I made my (at least temporary) choice and went with the full version of the Zombies, Run! app. If nothing else, I really like typing Zombies, Run! because of the comma and exclamation point.
I started using the Zombies, Run! 5K app at the end of November to help me get my mileage up safely for the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. I’ve done 5Ks before, but I’ve never done a good job of maintaining a running habit, and I have a habit of pushing too hard, too fast. A friend recommended the app, so I gave it a try.
The app went well. It tracks my pace and mileage better than the fitbit (good for counting steps, not good for distance while running). There are stories to listen to. And, most importantly (at least in terms of responsible decisions), it has an exercise plan to slowly ease me into covering a 5K distance. It was an 8-week program that I stretched into 20, ‘cause I’m an overachiever (I also was running 5Ks in the middle, so I had to alter my workout load so I didn’t hurt myself; again, I’m making adult decisions).
Once I was done, I knew it was probably time for a change, so I got the full Zombies, Run! app. The initial version of the app consists of 1 season with 23 episodes, as well as a few episodes of seasons 2 and 3 to act as previews to buy additional seasons. There are also a bunch of additional purchases you can make. As you run in the full version, you pick up supplies during the run (it was really creepy for the first thing that I picked up to be a sports bra; I don’t know how to explain walking back to base with that).
I get to continue my Zombies, Run! story. That may be the chief (and stupidest) reason for buying the app. I like the story. It keeps me mentally engaged while I’m running. Like the Zombies, Run! 5K version, I also get to listen to my music and have my runs tracked. This is the extent of the more of the same benefits.
Where the real difference shows up (at least in terms of the workouts) is the lack of structure. You can take the runs at whatever pace you want. You choose between a 30-minute or 60-minute workout, and you do whatever you need to do. If you’re having a crappy day, you don’t have to push that hard. If you only have 30 minutes to run, you can still get the episode.
Another changeup is the inclusion of zombies chase mode, which means that randomly in the episode you’ll be warned zombies are chasing you and you have to run 20% faster than you had been for a minute. Basically, it’s tempo training with zombies. This was pretty cool. I’m a competitive person, so I didn’t want to lose the supplies I’d gathered, so I started booking. This has a double bonus for me. First, it allows me to pick up the pace. This is something I actually enjoy. I like lengthening my stride. I feel like I’m running much more cleanly when I’m running faster instead of trudging about. Second, knowing this is coming at some point and knowing I don’t want to lose the supplies, I avoid jogging too quickly and burning out. On days where I take on the 60-minute version, I’ll probably turn this feature off so I don’t die and get eaten by the undead. Dreadful way to go.
This version costs more for the same amount of workouts to start. And to get more workouts, you have to pay even more. That kind of blows. There are some little extras that come along with the version, but I hate feeling like I have to keep paying to get everything from the app. Depending on how the 1st season goes, I may just switch to podcasts or books on tape. I’m cheap. This is why I didn’t go with RunKeeper (in addition to the complete lack of zombies).
The full version also isn’t as straightforward as the Zombies, Run! 5K version. In the 5K version, you go episode to episode. In this full version, you have that option, but there are also supply runs, airdrop runs, full-blown interval training, and racing. All of these have different stories (and some have additional costs). It feels a lot like those Goosebumps books as a kid where you made choices that led to potentially different stories. I hate feeling like I didn’t get the full story.
Along these lines (and was mentioned in the Pros), the workouts aren’t as structured. While it’s nice that I can do what I want, it was nice in the 5K version to be basically getting coached a long. I may end up occasionally (or permanently, depending on how season 1 goes) reverting back to the 5K version and just amping up the workouts. Those workouts were structured, so I could always start at the beginning and just run faster, slowly working my way up in distance as I do so. I’m not sure if this will occur or not (luckily, I don’t run that often, and I’ve already shown I can stretch 2 months worth of workouts into 5).
And So It Begins
All in all, I’m not unhappy with my purchase. I think I can make it work. If nothing else, it’s giving me a change of pace as I approach the halfway point of the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.
I’m almost getting comfortable lugging my 190 pounds around for 3-5 miles. Maybe at some point this year, I’ll actually be able to run a full 5K without stopping. I doubt it but just maybe.