Sunday, 13 March 2016

Zombies, Run!

There is an air of excitement among my fellow runners that lighter nights are almost here (and trepidation that London and Manchester marathons are also almost here). March 27th will jump our clocks forward an hour and mean we can put our head torches away and enjoy the scenery. Hooray!

This week I'll tell you a little about one of the tools in my training arsenal - a smartphone app that keeps me company on solo runs. A number of you will have heard me waffle on about this already, but it was key to getting me into running so is important to me (I know, it's just an app). It's obviously Zombies, Run!

The app tracks your running, whether on treadmill or out on the trails. During the run you play through a mission, which is a bit like hearing a personalised radio show - it plays you story segments and in between those plays you music from your own playlist. The story is told from the perspective of your character and items are picked up during the course of the mission to be used later in other areas of the app.

The premise is that there has been a zombie outbreak and we are in a fictional area of England during the apocalypse. Our character is sent to help a group of survivors holed up in a small settlement. We are dubbed 'Runner 5' and are based in 'Abel Township'. The app gives you a map of Abel and you use the mission collectibles to improve the base, expanding its boundaries, adding better quality housing, gardens, play areas, security measures, etc over time.

The creators have built an amazing world - each season contains a series of missions, season 4 bringing the total to 200! So there's plenty to keep you entertained on those solo runs. There's a whole cast of characters to meet, rival settlements, the need to gather items to survive, find ways to combat the zombies and plenty more besides. It's very entertaining, the quality of the app having improved loads over the years and the number of people using it has grown massively to over 1 million players!

I'm very happy to count myself as one of the first to play it. ZR has all my run data, so I can see that my first run was just 4 days after my 37th birthday, at 9.50am on the morning of Saturday 28th April 2012, a mere 2 months after launch! That marks my starting point as a serious runner and therefore a personal landmark date. I was on the gym treadmill making exceedingly slow progress and needing to take a walking break every 5-10 mins just to get through a 5k. I've used it less over the last couple of years due to running in a group, but I've still racked up 130 completed missions and still bring it out for solo training runs.

My next race is the Spring Zombies, Run! Virtual Race (ZRVR). I ran their first ever last autumn, so am very much looking forward to this. The race pack is in the post, including a t-shirt that relates to the race mission. To set the scene for the main race story they've started releasing training missions to play and blogging snippets of background story. It's a great build up, a very supportive community and a fabulous, inspirational app (even if you don't really like zombies).

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