Review: Zombies, Run! 5K Training

I typically exclusively review books, but…I’m gonna make an exception for Zombies, Run! Yeah, it’s an app, but it’s an app that tells a story — it just also happens to teach you how to get in shape and motivates you to run.

It turns out, someone yelling “zombies, run!” in your ear is powerful motivation to get running.

Zombies, Run! is an app for iPhone/iPod and Android devices. I, being a complete non-runner and couch-potato enthusiast, just finished with the beginner level, Zombies, Run! 5K Training. When I bought it, it was $2.99 — the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent.

Basically, it’s a interactive story, in that the voices in your head(phones) will tell you to do things and you’re expected to actually do them. In participating, you unlock more of the story. It’s great motivation if you a) like zombies, b) like British accents, c) have no idea how to run and d) are bored by normal workouts.

In other words, what’s not to love?

Zombies, Run! 5K Training begins when your helicopter crash-lands outside one of the few remaining human settlements. You’ve got to shuffle to the base before the zombs get you. From there, the doctor looks you over and breaks the news: everyone on the base has to earn their keep somehow. Luckily (or, unfortunately, depending on perspective) a slot among the runners has just opened up. Over the next 8 weeks, you will train 3x a week with the doctor until you’re in prime getting-supplies-and-fleeing-from-zombies condition.

Fun, yeah? It’s great. Zombies, Run! 5K Training has action, adventure, romance, tragedy, mystery and tons of humor. It’s so good, I started having dreams that the base needed me on the days I wasn’t running. I hate having to skip a day because I want to know what’s going to happen next.

If you think you have even an inkling that you might like learning how to run while hearing a zombie story, download it. Right now. You won’t regret it.


Now, because I was a total newbie to all things running, I screwed up a couple of times. I’ve made notes that might help someone else. Learn from my mistakes, people!

  • Don’t try to run when the temperature is over 105 degrees.
    I didn’t finish the program in 2 months, as scheduled, because Texas summers are so hot you feel like dying every time you inhale. I had to take a break for a few weeks to let things cool down, totally throwing off my momentum.
  • Buy some cheap athletic clothes.
    When I first started, I had the attitude “I’m just going to sweat in it, who cares what it looks like?” Well, it turns out that stuff made for running is actually more comfortable to run in. Who knew, right? Besides, if you only have one shirt, you are not going to want to put it on by the third workout after it’s been twice christened by sweat. Buy yourself some shirts.
  • Don’t run on uneven paths.Another mistake that delayed my workout–in trying to hide from the painfully scorching sun, I once switched my jogging path to the unpaved, but far shadier, one nearby. Turns out your ankles aren’t supposed to move horizontally when you step down. I was limping for weeks. Don’t do it, kids.
  • Download some heavy-bass music.
    In between story sections, you’ll be able to listen to music. You want to pick something that has a beat you can fall into step with. Look up some running music suggestions — the internet is full of them–and pick the ones that make you happy; you’ll be hearing them a lot. My personal favorites (it’s possible I had a theme in mind):

    • “Bad Moon Rising” -Creedence Clearwater Revival
    • “Toxic” – Britney Spears
    • “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen
    • “I Ran (So Far Away)” – Flock of Seagulls
  • Buy yourself a case so you don’t have to hold anything.
    The one time I had to hold my phone while I ran was the most stressful sucktastic thing ever. Don’t do it. Besides, you’ll get your sweat all over it. It’s not worth it.
  • Do it!
    It’ll be great, seriously. I feel so much stronger than I did before I started, and I have more energy, too. I can’t recommend this app enough.

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