Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go. This is of course the massive augmented reality sensation from Nintendo that places Pokémon into the world around us. The game uses data from Google Maps in order to allow us to hunt for local Pokémon and this then triggers a mini game using a combination of your device’s camera and its gyroscopes in order to make the Pokémon appear as though they’re right there in front of you.
But what does this have to do with running?
Well, if you want to give yourself a new challenge and make your running fun in a new way, you can turn this into a running workout! Here is how it works
Set Up the Game and Go!
The first thing to do of course is to set up the game. Once you’re ready, just run out the door and start!
Now, the key thing to remember here is that you mustn’t spend the entire time looking at your phone. When you do that, you will be putting yourself at risk and you’ll likely put your foot in a pothole or ditch. Never run while looking at your screen!
The good news is that your device will vibrate when you’re near a Pokémon. All you need to do then is carry it in one hand and run to areas where they’re likely to be. Pokéstops are places where people can ‘lure’ Pokémon, which means there will often be more in those areas. Run to the areas on your map with lots of blue structures and pink leaves and then you should find your phone vibrates from time to time.
When that happens, just stop, play the minigame and capture your Pokémon! It makes running more fun but it can also act as a form of natural interval training. Because you’ll be running and stopping intermittently, this means you can run a little faster between Pokémon.
One tip when running is that you should put the game on ‘battery saver mode’. In this mode, the device screen will go dark as long as it is held upside down. That means you can point it down while running, or you can slip it in a pocket and you’ll be using considerably less power. Soon there will be a Pokémon Go smartwatch you can wear!
The other tip is to make sure to incubate eggs. These hatch based on the steps you take, so running will give you a big advantage!
The image most of us have of running involves a person running steadily for about 30 to 40 minutes in one direction, without taking breaks or varying in speed. This is what is known as ‘steady state cardio’ and in fact is only one type of running that you have available to you.
While steady state cardio has a ton of benefits for your health, eventually you might find yourself getting to the point where it is time to increase the challenge. This is when you may consider interval training, which opens up a whole new level of difficult and reward.
What is Interval Training?
Interval training essentially means that you are alternating between periods of high intensity and intervals of relative rest. That means you go all out for a short period and then have a slightly longer period to relax and let yourself regain your breath and composure.
The reason this is beneficial, is that it tests you at your ‘lactate threshold’. This means you are going fast enough that your body can’t keep up with recycling lactate. It’s also known as your anaerobic threshold, because it pushes your body faster than the aerobic system can keep up.
This is great for fitness because it means you’ll be able to improve your ability to produce fast energy in an efficient manner. It’s also great for losing weight, because it means that you’ll be burning a lot of your blood sugar. Then, when you have used up all of that blood sugar, your body will be forced to resort to burning fat in order to provide that same fuel. This means you actually burn more calories throughout the day following intervals!
How to Start
So how do you get started? As with running, the key is to introduce this very intensive form of training gradually into your program. Try adding interval training once a week to begin with and for no more than 20 minutes.
During this time, alternate between 30 seconds of sprinting and 2 minutes of recovery. This will send your heartrate through the roof and really test your explosive power and your fast energy systems!
Then, as you get more confident, you can start increasing the challenge by doing these sessions a couple of times a week or straight after other workouts (in which case it’s known as a ‘finisher’).