Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: recovery

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com

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The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at http://www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
 
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How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”

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 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Running 101: What Is a Key Workout?

wise running logo 7_25_12A key workout is one where you are pressing close to the limits of what your body can do without too much strain.  The goal of a key workout is to cue your body to make changes in its processes, to get better at some particular task.  Adaptations that are often a goal of key workouts include:

  • improved running economy [efficient use of oxygen]
  • improved lactate clearance and/or tolerance
  • improved endurance at faster paces
  • improved oxygen delivery [stronger heart]
  • muscle growth & training
  • improved anaerobic threshold [pace at which your body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism]
  • capillary development
  • glycogen storage
  • fat utilization
  • mitochondrial growth
  • bone development
  • tendon development

When developing a training plan for a runner, I try to aim for two or three key workouts each week.  I place my key running workouts into 4 categories as outlined in the Getting Faster post:

  • speedwork [raw speed]
  • interval training [holding a faster pace for longer]
  • tempo runs [holding a specific pace longer]
  • long runs [endurance]

It is important to note that the adaptations that you get from a key workout do not happen during the key workout.  They happen in the days that follow.   A key workout requires at least one easy or rest day before another key workout should be attempted.  This is because you have pressed the limits of your body.  If you are in GREAT shape and you are below the age of 28, you might be able to handle 3 key workouts each week.  If you are in great shape and below the age of 55, you might be able to handle 5 key workouts in 2 weeks by alternating 2 and 3 key workouts each week.  [these ages vary by individual]

Remember This!

A key workout will not net the results you want if you do not plan for rest
and/or easy miles in the day(s) that follow the workout.

Remember that easy runs net benefits as well.  There are no junk miles.  The key workouts simply offer quicker adaptations.  A combination of key workouts, rest, and easy miles will provide the greatest benefit and quickest progress.

Stretching Before Running

wise running logo 7_25_12

When I was young, I stretched because my coaches told me to stretch. I have never been that  flexible, but I never really understood the benefits. Here are the things that we are typically told about stretching:

  • Stretching prior to any type of exercise gets the muscles ready for the more intense exercise that follows.
  • A well-stretched muscle moves through a full range of motion with less effort. Therefore, stretching prior to physical activity will help you conserve energy and thereby improve performance.
  • Because our muscles get cold and tight from hours of sitting or standing at our jobs, periodic stretching will keep the blood flowing and allow the muscles to move through a full range of motion.
  • A muscle is more flexible when it is warm and stretched, and it is less likely to tear or overstretch from an abrupt movement.
  • Stretching increases the blood supply to the muscles and joints.  This keeps the muscles supple and healthy.
  • After a workout, stretching your muscles will keep them from immediately shortening and tightening as they cool down.

stretchingIn high school, I ran both cross country and track. My cross country coach had us stretch before running and encouraged stretching after the workout. Our head track coach, however, made us run a mile first and then stretch. Both seem like pretty good ideas, but which is right? I have great respect for both of those coaches, so I am going to say that I agree with both coaches MOST of the time.

Right now, however, I am suffering a round of tight muscles in my calves. Over the past few weeks, when I stretched BEFORE the run it felt very artificial.  My muscles would not stretch unless I forced them. Bad idea! They just would not budge until I pushed to the point of pain… and the led to more pain and more tightness. In short, stretching a muscle that will not cooperate is a bad idea.

Does that mean that I should run without stretching? I tried. Bad idea. It just forced the muscle to stretch under duress, just like stretching before the run. That led to worse pain and increased tightness.

How do you stretch a muscle that is firmly against the idea? Stretching first is bad and stretching after a mile is bad… where do you go from there?

The Technical Truth about Stretching

An extensive meta-analysis of the research on stretching reaches two unavoidable truths:

  1. Static stretching, the old method of stretching and holding a stretch before your run, can reduce your power by as much as 5.5%.
  2. Dynamic stretching through gentle movement and gradually attaining your full range of motion is much safer and more productive.

You can find a lot of dynamic stretching ideas out on the web, but here is what is working for me:

  • Warm up the sore & tight muscles by slowly and carefully moving through their comfortable range first.  Not by running, but just gently going through your comfortable range of motion.
  • After the muscles begin to warm up, the comfortable range of motion will begin to gradually increase.
  • Take that warm-up/stretch combination as far as your muscles will comfortably allow in a few minutes.
  • Begin to run at an easy pace and gradually increase your speed.
  • Stop to do a little more dynamic stretching if you feel the need.

This may not be new to you, but I was never told to warm up the muscle and stretch simultaneously. I suppose you could say that I am employing a combination of the advice of both of my high school head coaches. It just goes to show that the lesson that you teach to youth may be lost on them in the moment, but they can keep learning from that advice years later.

I continue to have some tension in those muscles, but it gets better every day. When my muscles rebel, I placate them with my new process of warm-up & stretching.

If you have been struggling with a tight muscle and just can’t find the right process to loosen it up, you might give it a try.

Be careful. Don’t overstretch.

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The other item to add is about devices for stretching.   Here are the two products that I use to aid in the stretching process, not before a run but hours before or after.  They are both designed to work out knots in your muscles by rolling – like rolling out dough with a rolling pin.  You lay on the foam roller and use your body weight to apply pressure.  A lot of runners have found relief.  I most recently rescued my knees by using the foam roller.

foam roller

View Foam Rollers

the stick

View “The Stick”

The Stick, on the other hand, has handles and you press down to apply pressure.   I found this tool especially wonderful for my calves.  Oh, yes!

I hope these work for you as well as they have worked for me.  :)

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“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

Wise Resting: Playing It Safe

wise running logo 7_25_12

“You will be faster in the long run by playing it smart and safe today.”

I really want to run today, but I will not.

I have lots of pent up energy to expend.
I need to unwind from my busy day.
I feel the need to get outside and feel the breeze.

I feel the need to run, but I will not.

Yesterday I felt some pain in my heel area.  I have felt it on and off for a few weeks.  On most days, it has gotten better once I warmed up.  It has gotten better over time with a more careful stretching regimen and more careful running form.  It got a little better each day, until yesterday.  In my 7 of my tempo run yesterday, it started getting worse.  I was supposed to run 9 miles yesterday, but I remembered the warning given by Hal Higdon:

“If you have pain at the beginning of a run and it gradually gets better, then keep running.  If the pain gets worse as you go, then stop.  Walk.  Take a cab if you can.”

I was on the greenway and I didn’t have any cash on me anyway, so I did not take a cab.  I did walk 3/4 of a mile to my car.  I do not believe that I have a major injury, but that pain was a signal that major injury could be coming if I was not careful.  That is why my planned 9 mile tempo run became a 7 miler with an extra slow walk at the end.

After I returned home, my foot got an ice bath and some time elevated.  I took some ibuprofen and I looked at my running schedule.  I decided that today and tomorrow would be short and easy run days.  I have a half marathon on Saturday morning and I want to give this heel a rest.

This morning my heel was still feeling twinges of that pain.  Hence, I made the tough decision to let go of the idea of running today.  Full rest today, even though I had a rest day just two days ago.  I looked at my mileage for the week and thought about how I could make up the miles later.  No.  Bad idea.  I know better than that.  It is better to let go of those lost miles.  Full rest and consider those miles to be totally out of reach.

Yes, I will miss out on some of the adaptations that those miles could bring, some growth, some speed.  I have to choose to let that go.  That is speed that I will not gain for the marathon in March.  I have to let that go.

Remember This!

It is better to spend a day or two healing now rather than a month or two later because I made it worse by running through the wrong kind of pain.

When it is muscle pain because I am shredding it in a workout, then run on.  That will heal.  You can tell the difference between healthy workout pain and unhealthy injury pain.  Rest. Live to run another day.  You will be faster in the long run by playing it smart and safe today.

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Train hard. Race easy. Enjoy the run!
[when you can safely]

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The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

Ask P. Mark: Dealing with Shin Splints

Question 3 :   I’m currently using the “walk to running a 5K” plan from your book The Gift of Running. But I’m running into a minor problem and need some advice.   My shins are starting to feel sore during the running bits.

P. Mark’s Answer:  Shin splints come from a combination of poor form, running on hard surfaces, and changing intensity levels too fast.

As for form, the idea is to set your foot on the ground gently as you land.  A good guideline for this is the sound you make.  The quieter your foot is when it makes contact with the ground, the better your shins will be.

As for running surfaces, a nice rubber track is a very kind surface for running.  If that is not available, then remember this progression:

  • Grass and dirt are softer than gravel.
  • Gravel is softer than asphalt/blacktop.
  • Asphalt/blacktop is softer than concrete.
  • Stay away from concrete when you have shin splints!

If you are suddenly training much faster and/or farther than you have recently, this can also cause issues.

Remember: 
Fast progress leads to injuries!
Slow progress leads to health, happiness, & achievement!

It can take as long as two weeks before shin splints completely fade away.  To begin the process:

  1. Address the inflammation by icing your shins and taking anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.
  2. While running, shift to softer surfaces & slow down, being careful to land gently.
  3. Make sure you stretch all muscles properly before and after running and walking.

You can run with some pain, but it should not be severe and it should not get worse.  In the case of shin splints, the old adage of “No Pain No Gain” makes no sense.  If the pain is too intense, skip the running for a few days.  Taking the time now will pay off down the road.

Be good to your legs and you will once again enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

- Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

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Table of Contents – Gift of Running

Here is the final version of the table of contents of my new book “The Gift of Running

The book is is now available in both paperback & ebook

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store

Table of Contents

How to Read This Book 

Running Is a Gift for All

… A Precious Gift

…E Pluribus Run-em

……Where I Fall In the Spectrum of Runners

……Why am I writing a book on running?

…Receiving the Gift:  A Word to the Newbie Runner

Enhancing the Gift: Running Longer &/or Faster 

…Running Faster

…Running Longer

…Threshold Pace

……Threshold Pace and the Perfect Race

…Running a Marathon

…My Marathon Story:   From 5:35 to 3:27 in 18 months

Renewing the Gift: Motivation  

…Recapturing the Joy of Running

…Motivation: Getting Out of the Door

…Slaying the Specter of a Bad Run

…Potential, Risk, & Failure

…Racing as Motivation

…Aging Gracefully

……The Fountain of Youth

……Setting Age-Appropriate Goals

Renewing the Gift: Health

…Rest Days

…New Thoughts about Old Stretching

…Where to run: Surfaces, Sites, & Treadmills

…Philosophy of Pain

…RICE for Pain

…Weather Affects Running

…Staying Healthy in the Heat

…Running and Weight Loss

Giving Back: Community & Coaching 

…The Running Community

…Running Buddies

…You Will Never Run Alone

…Encouraging, Exhorting & Coaching

…Charity Fundraising

Training Schedules & Other Resources 

…What is a Training Plan?

…Following My Training Plans.

…From Walking to Running a 5K..

Training Programs:

- Walking to 5K
– Racing a 5K
– Racing a 10K
– Racing a Half Marathon
– Racing a Marathon

…The Right Stuff: Running Tools & Supplies

Wrapping Up the Gift 

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The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

Ice Bath for Runners: Benefits and Recommendations

Since I have been dealing with some minor injuries lately, one my friends suggested that I take ice baths after my runs.  She specifically mentioned it as being beneficial in terms of my plantar fasciitis.  I have heard of ice baths, but had not followed through up to this point… mostly because I have not had any significant injuries.  With the luck that I have had lately, however, it sounded like a good idea.

ice bathAs I was taking my very first plunge, I began to wonder:  “Is it worth it?”.  I resolved then and there to search for the scientific foundation of this method of treating injuries.  Here is what I found in therms of benefits and recommendations:

Benefits:

Many elite runners and not-so-elite running enthusiasts that consider ice baths to be beneficial based on their own experience.   They claim that it leads to a quicker recovery and less pain.  So how does it accomplish this?  After about 6 minutes in the icy water, your blood rushes to the area to rescue you from the cold.  This rush is what helps to flush out the metabolic debris that might otherwise take days to flush out.  In the meanwhile, the cold is reducing the inflammation in the area.  This combination makes ice cold baths after a big workout a hot idea!

Recommendations:

While the current research does not tell us what protocol is ideal for ice baths, we do know a few things.  The most important thing to remember is that ice baths of over 20 minutes can be detrimental.  You body will actually begin to break down after 20 minutes in ice cold water.  Most experts suggest that runners submerge their legs for 6-10 minutes, just long enough to feel the blood rush in to save the day.

Possible Con:

One study found that ice baths after 90 minutes of exercise actually hindered the refueling process.  This is really only an issue if you plan back-to-back days with long runs, which is not a good idea anyway.

Conclusion:

From my experience, the recommendations of friends, and the scientific evidence, I would conclude that it is a good idea.  I will continue the ice baths as I recover from runs over 90 minutes.

What experiences have you had with ice baths?

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“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

.

How Often Do You Race?

“A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.”  — Steve Prefontaine

  • I have running friends that race almost every weekend.
  • My kids’ high school track team will average over two meets per week for a couple of months.
  • Some folks run two marathons per month on the average.

Does all of this sound normal & healthy to you?  I have to say that they all sound crazy to me, but I know better.  Each of these folks have different reasons for doing what they are doing – reasons that make sense for them.

  • The road-runners out there every weekend find great joy in racing.  They love the crowds, the pandemonium, and the adventure of travel that comes with racing.  Frequent races make sense for these runners.
  • The track team is in its first year at my kids’ school, so they are trying to build experience.  The coaches want the kids to learn what track is all about, what racing is all about, and to begin to decide which type of track athlete they will become.  Frequent meets make sense for these kids.
  • The frequent marathoner is one who loves running the distance, loves to travel to new places, and is not in search of a personal record (PR) as much as just an enjoyable experience.  It makes sense to marathon as much as they want as long as they take it relatively easy.

As for me, I am driven for PRs.  I am not just trying to beat my personal records; I am trying to smash them into oblivion.  I want to be so much faster than last time that it makes people wonder what I ate for breakfast.  I am still early in my second running career and I am quite determined to reach my full potential.

With this as my basic philosophy, it is no wonder that I do not race every weekend.  First, it breaks my heart when I don’t PR.  Racing every weekend would not lead to PRs every time or even close to that.  More important is the fact that one race can take away two or three training days – one for rest before the race, one for the race, & one for the recovery run after the race.  While those days may count a little towards training, my training always has its biggest & most important workout of the week on Saturday.  It is the day I have the most time to get it done.  Take out the weekends & I will make very little progress each week.  I might try this approach after I feel that I have reached my full potential, but I am nowhere near that point just yet.

At some point, I would love to tour the country running marathons as frequently as I can.  Experts say that you can run as many as 20 marathons per year without a problem if you only run at 90% of your potential.  If I have the time and money later in life, this sounds like a lot of fun.

For now, I am enjoying chasing down the dream of running as fast as I can.  I know that I will never see a 2:10 marathon, but I want to see if I can get down into the 2:30 region.  I want to beat that PR for the half marathon that I set in 1984.  I am still just over 10 minutes away from that mark.  Maybe by the end of this year?

That means I have to keep the races down to once a month or less.  This year, I plan to run 2 marathons, 2 or 3 half marathons, a few 5Ks, and just one 10K.

Here is what I already have on the schedule from now until the end of 2012:

Apr 1          Knoxville Marathon (Knoxville, TN)
Apr 27        Dogwood Mile  (Knoxville, TN)
May 26       KTC Expo 10K  (Knoxville, TN)
Jul 3           Pilot Fireball Classic 5K  (Knoxville, TN)
Oct  21       Seven Bridges Marathon  (Chattanooga, TN)
Nov 18       Secret City Half Marathon  (Oak Ridge, TN)

Now let’s hear from you!  What is your philosophy of racing?  How often do you race?

 

“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Muscle and Foot Relief: The Stick Rolling Massager

In the ongoing saga of tight calves and the foot problems they have caused, I have used several tools and tricks:

  • Stretching my already injured parts made things worse.
  • My plantar fasciitis night splints loosened things up enough for some temporary relief. I would recommend them to anyone with a long-term case of PF.
  • Rolling my foot across cold golf balls or frozen water bottles also offered temporary relief.

The one that really made the break-through and led to long-term healing, however, was “The Stick.”  This tool was recommended several times by my cousin who works in the field of therapeutic massage and sports medicine.  At first I resisted the notion that such a simple device could make a difference.  After all, it just looks like a few pieces of plastic tubing and a stick with handles.  After going through the list of tools and methods above, however, I was desperate!

I finally heeded my cousin’s advice and ordered The Stick from Amazon.com.  My Stick arrived in less than a week.  When it arrived I was both excited and disappointed.  It was smaller than I had imagined and it really did look like another fad piece of health equipment.

Wow!  Was I wrong!  There were not many instructions given, a sentence or two of specifics, just one warning, and a lot of suggestions via pictures.  Still, I had shelled out my $30, so it was time to try it.  After I rolled my tense, sore calves for about 45 seconds I could already feel it working its magic.  The Stick became my companion for the next week.  I rolled my calves when I first got up out fo bed, before and after a workout, and right before going to sleep at night.

I still carry tension in my calves as I always have, but The Stick helps me roll a lot of that tension away.  It is also great on cramps.  I saw one on television the other day during a college football game.  A trainer was working on the hamstring of the quarterback using The Stick.  I may not be an elite athlete, but I treat myself like one.  :)

As for my plantar fasciitis, it is fading away and almost gone.  I attribute this to my ongoing use of The Stick Rolling Massager.

Happy Calves = Happier Feet

Happy Running!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & ebook

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store

BANA Berry Flavored Hydration Drink

Serious hydration is the promise of BANA.  Serious hydration is what has been needed all summer.  I tried out BANA last week on a serious 14 mile run.  I was running with a new friend and he likes to run fast.  I normally run my long runs at about a 10 minute mile or maybe a little slower.  He wanted to “keep it slow” at an 8 or 9 minute pace.  :)

I drank one bottle (500 ml; 16.9 fl oz) of BANA before we met for the run.  Before you drink it, you need to know what it is:  a drink based on the concept of an IV.  A doctor decided that if dehydrated people needed IV fluids, then serious athletes probably should be receiving the contents of an IV.  He altered the formula a bit and added cherry flavoring.  As you might imagine, it has a high sodium and potassium content as well as many other electrolytes.  This means that the berry taste has a very salty character.

I was wearing my fuel belt with its four bottles full of BANA to drink while we were running.  And run we did!  We covered about 14 miles at a 8:23 pace.  As you might anticipate on an August morning, I was sweating like a pig.  Hence I was very happy to gulp down the salty mix.

Important detail:  I normally use Hammer Endurolyte capsules on a long run to replace my electrolytes.  Without Endurolytes, I get leg twitches at least and my legs just shut down at worst.  On this run, I was testing out BANA as the electrolyte replacement – so I did not use any Endurolytes.

At the end of this very challenging run, I chugged another bottle of BANA as fast as I could.  No twitching muscles, no cramps, and my muscles felt fine.  2 points for BANA!

I had one remaining bottle of BANA that I saved for after today’s run, a 20 mile jaunt.  I did use Eundurolytes, but apparently not enough of them.  About 20 minutes after completing the run, my leg twitches started up.  I had forgotten to drink that last bottle of BANA.  Once I realized what was going on, I wobbled as quickly as I could to get the bottle and downed it in about 20 seconds.  In about 15 minutes, my leg twitches had stopped and my leg muscles were also generally more relaxed.  Thank you BANA.

They call it “Serious Hydration.”  I call it hydration with a serious supply of vital electrolytes.  None of the other sports drinks that I have ever tried have packed such a powerful punch.

Based on these experiences, I would recommend BANA to anyone that has had issues with electrolytes and hydration.  It works on the road and is an effective recovery drink.

Happy Running

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & ebook

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store

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