How Zombies Can Prepare You for a 5K

 

Zombie app illustration

I believe a celebration is in order. This column marks one year of my tenure as your newbie—a year I spent being someone who runs. And while January is typically a time for looking forward, I’m going to buck the system and get a little retrospective for a moment, if you don’t mind.

Let’s recap: A year ago, I hated running. Hated it! Then, a few months later, I hated it less. Then, a little while after that, I kind of liked it. Now I kind of like it a lot. And I’m ready to take this thing to the next level. Which brings me to the not-unrelated subjects of Orlando and zombies.

Back in October, I realized that Disney’s 5K was rather a short time away. (I’ll be running it—my first-ever race—on January 5; how’s that for a grand one-year celebration?) Five kilometers is 3.1 miles (for the two or three of you who, like me, didn’t always know that), which is roughly the distance I run about four times a week. But, just as important, it was also farther than I’d been running without stopping—to let a cyclist pass, or pause at a crosswalk, or change the song in my headphones, or sip from the water bottle cinched to my waist. Mind you, I can actually run for quite a while without stopping; it’s just that on my typical weeknight workout, there’s no pressure, just a pretty park and an inviting water bottle and a Beatles song I’ve played out so thoroughly I can’t hear the opening bars without cringing. The stakes are low. So too, then, has been my willingness to push myself to run those three miles without pause.

I needed a great motivator, a way of pushing through my low-stakes approach and into the land of trying hard.

Well, that freewheeling attitude just isn’t going to cut it down Disney way, folks. Especially considering that my goal for this race is to go all the way without stopping. But even I know that’s a low bar to clear for someone running as often as I do, so I have also added a time goal: 40 minutes, start to finish line. Once I get going beneath that midwinter Florida sun, I vow, I won’t stop to walk, or drink water, or hug Goofy. No. I’ll hoof it all the way to Epcot’s finish line at a respectable clip, and then, so help me, I’ll buy a bunch of cool candy in Little Japan and maybe do the Frozen ride.

With two goals on the line, this was now a serious endeavor that required serious preparation. So I decided to employ the services of a training app.

Now, I should explain something about my relationship to apps. I suffer from a condition that makes me believe that every new one I encounter will be The Answer, the one missing piece that finally makes me whole and realized; someone who eats better, saves money, speaks Italian. Never mind that I’m halfway through a s’mores cookie as I type this, and—like you even need to ask—Io non parlo Italiano. But this time, the app had to work. This race may not wind up being the longest one I ever run—I’ve got my eye on a 10K for next year; stay tuned, rapt hordes!—but it will be my first, and I want to kill it. I needed a great motivator, a way of pushing through my low-stakes approach and into the land of trying hard. What would that motivator be? I went with “fear of wandering the earth as one of the undead.”

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Runner's World

Runner's World is the world's leading running magazine. Covering topics such as shoes and gear, race training, nutrition and health, Runner's World appeases to the novice runner and veteran alike.
Runner's World is the world's leading running magazine. Covering topics such as shoes and gear, race training, nutrition and health, Runner's World appeases to the novice runner and veteran alike.

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