You’re busy, or ill, and you miss a run. No big deal. Then you miss another, and then another, and suddenly it’s weeks or even months since you ran. The effort it then takes to get started again is immense. You know it will be hard and you’ll feel unfit and wish you hadn’t left it so long. You feel cross with yourself and say it won’t happen again and then a few months later you’re in the same boat. Are you with me on this? We all need some tips to get back to exercise from time to time. How to get exercise to stick and how to make running a regular habit are million dollar questions!

I feel well qualified to write this post! So many times over the years I’ve felt running slipping away from me. For various reasons I’ve missed runs and just got out of the habit. It’s easy to see why people give up. It can feel like a mountain to climb to restart and if you’re new to running and haven’t been fully hooked and experienced its true magic then it can feel impossible.

I thought I’d share my thought processes when I’m in this situation. This is what I say to myself to help me stay calm and get back to it when weeks are drifting by and I know deep down I want to be running again. Here’s an insight into the conversations I have with myself! It might not be right for you, you know yourself, but this is how I handle it.

You’re only human. Give yourself a break. This happens all the time to everyone. It’s not you being weak or pathetic. You manage so much, you give so much to others, life is busy and you’re doing the best you can. You aren’t some kind of superhuman who always gets things 100% the way you want them to be. Please be kind to yourself and accept that you can’t always be perfect. This doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a disaster. There are so many things you can’t fix, this is one you can so chill out and think positive.

It’s not as bad as you think. A few weeks or months off running doesn’t take you right back to the beginning. You aren’t a non-runner again. You have a higher baseline of fitness than you did. Even if it’s an effort to begin with, it won’t be as hard as the first time. You know what, within a couple of runs you’ll start to find your running feet again. Don’t catastrophize!

No one is coming. The first time I read this phrase from Mel Robbins I was a bit taken aback. There are always people who can help but I realised ultimately she’s right. It’s up to you. If you want to create change, to take steps forward, to make progress, then it’s you who has to do it. You can sit here and wait for someone to make it all happen for you but ultimately that isn’t how it works, it’s you who has the power. You need to make the decision and take the action. If you’re doubting yourself, just look at what else you’ve done in life. You can totally do THIS.

What will be better? Take a moment to think about why you love running. What it’s given you. How a run makes you feel. You know you won’t regret it. Even if it feels hard, you’ll be so pleased you went. The fresh air, the things you’ll see, the endorphins that will boost your mood. Running makes you feel you CAN. Energy, inspiration, gratitude, calm, it’s all there waiting for you. Don’t let running disappear from your life.

How will you feel if you don’t go? Still not convinced? OK, fine, don’t do it then. Don’t run. Just give it up. It’s absolutely your decision. No one is making you do this. You don’t ever have to run again if you don’t want to. I think you’re missing out and the longer you leave it the harder it will be to get back into it. In a couple of hours’ time you’ll be wishing you just went and hadn’t made such a big deal out of it, hadn’t come up with lots of ‘reasons’ why it wasn’t a good idea. Just sit with the thought of not going for a bit and see what comes up.

Just go for one short run. Tell you what, don’t think about life changing stuff or setting a new target. There’s no need to start searching for marathons for motivation. It’s overwhelming. All I want you to do is to go for one short run. Shove your kit on and go out the door and do ten minutes out and ten minutes back. Don’t go fast. If you feel awful, just slow down. You don’t need to wear your sports watch if you don’t want to. There’s no need to do any kind of planning. You can call a friend to come with you if you want but just go for one short run and we’ll take it from there …

I’d love to know if you think like me or if you try out my conversation with yourself. What are your tips for getting back on track when it’s all gone haywire?

There are so many hurdles when it comes to running regularly. From mindset issues to health niggles and barriers. if you’ve enjoyed this post you’ll love my book  Run Well: Essential health questions and answers for runners. I’ll help you break down all your running and health barriers. Published by Bloomsbury and available to buy now. 

Featured image by Joaquín Bustillo from Pixabay

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