A review by the Cyborg
I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but it’s worth mentioning again: I am not a runner. Yes, I know that my infrequent entry into regular events such as the Stromlo Running Festival, or Canberra Times Fun Run may belie that statement, however, if you dig a little deeper and view the results of those events, you will see the proof. I am not a runner.
By and large throughout my life this hasn’t been a problem. There are other, far more comfortable ways of getting around, such as driving, public transport, riding, even walking. But of late things have changed, necessitating a rethink to my running reluctance. And this has absolutely nothing to do with being beaten up Mt Stromlo by a little girl.
Now, one of the reasons I don’t consider myself a runner is, well, I don’t like it, I find it incredibly boring, which is only exacerbated by the metronome-like beat of my footfalls as I run. It requires just enough concentration to not allow me to fall asleep, yet too much to provide any real distraction. Were it not for the continuous jarring of my body, it may in fact lead to a nice, meditative state (achieved through the mantra, “I hate running, I hate running, I hate running”).
Yet, I need to get better at it. Which means, I have to train. Which basically means: I have to run more. G’ah.
And I tried. I tried running with Max in the mornings. But (a) it’s the morning and (b) Max finds running with me incredibly boring (after all, to him, I’m just a slow, bald sheep) and would much rather I just throw the ball. I tried running during lunchtime at work - but that necessitates showering, changing, and even more time at work, which is less time at home throwing the ball for Max. I tried running after work, but (a) it’s after work, I’m tired, hungry and just want to eat and sit on the couch and (b) see above (b).
But then I found a secret weapon. The tool that encourages me to run, in fact, I even look forward to running. It has me thinking of ways to run longer, and in varying, isolated, locales.
Zombies, Run! Is an iPhone app that makes running interesting. I think it’s a testament to the game that I actually put the words running and interesting together. It’s kind of like an audiobook, but a little more interactive. You select a playlist (one of your pre-existing playlists, so you always get to listen to good music) and once you’re introduced to the story, it plays your music. The rest of the mission comes through as a radio message in between songs (as well as notifications when you pick things up along the way). It even has sort-of interval training where every now and then you’ll hear a zombie creeping up behind you, so you’ve got to throw on a sprint to get away ’cause nothing makes you run like a zombie shuffling behind you!
And once your run (or mission) is over, you can sit down quietly and gather together all the items you’ve collected during your run and assign them to your community. With more resources, your community grows, and you save more lives. So then you can compare your community strength with that of your friends and colleagues (even better: a competition where the winner isn’t necessarily the fastest or the fittest!)
The game had several advantages on me (beyond my overactive imagination). The first time I played it was about 5:45 on a cold, misty Canberra morning, where the quiet trails I ran were dark and the slight, orange glow of Canberra’s streetlights reflected in the lowered sky, giving a very eerie feel to it all. It had me hooked from day one. So hooked in fact, that I wound up running an extra half a lap instead of throwing the ball for Max. I’ll never find those shoes again.
Now, a few warnings: if you’re the type to get totally absorbed into something like this you might want to make sure you’re running in nice, open areas, so that you don’t sprint to avoid a zombie and run into the woman in the red dress; or other people. Or, you could take an alert dog out with you, to keep an eye out and warn you about approaching real people (as opposed to imaginary zombies). If you don’t have such a faithful companion, I have a spare.
Secondly, you’ll need an iPhone, a relatively new iPhone at that (4+), which may stop you running in the rain. That’s got to be a good thing. The website says they’re making an android version, which will be available in Spring (presumably the northern hemisphere spring, so any time now). And at around 220M, it’s a sizeable download, but it’s well worth it!
All in all it’s an excellent game. If it can get me out running again, is must be good!
Website: https://www.zombiesrungame.com/, or you can go right to the app store and buy it!