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Twenty-eight. That’s the number of days I have left until I tackle the Broad Street Run for the first time. Everyone tells me it’s so much a fun. “It’s downhill,” they say. “You’re an athlete; you’ll be fine.”

I love being in the fitness industry, but I seriously struggle with running on a consistent basis. I know the benefits—among them that endorphin-fueled “runner’s high.” Trouble is, I’ve never run more than seven miles at one time—unless I’m chasing someone or being chased, thanks to my love of soccer.

I got myself into this mess when I told my sister I’d run it with her if she got me into the lottery. And with my Irish luck, I won a spot. Here I am, four weeks away from May 7, and …

We all have fitness struggles, and my main goal with this new blog is to offer realistic ways to work through them. Let’s start with the basics—some common mistakes we make in the gym that can undermine our success.

1. Working out alone. If you think you’re not a “class” person, you haven’t found the right class. Working out alone can be exactly what it sounds like—lonely. Classes, on the other hand, hold you accountable, keep you consistent, and are a great way to meet like-minded people.

The group dynamic can be intimidating—I get that. Running is intimidating for me, but when I drag myself out there and get moving, it really does help clear my head and I’m glad I did it. With the variety of classes these days, you can experience so many different things. Wake up your body and try something different. 

2. So much for stretching. Stretching is just as important as the workout itself. It helps prevent injury, decreases soreness and speeds recovery. Time is the main reason why most of us don’t stretch. Find the time to stretch. It will change how your body feels on a daily basis.

Before working out, opt for dynamic stretches—walking lunges, toe-touches, shuffles. These basics will warm up the body efficiently. After a workout, you want to incorporate static stretches. Sit with your legs straight in front of you, and reach your hands to your toes. Trying not to bounce, and hold the pose for 15-30 seconds. Butterfly stretches help with IT band soreness and tightness. From the seated position, put the soles of your feet together and push down on your inner knees with both elbows.

3. Not weighting it out. Strength training is an absolute must. For those worried that they’ll bulk up from pumping iron, it won’t happen—unless you combine heavy lifting with excessive calorie intake. Lifting weights can increase lean body mass, which increases the number of overall calories you burn during the day. When you step off the elliptical or treadmill, the calorie-burn stops the second you’re off the machine. After you lift weights, it can continue for hours. Most importantly, your metabolism gets a boost.

Adding a few simple movements to your routine can bring results. These three are about as basic as they come—but they get the job done.

Squat with Bicep Curl and Press

Tricep Dips 

Chest Press with Dumbbells

The common overarching theme here is to make time for you. Schedule workouts on a calendar. Do something—and do it for you. I have 30 days to prepare for Broad Street. What can you do in those 28 days to challenge yourself?

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