Take Your Tech On A Fun Run

Welcome to the thirty-seventh installment of  Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

Header by Rory Midhani


This was a rough week for me in terms of feelings. Luckily, I recently restarted an old habit that has been known to make bad feelings into good ones.

I am talking, of course, about running.

Now, I am not very good at running. But nothing is better for moving you farther away from feelings of you’re not good enough or don’t even try because you will fail than using your own two legs to run away from them as fast as you can. Nothing is better at making you feel accomplished like sweating until you melt. And nothing is better at making all that even more satisfying than a few good running apps.

For Just Starting Out – Ease Into 5k

Ease into 5K uses interval training to take someone who spends more time on the couch and turn them into someone who spends more time in their running sneakers. This plan is 8 weeks long and increases the time your run over the time you walk every day. You run three times a week. It’s a lot like the Couch to 5k podcasts, except you get to listen to your own darn music (I’ve been doing a lot of Le Tigre). If you use RunHelper to keep track of your running, it connects directly with that. It also has a journal feature so you can keep track of your runs – when you did them, how you felt, what your fastest mile is. Super light and simple, perfect for a beginner. iOS, $2.99.

For Keeping Track – Nike +

No one can argue with Nike + Running. It’s so far the smoothest running app I’ve experienced – it keeps track of how many miles you’ve run, how fast you’ve run them, when you run them, your average pace, how you felt running them, whether or not you’ve run more than last week. It graphs things for you to see with your eyes and it syncs to Nike + online, where your friends can see your runs as well. I find this kind of motivating because you can see which of your friends is in the lead (and if you want to be friends with me on Nike +, I’m lovelyalio, just FYI, and you’ll probably beat me). You can also connect Nike + to Twitter and Facebook to brag just a little bit about your mad running skills. This app let’s you listen to your own music AND it runs nicely in the background if you want to keep track on Nike but use another app in the foreground, like Ease Into 5K. iOS, totes free. Also on Android, also totes free.

For Motivation – Zombies, Run! 2

If easing into a 5k isn’t what you need, bragging on social media isn’t enough of a reason to get up and go, Zombies, Run! 2 might be the pick for you. Basically, you run from zombies. Like, basically that’s it. But also there’s more –

You collect supplies, save survivors, and when you get home you build your base (called Abel Township) to fortify you during the zombie apocalypse. There are 33 missions included and over 60 more with a season pass. Everything syncs to Zombielink, where you can see your stats graphed (how fast do you run when there’s a zombie chasing you?) and share your runs with with your friends. On iOS for $3.99, also on Android for the same price.

If you’re easing into a 5k but still want the added motivation of a zombie apocalypse, the same company’s got a 5K training app. You still get missions and you still get Zombielink syncing. It’s also pretty perfect to train for Run For Your Lives, a 5k zombie-infested obstacle course. On iOS for $1.99, on Android for the same price.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I have Couch to 5K and I listen to my own music. Can anyone tell me how exactly Nike+ Running works? I can not figure out how to get it working in the background.

    • You start it up and then you can move onto another app if you like?
      what is your problem?

  2. Zombies, Run! also has a number of queer characters, such as the base doctor and the zany duo who run the base radio station.

    I loves it.

  3. if anyone wants a couch to 5k app but doesn’t want to put money into it in case you flake, i’m using Free C25K (the little icon is black with a breast cancer ribbon for some reason?). it lets you play your own music and gives voice cues, although you seem to have to have the app open for the whole time, like not even turning off the screen, which is definitely a battery drain. if i ever get through it i’m gonna buy myself zombies to celebrate/motivate further out of character running endeavors.

  4. yay zombies run! I love it!
    I use it when I’m riding and when I’m running, it’s so fun!
    I bought the 5k but then I got sick and now with the shitty weather I’ve decided to weather til it’s spring to start again

    I also use nike+ nd theyve just updated their app so it’s much nicer now.
    btw, I only have a handful of people on nike+ so feel free to add me, I’m okelay.

  5. I’ve used all of these apps, and I really recommend the ei25k app. It’s well done and the program is solid. I love the plot integration of zombies, run, but the 5k app has really long workouts (50+ minutes) and I haven’t seen the progression I did with the ei25k.

    For the person asking about the Nike app, it’s been a while since I’ve used it, but you should have the option to add music when you start a run and you get motivational words from various athletes when you hit certain milestones. It uses GPS tracking, but doesn’t integrate with runkeeper.

  6. zombies, run! is the funnest thing ever. I like to play it while running through the deer trails at claremont canyon with a pack of dogs. Sometimes I get pretty carried away and forget that there are occasionally other people on the trail who I might scare the shit out of.

    • getting really into it is half the fun! I read a comic strip featuring that a while ago

    • I get wayy too into ZR, to the point where I talk back to the app. It’s really motivating and fun, though, even if I probably look like a maniac, what with running around in wild-eyed terror and talking to “myself”.

      Worth it.

  7. I love Zombies Run! YES!

    And also the Adidas miCoach app (free) is really good for training programs, and works great on a treadmill (listen to what it tells you to do, listen to your own playlist, type in km run at the end), as well as outdoors with GPS. miCoach is how I got from not-a-runner to is-known-to-run-at-times.

  8. I just started jogging! I’ve been listening to podcasts and stuff to pass the time, since music usually just kinda bores me. I might look into buying that zombie app, it seems really cool.

  9. I’ve been using nike+ for a while, but haven’t connected with any friends because my stats are super embarrassing! Like, who takes over an hour to run 5k? But hey, if you’re bad at running too, you should add me (steelpeterson) and we can maybe motivate each other or something.

  10. I LOVE zombies, run. I’ve completed 7 missions and I run nearly every day though I hate running. I ran over 3 miles today, something I’ve never done before. If you’re at all into video games, you’ll love this. Every run gets you closer to having an AWESOME base. My only complaint is you can’t skip a song in your play list.

  11. When I started running I used Couch to 5k. Once I’d managed to stop feeling like I was going to die and was going 3-5 mile runs on the regular, I needed to mix it up. Enter Zombies, Run! It was a relatively new program back then and absolutely cracked me up. After my running injury (a-camp 1.0: Kate vs the mountain. The mountain won) I couldn’t run without extreme pain. Finally have that under control with the help of an Osteopath. So I’m running again. Just downloaded the new Zombies, run! 2 and can’t wait to hit the trails!

  12. guys i just want you all to know that i listen to allison weiss and mal blum and other sad brooklyn lesbians when i run. OCCASIONALLY i’ll listen to the new pop-y tegan & sara stuff, but like, 99% of the time i am running to sad gay tunez. and it’s the best and i’m not sorry.

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