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Friday, September 21, 2012

I Am Runner 5

I hate running. At age six when my choices were Run or Get Kicked By The Neighborhood Bully I had a Nike imprint in my hip for a week. Science says everyone has a Flight or Fight response in them, and my genes are locked in FIGHT MODE.

I do like working out. Swimming, weight lifting, yoga, dancing... I love them all. As I try to get back in shape after my c-section in January I've, um how do I put this... I've failed. A lot. Repeatedly. With everything. It's just been one whole lump of FAIL every single time I start a new workout program.

Part of it is the c-section itself. Pregnancy is hard enough to recover form, but a c-section is a whole new level of pain. Instead of bouncing back to my old self when the baby was five days old, I was still in the hospital. Instead of feeling Mostly Human by the time baby was three months old, I was still in maternity jeans. Baby is eight months old next week, and there are still days where anything touching the c-section scar causes burning pain. That's what happens when someone slices your guts open, sticks their hands in there, pulls things out, cauterizes blood vessels, and then stitches you up.

Gut wounds hurt, people! Don't let the heroes in fantasy books who walk around with gut shot fool you, they're the walking dead.

Which leads me (by a very circuitous route) to zombies and running. Most of my work out plans failed because there really isn't a way to do them in the rural area where I live. There isn't a lap pool nearby, there isn't a yoga studio, or gym. Working out at home has a whole set of complications ranging from rented wood floors (no weights!) to kids (you do downward dog with someone trying to climb you!).

I finally decided that I could run. I planned on doing the Couch to 5k program and working my way up slowly with measurable goals. Except, I HATE RUNNING! With a passion. With the fiery rage of a thousand suns I hate running! It's boring. Even with music it's not fun. Running to an audio book slows you down. Running is not something I could get my butt out the door for.

Enter the zombies...

I heard about the Zombies Run! game through Kickstarter, of all places. At the time it wasn't available for the phone I use, but the idea of running to a story and playing a game at the same time intrigued me. The psychology behind this is actually very well thought out.

First, the game is a game with predictable patterns. The longer you run, the more objects you pick up, and the more you can build up your little computer town. It's like Farmville, only not stupid and not involving farms (I don't understand Farmville - sorry). But the game aspects appeal to the geek in me. I  like games, I just don't like wasting time. Now I can get excercise and play a game. WOOT!

Second,  I'm a very verbal person, I love verbal praise, Kind Words is my primary love language. Guess what? The people on my phone like me! The little dopamine boost is amazing. "Great job, Runner Five!" should not be the highlight of my day, but there are days where the radio guy from Able Township is the only person who says something nice to me. Logically, I know he's a recorded voice from across the pond, but that doesn't matter to dopamine!

Third, have you ever heard of Loss Aversion? It's the theory that people hate giving up what they have, it's why it's so hard to leave that bad boyfriend, get rid of a broken piece of tech, or change jobs. We're afraid of losing what we're holding, even if there's a chance we'll get something better. When running for the game you pick up items for your town (I am the world champion underwear collector) and when the zombies catch you, you have to drop items to distract them. I won't run from bullies, but I will run to protect imaginary underwear. Go figure. Loss Aversion in practice!

Four, the story only unlocks if you run. I'm a sucker for a good story. I love to read. And I can't get the rest of the story until I run. Who fired the rocket launcher? Where do zombies come from? How did the old Runner 5 die? I need to know these things! So I will run.

Five, Zombies are really good at scaring me, especially at twilight. I run laps around the property in the evenings, it's just under a quarter mile per lap and I usually run in the evenings. One earbud is in listening for the radio broadcasts and zombies, the other is out while I listen for my neighborhood bear and rattlesnakes. I don't have music on my phone so I run in silence, just me, the sound of my shoes crunching twigs, the lone call of a bird... and the moaning of zombies coming to eat my brains. Sometimes, there are spider webs in my running path. There's a patch of my yard I won't go near after dark because I'm afraid zombies will jump out of the bushes.

Anyways, I have a new hobby-slash-workout-regime-slash-blog-topic. My goal is to run three missions a week. I'm starting slow, walking speed in fact. I'm really out of shape. I've done a run with zombies once, and thought I was going to die, so I'll probably run the missions first, and then turn on the zombie attacks and interval training later.

If you want to join me, the Zombies Run Game App is here for iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones. This is not a paid ad, they didn't bribe me to write this blog post and they don't sponsor me. Like other things I love, I'm sharing because it interests me. I will update you next Friday with my mission progress.

Have a fabulous weekend!


  1. This sounds awesome. If I were in better shape for running I think I'd try it. I may try it anyway, even if I'm not quite in the best shape to be running. Only way to get in shape for it is to do it, right?


    Glad you found something to make your workout enjoyable.

  2. This is basically my story, minus the whole pregnancy and c-section thing. I hate running. Always have. Now I know part of it was physical (heart defect), but even with that fixed, I hate running.

    But now, with this game, I wish I could run! I feel bad when the fictional Sam compliments me, because I know I'm not really running, I'm just walking. This app is really motivating me to get into shape. It's a miracle!

  3. I have this app too, but I haven't had a chance to use it =( I'm trying to figure out the best time for me to get my walking -at-first-and-then-running-later in.

    1. I don't recommend running after dark. It's creepy. Since it's cooling off (80 instead of 100) I'm running in the afternoons while the kids eat snacks. I can run, calm down, and then do homework with them.

  4. I understand recovering from the c-section. I can tell you it's easier to recover from that than it is when you've been cut open from breastbone to pelvic bone. Three years later (almost, got a couple more months before it's three years precisely) and I'm still rebuilding my stamina. Of course, there were other issues that slowed me down but still...three years!!!

    I hate running so I doubt even a game would get me running. I do like walking but I prefer to walk with someone and I have no walking partner.