Have you ever trained hard for an event and then thought, ‘I’ll take a week off and get back to it’? Soon, ‘I’ll start on Monday’ becomes months, life gets in the way, and your fitness levels have slumped.

As time off adds up, it becomes more and more difficult to get started again. You begrudgingly squeeze yourself into your running bottoms – you no longer need to use the tie string round the waist – and you feel like you’ve failed.

But remember, you’re not a failure. Why wait until Monday? You can start again now – here’s how:

Set yourself small goals:
Getting out of the door is the hardest part. Pick two or three nights a week to exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s walking, swimming, running, cycling, or a fitness class. It’s the routine and mindset we are working on here. I’d aim for around half an hour to start with.

Start small:
Say, for instance, you decide you are going to go out Mon / Wed / Fri and run two miles. Hey, you may not even manage to run the full two miles – who cares?  You’re out there and you are doing it. Stick to it and you will get there.

Gradually increase:
Once you are into your routine see how you feel and increase your distances/time from there. It could be that you go from run/walking 2 miles to actually running 2 miles three times a week. Increase slowly – maybe change 2 of your runs up to 2.5 or 3 miles or add in a weekend run as well.

Don’t get carried away:
Try not to go too far too soon – it increases the risk of injury and injury means you’ll be back to square one and we don’t want that! Rest days are also important.

Don’t compare yourself to others:
Your old running buddies are regularly smashing out 10k runs. You know, because you keep getting the notifications on mapmyrun / Strava. Good for them, but switch those notifications off. Go at your one pace.

Sign up for a race:
It’s a goal to work towards. There’s nothing more motivating than that seeing ‘5k / 10k / half marathon/marathon’ in bold letters in your diary

Make it social:
Join a running club or a fitness class. You are more likely to stick to it if you’ve agreed to train with a friend. Plus you can have a chat on the way round!

Don’t quit:
They say it takes 3 weeks to form a routine – this will be the toughest. Get through that and you are hopefully onto a winner.