32 Rules of Zombieland and Marathon Training

If you haven’t seen the movie Zombieland this may not make any sense, but if you’re a marathon runner and zombie fanatic, you will see the parallels. In Zombieland, there’s the typical battle between flesh eating zombies and normal people trying to stay alive and get away from the bad guys. A clever spin on the movie is that the narrator weaves in the “32 Rules of Zombieland” throughout the movie.
As I sat through the movie, I couldn’t help but draw the parallels with marathon training.

Rule#1: Cardio. This is an obvious one as the slow humans are usually the first ones to lose a limb. As a runner, also an obvious one. We spend several hours throughout a given month and that intensifies in a typical 18 week training program. The training builds up the miles and cardio capability to hoof it through 26.2 miles.

Rule#24: No Drinking. This one is a toss-up as most runners I know enjoy their cold beverages. As it is with many things in life, moderation is the rule. A few beers the night before can fuel a good long run on a Saturday, but a bottle of red wine the night before a race and you’ll pay for it in the race and in Zombieland--lose the race, or lose a limb.

Rule#6: Travel in a Group. In Zombieland, you always want someone with you at all times for obvious reasons--mainly fighting off aforementioned flesh eating creatures. As a runner, it's insane to train alone...I know because that's what I did after reading Hal Higdon's book. I'd recommend the book; I wouldn't recommend running alone. You learn from other runners, it pushes you to keep the pace and stick to the training prescribed for that day.

Rule#32: Enjoy the Little Things. I don’t know about you, but I’m anal about charting my training program and logging my actuals vs. plan to see how I’m doing. Entering 22 into the “how many miles did I actually run” cell on the spreadsheet and checking it off the list is quite satisfying. As of this week, I’ve now logged over 400 training miles….ahhh…the little things.
Same holds true for the opportunity we have as runners to run in some really cool places during different times of the year (see Cool Running blog.)

Rule#2: Beware of Bathrooms. You’re a “sitting duck” in a bathroom in Zombieland. Advice to runners (especially on long runs)—know where your bathrooms are, or Beware of long stretches with no bathrooms. There’s a pine tree in Highlands Ranch that I can never look again without thinking of my lesson learned here. Nuf said.

Rule#2: Be Ruthless. This is a competition after all, isn’t it? Go for it—be (smart and ) ruthless in your training and be ruthless on race day. My highly competitive inner drive is always pushing me to hit some kind of goal. My ruthless goal—beat my previous PR of 3:32 and hit 3:30 to qualify for Boston.


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