Friday, June 15, 2012

Zombies, Run! + C25K Free = Perfect Combination?

The zombies are coming for you!

If you haven't heard about Zombies, Run! yet, and you're a runner (or a walker) then you need to go right now. It was recently released for Android, and also works very beautifully on iPhone and iPod Touch. I run it on my iPod Touch, since I'm not quite wealthy enough to own an iPhone. ;)

I've been walking on and off with Zombies, Run and frankly, I love it. It's good motivation. You get to listen to your own music, interspersed with tidbits of story from your mission.  The premise? It's after the zombie apocalypse, and you are a runner working for Abel Township. Obviously, with fuel at a premium, it makes more sense to send runners out for various tasks! You're uncovering the mystery of the zombie apocalypse, learning about your town, and more.  While you run in the real world, you pick up supplies in the game, which can then be used to build up your town and unlock more missions.

The really fun thing about this is that it's not just an audio book you run to... if you're lucky, you'll get hit with a random zombie chase!  You have to speed up a certain amount, or get caught by the zombies and have to drop supplies to escape them (you don't die.)  I've never had a random zombie chase. At first, that was an iPhone-with-GPS-only feature. They've released accelerometer chases for those of us not blessed with a GPS... but I think you have to run at least at a certain speed to trigger them, since I usually walk it, since I haven't experienced one yet.

Now, since I started running again, I haven't been using Zombies, Run as much, because I'm following a Couch 2 5k program, and need audio cues, since trying to stare at my watch and time it is... hard.  I'm just not that coordinated.  I downloaded the C25K free app, which lets me play my music and tracks the intervals I need to run with an announcement.

I discovered that C25K Free runs in the background!  This means that I can use Zombies, Run, and still use my C25K to actually run.  I did a quick test here in the house, and while the audio from the C25K app, is quiet, it lowers the volume on the Zombie app, so I can hear the cue. I don't need to understand it, because it's pretty obvious... if I'm running, the cue is to stop running, and vice versa.

After giving it a quick, five minute indoor test on my couch, it's time to break out the armband, and give it a real try while actually running. This will be my first time actually running with Zombies, Run. For me, it's been Zombies, Walk. I'm assuming these aren't very fast zoms.

Anyway, I generally run at night; it's quieter, and in the heat of south Georgia... much cooler. We're talking 73 vs 85 here!  I grabbed my dog's leash, started Zombies, Run and hit the start button on the C25K app.

Overall, I think it worked well as a combo.  The only problem is that the announcements for C25K are VERY quiet... difficult to hear over the music from Zombies, Run.  There were a few moments of confusion when the announcement for items picked up muted the music a bit, so if I had any tip for you, it's to turn off the item pickups. That way, when the sound mutes, it's to announce a run or a walk.

I didn't miss any cues, though, and completed my run successfully! The app also pops up a message when in background mode on the screen, which was a visual cue for me in the dark. I'm still not sure how fast you need to run to trigger random zombie chases; even though I was running for a minute at a time, I was unable to get one.  I'm probably not running fast enough, and well... they do say that accelerometer mode is in experimental stages!

I completed this run much more easily, because I was enjoying the narrative/music of the game without constantly checking the app. I think I'll continue to use these in conjunction. I wish I could turn the volume up on the C25K app, but for a makeshift solution until Zombies, Run implements their kickstarter-promised C25K options themselves, I think it will serve nicely.

Photo courtesy of savageblackout.

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