Running for All

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

Down below is a running program given to me by a colleague who overheard me murmer that I’d like to run continuously for longer distances.  She’s a marathon machine herself and surprised me one day at work by placing the following program on my desk.  If I can do it, you can do it.  I’m not a runner by any means but following this program is making me run for longer stretches of time than I thought possible.

Upon completion of this 8-week program, I will be able to run 30 minutes non-stop.  I’m over half way there!!

I feel giddly, like a little girl again, in the middle of a great cardio session.

Try it with me!!

Points to consider before you begin this 8-Week Beginner’s Running Program →

1.  If you are not accustomed to any exercise, consult your physician first.  Unless you have a known health risk, your doctor will probably encourage you to begin a run-walk program such as this.

2.  Schedule your workouts!  You won’t find time unless you make time.  Put them in your BlackBerry, computer, appointment planner, on your fridge . . . wherever.

3. Expect bad days.  Everyone has them, but they pass quickly, and the next workout is often better than the previous one.  I find my body actually bounces back stronger after I’ve rested for a day (or week) or two.

4.  Don’t rush.  Rushing leads to injuries and discouragement.  Be patient and go slow.  The goal is to reach 30 minutes of continuous running, not to set any records getting there.

More GG Training Tips ➔

~ To fuel up for your workout, have a snack about 1 hour before.  To ensure you don’t lose all those hard earned muscles afterward, have a snack afterward. Click here for my list of pre- and post- workout snacks to fuel and replenish you: Best Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks

~ Always walk a couple of minutes for warmup before you begin and walk another couple of minutes afterward.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for after your workout or in the evening while watching T.V.  I get some of my best stretching and yoga moves in that way!

~ On occasion, skip your running workout and do a cross-training instead.  Bike for 30 minutes, elliptical train, do the row machine, or walk the stairmaster.  The break from running will refresh you plus you’ll develop new muscle.

Beginner’s Running Program → → →

(indoors or outdoors)

Week 1

Day 1 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 2 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 3 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 4 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 5 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 6 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 2

Day 1 – Run 2 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 10 x

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 3 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 7x, Run 2 mins

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 6 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 3

Day 1 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 6 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 4

Day 1 – Run 8 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x, Run 3 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 9 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 10 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 8 min

Day 6 – Run 11 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 6 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 5

Day 1 – Run 12 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 13 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 14 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x

Day 6 – Run 15 min, Walk 1 min, Run 14 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 6

Day 1 – Run 16 min, Walk 1 min, Run 13 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 17 min, Walk 1 min, Run 12 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 18 min, Walk 1 min, Run 11 min

Day 6 – Run 19 min, Walk 1 min, Run 10 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 7

Day 1 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 22 min, Walk 1 min, Run 7 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 24 min, Walk 1 min, Run 5 min

Day 6 – Run 26 min, Walk 1 min, Run 3 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 8

Day 1 – Run 27 min, Walk 1 min, Run 2 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 28 min, Walk 1 min, Run 1 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 29 min, Walk 1 min

Day 6 – Run 30 min!!!!!

Day 7 – Get that well-deserved rest!!!

*Always walk 2 – 3 minutes for a warm up before you begin to run and walk another 2 – 3 minutes as a cool down.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for afterward (think of it as a reward!)

Writing from the Pen of an Author

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under My Writing

Todd Strasser

Yesterday, Todd Strasser paid a visit to my school for Writer’s Day and, later, to the students in our reading classes for a more intimate writing workshop.This is the second year my school has been lucky enough to host a popular YA author.  (Neil Schusterman presented last year after we completed Unwind.)  Engaging and personable, Strasser literally brought the writing process to life, keeping the students captiviated and involved.  My students were particularly excited to ask questions about the novel we recently completed in Reading Strategies, If I Grow Up. He even promised to name a character after one of my students.  Watch for Tiara in his next book!  🙂

Todd Strasser discussing the writing process with our students

 During his all-school presentation in the auditorium, Mr. Strasser emphasized the importance of writing and reading in the 21st century while humorously depicting his own journey as an author.  Here are a few of the highlights ~

  • Writing is a struggle no matter what the assignment is.  That’s the journey . . . that’s the adventure . . . that’s the challenge.
  • Writers get ideas from either their own experiences or through experiences of those they know.  If they don’t know someone with a particular experience, they research until they do know!!
  • All of Strasser’s books are about “outsiders” because he always considered himself an “outsider.”
  • Revise, revise, revise . . . A piece of writing is never complete.
  • Strasser takes 8 – 9 months to complete a novel.  (this seems short to me!)

During the writing workshop, Strasser created a short story with the students to illustrate the writing process in action  ~

  • Writers write to send a message.  A message is unfolded gradually throughout the course of a story.  It’s all about baby steps . . . that’s what keeps us turning the pages.
  • Subplots are disguised . . . characters who seem “incredibly useless” are often the most significantly important.
  • Good stories are character-driven . . . the plot unfolds not because of outside pressure or force but because of who the characters are.
  • Whatever is happening in a story is not usually what the main character is expecting to happen.
  • Writing and reading go hand-in-hand.  The more we read, the more we are exposed to writing styles.
  • Reading others’ writing validates our own thoughts.

Now where’s my green pen??

GG at The Movies – Robin Hood

May 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Movies, Reviews

Where are the Tights?!

After an evening of working out followed by a refueling at Big Bowl, I ended a fine Friday evening with a viewing of the latest Robin Hood movie starring Russel Crowe.  This movie was directed by Ridley Scott, the same director of GladiatorCrowe’s first big movie blockbuster.  Naturally, I walked in with great expectations but was left in disappointment valley.

You won’t watch a scene unfold in which he steals from the rich and gives to the poor, nor will you view Robin donning a disguise to win an archery contest or Robin getting Friar Tuck to carry him across the alter.   Scenes such as these from the original Robin Hood myth are missing because, for some reason, the powers that be decided to illustrate this movie as a prequel – to the time before Robin Hood became the legend we remember.

I found myself wanting more scene upon scene . . . more Hood heroism, more romance, and more suspense.  What I got was many scenes depicting the history behind the legend.  It’s the 12th century, and Richard the Lionheart is “plundering his way back to England” from the Crusades – while bitter brother John waits to inherit the crown along with his sassy French girlfriend. The French are the real villains of the piece, planning to foment civil war in England so they can invade.  Where does Robin Hood fit in?  Robin starts off as an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart, and ends up in Nottingham, where he joins the clan of a fallen comrade. Yet the movie never finds a dramatic tone or climatic point, for that matter.  Crowe plays Hood in an almost stoic manner; he doesn’t do much more above the occasional squint.

Cate Blanchett displayed more emotion, but not necessarily in a good way – Lady Marion acts with such proud, strong-as-any-man severity that there’s no softness to her. When she helps Robin off with his chainmail, it’s supposed to be erotic, but the two might as well be building a bookcase.  Certainly the books they put on the shelf will be more interesting than the story unfolding on the screen.

So the movie is really all about backstory: a rousing roar of royal-court strategizing and double-crossing oppression. Crowe, slashing his way through the movie, is just a glorified extra in the background of the royal rouse.  Where is his Gladiator valor?! He’s stoic enough to be a bore, and so is the movie.  Grading Girl gives Robin Hood a C-.  The only reason this gets a passing grade is because of the well executed war scenes action fans will fancy.

Bon Chic Bon Genre

May 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Favorites, Reviews

My Favorite Designer!!

No, GG has not gone French!  While I’ve studied 7 1/2 years of French, my site would not be complete without me raving about my very favorite fashion line.  I can’t say enough about this line!!  BCBG’s Max Azria has been my favorite designer for six years . . . and counting.  It all started with a little red velvet halter dress I purchased for a wedding in 2003.  This dress fit like a glove without hugging too tightly; moreover, it was comfortable and spawned many a compliment.  Since that first fateful find, I’ve purchased (and received gifts of ) many BCBG dresses, shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, and handbags.  I wear BCBG pieces, on average, three times a week.  BCBG is my go-to apparel when I’m pressed for time and don’t have a chance to answer the infamous “What Shall I Wear” question  – I know that if I grab a BCBG piece, I’ll look polished and refined.   I even attribute BCBG to one of the bonds between my sister-in-law and me.  I became very excited when I discovered we shared BCBG as a fave; today, scavenging a local BCBG boutique is a staple activity we share whenever I’m in town to visit.

BCBG is an acronym for the french phrase bon chic, bon genre—or good style, good attitude. This illustrates the vibe of the line.  Designed by Max Azria under the close supervision of wife Lubova, the label hosts legions of celebrity clients, 475 retail boutiques worldwide, inclusions in major department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, and a slew of offshoots – including the more casual BCBGeneration (which my daughter enjoys!), the more upscale Max Azria Collection, and BCBGirls footwear.   Dresses and mix-and-match separates are the brand’s bread and butter: youthful but not cutesy, easy-to-wear, and with a bit of an edge.   Clients include Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, and Sarah Martineau.  I personally have had the surprise pleasure of spotting two specific pieces that I own on television celebrities:  Misha Barton sported the same matte-jersey pink mini dress on “The O.C.;” Eva Longoria sported my blue wrap top on “Desperate Housewives.”  It’s fun to spot your own clothes on celebs!  With all this famous following, you’d think the clothing would cost an arm and a leg to purchase.  Not so – this is the one upscale clothing line with the midscale price tags.  In fact, I can almost always scoop up a stellar piece (or two or three!) in the surprisingly stocked sales racks.  Purchasing BCBG is a win-win!

On GG’s Wish List for this Season!!

Every season, I “doggy-ear” my catalog’s favorites before I head for the boutique.  Here are the dresses I just bought this weekend.  I’m very happy and proud to say I purchased each at Macy’s or Lord & Taylor’s @ 30 – 50% each!!!

Admittedly, this is cuter on than in the picture - I won't wear the clunky dark shoes with it. My shrunken jean jacket goes perfectly!!

Matte jersey is my favorite dress material. This lays perfectly in all the right places. It's more coral than red - a good color for me!

The dress I have on order!!!!! So fabulous - I just might have to post a picture of me in it . . . maybe.

Grading Girl gives BCBG an A+ for timeless class and elegant, easy-to-wear style.  In fact, I wore a black cotton BCBG dress when I shopped for these . . . the third time this week that I donned BCBG.  I see myself continuing to be faithful to this line for a long time to come.  Thank you, Mr. Azria!

Delivering Happiness Challenge & Giveaway!

May 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Books, Giveaway Contests!, Reviews

Watch for GG’s review of Delivering Happiness on its release date, June 7th 2010!!

I am honored to be selected to review the new, yet-to-be released book by Tony Hsieh, the successful, young CEO of!  The Zappos team generously sent me two advanced copies of Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.  I’m busy reading my first copy and can’t wait to post the review.  In the meantime, I’d like to give away the second copy to one lucky GG follower.

This book will not be released until June 7th.  I would like YOU to receive an advanced copy!

Tony Hsieh - CEO of

I’m almost halfway through the book and can tell you that Hsieh shares insightful, interesting and humorous anecdotes about his plight through entrepreneurship.  He doesn’t use a ghostwriter and writes authentically.  This read is useful for all in its illustration of how Hsieh uses happiness as a framework (imagine!!) to produce results in business and personal life.

So . . . here is my challenge to you.  Too many times people see the glass half empty instead of half full; too many times people don’t see the fun in life; too many times people don’t feel the joy in their journeys.  I challenge you to deliver happiness to someone and share just how you did it:

1.  Follow me on Twitter:

2.  Perform an act of kindness to someone you know or to a complete stranger.  Your act of kindness can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

3.  Come back to this post and, in the comments, describe that act of kindness.  What did you do?  What was the reaction and result of your delivered happiness?

4.  Respond by Friday, May 14th 11:59pm.  You can post as many delivered happiness descriptions as you like.

5.  One winner will be chosen based on the genuineness of the delivered happiness.

6.  I will mail the book anywhere in the United States.  SPAM comments will be deleted if deemed appropriate.  Make sure you have a valid email address when commenting so I can contact you for a shipping address. (your email address will be kept private)

Enjoy delivering happiness!!!

**GG does NOT endorse or giveaway products I do not stand behind.  As an English teacher, a self-proclaimed reviewer of “all things worth grading,” and a life-long reader of many books, I can give this away with confidence that the recipient will not be disappointed.**