5 Ways Strength Training Could Make You Faster

Spoiler alert: there does not really seem to be a consensus on whether or not strength training will actually improve your speed as a runner. That being said, there are possible benefits to strength training for runners. Read on to find out what they are!

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 reasons strength training might help you become speedier. Keep in mind I am not a researcher, doctor, or personal trainer.

1: It makes you powerful
Building the right muscles will help you to get explosive — aka fast. This can help you start strong — and stay strong — and ultimately run faster. If this is what you’re after, try plyometric exercises.

2: It can help prevent injuries
Think about what happens when you run: you are essentially hopping from one single legged squat to another. If you’re legs aren’t strong enough to perform these movements, or fatigue quickly, what do you suppose your chance of injury might be? 

If you dig online, you will of course find those that say strength training really won’t help you as a runner, but you will also find many, many reputable experts that insist that it does. I say try it for yourself and see what you think. IOW, don’t knock it til you try it!

3: It improves running economy
Running economy means you use less oxygen to maintain your pace. 

Can strength training improve my running form? | Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

4: It can improve your running form
Every notice how your shoulders creep up towards your ears by the end of a race? Yeah, that’s poor running form. When our running form falls apart, we’re usually tensing up somewhere — and that can use up the energy we want to use for running.

If form is important to you, make sure you do those core exercises — everything moves from our core. A weak core can mean your running form will fall apart sooner rather than later.

5: It may help you hold off fatigue
This comes back to point #4 — strong muscles will not fatigue as quickly as weak ones, allowing you to hold a better running form longer. This means your run will feel easier. You’ve run hard and easy runs — which feel better to you?

Final Thoughts
I personally do think that strength training is important for everyone, but in my research I also came across an interesting article (to read it click here) that claims strength training won’t improve your running, and may even hinder it. The author makes some interesting points, and hey, if you don’t want to strength train, you’re gonna love this article! 

The jury is still out on whether strength training will make you faster, but I believe that the benefits of strength training are important for everyone:

  • Helps you in your functional fitness in your day to day life
  • Helps improve bone strength
  • Maintain or build muscle, which we tend to lose as we age
  • May help increase your cognitive ability
  • May help you sleep better
  • Helps improve blood sugar control

This list is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of strength training. I don’t know about you, but these all sound like really good things to me!

You do not have to spend hours at home or at the gym,, either. Just 10 – 15 minutes a day could make a huge difference in your life. Check out these workouts from Confessions of a Mother Runner here, or from Coach Debbie Runs here.

Share with me a story about strength training & how it’s helped your runs

How do you find the time to fit in strength training?

What types of strength training do you enjoy?

5 Ways to Connect Body & Mind on the Run

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Why do you run?

Maybe it’s to get out of your head. I think a lot — so sometimes it’s nice to just not think so much. Not thinking as much while running can be a form of meditation — which is just one reason that running can leave us feeling so darn good.

Maybe you are chasing that runner’s high (again, trying to feel better than when you started). 

An even better goal is to get into the flow state. You know the flow state — when everything just seems to flow easily. It’s not just for athletes, either! Performers, crafters — anything you enjoy doing that makes you lose track of time is basically the flow state (sometimes referred to as in the zone).

Overthinking things keeps the flow state away. Concentrating only on how your body feels might also keep it away — you start thinking that this feels hard, or you distract yourself with thoughts of what you’re going to eat after your run. 

Connecting your body and mind allows you to stay present. Thinking about the future can feel pleasant, but in the end, you’re not there. You’re losing the pleasure you could get in this moment.

Right here, right now

Ruminating about the past — that fight you had with your friend or kids, the things you didn’t get done — that’s also going to rob your from the pleasure you could get, right here, right now.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 ways you can use running to connect your body and mind and hopefully find joy on the run.

1: Notice your breath
This is probably the easiest way to connect mind and body. When you bring your attention to your breath, your breathing will naturally slow down — although maybe not so much on the run! When your breathing is slower, your thoughts will also slow down. You can even try to take your attention to where you feel your breath in your body (nose, chest, belly?).

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2: Yoga Warmup
Taking the time to practice some Yoga before you start your run will not only help you warm up your body, it will also help connect your body to your mind.

3: Practice a Body Scan
Start at your feet and work your way all the way up to your head. Where can you relax, even just 10%? Muscle tension means you’re using up some of your precious energy that would be better spent propelling your run.

4: Sigh
I read an article about how sighing can help you to connect body and mind, and unfortunately I didn’t save it and haven’t been able to find it again. However I came across an interesting post (click here to read it) that talks about the mental and physical effects of sighing.

Sighing allows an extra burst of oxygen to enter our lungs, which leads to improved blood flow, feelings of relaxation, and lowered levels of stress.

Feeling stressed out by your run? Try a sigh and just let it all go!

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5: Run outside and look around!
It’s so easy to develop tunnel vision while running, especially if it’s a hard workout. When you spend some time noticing the sky, trees, flowers, other people out there, animals — you are taking some of the effort out of your run. While you’re at it, why not concentrate on the rest of your senses:

  • What do you smell?
  • What do you taste?
  • What do you feel touching your body?
  • What do you hear?

Final Thoughts
You probably do use running as a moving meditation sometimes, without ever calling it that. It’s okay to get lost in our thoughts, maybe even better sometimes to turn our mind off completely (well, maybe not completely so you get lost!), but I think you’ll reap even more benefits from your runs when your mind and body are connected.

Connecting body and mind is a skill, and like any skill, it becomes easier with practice. Remember, it’s not about how often you fail, it’s about how often you try again!

Do you use running to tune out or tune in?

Do you ever think about your mind body connection?

What makes a run great for you?

5 Reasons . . .

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. . . Compassion is my word for 2022

I’ve been picking a word to concentrate on for my year for many years. I like to use that word in my monthly wrap up — sometimes with a quote, sometimes with a song. It just keeps that word in my mind all year long.

I do think it’s great for runners to have a focus for the year — although my word this year (mostly) has nothing to do with running.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 reasons Compassion is my word for 2022.

Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

1: Compassion for my sister
My sister lives the closest to my mom, and much falls on her shoulders, It gets to her no matter how much I help out. Sometimes, too, I think she does things because she feels guilty, even when I try to make the burden easier for her. Let’s just say I also bear the brunt of a lot of venting. I try hard to be compassionate to her, even when the going gets tough.

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In happier times (her 90th birthday, my Dad was still alive)

2: Compassion for my mom
No matter how rough our lives are, there’s no doubt that my mom’s life is 100 times rougher. Yet dealing with her isn’t always easy, either. I struggle with keeping her spirits up, as she is understandably depressed and anxious at times.

I try to keep compassion front and center, and can only hope that when my time comes, there is someone in my life to do the same. Not having kids definitely makes you wonder how you will get through the aging years.

3: Compassion for Mr. Judy
I have been gone a lot in the last six months, and I only see it happening more as we move into 2022.  It’s not always easy having a stressed out, tired spouse who sometimes can’t think straight, I know. He has had to take over feeding and walking Bandit a lot while I am staying at my moms — although since I’m the one that has always done 90% of that, he’s got a long way to go to catch up!

4: Compassion for Bandit
Poor Bandit. Whenever I leave, he never has a clue how long I’ll be gone. All he wants is to see his pack together. Especially the leader of the pack (me). 

5: Last but not least, compassion for myself
I am fairly certain that this won’t be going on for years. When you go on Hospice, it usually means they think you have six months to live, although people sometimes live far longer than that. I know that I’m doing the best I can, but it’s hard when you feel like you’re constantly coming up short. 

Final Thoughts
I think that there’s a real chance that this chapter in my life will end not that long into 2022, although of course it could go on longer. I struggled a bit with this word, knowing that I might not “need” it that long. It just kept coming up for me over and over again. 

Because really is there ever a time you don’t need to be compassionate?

Do you pick a word to focus on for your year?

If you do what is your word for 2022?

Do you remember your word for 2021, if you picked one?

5 Running Memes to Make You Laugh

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I love the memes Kim @ Kookyrunner shares every week — there’s always at least one that makes me laugh that I share with Mr. Judy, too. I’m sharing some running memes that made me laugh. It’s a quickie this week that should make you smile — even if you’ve seen these memes, and I know you’ve seen at least a few of them.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m hoping to give you a laugh — or two.

bmeme1For someone who runs all the time, I still have the ability to make it look like the first time I’ve ever tried

bmeme2If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin

bmeme3Do I get a discount for a pedicure if I only have 9 toenails?

bmeme4It’s a proven scientific fact that you run faster around other people

bmeme5Please stop asking me what I’m doing this weekend. I’m running. This weekend. Next weekend. Every weekend. Forever.

Final Thoughts
It’s easy to get a little too serious about the things we love — definitely raising my hand on that one! It’s also good to laugh at ourselves. I know there are also many people who struggle in the holiday season, for a variety of reasons, and if you’re one of them, I hope that I’ve put a smile on your face today. Just paying it forward!

Got a favorite running meme to share??

 

My Top 5 Yogi Tea Flavors

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Several people expressed interest in Yogi Tea after I shared some of my favorite inspirational quotes from its teabags (read the post here). I figured I’d share my favorite flavors! Like anything we all have different tastes, so I obviously can’t guarantee you’ll love what I love but here are the five teas I’m loving lately.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 Yogi teas that I drink almost daily.

1: Cold Season
We are officially in our cold season right now! I enjoy the taste of this tea, plus it’s filled with herbs and spices to help you ward off Winter illnesses. A good tasting dose of immunity building herbs. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

2: Green Tea Passion Fruit Matcha
Another yummy tasting tea; I like to drink this one in the mornings before a run. Matcha tea is great for sustained energy (plus more health benefits), but on its own can be quite bitter. I don’t really know how much matcha is in this tea, but again, I just like the flavor. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

3: Blueberry Slim Life
Will this tea help you lose weight? No, I really don’t think it will. This is my favorite Yogi Tea, though. I just love the flavor! Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

4: Elderberry Lemon Balm Immune & Stress Support
This seems to be one of their newer flavors, and I really love the taste. Not to mention I could definitely use immune and stress support — how about you? Buy it here. (Amazon Affiliate link).

5: Roasted Dandelion Detox Tea
Do I really think this tea will help you detox? Like the blueberry slim life, not really, but it tastes really good (to me) and dandelion has many health benefits, including: may help keep the liver and kidneys healthy, may work as a diuretic (good to drink when you feel bloated). If you’re planning a little detox after the holiday season, this is a great tea to use with that. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

Final Thoughts
Growing up my parents were always drinking tea. Regular black tea. It did not interest me, not at all. When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol quite a few years ago, I wanted to start drinking green tea — it has so many health benefits!

It took me quite a while to find a tea that I truly loved, and now I drink multiple cuppas every single day!

Coffee or tea — do you have favorite flavors?

Have you ever tried herbal teas?

Reading the Tea Leaves

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Can you get inspiration from a teabag? I think you can — and I gathered up five (plus a bonus sixth) messages from my tea that are perfect little inspirational quotes for runners.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 teabag quotes that will inspire runners.

1: Be guided: listen to the whispers of the universe
The universe does talk to us, but we often don’t want/like to listen. It often starts with a whisper, let’s say a little niggle. That niggle turns into more intense pain, but often we try to run through it. Finally that pain can turn into an injury. Much better to take a couple of days — even a week! — off of running than having to take months off or having to constantly run in pain.

2: Accept who you are in this moment, but acknowledge who you want to become
This is a great quote for the runner who is returning to running after an illness or injury. We want to pick up where we left off, but that may not be wise to do. Accept yourself, give yourself grace, and set goals that will drive you forward.

3: Your inner self is your inner guide
Deep inside all of us is a voice. Let’s call it your inner wisdom. Your inner wisdom knows when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to push. Spend more time listening for that little voice inside you, and you will become a stronger runner . . . and person.

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4: Be kind to others, but always be compassionate with yourself
Most of us are way harder on ourselves than we are on others. We will be quick to console the runner who didn’t snag that PR they worked so hard for, who didn’t run the race they wanted — didn’t even start or weren’t able to finish.

That inner voice? Sometimes it can be a real bi#*! Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. Notice how everything becomes easier when you work on this.

5: You are unlimited
We are all capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. Dream big. Go for the gold. Just remember the first four points!

Bonus quote: We can always start again
It’s a sign of greatness to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again. As the proverbial saying goes, it’s not about how many times we fall, it’s about starting over again after each fall.

Final Thoughts
I drink a lot of different teas, but one of the staples is Yogi Tea. I’ve been drinking that since long before I became a Yoga teacher. They just have flavors that I love!

Fun fact: Yogi Tea was started by Yogi Bhajan, who is credited with bringing Kundalini Yoga as we know it today to the West; read more about him here if you’re interested. As with many of the well known Indian “gurus”, there was eventually a lot of controversy surrounding him — but there is little doubt that as a businessman he was very successful.

Which of these quotes most resonate with you?

If your teabags have quotes, do you even read them?

The Trouble with Positive Splits + . . .

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. . . four other surprising things I learned in my Run Coach course! One of the things I love about running is there’s a lot to learn — in fact, there’s always something more to learn. 

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 things I learned in my RRCA Run Coach course that surprised me — and might benefit you.

1: The problem with positive splits
Positive splits are running the first part of a race faster than the second half. Every one second you go out too fast in the beginning of the race may add three seconds to your pace at the end. Every runner is different, of course. Some runners do well with positive splits.

Put another way: do you want to be passing people at the end of the race, or do you want to do the passing? 

2: 2-4 hard efforts per week are enough
What is a hard effort, you ask? It depends (we got that advice a lot in this course!). One person’s hard effort is easy to another person. What I learned in this part is that the whole week (in addition to speed work, or other intense forms of exercise) counts as a hard effort.

Let me repeat that: Your whole week of running is one hard effort!

I never thought about it that way. So if you have speedwork and a tempo run in your training plan, and you’re feeling burned out by your training — you may already be at your three hard efforts because the entire week counts as one, too. Every runner is different, but it’s a good point to keep in mind.

3: Hills may make you faster . . . 
. . . but being faster won’t necessarily make you better on hills. I’m sure a lot of us have heard that hills are speedwork in disguise. It was interesting to me to learn that just because you run fast doesn’t necessarily mean you will run hills better.

Which brings us back to specificity of training: train on the terrain you’ll be racing on .

4: Try to give yourself a range for mileage/pace
Add some wiggle room to your training plan. Maybe you go a little shorter or a little longer, or maybe you have a range for the pace you want to hit. Notice any patterns that emerge — if you’re always choosing the slower or shorter runs, maybe you’re setting the bar too high for yourself. Conversely if you’re always adding mileage or running faster than the range you planned on, you may not be challenging yourself enough.

Only you know!

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5: Throw out some of the pyramid
Training plans have cycles, and in this course we’re taught to visualize the cycles as a pyramid. At the bottom is your base, and at the top are intervals (aka speedwork) right before you are at your peak performance (ready to race).

In between the base and intervals is the strength phase:

  • Tempos
  • Fartleks
  • Hills

None of that should come as a surprise. The thing that did surprise me is that we were taught as long as you continue to grow your long run during the strength phase you can run a great race without ever doing intervals. Food for thought, anyway.

Final Thoughts
We learned many things, of course. These are five things that surprised me; they may not surprise you — or matter to you. Maybe one of these tips will speak to you — or not.

Which of these was most surprising to you?

What have you learned about running recently that surprised you?

5 Ways to Shake Off Burnout

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Now that you know some of the signs you might be overtraining (read this blog here), it’s time to do something about it!

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 tips to help you shake off burnout and get back to happy running.

1: Leave the watch at home . . . 
. . . or at least cover it up. I run in long sleeve tops almost year round (the Summer ones are made of a cooling material), so generally my watch is covered. Just running however long or hard you feel like might take the “have to” and change it to “get to” when it comes to running.

2: Cross train more
I know a lot of runners just really love to run, and don’t want to do something else. This tip is not for you! Although it really is, just sayin’. If you’re a runner that actually enjoys cross training, increasing the cross training and decreasing your running for a while will keep you fit while hopefully holding off burnout.

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I don’t actually run here, but sometimes I start & end here. Its a new route I found last year that I’ve been returning to to shake things up again this Fall.

3: Find new locations
One good thing that came out of the Pandemic for me was finding new routes to run. Some runners love the familiarity of tried and true routes, but if you find yourself on the edge of burnout, a new route might be just the ticket to make your runs fun again.

4: Try a new running workout
There are actually almost infinite ways to run and train, and maybe it’s the perfect time to shake things up by trying something new!

5: Stop running!
Not forever. Just for a little while. While your running fitness will start to decline in just 3 days off running, it won’t decline much. A week off and you should make sure your runs are easy when you start running again. Even 2 weeks off isn’t really going to harm you — and it might do you a world of good.

If you stop running for more than 2 weeks, though, make sure that you’re cautious when you start to run again; try running easy for the same amount of time you were off running and then slowly increase the intensity — never forgetting that about 80% of your runs should always be easy.

Final Thoughts
We all get a little stale every once in a while, whether we want to admit it or not. It’s so easy to fall into the same old routine, and routines are great, but sometimes they need to be changed up. Of course, on the other hand, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

How do you shake up your running?

What makes you excited again about running?

5 Signs You Might be Flaming Out

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Runners love to run. Until they don’t. That falling out of love feeling can really sneak up on us, so it’s important to be on the lookout for the signs of burnout.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 tips to help you figure out if you might be flaming out on running.

1: Poor sleep
Insomnia has so many different causes, and many people turn to activity to help them sleep. It usually works — until it doesn’t.

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Are you suffering more from colds than usual? | Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2: Frequent colds/viruses
If you have young children you may be used to the the colds that seem to always be making the rounds at home. If you’re normally a healthy person and you suddenly start getting everything that’s going around, it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing. 

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Do you find yourself falling more than usual? | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

3: Getting more accident-prone
Most of us trip every once in a while. If you find yourself tripping more frequently, or outright falling a lot — it can be a sign of fatigue. I know when I get tired on a long run I have to remind myself to make sure to pick up my feet more. When no amount of reminders prevents the accidents, it’s time to take notice.

4: Heavy legs
We all have runs when our legs just feel as if they’re stuck in cement. Sometimes we know why, sometimes it just hits out of the blue. If all your runs feel this way, though, there may be something deeper going on.

5: No longer interested in the things that bring you joy
Like running. We all go through rough patches with running from time to time, but if it’s consistently not making you feel happy the way it used to, it’s just another sign that you might be over training.

Final Thoughts
Taken one by one the above are all things that happen to runners (and non-runners!) from time to time. I doubt a single one of us has never experienced these types of “symptoms”. If you can nod you’re head yes to more of these than not, it may be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and shake things up a bit.

Have you ever experienced running burnout?

What made you realize you were in burnout?

5 Impressions from my online First Aid/CPR Course

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After I mentioned that I had completed my First Aid/CPR course online, a lot of bloggers mentioned they needed to renew theirs. Here’s a short review of my experience.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Wondering if online First Aid/CPR are for you? Read on!

1: A Self Paced Course
The course is a series of video lessons and “missions” (I’ll explain that next). You can start, pause, repeat, and stop — and come back to it at any time.

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2: What’s a mission?
So glad you asked! After the video lesson you will be sent on a “mission” to practice what you learned. It’s essentially a video game, which was interesting. You can click on the injured person, or a bystander, and then choose actions to take. You can move the scene to the right and the left to make sure nothing dangerous is in the way — if there is, you simply click on it to make it go away.

Missions involving bandaging will have a small box with a variety of bandages. You will drag and drop the appropriate bandage into the appropriate location.

Missions involving CPR will have a graphic of your hands which you’ll place in the appropriate location and then you’ll use your hand (or mouse — I took mine on the my Ipad, so just used my fingers) to press the appropriate number of times. There is also a way for you to tilt the head back to open the airway on screen in your missions, too.

My course also covered AED (automatic external defibrillator), so you had to position the pads in the correct locations and then take the appropriate actions in the appropriate order.

It was an interesting way to learn!

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3: Is there a test?
No! You must pass all the missions. You can retake missions as many times as necessary, although I only had one that I had to repeat. Every once in a while you were asked to practice a skill that hadn’t actually been explained yet — but that was the exception, not the rule. It would be extremely difficult not to pass this course, but you will be learning!

4: How long will the course take?
According to the description a little over 2 hours. I didn’t really time mine; I think it took a bit longer than that, but it’s definitely doable in much less than a day.

5: How quickly will I get my certificate?
I needed mine in about a month, and we had been warned that some courses can take a while to process and send you your certificate. I got mine as soon as I had completed the course.

Final Thoughts
The cost of this course was $35. I found some online that were only $15, but the reviews seemed a bit iffy so I just went with it. You can’t take the course on your phone, apparently, or using Internet Explorer. You do have access to the course after you’ve completed it — I don’t remember for how long (and couldn’t find the answer quickly on the site. Since I haven’t been certified before, I like the fact that I can go back & review information. Will I? I should but I’m not sure — that is one of the beauties of online learning though!

To sign up for the course I took click here (not an Affiliate link)

Do you think you would renew your certification online after reading more about it?