Long Runs Getting Boring? Pokemon Go to the Rescue!
Long runs are a must-have for many training programs. There is simply no way around long runs when you are preparing for a big race. Since long runs are, well, long, sometimes they can become a bit boring. If you are finding yourself dreading your next long run and even considering (gasp!) skipping it altogether, consider making your long run into a game, or bringing one with you.
Unless you live under a rock, you have seen or at least heard of the 2016-2017 phenomenon known as Pokemon Go. You’ve probably seen kids running around parks, teenagers standing in large groups laughing, and adults huddled together in cars randomly all moving their fingers in a line on their phone screens. Your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channels, and any other social media outlet you have has also probably been riddled with photos, articles, and videos involving Pokemon Go. With the 1-year anniversary of the game just passing (Pokemon Go was designed by Niantic Labs and published by Nintendo on July 6th, 2016.), you’re probably about to see even more from and about Pokemon Go.
Just in case you have no idea what I’m referring to here is a brief outline of what Pokemon Go is. Pokemon Go is a mobile game that allows the users to capture Pokemon in live-time. The game utilizes GPS like technology (think Google Maps) to connect the user’s onscreen game to the user’s real life surroundings. That means that the app is able to tap into the camera and map server on the user’s phone to show Pokemon in the real world. For example, say you load the game while sitting at your desk at work. Watch out now! A wild Pikachu just appeared on the top of your computer monitor! Hurry up and catch him before he disappears! If this was actually happening, you would see, on your phone screen, a video like appearance of your entire work-area with the Pikachu right on top of your computer (think Photoshop with the obviously copy/paste look).
Don’t be fooled, Pokemon Go is not your average app. Available on iOS and Android, this game is designed to create active game play (getting up and moving outside vs sitting inside on the couch) and promotes social interaction within communities (users meeting up to play together). The object of the game is to search your surroundings (near and far) to catch Pokemon, join/battle gyms, and hatch eggs.
You’re probably wondering what do all of these things have to do with running. Well, you level up fastest in the game by catching more Pokemon and hatching more eggs. What’s the fastest way to do that…logging distance. That’s right the fastest way to level-up in the game is to walk or run 2, 5, and 10 kilometers… or more! (Eggs are designed to hatch only after completing 2, 5, or 10 kilometers.) The Pokemon GO support site states, “In general, the more kilometers required, the rarer the Pokémon that will hatch”. Some Pokemon characters are incredibly hard to find, it’s extremely hard to “catch ’em all.” Pokemon spawn at different times at different locations so, playing the game while running is a guaranteed way to level-up faster.
Think I’m crazy yet? Or maybe you think I’m just lying. According to a Runner’s World article by Christopher Michael, one of their Digital Editors, Brian Dalek, tried Pokemon Go and actually enjoyed himself. Dalek was quoted as saying, “Once you get near a creature, your phone will vibrate as a way to tell you it’s time to catch something”. This means that you can still focus on the terrain, listen to your playlist, and never miss a nearby Pokemon!
Now that you’re super excited to try Pokemon Go, you’re probably wondering how you get it? Whether you have an iOS or and Android, go to your app store and search “Pokemon Go”. Want to hear the best part? Pokemon Go is FREE! Yup, there is no download or purchasing fee. Like most apps, there are in-app purchases available. However, unlike most mobile games, these in-app purchases do not hinder your progress in the game. Do they help advance you faster, of course they do. But, you do not need to purchase anything to level-up (ever).
Before you head out the door with Pokemon Go newly downloaded, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- Decide on a running path through a commonly utilized trail or at a park that is typically pretty full. Pokestops and Pokemon tend be in abundance in high trafficked areas.
- Before leaving on your run, make sure you phone is fully charged. If you have a small pocket sized portable charge, bring that too! Between Pokemon Go, your fitness and/or running app, and your music app, your battery will drain!
- Do not stop running. This may seem silly or said unnecessarily but, Pokemon Go is addicting. Keep running and do not stop to catch a Pokemon. As soon as you click on the Pokemon, it does not disappear so, there is truly no need to stop running. Keep running your number one priority and think of catching Pokemon as an added bonus.
Before Pokemon Go was created, the Pokemon franchise was extremely popular. Its audience spanned from children aged 6-8 years of age to fully grown adults over the age of 60. With the launch of Pokemon Go, a whole new experience was created. If you’ve never in your life seen or heard of a Pokemon before reading this article, please do me a favor and give Pokemon Go a try. It’s a free game that is unlike anything else you have ever played. It’s also a welcome distraction for completing long runs. Honestly, what do you have to lose? If you try it and completely dislike it, delete it off your phone and pretend like you never ever even tried it.