Zombies Run! 5k Training – An impressive take on the beginner’s running app niche packed with zombie action
An Appealing Concept
The concept of Zombies Run! 5K Training probably found itself being born of a casual joke at some point. You can imagine one of the app’s developers uttering something like “oh, I bet you’d get people running if they were being chased by zombies”. Cue the classic lightbulb-on moment, and many months later you’ve got Zombies Run! 5k Training. A spin-off of the original Zombies Run! game, this 5K Training version is designed to get complete beginners off the couch and used to the kind of fitness level required to eventually run a 5k without stopping. Though not hugely appealing for advanced runners, this app is deserving of a deeper review here, to see just who it will appeal to and what’s so appealing about it.
Make Rick Grimes Proud
Though you’ll not find Andrew Lincoln getting involved with the app’s voice acting, you are treated to an entire cast of characters, with one of these characters being you. Your role? Runner Number 5, one of the survivors in the town of Abel that’s overrun by zombies. It’s up to you play out your predetermined role in the app’s storyline. You fulfil your character’s role by performing the instructed actions given to you by various members of the cast. This is in effect a fictional world played out in a purely aural fashion, and all the while training you up to gradually be able to manage longer and longer sections of running.
8 Weeks of Training
The content of the app speaks for itself: 8 weeks of training, split across 25 different training sessions. If you stick to it in its entirety, you’re very likely to be able to run a full 5k at the storyline’s conclusion. The storyline has you running from zombies as well as doing various things to propel the fiction forward such as collecting items and acting as a central character in the action.
The beginner-runner to 5K-master concept isn’t an original one by any means, however. There is plenty of stiff competition for this niche of apps as well as plenty of Couch to 5K websites offering up their own programs to get couch potatoes up and running. Zombies, Run! 5K Training’s concept does veer towards the neck of the woods earmarked for “original content”. I mean, what other app could you name that immerses you into a work of audio fiction whilst simultaneously giving you the tools to be able to ease yourself into a 5k run over the course of 8 weeks? None? I thought as much.
Available on: iOS, Android
The Squatting Dead
So that’s the concept covered, but what of the execution of the whole thing? Well thankfully, the concept translates well into practice, but only if you can excuse some occasionally shoddy voice acting. Each of your 25 sessions starts when you want it to, and involves you being intermittently instructed to run and walk at different levels of intensity to go along with the storyline.
More interestingly however, you’re not going to be stuck with straight running and walking. The app has you performing other fitness-improving exercises like bodyweight squats just to shake things up a bit. This allows for a larger variety of conditioning aspects to be explored instead of just straight-fire running and walking, which definitely has its limits. Don’t worry though: you’re not going to be asked to do 100 push ups in the middle of a run. The app’s progress curve is very gradual (unlike some other running apps), ensuring that newcomers to running aren’t immediately put off by unrealistic goals or overly-intensive running sessions.
Music is Life
The concept of the app would fall flat if you were relying on sound effects and narration alone to get you through your sessions. Thankfully, you’re able to easily incorporate your own music playlists into the action, over which the plot developments and instructions are played. In the interest of full disclosure however, the app isn’t fully compatible with every music app under the sun. People have reported problems when trying to get Spotify playlists to work with the app, for example, so don’t expect to be in for a smooth ride from beginning to end.
The overall design of the app is fantastic, however. It’s got a fairly distinctive visual style with pinboard-style menus and clear illustrations and tutorials for getting started. You’re told when and how to stretch, when to run, when to walk, and any other actions you need to take. As a developer, Six to Start has done extremely well with the game’s visual aspects overall. The audio does leave a lot to be desired on occasion, however. By this I mean the voice acting isn’t always top quality, though it’s always at very least passable almost all of the time, with some more impressive moments popping up every now and then.
For beginners, this app goes above and beyond when it comes to constructing a guided running experience. The very existence of a storyline in a running-centric app is a unique one, giving this app a unique selling point. If you’re willing to pay the £1.59 asking price, then it’s well worth the money if you’re new or relatively new to running.
Don’t opt for this app if you’re an experienced runner however – it will simply be putting you through paces you’ve already experienced. If you’re anywhere near fit enough to be running any of these top 5 marathons in England, then this app’s training program will simply be too rudimentary for you.
Zombies Run is developed by Zombies Run.