The Trail Unblazed

I unlocked a rather unique Achievement yesterday while playing with the Xbox: Squat Master. I did my one-thousandth squat-based exercise with EA's Active 2. I also dodged 1000 balls in the dodgeball exercise of the same game. Not at once, mind you. Over time. I've done 10 workouts in the game's 9-week "hard" program so far and the milestones are starting to pile up. The game has a number of these quadruple-digit based Achievements. I'll unlock another one once I complete my thousandth lunge, pushup, crunch, etc., etc.

I wrote about Active 2 earlier and I'm every bit as impressed with it now as I was when the novelty of Kinect was still day-one fresh. EA also released a patch for the game that has done a good job of eliminating the chance of the game confusing your arm movements for wanting to pause and see a tutorial. I'm not sure if that was what the patch, err, "title update" was for, but it seems to have gotten much better since then.

My workout yesterday concluded after 38 minutes, with me drenched in sweat after sustaining an average heart rate of 143bpm, including warm-up and cool down. The calorie-counter says I burned 517 calories, much higher than the projected burn at the start of the workout. I try to stay right on the border between zones 4 & 5 in the heart rate scale (out of a scale of 1-5) and it seems that the game expects players to spend more time in zone 3. I routinely pop my heart rate above 175bpm while playing.

But back to the Achievements. One of the reasons I enjoy this "game" so much is that the developers did a great job of keeping the carrot out in front of you, allowing you to sniff, lick, and taste tiny bites just often enough to keep you coming back for more. Unfortunately, a bit of lazy design in regards to the Achievements has given this game what may be the most difficult Achievement in all of the Xbox-land:

Trail Blazer - unlocked by running 1,000 kilometers/621 miles.


Before I get into the absurdity of it, let me give you a bit of background on how one "runs" in their living room. Active 2 has a number of running-based exercises sprinkled throughout each workout. It often begins with a sequence of high-knees and fast-kicks, but there are also some sprinting exercises and some mixed-pace running exercises as well. They are long enough to let you really crank out a sweat if you push it, but only last a minute or two at the most if you don't. In other words, they're only about a quarter-mile to a half-mile long in duration (and this is on the hard setting).

I'm willing to look past the awkardness of running in place (it's actually not as bad as I feared) and admit that you can get a good workout from it. However, it's clear that whoever put the Acheivements together for this game simply settled on the number 1000 for the other repetitive exercises (steps, squats, pushups, soccer goal saves, boxing punches, etc) and copied/pasted it straight over to the mountain biking and running exercises without any thought to how ridiculous it would be.

You might be thinking that I'm being unfair. That I'm simply not working hard enough or am, to borrow Governor Rendell's phrase, too much of a wussy to run 1000 kilometers. Not true. Let's put this number into perspective.

As a former Division I NCAA middle-distance runner specializing in the 800 meter run, my weekly workout schedule looked something like this:

Monday - Intervals totaling 2.5 miles + 4 miles of warm-up/recovery/cool down.
Tuesday - Run 9 miles
Wednesday - Intervals totaling 2.5 miles + 4 miles of warm-up/recoery/cool down.
Thursday - Run 9 miles
Friday - Run 2 miles
Saturday - Race Day (roughly 2-3 miles including warm-up, races, and cool-down)
Sunday - Rest

That's only 35 miles per week, and lest you think it was too little, I'll add that workout schedule was good enough to help my 4x800 relay team place very high at conference championships and set a school record.

If I replicated that workout schedule every week, running in place, in front of my Xbox Kinect, it would take over 17 weeks to unlock the "Trail Blazer" achievement. It would still take a gaudy 10 weeks if I was to use the typical mileage we ran during cross country season, or for when I was training for marathons for that matter.

So how long will it take doing Active 2's workouts? Roughly 77 weeks. Yes, that's right, almost a year and a half.

I've done 10 workouts in the 9-week "hard" program and, according to the in-game stats, each of the full workout sessions tends to yield an average of roughly 2 miles of running per workout. Since the program has you doing four workouts per week, that works out to 77 weeks worth of two-mile runs in front of your television.

Good luck with that.

1 comment:

Criscipline said...

Too Funny!!!

The more you talk about it though, the more I want it. I love those little carrots.

And out of curiosity, in what context did Rendell make that quote?