Zombies can run faster hit harder and pretty much destroy a player 1 vs 1. A new player should be able to:
A. Kill one zombie.
B. be able to knock down the zombie while punching it to get away (critical hit etc)
or C. being unweighted down by useful weapons and gear be able to run away faster than the zombie can catch them and have the zombie de-agro.
Or have a much lower chance of attracting a zombie because they can move "quieter" without gear. Though if they come face to face they are still zombie chow.
Related issue. Zombies can see through walls and hear footsteps at 200 steps away.