What to do when your running comes off the tracks...

I get it. It happens to us all, and, usually when we least expect it...

Our exercise and weight-loss efforts are doing really well and then suddenly something happens;- injury, work, family or something else sidelines us.

All of these things are part of our lives and our sport, but how you deal with them can effect the impact they have on you. Don't wallow in frustration - be positive, proactive and keep the belief that you'll return to fitness.

One of the most common fears is that when our running becomes derailed it can be easy to start adding the pounds again.

Some of us carry on with our eating routine that fuels our running even though we are not lacing up. For others, the absence of the stress release that running provides leaves them more vulnerable to the call of junk food.

This need not be the case though, and assuming you will put on weight even though you are not running, is not a foregone conclusion. Here is how to prevent the number on the scales going up when your mileage goes down.

1. Identify the source

When we are not running we need to be extra vigilant about our calorie intake. Where are your extra calories coming from? Have your portions grown too large? Are you grazing all day or eating whatever is to hand in the fridge when you take a break. Be honest with yourself. It may be humbling but often we need to face the truth about what we are consuming

2. Stop the emotional eating & drinking

Consider when you might be snacking simply to relive boredom, stress or other uncomfortable emotions (this is especially important in lockdown). List calorie free strategies you can use to relive those feelings. Studies show that waiting as little as two minutes can help to make the cravings dissipate.

3. Keep moving

If you can still remember exercise - even at a lower intensity - do it at the same time of day you'd usually run, so you get the comfort of your routine. If you can't work out, try to incorporate more activity when you can. Walk to the shop instead of driving. Focus on your step count.

4. Seek the benefits elsewhere

Remember that aside from a calorie burn, running also provides a bio-mechanical reset. Studies have shown that thirty minutes of physical exercise inoculates you against stress. It can also provide social time and just a few easy miles are enough to give you a mood-boosting sense of accomplishment. If you're facing time when you can't run, make a list of running benefits and work out how you can achieve them in a different fashion. Meet a friend when you would usually group run and have a take-away coffee and a walk (just watch the milk, syrup and sugar intake etc.) or use that time for reflective practice to relieve stress.

5. Plan ahead

It's hard to make healthy choices when you walk through the door or haven't left yourself enough time before you sit at your desk at home and end up shouldering the stresses of the day. By planning ahead you'll increase your chances of eating right. Try mapping out the week's dinners on Friday after work and book your online delivery slot or visit the supermarket with a targeted list of foods. Eat before you shop online or go to reduce and prevent impulse purchases when hungry. Do some of the preparation ahead of time so you don't give into easily available foods such as biscuits, crips, chocolate etc.

6. Address your weaknesses

Use the time off to strengthen areas of fitness where you may be weak. It's a good time to start an On-line Strength Training Class or a 15-minute Express Workout programme.

7. Stop being too hard on yourself

Finally, give yourself a break please: Research published in The Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology found that after indulging in a doughnut, dieters with 'self compassion' could hold back on further eating better than those who focussed on negative implications of their indulgence. If, after an off-the-diet chocolate biscuit, you are filled with feelings of hopelessness, self hatred and regret, chances are you will resign yourself to failure and, in an effort to feel better, finish the whole packet. But imagine if you are counselling a friend, who has just finished the same biscuit, you are more likely to assure them that one biscuit won't ruin the diet and that everyone goes of the rails sometimes. Look at your food diary, you will see that 99% of the time you are getting right, then you can start again. You can calm down and put the biscuits away. The same goes for running. if you hit the wall before finishing a run and have to shuffle home, the demoralisation can be paralysing, but if look at your training diary and see how many miles you have covered, or days you have run, you'll see that one bad day does not define your running and is no big deal.

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