If you were into running almost a decade ago, you might remember the hype around Zombies, Run! It was an interactive RPG that provided a story in between 'missions', in which you took the role of a runner collecting items and supplies to assist in the survival of Abel town, with a sprawling conspiracy unfolding as you ran.
Occasionally, you would encounter hordes of zombies and have to up your speed, listening to them groan and slaver behind you as you sprinted away (cleverly using your phone’s GPS to track yourself leaving them behind).
In real life, of course, you're not in a post-apocalyptic world: you're in a perfectly normal street with a set of the best running headphones and best running shoes. To the rest of the world, it looks like you’re going for an ordinary, sedate jog, occasionally switching gear and increasing your speed to leave other pedestrians in the dust. Such was the power of this audio-only RPG, which became one of the most popular running apps of the 2010s.
These narrative 'missions' became more elaborate as you ran your way through the story, occasionally even being penned by notable writers such as Margaret Atwood and Joanne Harris. Zombies, Run! became a juggernaut of an app, spawning a Couch-to-5K spin-off and amassing over one million downloads on the Google Play store.
Zombies, Run! turned 10 years old this year, and if the onset of winter (depending on where you are) has you staying inside and running less, a seasonal burst of fear and a compelling story might be just the thing to get you active once again.
As a fan of RPGs in general, and of listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I run, Zombies, Run! is tailor-made for people like me. I’ve already been listening to a new version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula while I run (read by Sherlock’s inimitable Mark Gatiss) to get me in the mood for spooky season, so when I rediscovered another gradually unfolding horror story, which happens to be running-focused and interactive, I was thrilled.
There’s nothing quite like hearing a horde of zombies behind you to shake you out of a comfortable distance-pace reverie, although I ended up turning off the 'horde' option to avoid gassing out on longer runs, instead just allowing the story to develop.
If you’re looking for a way to revitalize your running training, resurrecting Zombies, Run! and getting your teeth into its story mode this Halloween comes highly recommended. Even its Couch to 5K app might serve to get cardio-naysayers out of your chairs and into the streets, as you swap defying zombies on a console for a more immersive experience.
What’s more, it now comes on Apple Watch and Wear OS, which it didn't when it first arrived 10 years ago, so you don’t even have to drag your phone around with you to get the benefits on your run. Those using a Garmin or Polar, however, will need a pocket or training vest to store their phone.
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Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.