Sunday, March 31, 2013

Meet Lea: My Running with Ollie Intro Vlog

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you may have noticed that something has changed! I am no longer Running for Dummies, I am now Running with Ollie!

I wrote a blog post explaining the reasons for my change here. I hope you will check it out.

I recorded a new welcome intro vlog for my site. I am pretty terrible in front of the camera and this short 34 second segment took no less than 20 tries before I gave up decided it was the best I could do.

The idea is to introduce myself so that when you read my blogs, you know what I look like and can hear what I sound like, so you can read my blogs in my voice, if that makes any sense. I also put this vlog on my sidebar, so future visitors can experience my awkwardness in front of the camera too.

It is nice to meet you. Ollie an I hope you enjoy our new site. 

If you would help me out by liking the new Running With Ollie page on Facebook, I would really appreciate it! 

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

"LIKE" the Running with Ollie 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 @runningwithollie


Friday, March 29, 2013

What is Normal Eating?

Here I am again. I am in the place that I always seem to end up. I got off track for one reason or another, this time it is the development of possibly exercise-induced asthma, or exercise-induced reflux (not sure), but more on that later. When I get off-track with exercising, I almost always get off-track nutritionally. It is that all-or-nothing issue that I struggle with, manifesting itself again. So my clothes feel tight and I don't love the way I look when I look in the mirror. I'm not proud of some of the (poor) decisions that I made to get here and I feel a tinge of guilt for losing control, once again. Sigh.

Here's the thing. I know EXACTLY how to fix this.  I've done it before. I've done it more times than I wish to count. Start tomorrow. Run most every day. Lift weights four days week. Do Yoga. Restrict my diet to only whole natural foods. Start today and within 2-3 months I will be back to my old self. In six months I will be in-the-zone, and within a year I'll be thinner and in better shape than ever before...until the next thing throws me off track. It is a terrible cycle and frankly, I am tired of it.

Writing these types of blog posts suck. I'd much rather be telling you about my kick-ass new training plan, my latest PR, or some other achievement. But this is reality. If I only wrote about the good stuff, there would be times that I wouldn't have anything to write about at all. This is real life. Besides, perfect is boring.

I want to say that I always do it the right way. I diet and exercise! That is the right way, right? I am not relying on some weight loss pill or magic formula. I am not sitting on the couch drinking Diet Coke and consuming 900 calories a day. I'm not starving myself. I work out and eat proper nutrition! The problem? I almost always end up over-exercising and under-eating (for my activity level), despite the knowledge that I have these tendencies and full-well know the consequences. I can logically write a well-thought-out and researched blog post on how to live moderately, I just can't seem to figure out how to execute it.

So what if I am tired of this? I am tired of the scale. I am tired of worrying about it. I'm tired of putting so much stress on myself.  I am tired of it consuming my life. I don't want to be overweight. I am still within a healthy weight for my height, but I'd like to lose 10-15 pounds, but I don't want it to consume my every waking thought either. 

I read something really interesting on the Healthy Helper blog this week. The post is an examination of intuitive eating, an eating style that has been trending heavily on fitness blogs lately, and I even thought about looking into it myself. But as Kaila pointed out, could this possibly be just another "diet" disguised as a healthy eating program, a way to rationalize restrictive eating? I don't know for sure, I haven't looked into it enough to make any judgements about it one way or the other, but it is an interesting point of view, one I haven't heard before. It reminds me to think critically about the things I read online.

What the post did for me was reinforce how I feel about labeling my food choices and food restrictions, whether it is Paleo, Gluten Free, Low Carb, High Protein, Whole30, Vegan, whatever. It is not for me anymore. I am not saying that these things are not effective, and sometimes they are medically necessary for many people, I get that. I've personally just gotten to a point where I am mentally tired of putting restrictions on myself when it is not a medical issue, just a vanity one. If it works for you, great. It is just not for me, It just can't be anymore. 

Living a healthy lifestyle also includes a healthy mind, and living a lifestyle that includes over-exercising and disordered eating is not (in any way) healthy.

The most interesting thing I read on the Healthy Helper post was this:

It quoted an article in the New York Times on normal eating. The article cites a broad definition of normal eating by registered dietitian Ellyn Satter. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied.
  • Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
  • It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
  • Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.
  • Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life
Sounds simple, right? Yes, but what is simple is not always easy. But thinking in these terms, I think I can be a normal eater. And that is what I will set out to do.

I need to forget about the 15 pounds. I need to throw my scale away. I am going to exercise because I love to exercise, eat because I love to eat, and just live my life. I am in no way suggesting that I plan on living on wine and pizza (although that sounds quite wonderful), I just don't plan on restricting wine or pizza while I try to make the best food choices possible the rest of the time. Sounds normal, right?

Maybe I will just buy bigger pants, love myself exactly the way I am today, exercise because I love it, and I love the way it makes me feel. I'll work at being a normal eater. Maybe those extra 15 will fall off as a nice side-effect, maybe not. I've decided not to let it define me or my self-esteem either way.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

"LIKE" the Running with Ollie 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 @runningwithollie


photo credit: gifrancis via photopin cc

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Running With Ollie: The Official Relaunch

Check it out up there. What do you think of my new blog header? Let me explain. 

I officially started the blog, Running for Dummies, in December of 2011. I didn't have many readers outside my bloodline and best friends. I honestly didn't think about the name of the blog for more than two seconds. I was such a blogging newbie at that point that I didn't even think to do any research to see if it was taken. It just hit me, Running for Dummies. Done. Thank goodness I wasn't stepping on another bloggers toes at that point. It seemed perfect because it was really intended to be a tongue-in-cheek name, not some instruction blog on how to run.  It was more about me and my fitness journey. I always say, I'm the dummy here, sharing my running and fitness experiences along the way.

Then this little blog started to grow. People who did not know me started to read it. I was really happy with the progress and growth. I have always loved to write, fitness and running are my passions, and this blog gave me a new wonderful creative outlet. I really fell in love with this blog, my readers, other fitness blogs, and the online connections that I made.

About six to nine months into my new growing blog, someone warned me about my name. They warned that I could lose all my hard work in an instant because 'for Dummies' is a proprietary name. Those book people own the phrase, for dummies, I really don't have the right to use it.

At the time, I wasn't worried. I am small potatoes. No one even knows I am here. I'll worry about it if it ever gets big enough that it becomes an issue. I had built my blog up to point where I really didn't want to start all over. If they tell me to stop, then I will. Then I didn't think about it again for a long time.

Here I am 15 months into my running blog journey and my blog continues to grow at a healthy rate. I have more blog followers than I could have imagined and my social media presence is respectable and ever-growing. The thought is always in the back of my mind, what if the book people shut me down?  I would think I would get some kind of warning first, but who knows? What if I lose it all in a blink of an eye?

It is a scary prospect. So scary in fact, I decided to be proactive, and start over why I am ahead. While I don't want to to lose any traction or my Facebook fan page now, what happens in the future when I may have more to lose. The more I grow, the bigger risk it becomes. It seems smarter to start over and make a gradual transition while I still have the chance. See, I'm no dummy!

So I started thinking about what I would name my new blog. The ease of coming up with the name 'Running for Dummies' did not repeat itself. I've been brainstorming, bouncing ideas off of friends and family for weeks.

I even thought about staying with the dummy theme for an easier transition, The Running Dummy was already taken, besides I am not really a dummy, really! Running for Dummies is cute, The Running Dummy just seems self-deprecating.

I kind of liked Eggs and Legs. I was thinking in terms of nutrition and running, but hubby pointed out that it sounded like a strip club brunch. I can only imagine the unwelcome spam comments on a blog name like that.

The only thing that really seemed to resonate with me is Running with Ollie. If you read this blog, you probably know that Ollie is my dog and we run together. He was already kind of my unofficial blog mascot anyway. Nothing will change as far as content on the blog. I will continue to write about all the same blog topics I do now. Ollie and I run together, but this blog is not all about him, he just looks cute in the pictures, and writes an occasional guest post.

Making this change feels scary, really scary. And I am kind of sad. Running for Dummies is my baby. 

So in the end, it turns out I am the dummy who didn't think about little things, like copyrights, before starting to build a blog. I hope that those of you that read this blog, will continue to follow and read under my new name, Running with Ollie.

Will you help me get the word out about my new blog? Will you help support me and my move by liking Running with Ollie Blog on Facebook?

I am so grateful for all your support. Stay tuned...

Keep Running,

Lea (and Ollie)

"LIKE" the Running with Ollie 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 @runningwithollie

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lock Laces Winner Accounced!

Congratulations to the four lucky winners of my Lock Laces Giveaway!  Check your email for details.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you weren't a winner but you would still like to try Lock Laces, I recommend that you check out Kat's post over at  Sneakers and Fingerpaints blog post about Lock Laces. Kat has a discount code (TLT4C) on her blog for free shipping and Lock Laces is donating 20% of the proceeds from each sale made using her discount code to her charity, The Little Things for Cancer. Click over to her site for all the details to use the promo code TLT4C for free shipping.

Keep Running (and don't trip),


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

Follow me on Tumblr  

Monday, March 25, 2013

What's in Your Fitness Closet?

When fellow running blogger and Fitfluential ambassador, Pavement Runner, threw out a blog post idea in a Facebook group, I was intrigued.  What's in your fitness closet? I wanted to participate, but I don't exactly have a fitness closet, more like fitness drawers, and terribly messy, unorganized ones...just ask my distressed husband about it.

So while I imagine other bloggers will have these beautiful photographs of pristine closets, shoes lined up like soldiers, tops organized by color and fabric neatly hung on wooden hangers, in large walk-in closets dedicated to their work out gear, I have this...

I am not ashamed.  Or maybe, more accurately,  I have no shame.

The message I would like to convey, and one of the reasons I decided to air my dirty laundry (OK, most of that mess is clean), is that I don't believe you need to buy expensive work out gear. The only piece of gear that should be a big investment into running is your shoes, don't skimp on good shoes.

You simply don't need fancy or expensive clothes to work out. It is a luxury. A luxury I indulge in at times, but a luxury.

As far as fashion is concerned (fitness or street clothes), I have always believed that as long as you have good taste, you can shop just about anywhere. You don't need to shop at Nordstorm to look fashionable. I have definitely been known to peruse the aisles of thrift stores. A new designer item can be $5 and only one dry clean away from new-to-you. But I digress...

It it most important to know what to buy in terms of fabrics and fit and what is most comfortable to you. I stay away from cotton or cotton blends to work out. I usually look for tanks with wicking fabrics and then layering pieces for cold weather. I always prefer shorts, but when I need more warmth, I like pants that fit close to my body. I like fashion forward work out clothes too. I need the basics, but I love a cute skirt to wear to races. These are just my personal preferences.

I buy a lot of my everyday work out clothes at Wal-Mart, their Danskin line usually has pretty cute, inexpensive pieces. I also regularly shop at Target for work out clothes, they have super adorable stuff, but sometimes I think their prices are a little on the high-side for store brand merchandise. I also shop at Kohl's for discount name brand gear. 

Not to say that I don't have some pricey pieces. Sometimes I splurge because fitness clothes make me feel good. There are times when I would rather spend the money on a cute new work out skirt or shorts than something to wear to the office. I have awesome friends and a hubby who regularly buy me gift certificates to my favorite running store and fancy gear for birthdays and holidays, which helps fund some of my more expensive desires. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review clothes on this blog. If those more expensive clothes have features or styling that just aren't available in the inexpensive clothes and it is a must-have, I go for it, but most of the time my every day work out gear suits me just fine.

Here is my fitness "closet" slightly more organized than that messy drawer.

I love running shorts and skirts. It is what I wear most often. Here I have shorts and skirts from Target, Nike, and Palm Beach Athletic Wear. As you can see, I love color.

I don't wear pants as often (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean), but have a few pair for cold weather running.  Here I am showing clothes I have from Danskin and Nike.

I love tanks for running. As you can see, I love pink and black. I even have some custom 'Running for Dummies' tanks. Most of this is Danskin from Wal-Mart, plus the white tank is Nike.

Here are some of my favorite tech race shirts that are in regular rotation. If I get a cotton t-shirt from a race, I usually donate it to charity, I don't have any use for those shirts.

No running closet collection is complete without running shoes, here I have shoes still in rotation from Mizuno, Nike, and New Balance.

Thanks to Pavement Runner for the topic inspiration and for giving me the opportunity to organize those disastrous drawers.  

How about you? What's in your fitness closet?

Keep Running,


"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
Follow me on Tumblr

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Running Blogger Who Wasn't: How to Start Running Again

Have you fallen off the running wagon? Here are my tips to get back out there and start running again.

It happens to the best of us. When I say us, I mean me. It happened to me. I fell out of the routine of running. Here I am over here with a running blog and I haven't even been running.  It started out innocently enough. I had a cold, or the flu, or allergies, or whatever that hacking phlegm crap is supposed to be. I couldn't run. Just when it looked like things were getting better, they got worse...way worse.  Then things starting looking up once again, but I still had this lingering throat issue...that lingered, and lingered. Every time I would start to exert myself, my throat would clog up, I'd end up on on the side of the road hacking it up.

Ollie wants to run!

Then I started feeling better, but all this time had passed and I just fell out of the habit of running (or working out) regularly. My new habit was to sleep until 7AM, my new habit was to come home from work and plant myself in front of my blog, or the TV, or the internet. My old habit of running or working out most every day flew out the window. I started to feel better but that pull to the pavement was gone. Then, coincidentally, all my pants shrunk in the wash. I know, weird, right?

So what do you do when you feel like you have to start all over? How do you get back into running again after an illness, an injury, or other set back?

How to Start Running Again 


Suck it Up

What happens when you hit the pavement for your easy run and it feels hard? It is a blow to the ego. I take Ollie out for our usual run and it feels like he is pulling me forward more than usual and I even have to stop a few times and take a breather on a run that usually would have been a recovery run for me. There is nothing I can do, but keep doing it, having faith that over the next couple of weeks, it will get easier again. It is a mental game as well as a physical one. I will just have to suck it up at first and be patient.

Take it Slow

Go slower than normal. I can't expect to pick up exactly where I left off. After an extended break, I can usually can expect a little loss in fitness. This is normal. I'll take it slow in terms of speed, time, distance, and days, giving myself time to build back up to where I once was. 

Don't Compare

I always remind people not to compare themselves to others. But this time I can't even compare myself to the runner I was before I took a running leave of absence. I'll leave the GPS watch at home. I won't concern myself with time or pace. I'll just run what feels like a comfortable pace (or slower) until my body adapts and then I can be begin to push myself again. 

Develop a New Routine

The only way to develop a new routine is to just do it.  Sometimes easier said than done, I know. The point is we need to just get out there. Consistency is the goal, not perfection.

In the beginning, I can even start by running just one mile at a time, and slowly build back up from there, slowly adding back in short strength work outs too. The idea at first is to build routine, not fitness, so even a regular 10 minute work out can help get us back on track. Scale back at first and ease into it.

Don't Forget to Warm up and Stretch

I'll start out by walking for a few minutes to warm up those muscles before heading out to run and stretch afterwards to help minimize any post run soreness. 

Remember - This is Fun!

I love to run. Ollie loves to run too. This is fun! I'll remember the running lessons from my dog.

I know from experience, after just a few short weeks of regular work outs, it will become second nature once again.

It happens. Motivation tends to ebb and flow over time. At least for me, when something knocks me out of my routine, whether it be injury, illness, or even change of weather, it can be a struggle to get back in it. But I don't beat myself up over it. I know that I will get it back. As long as I don't give up entirely, and always start over, I know that that this time off will only be a small set back that can be quickly recovered.

The recurring theme here is to just be patient and just do it. Now I just need to get out there and follow my own advice.

Can you relate? How to do get back to running or working out after an illness or injury? Who is starting over with me?

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 5 Tips to Fall in Love with Running

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, where I share an older post from Running for Dummies that you may have missed the first time around. Each week, I dive into the vast archives and revisit an old post and share an old throwback picture, so you can all laugh at with me.

Some weeks I share cute pictures, as you can see, this week, I went for an embarrassing one. This was me circa 1989 in 10th grade in high school, when my hair was only half as big as my dreams.

Sometimes I flat run out of ideas of things to write about. I usually count on inspiration to hit me at the last moment, as it usually does, but sometimes I start to panic if too much time passes between blog posts.  Occasionally, in that state of panic, I reach out to my loyal Facebook friends and beg for inspiration. This method has worked for me in the past, sometimes people throw out really great ideas and I run (pun intended) with them...

This week though, someone suggested that I write about how to learn to love running and I realized, I already wrote about this topic. What a perfect blog opportunity for Throwback Thursday!

Do you want to love to run, but just don't?  Do you wonder how all those people claim to love running, when you hate it so much? Do you want to enjoy running, but haven't been able to get there? This post is for you!  Please click over to the original post to check it out.

Keep Running,


"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
Follow me on Tumblr

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lock Laces Giveaway: Win, Exchange, or Promo Code

Have you guys ever heard of Lock Laces? 

Have you ever had your laces come undone mid-race only to lose precious seconds and possibly the marathon first place spot because you had to stop and re-tie your laces? Yeah, me neither. 

But I have had my laces come undone, nearly trip over them and almost fall flat on my face. I am always annoyed when I have to stop to retie them, not because a first place win was in jeopardy, but because my clumsy self will surely trip if I don't stop. Besides, Ollie does not like to take unexpected stops on our runs.  This pictures demonstrates what would probably happen to me.

Since we don't want to lose our teeth or fall flat on our faces, Lock Laces can help prevent these embarrassing situations. You see, once you lock the laces in, they don't come undone. You can slip your shoe on and off without ever untying again. Brilliant, right?   

When I first read the instructions on how to secure the laces, I thought it looked complicated, but turns out I was just over-thinking things again. Other than a little trouble opening the bottom clip part, it was so easy a dummy could do it.  

Ollie, get out of the way! I am trying to take a picture!
So easy a dummy could do it.

I wanted to share Lock Laces with you for a couple of reasons. One is that I have FOUR pairs to giveaway! All you have to do is a leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you would like to win them and fill out the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win a free pair. I will ship out one pair each to four lucky winners! There are plenty of optional ways to earn extra entries into the contest.

Yes, my dear male readers, I do realize that these are hot pink. Just remember, real men wear pink.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Secondly, if you don't want to wait for the contest, Lock Laces is hosting a shoelace exchange until the end of the March. If you send in your old laces everyone can get a FREE pair of laces direct from the company, you just pay the shipping & handling.

To trade up just send in your old shoelaces along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address below and Lock Laces will send you a coupon for a free pair of Lock Laces redeemable at (Shipping & handling not included.)

LOCK LACES™ Shoelaces Exchange
2225 Sycamore Street
Harrisburg, PA 17111

If you don't want to mess with a shoe lace exchange or if you are reading this after March 31, I highly recommend that you check out Sneakers and Fingerpaints blog post about Lock Laces. Kat has a discount code (TLT4C) on her blog for free shipping and Lock Laces is donating 20% of the proceeds from each sale made through her site to her charity, The Little Things for Cancer. Click over to her site for all the details to use the promo code TLT4C for free shipping. 

I wanted to share these with you because I thought you would appreciate the opportunity to win a pair, exchange your old laces for a pair, or get a free shipping code and help support a charity.


Contest Rules:
No purchase necessary.
Contest runs from 3/18/13 - 3/24/13.
4 winners will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter.
Winner will notified via email (if email address is available) and blog post.
Winner will have 48 business hours to claim their prize.
If original winner does not claim prize within 48 business hours an alternate winner will be selected.
Prize will be shipped directly from Texas. Running for Dummies Blog will pay shipping.
Contestants must enter on the Rafflecopter form and leave a blog comment to win.
Must have a shipping address in the US to win.

*Disclosure:  These thoughts and opinions are my own.  I was provided Lock Laces free of charge to try but I’m under no obligation to give them a positive review or any review at all.  If I hated them, I’d tell you.
Good Luck!

Keep Running (and don't trip),


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

Follow me on Tumblr 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

According to Ollie: Running Lessons From My Dog

Hi, I am Ollie! It is nice to meet you. If we ever meet in person, I'll be sure to give you the opportunity to rub my belly. It will be your pleasure. My Mom Lea tells me that she writes a running blog. Now, I don't really know what a blog is, but I do know a little bit about running. It is one of my favorite things to do, right up there with napping and teasing those annoying cats. As an expert on the subject of running for the love of it, my Mom asked me to share some of my best running tips with you.  Here are five things to remember about running.

Run for Fun

I run because I love the way the wind feels against my ears and the pavement under my paws. I run for the pure pleasure of being one with nature and spending time with my Mom. Exercising my body is just a side effect. Some people have been telling me lately that I have packed on a few pounds, but I say I am a growing healthy boy who needs to eat. I don't run to lose weight, it just happens to be an added bonus. p.s. I don't diet.

Seize Every Opportunity

I seize every opportunity to run. When I see Mom put on her running shoes and reach for the leash, I start to get very eager. One might say my excited high jumps are my warm-up. I meet every opportunity for a run with excitement and enthusiasm. I never get bored of running. I am never too tired to run, even after a long day at the office (and by office I mean back yard, of course). I run every chance I get.

Play it By Ear

Mom wears this fancy watch and does something called intervals. Sometimes she gets too caught up in the numbers. I don't pay too much attention to time or speed. I run faster when I see a squirrel to chase and slow down when I need to sniff a tree. I think you running humans call that Fartleks. I call it life.

Be Social

I love to make new friends on my run. Mom is more of a solo runner, but I love to give a bark-out to all my friends behind the fences, both old and new. If I see humans out there, I am also open to have a new friend pet me. I'm a social runner. I give love and accept it freely, without reserve. It is a good way to live.

Whoa, that is a big dog!
This is my girlfriend.  She is pretty cute, huh?

Rest & Recover

I rest.  As much as I love to run, I love to nap. Recovery is important. Besides, my bed is really comfy.

I hope you enjoyed my guest post on Mom's blog. Mom really liked my guest post. She gave me a high five and an extra treat for a job well done.

I hope that you love to run as much as I do. Life is pretty good over here, one might call it a Dog's Life.

Keep Running,


Stalk my Mom on social media, (she said it was OK).

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Does your running partner have four legs

Ways to (legally) stalk me:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Five Tips to Hold a Longer Plank

Welcome to my weekly Throwback Thursday post where I dig into the archives of Running For Dummies and share a post you may have missed from the early days last year. I usually take this opportunity to also share either an excruciatingly cute or equally embarrassing throwback picture from my childhood.

This week, I am excited to announce that I have a special guest writer on the blog coming this week-end! My dog Ollie will be sharing with you all the reasons he loves to run. In anticipation of his post, I thought it would be fun to share one of Ollie's throwback pictures this week. Wasn't he just stinkin' adorable?

This week's Throwback Thursday post is all about the plank. There was a time last year when I was a self-proclaimed plank queen. I planked every single day for months-on-end and brought my plank time up to a pretty impressive time. Check out the post to see my record time. When I was on top of my plank game I wrote a blog post shared my plank progression and some of my best tips to hold a longer plank.

If you have an impressive plank time to share, I hope you will consider submitting your time to my plank leader board.

I hope you will click over to the original post for more in depth tips and to and see my longest plank time ever.

Do you plank? What is your longest hold time? Do you have any tips to hold longer?

Stay tuned for Ollie the dog's much anticipated guest post!

Keep Running,


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

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Dummies Guide to Buying Running Shoes

One of the great things about running is that it is a sport where you don't need a lot of equipment, gear, or even formal training to get started. Most people can just hit the pavement (or the treadmill) and begin their journey into running.  The one thing that every running newbie needs to know before getting started is how to buy the proper running shoes. A good running shoe is the only big investment into the sport, and one that is well worth it. If you run in the wrong shoe you could risk injury and could be put out of commission before you really ever get started.

I am familiar with the feeling, you walk into the shoe store and the giant wall of shoes overwhelms your senses. The colors, the claims, the technology, the price tags, and the marketing are all fighting for your attention. Your head spins with confusion. How do I know which ones to buy?

I had the privilege of picking the expert brain of James Newsom Jr., the co-owner of Fort Worth Running Company, which has been in business here in Fort Worth since 1998.  This is my local go-to running store. The owners are good people, they have a knowledgeable friendly staff, huge selection of running shoes and gear, and fun motivating training programs for all fitness levels. I was thrilled when James agreed to my interview.

James Newsom Jr. of Fort Worth Running Company

The Interview:

Running for Dummies:
When I buy running shoes, I tend to lean towards the prettiest of the bunch, but I know that is a running dummy move not a good strategy for buying running shoes. It can be overwhelming entering a running store for the first time. There are so many styles and types, how do I know what to buy?

James Newsom Jr.: At least for a first pair of running shoes, it is usually best to go to a specialty store whose employees are familiar with all the different categories of shoes and which models and brands would work best for you. Different stores use different methods to determine what category shoe would most likely work for you. We [Fort Worth Running Company] use slow motion video which we record using a treadmill and computer camera. Running shoes should feel very comfortable the moment you put them on and if they aren't then you should try others until you find some that feel as if you could go out right then and run in them. Color and style should be your last consideration when selecting running shoes.

RFD: (sigh) I know. OK, back to business. What is gait and why is it important to know when buying shoes?

JNJ: Well the term "gait analysis" is a bit misleading because what we really do is "foot strike analysis." Gait is quite a bit more complicated because it involves your whole body and how your lower body (legs/hips) and upper body work together to run or walk and is the subject of much debate over whether it can even be changed and to what degree. Foot strike analysis just looks at the interaction between your foot and the ground from the moment of impact until the moment of toe off and looking at what your arch does and what part of your foot hits the ground first to determine what type of shoe should work best.

RFD: What about sizing? Are the shoe manufacturers pretty consistent with sizing? Should I be buying the same size as I wear in street shoes?

JNJ: For the most part sizing is fairly consistent but sometimes varies 1/2 size between brands. Normally you should go up from 1/2 to a full size from your street shoe size. So say for example you wear a size 7.5 street shoe, you would probably need an 8 or 8.5 running shoe. The reason for this is that your feet tend to swell when running and you need a bit more room to keep from hitting the end of the shoe which doesn't matter so much in an everyday shoe, but matters a lot in a running shoe.

RFD: Does whether I run on the street or a treadmill make any difference in the shoes I should be buying?

JNJ: Unless you are running on very rocky or muddy terrain, you would buy the same shoe whether running on a treadmill or the road. Regular running shoes are fine for most trails also, with the exception of the more technical (rocky, steep, muddy) type trails.

RFD: How often do I need to replace my shoes? How do I know when my shoes have reached the end of their life?

JNJ: Normally between 300 and 500 miles you should look to replace your shoes. So it depends on how much you run per week as to how long your shoes will last. What happens is that the mid sole begins to break down and doesn't cushion the way it did when the shoes were new. Part of the trade off for lighter, more cushioned shoes is that they don't last quite as long. But if you are like most people and run around 9-10 miles/week then your shoes should last you around 8-10 months which is really not too bad and a pretty cheap investment.

RFD: There is a lot of talk and hype about minimalist running shoes, what is your take?

JNJ: I think minimalist shoes are fine to run in for short runs once or twice a week but I don't suggest that people run in them full time. Until I start seeing world class runners training full time in minimal shoes, I don't think it is a good idea. Changing how you normally run by wearing a shoe that forces you to run differently is a recipe for inviting injury in my opinion.

Is there anything else we need to know about buying running shoes?

JNJ: Don't think that there is one magic pair of shoes out there that is going to make the aches and pains of running (especially beginning) go away. Beginning running is going to be tough at times and most folks go through quite a few minor aches and pains before their bodies adjust to running. If you are going to be running more than 3 days/week then it is best to get 2 pair of shoes and rotate them so that your body isn't subjected to the exact same stresses each time. You will still get the same miles out of the shoes, just with less chance of injury.

Thanks so much to James for his time and expertise. Armed with this knowledge, I made a trip down to Fort Worth Running Company to purchase a new pair of running shoes.

The Shopping Trip:

2401 West 7th Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107

I entered the store and was immediately greeted by friendly and knowledgeable Melissa Bere and we were off to try on some shoes.

First Things First: 


The first thing Melissa did was measure my feet. I haven't used one of these foot sizer things since Mom took me to Payless as a kid. After all, I thought I knew my shoe size, but it turns out I was completely wrong. All these years, I have been cramming my big feet into size 7.5, when I am actually an 8. I also learned that my foot is a little on the narrow side. It is a great idea to start with the basics. Before you get into all the technical aspects of buying a running shoe, make sure you know your shoe size first, then remember James' advice to buy 1/2 size to 1 full size bigger than your street shoe size. This means I should be buying size 8.5-9 in running shoes.

Foot Strike Analysis:


Once we figured out the correct shoe size, Melissa gave me a pair of shoes to run in so she could do a foot strike analysis.

I ran on the treadmill for 30 seconds while a computer camera filmed.  Melissa played back the film in slow motion to examine my foot strike. They examine from the knee cap to the ankle to see if it stays in alignment. When the shoe rocks to the left or right it is called pronation. She said I stayed in alignment, therefore I do not pronate and should buy neutral shoes. Everyone is different so it is a good idea to get this analysis done, so you can be certain you are buying the correct shoes for the way you run, to reduce chance of injury.

If hubby EVER uses the fish-eye lens on the camera again, I may kill him. Why in the world would I post the worst picture of me in the history of pictures on the internet for all the world to see? For a laugh, of course. Hey, If you can't laugh at yourself...

Words of Wisdom: Never use a fish-eye lens on a close-up shot. It will make your butt blow up like a balloon.

Here is a quick video of Melissa reviewing my tape and talking through her analysis.  This is so cool!


The Purchase:


After the foot strike analysis, now we were ready to try on some shoes! Melissa brought me a few options. I tried on a couple until I found the pair that felt most comfortable and then hopped back on the treadmill for a quick test run.

Melissa explained to me some of the different cushioning options.

I found my winner! I ultimately decided on the Mizuno Wave Rider because they felt the most comfortable and they were a good match for my narrow foot and running style.

I know I am not supposed to care but...they are pretty too!

We couldn't help but goof-off a little in the display window on the way out.  Hubby said I was Running with the dummies in the window. Hah.

I am so happy with my purchase. I am extremely grateful to Melissa for her first-class customer service. This is what I have come to expect of Fort Worth Running Company: Knowledgeable, friendly people who are passionate about running and willing to help educate the running community.

I am a huge believer in supporting local business. Sure, you may be able to find a pair of shoes that are less expensive at a big box store, but you will never get this level of selection, service, or expertise. Besides, I'd always rather spend my money and support a local, family-owned business that gives so much back to our community.

When you are in Fort Worth, please stop by the store at 2401 West 7th Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107 to say hello (and buy some shoes).

If you live outside the Fort Worth area there are plenty of ways to check out Fort Worth Running Company:
Visit their website
Like their Facebook page (yes, please, click like)
On Tumblr
On Pinterest

Where do you go to buy running shoes? Do you have a local favorite or do you shop big box? Do you have any other tips to share for buying running shoes?

Special thanks to Fort Worth Running Company for sharing their expertise with us and to hubby for being my official Running for Dummies photographer, although I am not sure I forgive him yet for the the fish-eye lens thing.

Keep Running,


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