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7 Tips to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (and Your Next Zombie Run)

(Editor's Note: Today's guest post comes from endurance sports expert Pete Williams. Pete writes about fitness, business, and sports for several publications, and he hosts "The Fitness Buff" radio show on BlogTalk Radio. Today, he shares some tips for those of you who are preparing for a zombie run.)

-Jess Barron, LIVESTRONG.COM Editor-in-Chief

Think you can survive a 3.1-mile gauntlet of the walking dead?

Zombie-themed runs might not seem like the most physically demanding of the many obstacle events — including Tough Mudders, Spartan Races and more — that have sprung up in recent years. But when you add a hundred or more flesh-eating creatures to a muddy 5K course full of walls, rope climbs, and other barriers, it actually does become a significant challenge.

This time of year, there is no shortage of zombie races. There are the two major national circuits - The Zombie Run and Run for Your Lives - along with numerous local and regional events.

Zombie runs typically are not timed races. Runners wear a belt with three "lives" represented by flags or balloons that zombies - or perhaps humans dressed and painted as zombies - try to snatch. The good news is that runners can continue to the finish line even after losing all of their lives.

Photo Courtesy of The Zombie Run

Here are 7 training and race-day tips to survive (or at least enjoy) your next zombie run:

1. Warm Your Core. An active warm-up is important before a zombie run or training session since you’re using your entire body, often in ways you don’t expect. Front and side planks, glute bridges, and walking lunges, not only prime you for movement, but they’ll boost performance and help prevent injury. Check out these routines to stretch and workout your feet and also get a stronger core.

2. Train Laterally. Unlike regular 5K races or even other obstacle events, you tend to move more laterally in a zombie run to duck and dodge zombies. These movements will be familiar if you've played flag football. So train accordingly, focusing on moves such as a lateral lunge or lateral bound.

With a lateral lunge, step out to your right, keeping toes pointed ahead and feet flat. Squat down onto your right leg, keeping the left leg straight. Squat as low as possible and hold for two seconds. Do ten reps on each side. With a lateral bound, squat slightly with your right leg, then use your leg and glute muscles to jump laterally. Extend the ankle, knee, and hip and land on the left leg, maintaining your balance. Hold for a three count. Do ten on either side.

3. Run Intervals. Long, slow distance runs have a place in some training programs. Interval training builds speed and is especially important in zombie runs, where you will need to sprint to avoid a zombie and then (hopefully) have a period to run slower and recover before your next encounter with a member of the undead. With interval training, do a brief warm-up run, and then alternate between intervals of work and rest, i.e. three minutes of running at 80 percent followed by three minutes of walking or light running.

4. Run Off-Road: Zombie runs take place off road. So why train on concrete or asphalt, which is harder on the body anyway? Even in urban areas, you usually can run on the grass along sidewalks, through parks, on gravel or packed sand, and along waterways. Challenge yourself to run as much as possible off-road, leaping over sidewalks and other paved areas. Plus, running in parks and in safe wooded areas better simulates a zombie run. Think of how you could react if a zombie sprung from behind an upcoming tree or picnic table and move accordingly.

5. Train For Non-Human Obstacles: Zombie runs are not as laden with conventional challenges as Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and other obstacle events. But you'll still face much more than your typical 5K run in the form of crawls, walls, rope climbs, and other muddy pitfalls.

Simulate the rhythms and challenges of a zombie course during your next training run by stopping every half a mile to do a dozen pushups, pull-ups, or burpees. You can perform 30 mountain climbers or body-weight squats. Or do a combination of two or three exercises after each half a mile. The key is to make it continuous, mimicking a non-stop obstacle race.

6. Join The Undead: Most races offer free or reduced entry fees, professional makeup application, and even the opportunity to switch sides for anyone willing to work as a zombie.

You won't get off easy. Chasing desperate humans for an hour or two can be exhausting. Make sure you're properly trained. Not in shape? Some races position certain zombies in stationary, under-the-radar places to surprise runners, much like in a haunted house.

Photo Courtesy of The Zombie Run

7. Be A Human Sacrifice: If you're running with a child or an adult who intends to finish the race alive, serve as a blocker. Let the zombies take your "lives" as you run interference. Maintain the strategy even after death. Kids will have more fun if they're still alive. Plus, their smaller size gives them an advantage. As for your competitive adult friends? Provide the full adrenaline rush by abandoning them late in the course as the zombie horde closes in on the remaining survivors.

If you’re interested in preparing for a zombie run or obstacle race and you need more info on how to prepare, check out my new book on Amazon “Obstacle Fit: Your Complete Training Program to Run Fast, Conquer Challenges, and Discover Your Inner Spartan, Mudder, or Warrior.”  Also, check out my other guest blog post on LIVESTRONG.COM: "How to Prepare for an Obstacle Race."

- Pete Williams

Readers - Have you ever participated in an obstacle run, such as a Tough Mudder, Color Run, Spartan Race or Zombie Run? Which type of obstacle race did you enjoy most and why? Had you taken into consideration all of the tips above? Do you have any other tips that should be shared with first time runners?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer, co-author of Mark Verstegen's "Core Performance" fitness book series, and the creator of EnduranceSportsFlorida.com, which covers running, triathlon, stand-up paddle boarding and all tests of endurance in the Sunshine State.

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