Game Production Lessons From a Half-Marathon Trip

Two days ago, I run a half-marathon for the first time in my life. I know there’s zillion people who have run this trip (and much more), and I don’t really consider myself to compete with others – I only compete with this trio: me, myself and I. For me this was a really cool milestone in my life.

And my legs were like totally broken for 2 days now.

With that being said, I wanted to write in this blog post how there was some good lessons learned that apply well for game production.

It’s good to practice a bit
I don’t call myself a runner but I can somehow stumble forward using my long legs. Don’t know if my running style resembles something like what a hunting zombie could have, but like everything in life: the results are what counts. I can go forward so that’s the most important thing. I’ve been running couple of years pretty frequently so I have some experience in that.

It’s good to go “bit further” step by step… (even better if you actually are prepared for the trip)
My wife and I (plus our two doggies) had decided that we’d run our usual 8-9 km trip last Sunday. The run was good, and weather was good and somehow we ended discussing how cool it could be to run 21 kilometers (and 97.5 meters) – to make half a marathon.

At around 8 kilometers we decided that we would proceed and go “bit further” and so we did. We decided that we’d go at least some more kilometers. After “some more kilometers” we decided to go more some more kilometers. And… eventually after running couple of hours we thought that this is now too near the end that we simply can’t stop running now. So, it was like an ad-hoc run where we just thought that we’d run “a bit more”. We both had way too much clothes and nothing to drink (and I think I wouldn’t have eaten ice cream the day before if I just had known about the upcoming 21 km trip).

We were paying attention to how our dogs were doing and decided that if either one of them would look such that she would need rest, we’d be ready to stop running. Dogs had no problem so we ended up running 2 hours and 40 minutes. We had no specific route, so we simply calculated the route (and took additional 1 kilometer extra trip in the end to ensure it was at least 21 kilometers total).

Being good at math helps
This brings me to the next point. While we were calculating where we need to go (we ended up going one “loop” once, and then two “loops” twice and then one more additional small trip to get 21 km filled). It started to feel that in order to run half a marathon it’s useful to be a good at math…

Well, in game programming it certainly helps. I’m glad that I took time to study math and physics in high school: it certainly has helped me to understand certain principles in programming.

There will be hard times ahead
Running the trip was actually somewhat doable, and my legs were doing fine. When I said out loud (and jinxed myself) to my wife how my legs were, then I suddenly felt a really nasty “pain spike” in both of my legs. It wasn’t muscle tension or stuff like that, it felt like somebody was poking me with a really nasty needle or something.

Luckily the pain stopped almost immediately and I could finish the run (although now as I’m writing this blog post the same “pain spike” is somewhat here. It’s getting better, but yesterday I almost couldn’t walk. Tomorrow or maybe day after that I think I’m back to normal.)

This reminded me that in game production, there will be obstacles… but the good news are that those things can be overcome.

Begin with the end in the mind
One thing that kept me going was the fact that me and my wife had talked about running a half-marathon earlier. We had spoke about it and we had thought how cool it could be to run that trip. When 12 kilometers was passed, I kept thinking how cool it would be to think back and say “I did it”. Same after 15 kilometers. And 18 kilometers. I didn’t let this vision blind me… and I repeated the strict rule that if our dogs look like they cannot keep up the pace (they had no problem at all), we’d immediately stop the run. It’s no point trying to achieve something if someone’s health is at stake. Luckily the dogs had no problem and we both could well keep running. It wasn’t until the very end when we stopped, my legs immediately “locked” and I could felt my legs wouldn’t simply go no further.

Anyway, till the very end I thought how sweet it would be to achieve this trip. And… the best part is that it felt much better than I had thought.

(Except of course for my legs…)

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Heh, thanks guys.
    Eli: nice! I had no buffet, but I did drink water and sodas and energy drink afterwards :)

  2. Having run a half myself I want to say thank you for reminding me of how much code ran through my brain through the duration. Not literally of course – but it was there in some form. Haha, oh, and did you have a buffet of breakfast foods waiting for you at the end?

    I found it quite odd, but it was there when I finished.

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