10 Tips to Play Pokémon Go AND Get in a Good Run!

Oregano scoops up a pokemon mid-runIn case you’ve been hiding underground like a DiglettPokémon Go is an insanely popular augmented reality game in which people wander around their neighborhoods searching for digital creatures to capture in “Poké Balls,” which they collect at various “PokéStops” throughout their city.

There are a couple of different ways to play the game. You can simply focus exclusively on catching all of the 142 Pokémon characters available in the US, or you can train and battle other people’s Pokémon in Gyms. It’s a whole thing. If you’re interested in the details, read this or any of the million articles about the game out there.

Read on for tips on how to multi-task your daily run with your Pokémon Go addiction to have fun and level up fast!

Running is a great way to make rapid progress through the game when you play to collect Pokémon, as the game is built on the premise of people moving through the real world by foot, using the GPS in your phone. Moving through the real world quickly by foot leads to rapid progress! I’ve been on a few Pokémon Go runs in the last week. During the 22 miles of my Pokémon runs I caught 33 Pokémon and visited 55 PokéStops. Along the way, I’ve learned some tricks and hacks to maximize run quality, while at the same time leveling up in Pokémon Go. As a result of these few runs and the points below, I am on level 16 with very little time spent playing outside of running.


Don’t trip. Don’t run into anything. Don’t let anything run into you. Seriously. If you don’t think you can play the game safely while running, DON’T TRY!

Tip #2: Don’t forget good phone etiquette.

This is related to the point above, but is more geared to not looking like an idiot or irritating everyone with your phone noises. Put it on vibrate or put in headphones so you feel/hear alerts when you pass PokéStops or find Pokémon. Your fellow man will thank you.

Tip #3: Make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave on your run.

The app is a destroyer of batteries.

Tip #4 : Keep running.

Do not stop your run to capture a Pokémon, unless you see something really truly incredible. My general rule is that I only stop for a Pokémon that is new to me. I probably catch two-thirds of the Pokémon I see on a run while continuing to run at a steady pace. The remaining one-third, I abandon. Your run time should be used, primarily, for running. The Pokémon catching is a nice addition, but you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your workout for virtual creatures. Remember you’re a runner first and Pokémon catcher second.

Parks and Popular Trails are FULL of Poke Stops!
Parks and Popular Trails are FULL of Poke Stops!

Tip #5: Use a maximum of two Poké balls per Pokémon.

In general I find my aim starts out great and gets worse as the run goes on and my hands get sweatier. Limiting Poké balls to two saves my Poké ball stash and also means I’m distracted for a shorter period of time.

Tip #6: Turn off AR and make sure that your phone is held up when you click on the Pokémon.

When you’re about to catch a Pokémon, in the top right-hand corner of your screen there is an AR On/Off switch. Touch it to turn it ‘Off’ and the screen will switch from camera mode to a still mode that makes catching Pokémon while running much easier. If you hold your phone up when there’s a Pokémon, it shows up in front of you most of the time. If you turn a corner and suddenly the Pokémon is beside or behind you, just give it up.

Tip #7: Prioritize PokéStops over Pokémon, and don’t even bother with gyms.

PokéStops are a 100% sure thing: you run by, you spin the token, you receive the things and experience points. It works every time. Catching Pokémon, on the other hand, takes much more time and better aim. It’s totally doable while running, but I generally go for the sure thing. Skip out on gym battles – duh. Unless you happen to start or finish your run at a gym, you will be out of range before you even get started.

Tip #8: Pick a route through a park or on a well-used trail.

Parks and trails tend to be full of PokéStops! In general, more trafficked areas and areas with more accessible GPS spots will have more Pokémon and PokéStops.

Tip #9: Even if you are running in an area devoid of Poké-things, you can still incubate your eggs!

You can pick up eggs at various PokéStops and they need to be transported at a walking or jogging pace for 2k-10k before hatching. This happens much faster running than it does walking! And it’s fun to tell your running buddies who have no clue about Pokémon that you are hatching an egg.

Tip #10: Take what you can get on your run and count everything as a bonus.

Don’t stress out about missing PokéStops, Pokémon or gym battles. This should be a fun addition to your run and not stressful in any way!


I know Pokémon Go has received quite a bit of negative press, but personally, I think Pokémon Go is great. It’s getting people outside, exercising and exploring their neighborhoods! Sure, it would maybe be better if they were watching for real birds instead of Pidgeys and Spearows, but in our generally sedentary country, I think this is a great trend!

Be aware of your surroundings and the people out in the world with you, and have fun running around and leveling up fast!

Do you play Pokémon Go? Do you have any tips for running while playing?

I'm a proud resident of Portlandia, ex-running store employee, pulmonary emboli conquerer and connoisseur of high fives. I write about running community, trail running/training and anything else that grabs my immediate interest. I'm currently running for fun with my crazy friends - no races on the horizon YET.

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  1. Considering the brewhaha that selfies during runs created, I’m surprised to see this. I would imagine that someone playing Pokemon Go causes just as much trouble if not more as selfies. Let’s just hope this happens only during training runs and not during races.

    1. As you know the Salty writers aren’t a monolith – we all have different perspectives. I personally never even noticed the phone thing at races and I don’t have any desire to play Pokemon 🙂 Also Oregano focuses much of this on minimizing distractions or annoyances of play to other people and from my understanding it’s focused on easy runs. Personally, if a runner’s being considerate and not hurting anyone, I don’t really care what they do and if it makes them happy, yeah for them.

      1. Ha, yeah, this is obviously just for normal training runs as it would have an obviously detrimental effect on races or workouts (to other runners and also to one’s own performance). I can run 7:20’s or so while playing, but wouldn’t want to go much faster than that ; )

  2. I am impressed!!! My phone doesn’t do the vibrating thing on battery saver when a pokemon pops up, so I have to hold the phone upright and keep glancing at it. I tried a bit during my Saturday run, and I don’t think I was as smooth as you! 🙂

    1. Oh yeah, that would be annoying. Maybe try using headphones so you hear the alerts instead of having to watch your phone? I don’t know if that works in battery saver mode though, I have been using “kill your battery as quickly as possible” mode I think ; )

  3. I tried this yesterday on my long run. Super impressed you made it to level 16 by running alone! I kept having to stop, so I’m going to work on tip #4 & 7, and just use my runs for Poke stops. 🙂

    1. To be fair, it was mostly running but not running alone! And I’ve mostly switched to just doing poke stops and really low level pokemon as the higher level ones always escape and I don’t have time for that nonsense ; )

  4. Thanks for this! I want to try it on a run sometime but I am still very, very new! I think I only have two pokemans (that’s how James pronounces it, ha). I’m sure I’ll ask for a quick tutorial from you and Pumpkin at camp.

  5. I’m always embarrassed when I get “caught” taking pictures during my runs – maybe now people seeing me with my phone out will think I’m playing Pokeman!

  6. We are masters marathon moms and admit we’ve been playing Pokémon responsibly on some of our runs. More often it’s just to incubate eggs but we have been known to stop mid-run to catch a new Pokémon. 😉

  7. I have to admit I haven’t done a proper long run in the past couple of weeks thanks to Pokemon ?

    I run with my son in a running pram and my phone is in sight but not in my hand. I’ve been so caught up playing that I’ve been stopping too frequently and not going far enough! I need to put more restrictions on how I play while running…