When Pokémon GO launched almost two weeks ago, the Runkeeper Team was foreseeably excited. A company teeming with tech and fitness buffs, most of whom are susceptible to late 1990s/early 2000s nostalgia, catching Pokémon around our Boston office became a go-to activity for lunchtime strolls and coffee breaks.
And of course, many of our users quickly discovered that Pokémon GO and Runkeeper are a match made in fitness-app heaven. And while catching Pokémon during your workouts may have slowed down your running times…
— Ed Heavey (@EdHeavey) July 13, 2016
…running is by far the most strategic way of playing Pokémon GO (and for our users in countries still waiting on the release, consider this a preview of the glorious times to come). So how exactly does running benefit your Pokémon game?
1. You’ll cover more ground, which means…
You’ll hit more PokéStops
This is intuitive, but the faster your pace, the more ground you’ll cover, and the more PokéStops you’ll discover. At PokéStops, you’ll be able to replenish your PokéBalls—very important if your aim isn’t yet on par with Ash’s—and collect items like eggs, coins, potions, and incense.
PokéStops are located at historical sites, landmarks, art pieces, and other tourist attractions, from shopping malls to churches, so if you live in a city you’ll have no trouble hitting a bunch of them on your run. If you’re in a more rural area, you may want to map out your route beforehand. You can do so by looking at the Ingress Intel Map (the game that inspired Pokémon GO, and plots many similar points of attraction. You’ll need to make an account there first). If you’re looking to get into the regular habit of chasin’ coins (and eggs, and potions, and incense), you can tailor your daily running route to hit enough PokéStops to fuel your Pokémon hunting for the rest of the day.
Of course, you can also purchase PokéBalls, eggs, and other swag in the store shop with coins, or spend your actual money. But that would be silly. Get out there instead.
Runner’s Bonus: Taking the time to reap the benefits of PokéStops is a fabulous way of incorporating the run, walk, run technique into your workout. Perfect for beginning runners!
You’ll compete at more gyms
While you can’t enter a gym until you’ve reached Level 5, you’ll get there in no time (if you haven’t already). Elevate your game by gaining experience, which you’ll be able to do quickly thanks to all the Pokéstops you are visiting and Pokémon you are catching more efficiently through running!
Once you’ve joined Team Valor, Team Mystic, or Team Instinct (one of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make in a while, we know), you can start battling. Polygon has a helpful starter guide to Pokémon GO gyms, but essentially, winning battles can help you take over rival gyms, and training can help you fortify your own. Because running increases the ground you can cover, you can help your team take over your city, and eventually, the world (well, it may be a little hard to run across continents, but I’m sure we’ll see a crop of global trainers dominating the game real soon).
You’ll hatch eggs faster
Now that you’ve been hitting up all those Pokéstops, chances are you’ve collected some eggs that need hatching! Each egg has a specific built in incubation distance (either 2K, 5K, or 10K). You could walk this distance, sure, but why not speed things up while also getting in a workout?
Here’s a graphic from Serebii.net that shows the different kinds of Pokémon that hatch from the three incubation distances.
Runkeeper Tip: You’re able to use both Runkeeper and Pokémon GO apps simultaneously. Pokémon GO doesn’t track in the background, so be sure to have the app open while incubating. But we found that while tracking on Runkeeper stays accurate, Pokémon GO’s incubation distance may be skewed (e.g my 5K run credited only 1.5K for the 2K egg I was trying to hatch). So if hatching is urgent business, you may want to forgo tracking on Runkeeper for a day.
Runner’s Bonus: Forget free bananas—nothing spells extrinsic motivation like a smiling baby Snorlax at the end of a 10K.
Word to the wise: Pokémon GO does not reward too much speed. Just try to keep your pace to under 15 mph :) —which brings us to our next reason running is the ultimate Pokémon GO hack:
2. You’ll look a lot cooler
Don’t be lame and use a car, or you may end up like this dude. For one, because of the game’s built-in speed limits, you won’t be able to perform critical functions like hatching eggs. And for another, it’s pretty dangerous. The National Safety Council issued an advisory against it, for good reason. How are you supposed to focus on the road when there’s a Dragonair blocking your path? What are you supposed to do, run over the little guy? Of course not.
Biking is risky for similar reasons, but preferable to driving. What about walking? Some of you may have the old “walk and catch” down, but for me, I feel like one of three things when playing and walking:
1. A classic twenty-something glued to her phone and incapable of interacting with the outside world (not true—I’m interacting with augmented reality! That’s extra interactive, right?)
2. An elderly person with a metal detector on the beach (surprisingly similar in movements, pace, and purpose. Tracking down a Mewtwo feels like striking gold, anyway. I’m thinking this comparison is increasingly apt.).
3. A total newbie trying to discover what all the hype is about (I was super self-conscious of someone on the streets looking onto my screen as I tried five times, unsuccessfully, to wrangle a Tauros at the park during my lunch break. Had to get back to Runkeeper, so gave up, and was waiting to cross the street when a woman came up to me and said “Pay attention,” assuming I was description #1. Little did she know!).
Long story short, your best chance of looking cool while playing Pokémon GO is to avoid these scenarios completely. How can you do that? By looking like a runner! A runner who just so happens to be catching mad Pokémon while crushing her workout.
And finally, our third reason running is the ultimate Pokémon GO hack:
3. You’ll catch more diverse Pokémon
One of the most pleasurable aspects of running is exploring new routes and taking in some beautiful landscapes. Niantic incorporated this benefit into Pokémon GO by making species of Pokémon indigenous to different microclimates, encouraging you to branch out from your stomping grounds.
If your Pokémon GO play is limited to your walk to and from work every day, you’ll miss out on diversifying your Pokédex. Try taking a run in a wooded area for grass Pokémon. Or head on a beach run to hunt down some some Horseas and Goldeens. Imore.com has a helpful guide for figuring out Pokémon habitats, and Trulia created some neat maps to track down five different types of Pokémon.
Again, because running means covering more ground, you’ll catch those unique Pokémon way more efficiently than you would otherwise.
Have you used running as a Pokémon GO strategy? Tried playing while tracking on Runkeeper? How was your experience? We’d love to hear about it—and any Pokémon GO hacks of your own—in the comments below!