How To Play Pokemon Go While Running

pokemon-go-logo-01HUGE DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical or fitness professional. I am an overweight desk worker, and this is entirely based on my experiences. Consult with your doctor before starting any fitness plan! Pay attention to your body– if something hurts, especially a sharp pain, then stop your activity, gently stretch, and go rest it. If you suspect an injury, or if it hurts for more than 2 days, see a medical professional.

Now, on to the post!

So, I play Pokemon Go and I also run quite a bit. A friend of mine recently asked how to combine the two activities, so I’ve written this handy little strategy guide to leveling up your body while hunting your pokemon! It’s broken down into three sections, for those who need to build their walking endurance, those who need to transition into running, and those who want to combine pokemon hunting and running at the same time.

My advice in here hinges on using the tried-and-true Couch-to-5K training plan. This is a solid training program that isn’t too onerous, and which has helped millions of people get up and go. There are tons of C25K apps for various smartphones available, or you can use a stopwatch to keep track of your intervals (the amount of time you run and walk).

For reference: I am short, about 80 lbs overweight, and I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it regularly hits 110F during the summer. On Saturday morning, I ran 3 miles without dying. I probably could have run another mile, if I’m honest with myself, but it was 8 AM and starting to get hot.

BE SAFE! Drink plenty of water, run in areas where you feel safe, wear non-cotton “quick dry” clothes to maintain body temperature, wear reflective clothes when running at night, and above all, make sure you have good running shoes that fit well and provide the right support for your foot. Many runners team up with a friend for safety and motivation, as well!

Pokemon Go Activities for Runners

There are four types of activities in Pokemon Go that you do while on the go. All of them require the app to be open and in the foreground while you do them.

Incubating Eggs: The most passive activity. If you have the app open and the GPS registers that you are moving at a walk or jog pace, it will log kilometers on your eggs and eventually hatch them.

Hitting Pokestops: This is how you get free pokeballs, potions, and eggs. You have to be near one to initiate a “spin,” and after you spin the ring, your free stuff falls out. Click the freebies and they will go into your inventory.

Many pokemon players don’t know you can “quick-hit” these stops. Spin the ring and then click the “X” to close the stop. Your freebies will be put into your inventory automatically. I get my goodies at pokestops in about 2 seconds using this method– plenty fast enough to keep jogging, and safer because I’m not looking at my phone.

Catching Pokemon: Because you have to look at the screen to throw pokeballs, I do not recommend this while you are jogging, and I don’t recommend it if you are walking anywhere unsafe. Stay aware of your surroundings. In some cases, though, especially if you are a slow walker or on a safe, paved path, you can catch them while you continue to walk.

Hitting the Gym: Gym battles and training take a lot of focus. Don’t do them while you are training your body.

Training for Non-Walkers

Long ago, before I was a runner, I did some pre-training for Couch to 5K, where I spent about a month working up to being able to walk for 30 minutes without getting winded. I was very out of shape! But I wanted to do a marathon, so I started out by training to train! I had recently seen a doctor and finally got a pre-exercise medication for my asthma (they exist! If you have exercise-induced asthma, ask your doctor about it!) and was eager to improve my overall health.

If you can’t currently walk for 30 minutes without stopping for a rest, you need to slowly build up to that:

  • Week 1: Walk 3 times during the week, for as long as you can.
  • Week 2 and above: Increase the amount of time you walk by just 10%.

That means if you could walk for 10 minutes on week 1, you will walk for 11 minutes in week 2. When you can walk for 30 minutes without stopping for rest, do that for 2-3 weeks (building a foundation), and then start Couch to 5K.

Pokemon Go: During this phase of your “training,” you can open the Pokemon Go app and incubate eggs, hit pokestops, and catch pokemons, as long as you do not stop walking while you are throwing balls at the pokemons. If that isn’t safe for you, then just leave the app open while you incubate eggs and quick-hit pokestops.

Training for Non-Joggers

Download one of the many Couch-to-5K apps for your smartphone and use it! I liked RunDouble’s app.  You can also just use a stopwatch and the program from the website. When I started running, I didn’t even have a smartphone and just used a watch for the intervals.

In general, you can do the C25K program using either distance or time. Don’t worry if you are slow! You can go through the C25K program multiple times. After I completed it once for time, I backtracked to the week I could complete for distance, and finished it using distance instead of time. It worked really well, and I can now fairly easily do a 5K when it isn’t 105 degrees out yet. When I’ve taken a lot of time off from running, I will often go back to the C25K program and “reboot” to get back into basic shape.

Pokemon Go: You can hit pokestops and incubate eggs. You can also hunt pokemon during the walk intervals, as long as you don’t stop walking while you throw pokeballs.

Training for Runners (5K and Beyond!)

Did you finish the C25K plan? Can you run for 30 minutes or 5 kilometers without stopping? Congratulations! You are a runner!

You can backtrack to a previous week in the C25K program to repeat and improve your time and endurance. I’ve done this multiple times to push my pace up a little bit at a time.

Also consider a “5k-to-10K” plan, or a “5K improver” plan. Again, don’t increase your time or distance by more than about 10% per week.

Put rest days in between running days– you can walk on rest days, but don’t run or do vigorous cardio. Keep going until you can run a 5K without stopping! Then sign up for a 5K race, set up some egg incubators right before the race, and hatch them by the end of the event! That’s a fun accomplishment!

I also use the Zombies Run app, which is made by Six to Start. They also make a Zombie couch-to-5K app, as well as a walking app. The app basically tracks your run and interrupts your music to play a zombie-themed story, as if you are a member of a zombie-surviving community. It gives me something fun to listen to while I’m out jogging, and there’s an option to have the zombies chase you if you’d like to do speed intervals while you’re jogging.

I have to admit, though: Zombies Run, Spotify, Charity Miles, and Pokemon Go was too much going simultaneously for my phone, and various apps kept failing (usually Pokemon, and then restarting it would knock out Spotify, and somewhere along the way, Zombies Run crashed and didn’t actually log my miles, which really sucked.)

I’ve also used RunKeeper and RunDouble (the Couch to 5K program got me back to running 5Ks after a long break), and I enjoyed both of them. They have interval reminders to tell you when to speed up or slow down, or how far you’ve gone, and they let your music play through while the app tracks your workout for you.

If you really want to improve your running and overall fitness, get a heart rate monitor and use it while you are out running. Try to stay in a good training zone for 20-30 minutes; you will find that you will have to run harder as you get stronger, but that’s what happens when you level up!

The 10-20-30 (or 30-20-10) running workout is a very quick, intense running training program that really does improve your 5K time, but will not help much with your pokemon hunting! When you can jog for about 30 minutes at a time, or after you’ve done your first non-stop 5K, the 10-20-30 workout is a good way to tone and train. You run slowly for 30 seconds, at a steady speed for 20 seconds, and then as fast as you can sprint for 10 seconds. Repeat this 5 times, then walk or do a slow jog for 1 minutes. Repeat the whole set once, then stop and cool down by walking for 5 minutes. That’s it. Your workout is now 12 minutes long, plus cooldown. Do this twice a week, and make sure you have rest days between this workout and your other running workouts.

At this point, with all the rest days, you might wonder how to fit it all in. Here’s an example training schedule:

  • Sunday: REST.
  • Monday: Weight lifting: leg day! (30 minutes)
  • Tuesday: 10-20-30 run (12 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Weight lifting: core day! (Back, abs, chest, 30 minutes)
  • Thursday: 10-20-30 run (12 minutes)
  • Friday: Weight lifting: arm day! (30 minutes)
  • Saturday: long run (40 minutes or longer).

Notice that, except for Leg Day for weight-lifting, the leg-intensive days alternate so they get a chance to rest. The weight lifting days also alternate to provide rest time as well. And there’s one day of full rest after the long run. You could also combine the 10-20-30 days with the non-leg weight training days, if you needed to for scheduling reasons.

If that seems like too much, remember that this is the kind of training schedule someone would do if they’re training to improve their time on a specific race (like a 5K, or 3.1 miles).

If you wanted to increase your distance to 10K (6.2 miles), a half marathon (13 miles), or a marathon (26.2 miles), you would switch the schedule to something with some mid-length runs or speedplay (fartleks) in place of the 10-20-30 runs.

I know this seems like a big commitment– 30-60 minutes a day, 6 days a week? Well, I’m sure you’ve done some other kind of long-grind project like that, whether it’s a creative project, fitness, or just “getting to level 50” in a video game. This is just another form of a long quest, where you’re putting in dedicated amounts of time, but the game has a “decay” mode, so you can’t just put it on pause indefinitely and pick up where you left off.

Once you’re doing this kind of training, you can add a 30-minute “pokemon walk” where you can feel free to stop and catch pokemons on any day. Those are “non-training” walks, and they won’t feel strenuous to you any more. You don’t have to worry about your heart rate, and you can just have a good time.

Pokemon Go: If you want to jog nonstop, do not hunt pokemons while jogging. It’s easy to incubate eggs and hit pokestops while running. It’s really hard to maintain a fitness heart rate and throw pokeballs at pokemon at the same time. Open the app so it’ll track your jogging. Look ahead to the pokestops so you know when to look at your phone, or put the sound notifications on (pokestops have a different noise than pokemons). Only look at your phone when you’re passing a pokestop, and then just to do a quick-hit as you jog past.