The Running of the Zombies

The Running of the Zombies

Anyone who follows Misdirected knows that I have a pretty simple rule I live by regarding weight loss/weight maintenance. The rule is this: Keep Moving. Every case of serious weight regain after bariatric surgery that I have been able to research had one thing in common. In every case, the patients (without exception!) stopped exercising.

So, it was with a certain amount of fear and trepidation that I hopped on the scale this morning. October has not been a good month for me. My writing production and my exercise both plummetted to nearly nothing. Now, there were some good reasons behind this – 10 days each of house-sitting and recovering from another round of kidney stones. But the fact remains that I have been sitting a heck of a lot more than I have been moving.

I was lucky – my weight is still dialed in at 177 pounds. I could have very easily taken a few steps back rather than maintaining the 175-ish weight I have settled in at. However, I’ve decided to reenergize my exercise routine. In honor of the season, and to really motivate me to get back in gear, I’ve decided to be pursued by flesh-eating mutants.

Umm, What?

For those who have no idea what the heck I am talking about, let me clue you in. I am referring to the 5K-training app called Zombies, Run! produced by Six To Start. The premise is simple – you are unceremoniously dropped into a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with the walking dead and must run to avoid them. The catch is that you are a “Runner”, being directed by an air-traffic controller of sorts. This controller tells you when to speed up, when to slow down, etc.

The premise is brilliant, and it works extremely well. It doesn’t hurt that the story you are participating in is written by novelist Naomi Alderman. There is plenty of exposition, character development and, of course, sheer mind-numbing terror as your imagination (and audio cues) feeds you the idea that you are this close to being eating by a pack of mutated cannibals.

I was introduced to the concept by Wil Wheaton, (whose blog I follow semi-religiously) who has been using the app for his own self-improvement program. I had tried it last year but found that it didn’t lend itself to working out in a gym.

This year, I revisited it and found that it now works fabulously not only for free-form running but also for treadmills and other types of stationary exercise equipment. It has now replaced C25K as my 5K trainer of choice.

Amping Up The Creepies

One of the neat things about the software is that it enables you to run your own music in the background, during periods where the narrators aren’t directing your next moves. I had been using this to build an exercise-themed Spotify playlist to work out with.

But, the thought occurred to me…what if I could improve on the fight or flight factor?

So, instead, I am no longer using music as my soundtrack for running. Instead, I have loaded up Podcast Addict, and am streaming the entire run of the Lore podcast. If you don’t know about this, you should. It is some of the creepiest story-telling around. Narrator Aaron Mahnke delves into real-life tales of grim death and horror. These stories serve as the perfect background “music” for the increasingly scarier story developing with Zombies, Run.

It also is a great research tool for me as a horror writer. I am simultaneously working out and working. It is the kind of life hack that just makes me quiver. In fear. Of the monsters beneath the bed.

Those wanting to give their adrenal glands a break may want to stick with music from Nickelodeon or something, though. It can get a little rough at times the way I am doing it.

5K By December 31

And, though we may not get the opportunity to run in an “official” 5K before the end of the year, I am still determined to run a full 5K before the year is out. Lor and I will continue to train diligently. If we can’t find one to sign up for in December we will simply design a 5K course here in Albuquerque and run it ourselves. It seems a fitting way to close out the year that has seen so much personal and physical development for us.

In the interim, though, I will keep running from the blood-curdling horde of zombies that are right on my heels…and take “breaks” by listening to Aaron Mahnke talk about hauntings and mass murderers. To give my fight or flight system a rest.

There might be something wrong with me…

Hoping There Is A 10K Version Of “Zombies, Run” For Next Year,


Tools for Success

First off, RIP, Prince. He was only 57. Between Prince, Glenn Frey, and David Bowie, my workout playlist is starting to look like the soundtrack at a mortuary. And though I may not have any Merle Haggard on my phone’s playlist, you better believe I have some on the PC I am writing this from. Depressing.

So, on to workout tools. We actually have a shiny new elliptical trainer sitting in the front room, just waiting for me to make use of it. Lor gets to use it, but I do not. Why, you ask? Because the stupid thing has a weight-bearing limit of 250 pounds, that’s why. You would think that the designers of exercise equipment might anticipate the possibility that fat people might want to use their tools, yes? But apparently not. As it is, I have to lose 30 pounds before I can even get on the thing. The Elliptical Diet Plan: Motivate yourself to lose 10% of your body weight so that you qualify to exercise on our gear. Grrr.

So, instead, I walk. And if you have a smartphone and want to workout by walking, there are two apps you should really be aware of:

1. Map My Walk



This is the primary tool I use for tracking what the heck I am doing in the world of “Fat Man Walking”. I tell it to “Start Workout” when I leave the front door, then forget about it till I get back, panting and covered in sweat. Then I tell it to “Save Workout” and I am done. It then uploads a lovely report like the one above to a website for me, so I can track how far/how long/how many/what for/etc.  Using the website tie-in you can also design new routes for yourself, keep track of gear (like shoes, for instance), even log meals if you want to. (But the ads for Light Beer in the food section are highly annoying.) There is also an “MVP” version of the software – purchasing opens up a bunch of new functionality, and presumably removes the Light Beer ads. If you are going to be walking to get started on your weight loss journey, you need this app. No need to buy a Fitbit or anything. (Fitbits don’t work with us bariatric surgery patients anyway – our caloric count post-surgery is too low for Apple to make sense of.)

2. Zombies, Run!

Now, if your exercise is a little more free-form, and you like storytelling, this is the app for you. You plug your headphones into your phone, and suddenly you are in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. The storyline continues as you walk, with pauses in the story being filled by music from the playlist on your device. Occasionally you will encounter threats as you amble through your workout, and you will be forced to speed up your walk/run until you are clear of them. That’s right, folks, interval training, cleverly disguised as an app on your phone.  For those that are so inclined, there is even a setup for training a person for their first 5K. With my 2 blown knees, it will be a while (if ever) before I run a 5K, but I can certainly walk as fast as those knees will take me to get away from the hordes of man-flesh-eating creatures on my tail. Not a tool to be used when walking in a group, but the perfect one for solo exercise.

Besides, any app endorsed by Wil Wheaton can’t be too far off the mark, right?

Catch you all again on Monday!

Considering Walking The Dog (So I Can Throw Her To The Zombies),

– Hawkwind