Monday, 31 August 2015

Zombies, Run!

I love a bank holiday! This is my first year in a few where I've not attended Reading Festival, so I've been busily distracting myself to avoid coming down with a case of the sads.  

Le sigh.

Oh, well.  Busy month ahead of me!  Foo Fighters and Royal Blood in Milton Keynes next week (uh huh, much smug), Wheatus towards the end of the month (much love) and a 22 mile walking marathon mid September along the Gower Coast with Outcast Swansea (much...snacks? It's for Macmillan, so if you'd be so awesome as to sponsor us...?).  This weekend's come with plenty of ups and downs to keep me distracted while I've not been paying a billion pounds a pint and getting sufficiently mucky in my welly boots.  

It wouldn't be a British bank holiday without an ill advised night on the tiles.  Saturday night/the wee hours of Sunday morning were spent at Swansea Beer and Cider Festival and in my favourite sticky local Irish bar, Jack Murphy's.  All the best bars have sticky floors.  The more time I invest in my trainers, the lower my tolerance for booze plummets, so let's just say that just being within sniffing range of locally brewed (strong!) cider ensured that I ended the night as cock eyed as I began it. Believe it or not, this is the "before" shot:

 Much classy. So lady.

Sunday was meant to follow on in pretty much the same fashion at a friend's wedding do, but a stomach tantrum (seem to be getting a lot of these of late, but so far am choosing to ignore them as I suspect they stem from something delicious like cheese or bread.  No one's ever intolerant to muesli or liver are they?) meant that I had to miss out.  Plus side - no hang over today... Which meeeeans....running!

During a nine miler I attempted earlier on in the week, I decided that I hate running.  Hate. It.  It's uncomfortable.  I'm slow.  I'm bored and my butt hurts!  Whine whine blah blah.  I spent more time sulking and walking than actually running. After all the mileage I put in to get round Liverpool without my legs falling off, I've fallen fully head over heels back in love with CrossFit's short, sharp and shitty (in the best possible way!) approach, meaning that my brain's ability to endure runs upwards of an hour is now pants, and I have the Cardiff Half Marathon to get around in October.  Bollocks.

I know I'm fit enough to do half the distance I did back in June, so the problem was/is clearly all in my fragile little mind.  I needed to remind myself that I run for the enjoyment of it, not as a form of torture or simply a method of burning off some of the cake I eat.  So, I decided to turn it into a game.  Not like in Saw.  The sort of game where you still have limbs at the end.

I remembered an app that I tried on my phone when I first got it into my head that I wanted to learn how to run more than two miles in one go.  It was called Zombies, Run! and it cost me about £6 in the Apple Store (also available in Google Play). It plays out a story in which you're immersed in a post apocalyptic, zombie infested world and your job as Runner 5 is...pretty self explanatory.  You run around, automatically collecting things for your camp as you go and if you have them enabled, you occasionally enter into a zombie chase, where you have to put on a burst of speed lest you become a human jerky.  Actually, you just drop a few items and don't actually get eaten because it's  all pretend, but it bloody well got me going!  You hear the moans of the undead in your earphones, making it sound like they're close enough to give you a shoulder massage.  I don't think they want to give you a shoulder massage.

The reason I've waited so long to pick it up again is that the first time I tried it, I didn't bother to look up the instructions (which are pretty idiot proof, really).  I got so immersed in freaking myself out that I blindly ran out into traffic, terrified I that was about to be eaten.  Turns out I didn't even have chase mode enabled, so I would have succeeded my "mission" alive, even if I'd been lying down on the floor the entire time, face down in a bowl of Doritos.

I'm only a few episodes into the game, and I'm quite enjoying being the mysterious Runner 5, who has just appeared in the township and whose purpose is so mysterious that even I don't know what my own deal is yet.  I've had a crack at an interval run (one of the few different modes available outside of the story), which is made up of shorter bursts of speed, jogging and walking, and I've been using the items I've picked up on my travels to help build my little vitural town in the app when I'm not actually running.  My town has two playgrounds so far, because that's how I roll.  Now that I've figured out that you can choose roughly how often the zombies chase you (I've set it at about 5 times an hour) and how fast or slow you want the story to progress, I feel much less like I'm going to soil my pants and more like I'm actually having fun because I'm in control of the game.

...Though I still get nervous when I'm approaching an incline.  Hills may slow me down, but they apparently have no effect on the imaginary zombies' athletic ability.  Jammy buggers.

I ran seven miles today without the urge to walk.  Not even once.  It may be that I'm rediscovering the joys of running for fun thanks to this genius game.  It may be that I'm less concerned with my overall speed because I don't want to have a cardiac arrest when the next zombie chase could happen at any moment. I think I'm going to use that in future, actually.  I'm not slow.  I'm saving my energy so I can get away from the zombies when I need to.  

Happy weekend, and if you choose to have a bash at being a zombie evading badass like me, please read and listen to the instructions and stay the hell away from cars!


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