Before I launch into this review, let me start off with a bit of history. Like perhaps some of you, I hate running. I haven't run since high school, so, like a decade ago. Even then, the only reason I did cross country was because it meant that come winter soccer, I had a significant edge at tryouts.
I figure running is far cheaper than buying equipment that I likely won't use. I might pick up weights or something later, but for now, I need to prove to myself I'm committed. I can't keep hoping the guilt of a purchase will be enough to get me off my ass. With that in mind, yesterday I pulled my running shoes out of the closet, grabbed a friend, and decided to finally try Zombies, Run!
|Are you willing to bet your post-apocalyptic life on the premise|
that all zombies are slow? (via Joe Loong)
Originally, I thought that it would just be cute to say that I had downloaded the app to help me specifically train for my goal of running the zombie obstacle course, Run For Your Lives, in October. (Remember when I said that I regretted not running in it last year? I'm following my "Put up or shut up" motto from January).
I tried the app for the first time yesterday. I had assumed that it was going to be a few moans and grunts interspersed with my music and that if I ran faster, the annoying noises would end. To use the cheesy Prometheus quote that's been haunting my radio/youtube/theaters/world for a few months now: "We were so wrong."
As we were driving to the park we planned to run in, I started looking through the options in the app. The first thing I noticed was that I had to turn on the zombie chases. When I went to do so, it had me promise that I wasn't going to be so startled by zombies that I would accidentally panic and run into oncoming traffic. Easy enough, since we were running on a path rather than a road. But it made me pause: If the zombie chase was optional, what else was in this app? We got to our destination before I could figure out the answer.
✓ Running buddy
✓ App installed
✓ GPS enabled
✓ Zombies enabled
✓ Earbuds on
-- Workout playlist
I realized that I hadn't reloaded my music since I had to do a full reset for my iPhone the other day. So, heart-broken, I at first thought that I wouldn't be able to try the app. When I realized you could turn off the music option, I prepared myself for an annoying zombie-groan filled silence throughout my run.
Feeling a bit stupid, my running partner and I started up the first mission at roughly the same time, hoping the zombie waves would sync up. And we began at our original, slower pace, unsure of how many bursts would be required later in the run.
Cue choppers, a terse but pleasant British woman fills you in on the details of the situation. The chopper goes down! Mayday! Mayday! A younger (also British!) man picks up the radio and from a vantage point inside the township, and begins broadcasting the information about the zombie hoard's whereabouts to anyone who can hear. He mentions landmarks and directions, there's a small army of zombies to the east of you! And who is that jackass with the rocket launcher?!
For one immersive second, I genuinely worried that I was running the wrong way. (Of course not, or the app wouldn't be useable on treadmills, I reasoned later). I looked over at my running mate and noticed we were both smiling like mad. We weren't going to wait for the proximity warnings on that hoard! We started running our own intervals. As luck would have it, we didn't speed up so much that the app mistook our bursts of speed for our standard pace.
Regardless of whether you use music, the stories do sync up if you start together, so it's easy to run with a group. As the run continued, I began to clearly hear the notifications of picked up loot in the pauses between the story. I haven't taken the time to play with the video game portion of the app, supplying and strengthening my township, but I know I have at least a few medkits for them… and possibly some clean underwear (unless I misheard the notification).
Not waiting for the zombies to even get close, we made sure to speed up after each new "cutscene." My theory is that our pacing kept us far enough ahead that the proximity warnings never started up. Until the last zombie. Five minutes from the end, and the radio operator's former sweetheart, the last runner to attempt your current mission was RIGHT BEHIND US! A radar-like beep, rather than vague zombie groans, let us know how close she was to catching up.
Now remember, I'm not a runner. And my friend looked at me with a hardened sort of empathy, and I braced myself for what was coming. She pointed to a tree ahead, "Last burst. Just sprint to there." And we floored it. Between her encouragement and the threat of zombies, I found I had one last burst in me.
Slowing down only after I'd passed the landmark, I lumbered down to a walk and managed to wheeze out. "I don't care, the bitch zombie can eat me." In spite of our moral victory, the beeps were still advancing on us. I braced for imminent, brain-eating, zombie death. As the beeps sped up, I braced myself for the knowledge I might fail and have to restart this mission next time.
Suddenly, snipers. The cutscene kicked in and the little radio operator gasped in horror as his friends gunned down his former love behind us. Evidently, the app doesn't automatically kill your character if you don't run for the full interval. It actually factors in your speed and distance, and running really fast for a little while was enough to get us home to the township. After a few giddy minutes of cool down and high fives while the sounds of the townsfolk surrounded us, we realized that we'd covered over three kilometers in about a half hour.
|See? Proof of fast zombies. Now, run! (via mebrett)|
Yes, my pace is currently slow, but from "I hate running" to "let me sprint the end of this 3km" and, "let me find organize a running group on Facebook" all because a British voice actor and his radio drama cast tell me to? (Ok, having a running partner who appealed to my ego also helped a lot). But I'd still call that pretty impressive. Oh, and if you're the type that likes bragging on social media, you can have it post your run distance and other stats.
Thank you, Kickstarter. Thank you, Six to Start. Thank you, badass Zombieland partner. They're already working on upgrades and the Android version should be released…. sometime today, actually.
Want to run with me in October? Save $10 on registration by signing up for Run For Your Lives now. The discount ends on September 12th, but I doubt space will be open that long.
Don't care about saving money? Then do it because registration is almost 70% full already. Or do it because if you put the money down now, you'll be committed to going, and the clock is ticking to make sure you don't make a fool of yourself come race day.
I suppose you could do it for all the health benefits of running, or because zombies are awesome, or for the after-party, or to get bragging rights on r/Fitness or for a thousand other reasons. Better yet? Do it for peer pressure's sake. Come on, all the cool kids are.