4 Ways to Revive Your Workout Slump This Fall

Fallen out of your regular training routine? How to stage a strong comeback. Fallen out of your regular training routine? How to stage a strong comeback. Even the most devoted athletes can get sidetracked from their routine by crazy deadlines, long-awaited vacations, or (worse) nagging injuries. But rather than fret over how long it's going to take you to return to speed, it's important to keep such detours in perspective. "You shouldn't feel guilty about taking a break from working out," says Marissa Tiamfook, a trainer based in Los Angeles. "Focus on the fact that you want to get back out there." If for whatever reason your gym shoes have gathered dust, here's how to get back on track.

Overcome the Mental Blocks That Hold You Back

SIDETRACKED BY: A jammed schedule
You've ditched your workouts to make time for longer hours at the office or to plan a big event. The time away from exercising has left you tired and grumpy. "Science has proven that working out is a potent stress-buster," says Tiamfook. "But once momentum has stopped, it's hard to crank it up again."

COMEBACK PLAN: Sign up for a class
Find a yoga or zumba class and sign up. Being around other active women will rub off. Heading out with a friend can also help you recommit to training. Or try some retail therapy: Investing in a cool pair of shoes or downloading new music can get you excited about working out again.

Best New Gym Classes and Why They Work So Well

SIDETRACKED BY: Vacation
You had fun, but your gym shoes didn't exactly make it out of your suitcase and you started counting the pineapple wedges in your piña coladas as a fruit serving. "Taking a break for one to two weeks won't deteriorate fitness levels," says Tiamfook. "You may feel out of shape, but what's gotten flabby is your attitude toward exercising."

COMEBACK PLAN: Dress the part
"Don't just stare at your gym shoes, put them on," says Dahlkoetter. "Even if you only manage to wear them to the grocery store, it's the first step back to your routine." Plan unique workouts that feel like an adventure to bring the vacation vibe home. Find a path around a nearby lake to jog on, for example, or head through vibrant parts of your city and people-watch as you move. "Once you're reminded of how much enjoyment you get from training, it will be easier to try harder workouts," she says.

Check Out the Best Shoes for Your Workout

SIDETRACKED BY: A budding relationship

You've traded Saturday-morning exercise sessions for flipping pancakes in your PJs with your new flame. "Working out often falls down the priority list when you're wrapped up in a new relationship," says Tiamfook. "The trick is to recognize that one of the many reasons your partner is into you is because, as an active woman, you're strong and goal-oriented."

COMEBACK PLAN: Exercise together
Studies show that couples who exercise together are more likely to stick to their fitness goals. If your new partner is interested in trying jogging, great--take him or her out for a short run, suggests Hamilton. If possible, plan your route so you end at a favorite coffee spot. If running isn't his thing, schedule a together-but-separate workout. You can hit the treadmill while he takes a Spin class.

Follow these tips that help you Join the Pack

SIDETRACKED BY: An injury
Whether shin splints hampered you for two weeks or a stress fracture kept you out for three months, athletes returning from injury need to monitor their enthusiasm while giving their body time to fully recover. "Active women who get injured are often in a pretty good groove," says Hamilton. "The forced break in their routine is understandably frustrating. Anxious to resume the habit, many often try to pick up exactly where they left off."

COMEBACK PLAN: Start slow

"After you've been given the go-ahead [by a doctor] to exercise again, it's common to go out with gusto," says Hamilton. No matter how good you feel, readjust your expectations and hold back. Otherwise "you could be setting the stage for your next injury, and that's the ultimate motivation zapper," she says. Mastering shorter, lighter workouts as you return will help your body slowly rebuild strength and endurance--just what it needs, says Hamilton.

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Force of Habit
Here's how to build an exercise routine again.

1 Set a Cue
Doing the same thing before every workout will prime your body and brain to anticipate what's to come, says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. "Even if you can't workout at the same time every day, you can use the same cue to flick your 'time to exercise' switch," he says.

2 Reward Yourself
"Giving yourself a reward after a workout will help establish the habit," he says. Pick anything from a long shower, a favorite smoothie, or the endorphin rush-but make it consistent. "The cue will trigger both your workout and a craving for the reward."

3 Repeat
New habits are formed through repetition. "It takes practice and effort to learn a new routine," Duhigg says. In fact, he says, "for the first couple of weeks, your body doesn't know it loves training. But once you get into a habit, it will exist your entire life."

TELL US: Be honest--how long has it been since your last regular workout?

--By Jessica Girdwain, Runner's World

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