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When you’ve taken a break from running, starting again can feel like starting from the very beginning. It doesn’t matter whether you took a break simply because you didn’t feel like running, or whether you took a break due to injury, illness or pregnancy; your body simply won’t be ready to get straight back into running from the same point that you were at.
Your muscles won’t be used to running. Your lungs will have taken a break. Your heart might not be ready for the effort of intense exercise. If you try to run the way you used to then you’ll quickly end up exhausted, or might experience an injury or pain as a result.
To help you to get back into running, and to keep you motivated when it feels like you’re back where you started, take a look at smartphone apps.
Some smartphone apps are there to act as a personal trainer. These include Couch to 5k apps, which are very popular with new runners. These apps give you clear goals, building your activity slowly from one day to the next, so that you’re not encouraged to push yourself too hard.
Other apps will allow you to record and analyse routes and data. These include Endomondo, Map My Run and RunKeeper, amongst many other similar offerings. If you take something of a scientific interest in your running then viewing your run data including speed, fastest mile, total length and altitude can provide the motivation that you need.
Finally, there are gamification apps. These are intended to make running fun, and might be particularly useful if you’re a fan of challenges and rewards. If you don’t enjoy running for the sake of it, these apps can also help you to feel like you’re achieving something different. Gamification apps link games and life together, and include Fitocracy (where you score points and unlock achievements for being active) and FitRPG which links with Fitbit devices so that you can create a character, level up and buy items.
Stick to one. Or two, at a push. Many applications encourage conflicting goals, so it’s important not to overwhelm yourself with too many challenges or too many apps to keep track of. You’ll find it much easier to stay motivated if you only need to open one app, to see what you’ve achieved.
Think carefully about your goals and personality. Are you the type of person that needs help to take things slowly? If you run the risk of pushing yourself too hard, then something like the Couch to 5k app could help you to ease back into running. If you’re good at controlling your distance and speed increases without that extra help, then something that simply tracks and records your routes might be better suited to your needs.
Meanwhile, if you’re reluctant to get back into running and you need an extra push, maybe it’s time to outrun a horde of zombies or scout out territories for battle preparation?