Zombies Run! Couch to 5k Review – Part 2

As I covered in Part 1:

So, after a long physical hibernation, the air is fresh and it’s time to try to get the body to think about moving again. I’m going to be trying out the Couch to 5K version of the hit “Zombies, Run!” app (iPhone | Android) and chiming in where it makes sense.

I figured as I was getting to the end of June, about a month after the last review, it was time for an update.

Like anyone struggling to get moving into exercise, I hit a lot of Resistance – sickness, injury, all sorts of reasons not to get out and run. So, I’m definitely behind where I should be in the program, from a chronology point of view. They nicely break it into a schedule for you – each portion is labelled like “Week 2, Workout 3″. But, I continue to get back up and out with something approaching regularity.

About the App – So Far

I still hit the occasional tech problem, more often to do with phone hiccups than the app itself. Since my first semi-disastrous attempts to get the runs to record, things have been fine (it’s due to a bug with the Motorola DROID 4, keyboard slider, locking, and screen orientation – I can’t make this up). I’ve logged a lot of kilometers and I can easily see in Zombielink how I’m getting faster.

I still wish it was a more interactive app. It suffers the same problem that old video trainers have: the recording doesn’t respond to what you’re doing. For example, we’re in a bit of heat wave and I didn’t anticipate how much that would slow me down. I was barely able to do a brisk walk towards the end, but my narrator at that point was still cheering me on for “doing great!” I find those moments disjointing and disappointing, given that the point of the main app is to respond to your rate of travel.

The pacing is definitely fine for someone needing to get up to speed, so far. They mix in some additional exercises besides walk/run, but don’t always explain in audio what they mean – for example, the app has pictures before you start Week 3, Workout 1 of Knees Lifts. Unlike Week 2’s Heel Lifts, there’s no talk-through of the routine, so if you failed to realize (as I did) that you should scroll down and scrutinize the diagrams to try to follow the meaning, you’ll be partway into your program and realize you have no idea what the Doctor is asking you to do.

These various points of possible disconnect mean that you’re not as immersed in the app, which is a little bit of a shame. My friends are also getting moving with Zombies, Run!, but the full version instead of the Couch to 5k, and I have to say, it sounds a lot more interesting. The story there is in full swing, whereas I’m in the early chapters, learning who people are. It’s not bad, but it’s not as engaging yet.

I also would note something that goes in the ‘if only, I wish’ pile: The runs are setup to be time based, which if you’re trying to start/end near your house, is a challenge to plot a course to manage that for. I wish the app could not only do the location/map aware things I mentioned before, but it would be interesting if it could help randomly generate maps that would roughly be the right course you’d need for the day’s workout.

Note of Caution

If you want to share your Zombielink far and wide, you may want to start the app near your house, rather than your front door, as all the GPS data is right there. I’ve made it a habit to start/end at a nearby intersection. For the ultra paranoid but still inclined to share, vary up your time of day that you run, since if you run M/W/F at 11 am every day, and you make your Zombielink public, you’re then choosing to share a window you’re not home with the world.

Music – It Takes All Kinds

My friends who flee zombies as well swear by big, inspirational rock ballads (Eye of the Tiger, etc). As I mentioned in my last post, I’m more interested in keeping the mood and I’ve built a playlist that far more effectively accomplishes that goal, even on shuffle. I had to convert many of these to MP3, so the list below includes an MP3 link to download it from me, as well as a link to the original location I got it from (where you can listen online, no download/registration required).

These were all made available to me to share, free of charge for personal use, via https://soundcloud.com/b1rds. They’re often perfect – dark, usually with a steady beat, and interspersed with ominous sounds. For example, the heart beat combined with what sounds like an alert in The Heart Slows or the ominous crashing in Dreaming Rather Darkly (which make me think of shamblers pounding on a steel door).

 

So, my sum-up for being about one month in – it’s good, definitely, and well worth the cost. It’ll get you moving and give you an interesting start into a fascinating world. Like all early tech in an area (ARG/GPS based exercise), there’s always greater potential and I hope to see great things come from the team behind it.


Zombies Run Review Series:

·Part 1

·Part 2 (This post)

About the author

Jeremy Vyska Jeremy is a technology enthusiast and often plays the part of "wise old man" to his friends and peers.

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