Stress-Free Fundraising for Girls on the Run

Stress-Free Fundraising for Girls on the Run
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I don’t talk about it much online and on social media, but one of my favorite commitments in the past two years has been coaching for Girls on the Run. I’m the Head Coach for the team at my son’s school, and to the surprise of many parents and other coaches, I do not have a daughter in the program. I do it because I love it, and I love the idea of instilling in young girls a love of running, and the confidence, happiness, and healthy habits it brings.


What is Girls on the Run?

Girls on the Run is a wonderful program for girls in third through fifth grade. It operates as a non-profit organization, running after-school programs in elementary schools across the United States. At our school, the program is 10 weeks long, from March through mid-May. Twice a week after school, the girls play games that keep them active, engaged, and get them to think about and discuss topics that, frankly, I wish I could have been able to talk about when I was their age. We talk about ways to deal with bullying, gossip, and other negative behaviors at school, and how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, gain confidence and love ourselves for who we are.

Oh, and we run, of course! The program culminates with the Girls on the Run 5K. In our area, more than 5,000 girls and their families participate each year!


As a non-profit organization, Girls on the Run redirects all registration fees towards covering program costs – putting up a 5K for thousands of participants is not cheap! – and providing scholarships to families who would not be able to participate otherwise. The organization has very few full time employees in each area. Here in Silicon Valley, I believe there are four or five GOTR employees altogether, and I won’t be surprised if most or some of them are part-time. GOTR relies exclusively on the efforts of volunteer coaches and race volunteers. And, it counts heavily on its sponsors and fundraising efforts.

Each GOTR chapter partners with different organizations and has its own fundraising initiatives, and all participants and coaches are encouraged (but not obliged!) to fundraise. Which is where it gets tricky for me personally: I love GOTR and would love to fundraise. But I hate asking people for money! I feel that I already bug my friends and neighbors enough with so many other fundraising efforts, our school’s annual Walkathon, Jump Rope for Heart, Fall Harvest, the this and the that – how many times can you ask people for money before they block you on Facebook?

So I was really excited to learn about a program that allows us to fundraise – without asking people to donate.

Shop with Scrip

I learned about Shop with Scrip through a Fit Approach campaign – and it was like a breath of fresh air to my weary self.

What is Shop with Scrip: it’s a platform that enables organization to run fundraising campaigns by facilitating families to buy gift cards to places where they already shop. Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Bath & Body Works, Starbucks, Kohls, did I say Amazon? Literally, every big retailer I can think of is on their list.

As a fundraiser, you simply ask people to order the gift cards they think they might need for their shopping needs (and who doesn’t shop on Amazon these days?) — and a percentage of all card values goes to the organization for which you are fundraising. The average is about 4%, but some gift cards kick back as much as 9%.

Fit Approach registered a fundraising campaign for Girls on the Run, and as a participant, I could order a $200 Amazon gift card — and 2.5% of that would go to GOTR. It’s not much, but imagine hundreds of people contributing – who otherwise would not have donated to the organization directly.

Every little bit counts, and now that I know I can contribute to GOTR by ordering all those gift cards (for teacher gifts, birthday gifts, and my own shopping needs) — I’m looking forward to kicking off our 2018 GOTR season even more!

You can use Shop with Scrip to fundraise for any nonprofit organization, school, church, sports club, music and band program, and many others. If fundraising is as big a pain in your butt as it has been in mind, it’s definitely worth checking it out!

Disclaimer: This campaign is sponsored by ShopWithScrip. Through my affiliation with the Sweat Pink Ambassador community, I’m fundraising for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young girls through running. All monies fundraised are donated to Girls On the Run at the conclusion of the campaign. Thank you for your readership and interest in forwarding Girls On the Run’s mission of: inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

The Post-Workout Snack: What and when you eat can have a huge impact on recovery and future performance

The Post-Workout Snack: What and when you eat can have a huge impact on recovery and future performance
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I don’t fancy myself a food blogger — much less a foodie — so naturally I don’t write about food often. I mean, what’s to write about: I swim, bike, or run. I eat. Training is a big part of my life, and so is food. Anyone who’s experienced “runger” in the peak mileage weeks of a marathon training cycle knows what I mean. (Not to mention “ranger,” which occurs if you don’t address runger, STAT.)

All jokes aside, though: what you eat and when has such a big impact on how well you recover from training. It’s a simple rule:

  • Within 30 minutes after workout that lasts for an hour or more (and is of higher intensity), you must eat something with carbs and a bit of protein.

Joe Friel gives a succinct, simple explanation of what to eat and why on his blog, and focuses more on recovery here.

Problem is, this is easier said than done: how many times have you you found yourself stuck in traffic on your way home from a long run or rushing to get work done, that snack forgotten until you realize you’re about to pass out or kill a coworker in a pang of ranger? Or you had the very best intention of grabbing a banana on your way out, but forgot?

Which brings me to my next point: the post-workout snack stash. One of my training buddies is excellent at this: she always has a bag full of healthy snacks in her car. I’m talking apples, home-made trail mix, freshly baked almond-flour protein cookies… seriously gourmet stuff. My friend is smart. We should all be like her.

But for those of us who forget to whip up a fresh batch of homemade granola before a run, here’s an alternative: stash a protein bar or two in your car. Eat when needed; replenish supplies. Voila!

Along those lines, my latest discovery comes via Fit Approach (a.k.a. #sweatpink) and Manitoba Harvest, the company that makes Hemp Hearts, a vegan raw hemp seed I’ve been adding to my oatmeal for that extra protein and omega-3 boost. Great product, but not so practical to eat on the go, right? Except now, we have the perfect on-the-go solution, a Hemp Heart Bar.

Hemp Heart Bar

I tried tree flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and apple-cinnamon – and they were all delicious, especially with the nutty “kick” from the hemp seed. (By the way, for those of you who’ve never tried hemp seed: no, you don’t smoke those. Hemp seeds are just like chia seeds or flaxseed, you add them to cereal, oatmeal or smoothies.)

Hemp Heart Bar Nutrition

So if you’re looking to try a new, organic and plant-based protein post-workout snack, grab a Hemp Heart Bar. Use discount code hhbarlaunch1015 for 15% off if you order from

And not least, check out the company’s photo contest for a chance to win a box of your favorite flavor (I recommend chocolate).

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

This is a sponsored product review opportunity from Manitoba Harvest and Fit Approach. Opinions are my own.

Yummy Coconut Water

Yummy Coconut Water
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A few weeks ago, an unmarked package of unknown origin showed up at our doorstep.

Seeing how I never, ever shop online, at all, I figured it’s just something I bought and forgot about. (It’s a great strategy, really, because you buy yourself stuff — and then surprise yourself with it. Highly recommended!)

But inside was this:My first thought was, “It is true, I have started shopping in my sleep.

My second thought was, “I have no idea where it came from, but I’ve tried this coconut water, and it’s yummilicious, I’m having it.” And so I opened a can and downed it right away. Yum!

Now, I love drinking coconut water after a long run or ride: it’s the perfect drink, all natural and rich in potassium and other micronutrients our bodies need after a big sweat. But we usually buy the 12-packs of Vita Coco from Costco, so I can stash an entire case in the trunk of the car for my post-run/ race needs.

The Zola brand definitely tastes sweeter than any other brand I’ve tried – I like sweet! – so now I have to think twice about the choice of coconut water on my next shopping trip. (Heck, though, I’d stock up on actual coconuts if there was an easy way to puncture them and drink the juice right out – so delicious!)

While I was contemplating all this with my sweet drink, certain people laid claim on the glasses. It’s all good, though, I’m not cool enough to pull them off, anyway.So why am I blabbing on about this? Because today I finally figured out who sent me the package! Many thanks to Zola (doh!) and Fit Approach, the company behind the Sweat Pink community, of which I’m a proud member. Mystery solved!

Do you like coconut water? What’s your favorite post-exercise drink?

Today’s workout:Nothing interesting, except that I finally bought fins to use for drills. Drills slow you down considerably, so the fins definitely help me get through them faster. Also, I like pretending I don’t have them on and can really swim a 50-yard lap (two lengths of the pool) in 30 seconds. Then I remind myself that real swimmers do that time without the help of fins – and I’ve got a long, long way to go yet, I mean swim.

Tomorrow is National Running Day! How will you celebrate?