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Training with Zombies

October 22, 2012

We’re heading into the rainy season for Silicon Valley (which really just means that it occasionally rains, not that it actually rains a lot), so I’m not going to be able to bike to work as much as I have for the last few months. Case in point: it was raining this morning so I ended up driving, and there’s rain in the forecast for the next couple of days. Since I’d like to still get exercise on work days I’ve been considering alternate workouts. Running was the obvious candidate; I ran in college for several years (running along the Rock Creek Parkway was always my favorite). However, it’s been more than a decade since I ran regularly, so I was leery about how hard it would be to get back into it.

What finally pushed me to take up running again was the release of Zombies, Run! 5K Training. I’d heard of Zombies, Run! previously and thought it sounded like fun, but it presumed that you were already a runner. Zombies, Run! 5K Training is a structured training course that takes you from couch to 5K, so I figured it would be a more gentle re-introduction to running.

The basic premise is just what it says on the box: the zombie apocalypse has happened, and you’re running to collect supplies and escape zombies. There’s a broader story that goes with that basic framing, but I’ve only gone through 2 runs thus far so I’ve only encountered the edges of it. My impression after 2 runs is that the story and technical execution are both pretty well done. You can track your progress through the story and your exercise results through the game website. I can’t vouch for the calorie expenditure numbers, but the GPS tracks are very good so I give them the benefit of the doubt. The voice acting is good, and the app does a nice job of overlaying its audio over your own music. And the story is fun: I’m definitely motivated to keep running to see what the next episode brings.

I’ve been skeptical of exercise games in the past (running with physically and/or temporally distributed people doesn’t appeal to me that much, and I find just tracking my runs insufficiently interesting by itself), but I think Zombies, Run! might have hit the sweet spot for fun and exercise. Running for your health? Good, but not necessarily something that gets you to lace up your shoes at 6 AM. Running to enjoy being outdoors? I can do that on a bike (and get further and see more). Running to escape from the oncoming zombie hordes? Sign me up.

From → Fun, Mobile

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