This morning I ran 5k, without breaks and not on a treadmill. Despite all my training, shorter runs, and time on the treadmill, I had never run the distance before. I know. It should have happened AGES ago. But it finally happened and it was thanks to zombies (and my run coach and a lot of work, but zombies).
It’s literally years since I started with the Zombies, Run! app. The main running app is radio serial style telling the story of a zombie apocalypse in the UK. You’re playing the role of Runner 5; a person coming to deliver supplies by helicopter to Abel township until the helicopter is shot down and you’re running for your life.
This couch to 5k spin-off is at the start of Runner 5’s story. Now stranded in Abel, they need to join the team running for supplies and protecting the residents from zombies.
So, how does this help you run? It’s entertaining coaching. And gamification works.
Over eight weeks and three runs each week, you’re taught and encourage to move from walking to running/jogging five kilometres. It’s a new set of drills each week and mixes in stretches and other exercises to create good habits. All while being entertained by the activities and antics of Abel township.
There are several audio clips through your run and cues for when to run, walk or do a lot of heel and knee lifts. It’s all worked into the story. In between the clips, you listen to your own music. When I started, I linked in Apple Music (it was called iTunes back then), but now I open Amazon Music, set my running playlist and it runs in the background. The music audio is reduced during the Zombies Run! clips.
My experience with Zombies Run! Couch to 5k
As mentioned, I started the Zombies Run! Couch to 5k years ago. It took me four attempts to finish it. Technically, I didn’t finish, but more on that later. While injuries and health were the main reasons why I stopped, I recall some audio glitches in the early episodes. Or it was user error but I would miss some audio cues and walk when meant to run and vice versa. I restarted from scratch and didn’t get them this time, so either they were fixes or I paid better attention. Otherwise, the production is perfect and the story is addicting. If I’m ever in a real zombie apocalypse, I want Sam in my comms.
Mostly, I liked the pace and workouts. It would be walking and a 30 second run interval. Then it works up to five or 10 minute free-form runs with walking and stretch intervals. It’s all time-based so it’ll take the same time regardless of if you’re fast or slow.I did a lot of the early ones on a treadmill. I’d have to pause for the stretches which killed any time tracking, but I really shouldn’t have been tracking pace and trying for longer distances anyway. Since moving to my apartment I have a great bike path to run along, so I moved the runs outside.
I do love the app and the main app for other runs. However, I found the runs in the last few weeks a little off. They mostly aim for just over 50 minutes, but the intervals stay short and frequent. Towards the end you do a few with two 15 minute free form runs, but otherwise it’s very broken up to get your breath back easily. I could do those easily and was wanting a bit more challenge. I skipped weeks six and seven to start week eight with a 20 minute free form run. But week eight is the last so it tapers you off to prepare you for your 5k. Like the earlier ones, the final run is also time based. It’s a 51 minute free form run. I know everyone has different paces, but that’s pretty much 5k at my walking pace (yes, I walk fast). I’m also dubious I could go from a 20 minute free form run to more than doubling it. The intervals all help, but it was too big a gap for me. Plus, I only want to prove I can run 5k straight, not 51 minutes.
Instead, I used the main app to create two 25 minute intervals. Then I ignored them and ran approximately 5.5km straight. Woohoo! I did it!
I have missed a fair bit of the zombies story though, so I might go back and listen to the final episodes. It would have been good to run them. Oh well.
Do I recommend Zombies, Run! Couch to 5k? Yes, I do. Just remember that it’s your body and your goals, so tweak the structure if that’s what you need. Even if it means trying it four times.