usually "nothing" or "running." I like it that way. My life is pretty low key. I enjoy hanging out with my husband and my dog. I enjoy relaxing or running. I don't fill up my weekend with a lot of activities. It's my time to unwind and relax from a busy week.

But in April, I inadvertently filled up all my weekends. I have so many fun events coming up that I'm already exhausted thinking about them. Of course, I am looking forward to it all, but my personality is as such that I need a lot of time to unwind from all the excitement. Can you relate?


My Mom and Brother are Visiting!


My mom and brother are visiting from Pennsylvania this weekend! I am so excited, but I have already spent more time preparing the house than they will actually be staying here. My husband decided it would be a good idea to paint the spare bedroom, which led to redoing all the drywall, window trim, sills, floorboards, crown molding and all new furniture. One little project turned into one giant project. It's good though. Nothing like out of town visitors to motivate you to get your shit house together. My mom last visited in 2013 and my brother hasn't been in Texas since 2005! It should be a fun whirlwind of a weekend. Hopefully, the spare bedroom will come together in time...

looks inviting, right?

TA-DA!

Personal Training Institute Conference


I always travel to attend the big IDEA World convention each year with the Sweat Pink ladies at #Blogfest, but this year one of the smaller IDEA conferences, the Personal Training Institute, is local to Dallas. It's nice to attend a conference like this without the travel or hotel expenses. I have a booked solid schedule from April 6-8th. I'll earn continuing education credits for my training certifications and hopefully walk away with new ideas and strategies to better serve my personal training and nutrition clients.




Husband's Friends are Visiting/ BFF's Fashion Show


My husband has friends stopping by on their cross-country road trip from Arizona to Virginia. Good thing that spare room will be in order (#crossyourfingersforme).

My best friend is a fashion designer and helps run a charity fashion show every spring to benefit the Legal Hospice of Texas. This year the Fashion Cited event is April 13th.



Disney Dark Side Half Marathon


April 25 is the 20th anniversary of our first date, so hubs and I are going to Florida to run the Disney Star Wars Dark Side Half marathon to celebrate. (If you would have told me in 1998 I'd be spending my 20th anniversary running a Star Wars-themed half marathon, I probably would have fallen off my bar stool laughing.)

I haven't run longer than an hour since Cowtown and with these busy weeks ahead not sure when I'll have time to get much more training in. Bring on the hurt! Haha. Good thing this one is just for fun. We still need to come up with a couples costume, I'll be Leia, obviously.


Jack White Concert


I'm really excited for the last weekend in April. If you know me you know I have a schoolgirl like obsession with all things Jack White. You know, that guy from the White Stripes. I even had a blog dedicated to him for awhile. He's been in two other bands since the White Stripes and recently put out his third solo album. He's on tour in support of his new album and making a Dallas stop. It will his first Dallas concert in any his band in nine years! I am ridiculously excited to have the opportunity to see him live again.



I plan to sleep all of May. How about you?








Keep Running,

Lea

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What I Learned About SEO and Affiliates at the Blog Elevated Seminar in Houston

An advertisement showed up on my Facebook feed for a one-day Blog Elevated conference in Houston covering SEO and affiliate marketing. So I did what any good blogger would do...


It's a four to five-hour drive from DFW to Houston, so I was hoping for a blogging friend to meet up with there. Within minutes I was reminded of two blogger friends who live in Houston and Christine from Run out of the Box was down to party (and by party, I mean sit in a conference room and learn about blogging all day).

The conference was reasonably priced and honestly, if I could make sense of SEO and improve my affiliate marketing strategies it's entirely possible the conference would pay for itself. This is my personal blog, but Lea Genders Fitness is my business blog, so I am looking to improve rankings and make more money.

For those of you who might not know, SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It's essentially how to set up your blog so Google prefers to show it in top results when people search for topics related to your blog posts. It's a subject that I've only scratched the surface of and I know for sure my Lea Genders Fitness blog is not receiving the full potential of Google's juice.

Affiliate marketing is linking to products on your blog to make a commission when people click on your links and make a purchase. I've been using Amazon affiliates for a long time to link to fitness products that I use and make a little money each month, but I know I haven't reached my full earning potential. I am ready to learn (and earn) more!

THE ROADTRIP


I work in Dallas on Tuesday-Thursday at my part-time marketing job so on Thursday before the conference I left the office a little early in hopes of avoiding Dallas traffic as I made the trek to Houston.

I listened to my favorite PodCasts on the drive down and four short hours later I arrived in the outskirts of Houston. Another hour later I was pulling into my hotel near the site of the conference. While the neighborhood wasn't giving me warm fuzzy feelings, the room was clean and I was exhausted, so I slept like a baby.

The morning of the conference was also my 100th day of the #runstreak so I was up early to pound out a mile on the hotel treadmill.

The Blog Elevated conference was held at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston.

Lone Star Flight Museum Houston, TX

I was excited about the conference schedule because this was a deep dive into topics I wanted to learn. I attend a blog conference every year with Sweat Pink and it is always a fun and engaging experience with other fitness bloggers, but because of the format we only have time to scratch the surface of these topics. At BlogFest, we have two days of seminars with speakers on various topics for about an hour each. While I always loved those sessions, I was looking forward to going into more depth. Instead of a 45-minute overview of SEO and affiliate marketing, I would be spending an entire day learning more about these essential blogging topics.


The Blog Elevated Agenda

KEYWORD TARGETING


In the morning we covered how to target the right keywords for our blog posts so that we have a better chance of hitting the first page of Google when people search for topics related to our blog. There's a lot more to it than you would think and I still have a great deal to learn. I picked up a few tips and tools, but so much of this is still over my head. The conference speakers gave me a ton of useful information and resources but so much of it is learning-by-doing. I need to spend some serious time tackling these topics on my own. I hope one day this will all click and make sense, but I am still not there. Just like anything else, knowledge without action is worthless. I got a ton of valuable information and insight, now it's my job to follow through and take action on what I learned to get the most out of my experience at the conference.

Keyword Targeting Slide


BREAK TIME


We broke for lunch and had the opportunity to explore the museum. I did a hang gliding flight simulator where the guy just yelled at me the whole time telling me I was doing it wrong. Haha. It was fun though and a good ab workout. Remind me to never hang glide in real life. I was horrible and would probably die in a crash.

hang gliding simulator and the Lone Star Flight Museum

DIY SEO AUDIT


I really enjoyed the DIY (Do It Yourself) SEO audit. There were so many useful tips and easy fixes to improve my search rankings. I made some quick changes right there in the seminar and learned some techniques to apply going forward. There is some backward work I need to do, but that will take some time to impact blog posts on Lea Genders Fitness from the last three years. I may need to hire out for some tasks, but I have a long list of actions I can take to improve my rankings.


ADVANCED AFFILIATE STRATEGIES


I got a lot out of the advanced affiliate strategies class. Adam Riemer gave a talk on how to maximize our affiliate links and gave me some ideas to improve my income. I joined one of the fitness affiliates he manages called ProSource. They are a great fit for my blog because ProSource has a lot of reasonably priced fitness products (resistance bands, foam rollers, Yoga mats, medicine balls etc.) that I can use in my workout posts. They gave me a special discount for my readers to save 15% off anything sitewide and their prices are already reasonable. If you use code ALEA15 you can get the discount too. This is an affiliate link --> ProSource

ProSource resistance bands


LIVE SITE REVIEWS


They ended the day with live site reviews which were helpful to see the other bloggers' sites and learn from them. I think Christine and I were the only fitness bloggers in the room (in jeans!?!). It's interesting to see how bloggers in other niches operate. It's always a great idea to look outside our industry for ideas because within our niche it seems that everyone is using the same strategies. An outside perspective can be eye-opening.

Fitness bloggers in jeans? Unheard of!

The conference was over at 4:30 and I knew I was in for a world of hurt tackling Friday afternoon Houston traffic. I tried to take a flight back to Fort Worth, but it didn't work out. Haha.

Fly me home to Fort Worth!

Thank you to Blog Elevated for the learning opportunity. I hope to attend future sessions (come to DFW please). I had a great experience, met some fabulous bloggers, learned a lot about affiliate marketing and SEO. Now the fun part is over and it's time to put all this knowledge to work. Time to take action to see results. See you in the Google rankings...



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Keep Running,

Lea

Does your running partner have four legs

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Ran 100 Days Straight on the Run Streak and This is What I Learned

I woke up in an uncomfortable bed and in the unfamiliar surroundings forgot where I was that morning. I was in Houston staying overnight in a hotel in preparation for a one-day blog conference. I made the five-hour drive (should have been four) from Dallas the night before. I drove into town and the hotel was in a neighborhood that didn't give me warm fuzzy feelings about safety. As I passed liquor stores and strip clubs, I pulled into the hotel parking lot, quickly parked my car and checked into my (thankfully, clean) room.

I inquired about the gym at the front desk because I knew the next morning was a milestone. That morning in Houston would be my 100th day straight on the run streak. The front desk clerk informed me that the gym may not operational because they had a problem with the only treadmill. She thinks a screw fell off and the gym was closed for repairs. "It may be open by the morning" she offered.



This made me a little nervous. I knew for my 100th day on the run streak I would have to get it done early in the morning because I had a full-day blog conference ahead of me and then a four to five-hour drive back to Fort Worth. Since the neighborhood wasn't run-friendly, I prayed to the treadmill Gods to fix my treadmill before the morning. I had put in 99 days of running, I couldn't miss this one.

The run streak is a commitment to run at least one mile a day. On rest days you at least run one slow mile. I have participated in these with Runner's World several times over the years. They have both a summer run streak and a winter run streak which last approximately 40 days each.

This Thanksgiving Hubby and I decided to do the winter run streak with Runner's World, which meant we were committing to run at least one mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's day. The Fort Worth Turkey Trot was the first day of our streak.

day one at the Fort Worth Turkey Trot


Once the 40 days were up and the official run streak ended, Hubby wanted to keep going. Maybe we were on a New Year's Resolution high, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Let's keep running at least one mile a day throughout the new year. So we kept running. Every day. Most days on the streets. Sometimes on the treadmill. Sometimes at the track. At night. In the dark. When it was cold. In the drizzling rain. When we were tired. When we didn't feel like it. Together. Separately. On Vacation. Some fast miles. A lot of slow miles. All running. Never missed a day.

We joined the 2018 Running Streak Challenge group on Facebook where we post our runs every day to keep us motivated and accountable. There are 43 members of the group who post their runs and encourage us. The moderators even keep a spreadsheet to keep track of all the miles.

But there I was in Houston dreading a broken treadmill with a loose screw. Maybe I was the one with the loose screw since I was freaking out about missing this run.

I woke up that morning on the 100th day of the streak, swiped my room card into the gym door handle and everything look operational...except the TV and the random clock on the wall. The treadmill was clunky and unstable. My treadmill at home in the Shred Shed is much nicer. I didn't care. I stared at the TV fuzz, tried not to look at the clock on the treadmill and pounded out a mile for my 100th day on the run streak. Less than ten minutes later I was done. I ran 100 days in a row. What did I learn?

my 100th day on the run streak


REST DAYS MEANT SLOW DAYS


I am a running coach and one thing I always tell my clients is to make sure that they are scheduling proper rest and recovery days. It's as important as the workouts. Our body adapts (gets stronger and faster) during the rest period after the workout, not during the workout itself. Rest is essential for maximum performance and to reach your full potential. So was I telling my clients to do one thing and then doing something else myself?

No. I promised myself that if I ever felt an oncoming injury or unusual pains, I would end the streak. If I needed a full rest day I would take it. No streak is worth risking an extended injury.

During the streak, rest days meant slow one mile days. That means I would jog out a mile at a very easy-for-me pace. A jog that doesn't overly stress my body could still be a rest day. It is a form of active recovery. If I felt I needed a week of one mile days in a row to feel fully recovered, then so be it. I allowed my body to recover. As long as I listened to my body and took as many one mile days as needed, I did fine.


RUNNING BECAME A HABIT


One way to get consistent as hell about running is to promise to run one mile a day. It's not that big of a time commitment so there aren't a lot of valid reasons to skip. Most people can find 9-10 minutes a day, even on busy days. The first few weeks were a struggle getting out there every single day, but after about a month it became part of our day, like making coffee, eating dinner or walking Ollie. We did it every single day.

There were many days I didn't feel like running at all. These days I might have normally skipped, but since I had to run at least a mile, I got out there anyway. Sometimes one mile turned into three miles. Sometimes not.

The best part was even if I had a busy week and didn't run at all except for one mile each day, I still ran seven miles in a week. It's not much, but it's a heck of a lot better than nothing. Consistency builds habits. Running became a habit.


I GOT FASTER


My 5K time improved by more than a minute per mile. The first run I posted below was on December 1st, shortly after the streak began and the last run posted below was 104 days into the streak. I'm still not the fastest runner around, but I think this is a marked improvement in 100 days.





I also improved my one-mile time and earned a half marathon PR. I will point out that in addition to running, I was very consistent with strength training, which plays an important role in running success. There were other factors involved but the run streak definitely helped. Consistency is king.


Today marks 111 days on the streak. As long as my body doesn't tell me it's time to stop, I'll be continuing on.

Have you ever ran a streak?

Stay tuned and I'll tell you more about that blog conference I attended in Houston.


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Keep Running,

Lea

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tuesday Tails Furry Feature: Running with Nanu

Welcome to the latest edition of Tuesday Tails Furry Feature, my most popular post of the month! Every month I introduce you to the cutest furry-faced, four-legged runners on the internet. This month I have a very special feature. I am thrilled to introduce you to Lyn and Nanu. Lyn is an inspiring woman promoting one of the most positive messages in the industry. She helps people go from Couch to Active. Can you relate?

We are going off our regular format because Lyn agreed to do a guest post today, an honest letter to her puppy. I love it so much because even if you can't run with your dog, like we usually talk about on Furry Feature, it doesn't mean you can't be active. Do the best you can with what you have. It's always good enough. Thanks Lyn for this inspiring message. 


An honest letter to my puppy.




Well hello there my dear little Nanu.



Since we don’t speak the same language, you’ll never know the purpose of your name. But for now, I’m going to write you this letter and pretend you understand every word.

You’ll also never know that I’m guest blogging about you on Lea’s Running with Ollie blog site. You’ll be among many years of dog blogs where there are countless stories of the joys of running and racing as a dog.

You and I however are going to have a much different journey together. I need to tell you little Nanu, I can’t run like the big dogs. Most day’s we will be walking. You don’t know what asthma is but I suppose that’s just going to have to be ok. You always keep life simple. I can respect that.



You’ll never be one of the big dogs.

You’ll never be able to run big miles.

But you are perfect for me.

When you’re old enough, we’ll start taking “real” walks. We will see lots beautiful people running like gazelles with their big trim dogs. I have to share a secret with you Nanu. I am not proud of this, but I am jealous of their ability to burn tons of calories because their body will perform for them. They will smile and nod as they pass us because you’re just so darn cute. Like you, the running gazelles have no idea what I’ve struggled with, or how I would love to be one of them. But then I don’t know their stories either. 



You are simply happy to walk and wag.

I want to be more like you.

We all have stories little Nanu and already, I’m nervous about how your story is developing.

You woke up one morning with one eye red and glued shut by gunk. The vet says you have an uncommon eye issue and he’s not sure of prognosis. Only time will tell if you will go blind young. Man you already have me chasing my tail giving you eye drops five times a day. Still, there you were a wiggly little two pounder making all of us smile with your cat-sized cone of shame.



You are so much simpler than me. You take naps while I am devouring the latest health research on conquering asthma. You chase balls while I am on a quest to optimize the crap out of my life in order to be a little faster, stronger, and better than I was yesterday. I watch you eat the same food every day while I flip between gluten free, vegetarian, green smoothies, Keto, Whole30, Paleo, and then make a full circle back to gluten free.

There you are chasing your tail.

Here I am, chasing mine.

We won’t ever run a big race, and we definitely won’t ever win any sort of medal. But that’s ok. We are grateful for the health we have today and we’re both going to make the most of what we have. I’ll be there for you, and you’ve already been there for me.


About your name. You were named in honor of a man who could make a room instantly erupt into laughter. A man who helped so many forget their own pain despite the fact that he carried his own story.

That’s what you do for me little guy.
Nanu-Nanu!

It’s possible my dear Nanu, that you are the winner in the race of life?

Sincerely,

Your mama Lyn

Seriously, I just wiped a tear. THANK YOU LYN for your inspiring story. Please follow Lyn and Nanu on Coach to Active

COUCH to ACTIVE

Do you want to be featured on this blog with your dog? Fill out this form to be considered. For now, this is a monthly post (12 times a year) but with enough new interest, I am considering expanding it to once a week (52 times a year) so there is plenty of opportunity to get in your feature submission. I'd love to hear from you!
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Keep Running,

Lea

Does your running partner have four legs

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