You see them everywhere these days, people in their fancy (or, in my own case, not so fancy) running gear, jogging along as they pound the pavements beneath their feet. Most of them are probably just doing it for the good of their health, but I’m sure at least some are thinking about the cardio rule from the movie Zombieland, and are doing it as part of their zombie apocalypse preparedness training. However, while it might help keep them fit, I suspect it will do little to help their survival if (or should that be when?) the undead rise. This is because there’s a big difference between running slowly round the block while listening to your favourite tunes on you iPod and running for your life. This difference is that to survive in a zombie apocalypse you need to be able to think on your feet while you run. For this reason, if you want to prepare yourself for life in a zombie apocalypse, you should consider not just running, but extreme running.
Now, I know you probably won’t be familiar with this term, but it’s a catch-all term for a growing collection of extreme events held all over the world which set challenges that mix basic running with other skills. Take the Spartan Sprint events which are held across the US, Canada and the UK. These mix a 3 mile race with 15 pretty serious obstacles which you need to get over in order to complete it. This is exactly the type of thing you’d need to be able to do to survive the immediate threats at the start of a zombie outbreak (forget about fighting back – getting the hell out of there as fast as you can is always going to be your best option). If this sounds a bit too light weight for you, there’s harder versions in the Spartan Racing series, right to marathons with as may as 50 obstacles for you to surmount.
Similar to the Spartan races are ones known as Beasts. These tend to put particular emphasis on the obstacles and are generally over much rougher terrain, and are based on assault courses used in special forces training. If want to get an idea of what one of these would involve, you can look at the course for my local one in Scotland, called, quite simply, The Beast Race.
Beyond these relatively simple obstacle courses are the more complex adventure racing and rogaining events. These are long-distance races across hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and seas which combine a range of skills and challenges, and often take place across several days. In them, you have to carry everything with you and cannot use motorised transport or GPSs for navigation, and the clock never stops meaning at the end of a day you have to choose between getting some rest so you’re fresh for the next day, and carrying on into the night to save time. Now that good training for surviving in a zombie apocalypse.
Of course, none of these will prepare you for being chased by a horde of zombies, but this is where the 2.8 Hours Later events come in. These are open-ended events which take places in real world locations over several hours and involve being chased by real life zombies (ok, they’re only actors dressed as zombies but they seem real enough when the jump out at you from an alleyway – if you don’t believe me watch the trailer posted on their website!). If that doesn’t help prepare you for surviving when the undead rise, then nothing will.
Finally, if you don’t want the fear when you’re running to be fake, there’s the famous Running with the Bulls in Pamplona in Spain. This involves hurtling through narrow cobbled streets over a distance of 825 metres. It doesn’t sound like much until you find out you have to do this while being chased by a herd of bulls. It’s probably the closest you can ever get to being in a crowd fleeing from marauding zombies (until a zombie apocalypse happens, but by them the time for preparation is over!).
So what’s the take home message here? Well, I think it’s that while the cardio rule is good, there’s more to it than just being able to do a couple of laps around the block. Instead, to prepare yourself for a zombie apocalypse, you need to train yourself to do more than just run! And for once I’m going to put my money where my mouth is because I’ve rather rashly agreed to take part in my local Spartan Sprint in Edinburgh. Luckily, I’ve missed this year’s event so I’ve got just under a year to get myself in shape (or work out a way of getting out of it!).
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.