Running for your life

Well over a year ago I started running. The reason behind it is still a bit of a mystery to me. For years I’ve proclaimed that I absolutely refuse to run. Even though I love exercise and being outside, for a long time I still stubbornly refused to run. I believed running was one of those things that was just not suitable for me, that I just wouldn’t like it, and wouldn’t be good at it, and… However, I think it’s that same stubbornness that got me running in the end. Because what do you mean I can’t do the thing?! I will prove to you that I can do the thing.

After two false starts (a running related knee injury and an unrelated ankle injury) I finally got to a decent level of running, thanks to the Couch25K program. There are a lot of apps out there for different operating systems that help you get from zero to running 5k straight in a couple of months. Couch25K got me from a complete non-runner to running 35 minutes/6K non-stop in about three months (technically the program is 8 weeks, but running three times a week was incompatible with my schedule soooo…).

These days I’m running anywhere from 8k-10k twice a week (apparently anything is possible). Still, my attention span for anything is… short, at best. I have this newfound love for running, but how on earth am I going to stay interested?

Apparently the answer is: getting chased by zombies.

Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home.
And you have another mission — one they don’t know about…

Zombies, Run!

Screenshot of season 1, episode 1The Zombies, Run! app is a mix between a fitness app, a game, and a podcast/audio adventure in which you actually play a role. As Runner 5 you are send on missions in a post-zombie apocalypse world.

You can do missions at your own pace by running, walking, biking, or even sitting on your couch (but I recommend giving running a try!). While you run, you collect items with which you can build your own base (which is actually not important for the rest of the game, but fun nonetheless). More importantly, with every mission you advance the plot line!

There are regular season missions, race missions, supply missions, interval training, etc etc, so the options are endless. You can tweak your runs by setting either distance or time (for example, you can make a run last 20 minutes, or 5k). Getting chased by zombies during your run is optional, but if you opt in, you will have to run x % faster the moment the zombies are on your heels. You can choose to track your run with GPS or set an approximate speed, and you can opt to get the statistics any other running app gives you (time, distance, speed, etc.).

Here's my Abel Township base. Kind of proud!During your run, you will occasionally hear the story play out (usually every few minutes or so, but this depends on the distance or time you’ve set). You can choose to listen to your own music in between, using whichever app you prefer, or listen to the in-app music through ‘Radio Abel’. The best thing is that you can download missions and Radio Abel beforehand, so you don’t have to use mobile data while running!

The app can be used for free, in which case you will get the first 3 missions and a new mission every week. Paying gives you extra fun stuff and more flexibility (any mission whenever you want them, for example), so I happily shelled out the money for a yearly subscription (not something I do lightly).

A+++++

In my opinion, Zombies, Run! is perhaps the most fun app I’ve ever used (and again, I don’t say that lightly). It’s a great way to gamify your run and improve your motivation as well as your fitness levels. Most importantly, the plot is brilliant and you will soon be eager to get out and run. But be careful, as you will inevitably get attached to the characters 😉

Currently I’ve finished all of season 1, including the 5k and 10k races, and am halfway through season 2. I mostly choose the shortest time available for a mission, so I can finish multiple missions on a run (usually 2-3). There are over 200 episodes available so I won’t be finishing anytime soon! The app has really motivated me to run more regularly and also further. I upped my distance from 8k to 10k thanks to this app and running is no longer a chore.

The app has everything I want from a running/fitness app. I especially love being able to play my own music (I had too much fun making a zombie apocalypse playlist on Spotify, not gonna lie) while still enjoying the story. The only thing that could potentially make the app better is integration with FitBit. However, Zombies, Run! isn’t a heavy app so I can easily run it at the same time as Spotify and also track my route in the FitBit app without draining my battery (my average run is about an hour and only sucks about 10% of the battery of my iPhone).

The book

If an awesome app isn’t enough yet, there’s also a rather hilarious companion book out there, titled Zombies, Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency. The book is set up as a government-issued survival guide and it’s awesome.

The book contains fitness tips, both for indoor workouts and outdoor activities such as running, cycling and the likes. It’s got some good templates for workout schedules, which looks especially useful if you’re an absolute beginner and a bit shaky on where to start! There’s a whole section on nutrition as well.

But if you’re not looking for that kind of information, the book is still great for it’s dystopian feel. It’s both fun and ‘serious’, and absolutely perfect if you like imagining you’re in the middle of the zombie apocalypse 😉 The book is mostly standalone so you don’t need to be familiar with the app to enjoy it.

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