I’m currently training for the 20km of Brussels. I’ve always been pretty fit thanks to pretty much constant basketball trainings and refereeing through the years, as well as being tall, but I’ve never been that into running. The furthest I’ve run before is 10km, and I much prefer shorter runs of 5km or so. Still, I decided to run with Doctors Without Borders this year (sponsor me!), so I thought I should at least train a bit before the event to avoid total embarrassment or injury.
As part of the training, I decided it could be useful to download a run tracker app instead of estimating the distance I’d run and time it had taken. After checking a few lists of suggested apps, I decided to take a chance and download one that I’d heard about before: Zombies, Run!.
There are two things you should know about me before I give my opinion on the app:
- I love computer games in general, especially adventure games.
- I recently became mildly obsessed with zombies after seeing The Girl with all the Gifts at the opening of the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.
Zombies, Run! is an app that aims to make you want to go for a run by making it more exciting. In the game you are one of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse; you play by running or walking in the real world. It’s more or less a radioseries in which each episode tells a short story or one event: often this involves running a mission to collect supplies, investigating movement, finding out more about how the zombie apocalypse started. Throughout each episode you pick up supplies with which you can build your base, as well as ‘artefacts’ which help you piece together the history and potential cause of the outbreak. Between each broadcast you can listen to your own music (the app works both with music directly on your phone, and with external players like Spotify).
There are also some extra features that are useful: you can use the app either with GPS tracking or by counting steps (for if you’re running on a treadmill), but also with no tracking turned on (I’ve used it while doing an at-home workout, for example). You can set the length of the episode by time taken or distance run, so it’s very personalisable. But the coolest feature in my opinion is the ‘Zombie Chases’ feature: when this is turned on, you get random zombie chases during your run which require you to speed up (20% faster than your average time over the previous 90 seconds) in order to evade the zombies. I am normally absolutely terrible at forcing myself to do interval training, but a voice in my ear telling me that zombies are 50m behind me is a great incentive to speed up!
I was a bit apprehensive before downloading the app that I’d find it too scary (I’m a huge wimp when it comes to this sort of thing) but you can’t die – even if zombies catch you, you just lose supplies – and the episodes also have lots of humorous scenes in them. That said, I don’t know if I’d be willing to use it at night running through a forest!
There are two versions of the app: the free version, which gives you the first four episodes for free and then one episode a week after that; or the pro version, which is a monthly or annual subscription and lets you download any episodes you want, as well as giving you a few other features. I downloaded the pro version for the month of May as I’m trying to work my way through the entire first season: my aim is to listen to the 20km race special broadcast during the 20km at the end of the month! After that though, I’ll probably drop back down to the free version, as I don’t normally run more than once a week during basketball season.
For me, the game has really worked: I’m now actually excited to go out for a run, rather than putting it off, because I want to know what happens next in the story! I’m also much less likely to give up and walk, partly because of the speed tracker but also because picking up items during my run motivates me. The game might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it’s been a great help in training and I have been recommending it to everyone I meet since downloading it. So if you do try it – enjoy!