Top 10 Dangers of Running in China

July 15, 2011

You may not know this, but I’ve started running again.

Okay, so maybe I did mention the whole running thing on this blog a few times before. After all, one of the benefits of physical exercise is being able to brag about it to others, am I right? Why should I be the only one impressed by my efforts? That would just be selfish, you know?

Sharing is caring, people.

And, while I’m sure you all are substantially impressed by my brand new exercise routine, I don’t know if you quite understand the level of risk that I’m taking by running in China.

Sure, jogging may not sound that dangerous, but this is China we’re talking about here, people.

China!

China can make watermelons explode! If China can convert everyone’s favorite summertime treat into an explosive device, than, trust me, they can make jogging into a death sport.

Don’t believe me?

Well, then, here you go:

Top 10 Dangers of Running in China (or “The Things I Put Up With To Be Able to Fit Into My Pants Again”)

1.    The Air
I heard this statistic once that breathing the air in China is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

I don’t know if this is true, as I’m too afraid to Google search it. I’m pretty sure if I googled the air quality of my current home, I’d never want to breathe again. And that could get pretty inconvenient, you know?

I live in a suburb with lots of parks and trees, so I’m pretty sure the air quality is better here than that in more populated areas like Beijing or Shanghai.

But it’s still not great.

I don’t need a Google search to tell me that.

I just need my eyes.

The sky is almost always overcast, and all the buildings are wreathed in a grey haze.

It’s like I’m living in the blurry soft focus of my senior yearbook photo… except now I know a thing or two about plucking my eyebrows.

The smog makes for some really great photos; see:

But the smog can’t be too great for my lungs – especially since I tend to breathe a lot while I’m running – like, a whole lot. I believe fitness professionals call my method of breathing “huffing and puffing”. (Frankly, I prefer to call it “oxygen-loading.” It’s kind of like “carbo-loading” but without as many potato chips.)

If that statistic about Chinese air quality is to be believed, I have to be up to at least two packs of cigarettes a day with my new running habit. At the rate I’m going, I’m sure I’ll have a “runner’s cough” in no time. (It’s kind of like a “smoker’s cough,” but without, you know, the cigarettes.)

2.    The Dehydration
Have I mentioned it’s like a kazillion degrees outside right now? Well, it is.

As you can imagine, running in this kind of heat can lead to dehydration pretty easily.

And, let me tell you, dehydration is a total jerk.

Dehydration makes you feel really crappy. First, you get all woozy and dizzy and headachey. Then, if you don’t rehydrate, you can end up with a hungover-feeling for the entire day after your run.

Dehydration-hangovers are even worse than real hangovers. A real hangover makes you feel really horrible, but you have some good memories from the night before (or no memory at all but a camera full of random photos of people’s feet… so you’re pretty sure you had a good time). Dehydration-hangovers just make you feel horrible without the fun memories or photos or phone calls from random people you might have passed your phone number out to.

Secondly, dehydration can KILL you. Yep, one minute you could be all like, “Look at me. I’m running! Whee! I can’t wait to brag about this on my blog” and the next minute all your internal organs are failing due to dehydration and you DIE instantly… or maybe slowly and painfully… or maybe you’re fine for a couple days but then keel over while at the grocery store.

I don’t know.

I’m not really sure how this whole death-by-dehydration thing works as I refuse to google it. I’m pretty sure it would just scare the bejesus out of me. But, the fact is, dehydration is a jerk – a jerk who might KILL you. (Which probably also applies to the guy who is now calling you at 4 AM because you might have given him your phone number last night.)

3.    The Waking up Early
In order to beat the kazillion-degree heat, I have to wake up by 6 AM to go running. Yep, that’s 6 AM in the morning.

I’m sure this doesn’t sound very dangerous to you, but that’s because you haven’t met Morning Sally. (She is usually caged up and kept away from visitors.)

You see, Morning Sally, despite what the name might imply, is not a morning person. It takes a lot of enticement to get Morning Sally out of bed before noon – like, say, the promise of a paycheck or pancakes. As you can imagine, going for a run is really not enticement enough for Morning Sally to get out of bed early.

Luckily, Nighttime Sally knows this.

In order to get Morning Sally out of bed on time, Nighttime Sally sets the alarms on both her cell phone and wristwatch and then hides these devices in hard-to-reach places in her bedroom.

Nighttime Sally, being the optimist that she is, thinks that once Morning Sally is up out of bed she will then figure, “Hey, since I’m up crawling around on the floor looking for my watch, maybe I should just get dressed and go running.”

Obviously, Nighttime Sally is kind of a jerk.

And Morning Sally doesn’t want to play that game.

Morning Sally just wants THE BEEPING TO STOP. Morning Sally gets very angry and frustrated because she can’t find her watch to make THE BEEPING TO STOP. Morning Sally can’t figure out how to turn of the alarm on her cell phone which means there’s even more beeping and, oh God, make THE BEEPING STOP. Morning Sally would really like to punch Nighttime Sally in the face right now if it would make THE BEEPING STOP. Morning Sally is going to get up, okay, and go running just so that she can make THE BEEPING STOP.

And then Morning Sally goes out into the world – where, one day, she will probably be arrested for punching someone in face. (And, then she will be caged up and kept away from visitors, as she should be.)

4.    The Rain
This is my first summer in China, so I was not aware that there are only two summertime weather patterns here: a kazillion degrees or raining.

Luckily, the rain is usually just the drizzly kind of rain, so it’s not that bad. Plus, running through the rain always makes me feel really hardcore like I’m Rocky or something.

So I really don’t mind running in the rain — until I remember that I’m running in the rain in China.

China!

You know, where watermelons explode and the breathing air is like asking for lung cancer. I don’t know what’s in the rain in China (because, again, I’m not willing to Google search it), but I have a feeling it can’t be good.

But, hey, would Rocky Balboa let a little acid rain stop him? I don’t think so. And neither will I. (Umm, that burning sensation on my skin when I come back from a run through the rain is normal, right? That’s just calories I’m burning off and not, say, the bulk of my epidermis, right?)

 5.    The Traffic
Even though I always run on the sidewalks or in the park, this doesn’t mean I can avoid the threat of being run over by motor vehicles.

This is China, after all.

There’s pretty much always a threat of being run over by motor vehicles in China – except maybe when you’re in bed. (Even then, I’d suggest wearing some of those reflective strips on your pajamas.)

Since moving to China I’ve almost been hit by countless bicycles, motorbikes, cars, trucks and, at one point, a full-size bus — all while I was standing on the sidewalk. (And people wonder why I cry every time I have to cross the street.)

6.    The Wildlife
Okay, sure, I may not exactly be living in sub-Saharan Africa or the Outback. There isn’t much chance of my being attacked by wild elephants or having a dingo eat my Nikes.

But, I have had a few close calls with some creepy critters in the park where I go running.

I once saw a snake

I’ve almost stepped on a few toads.

There’s a group of rather shady-looking chickens who hang out around the park exit. (And, if you don’t think chickens are dangerous, it’s obvious you didn’t grow up on a farm.)

Last week, I saw this weird rodent-like creature that looked like a cross between a squirrel and a dachshund. I tried to google it to figure out what the heck it was, but after typing in “rodents in China” I came up with a lot of disturbing results, which, frankly, made me never want to eat in a restaurant in this country again.

And then, the other day, I came home to find this dangerous creature on my shirt.

I’m not sure how long he’d been there, but it’s obvious from the look in his eyes that he was plotting my death.

7.    The People
If you have ever run in a park or public place, you are probably aware of something I like to call the Goldfish Principle of the People Walking in Front of You.

You see, it doesn’t matter how many people could be walking on the sidewalk or walkway in front of you while you’re running. There could be twenty people or merely two people. It doesn’t matter. They could be huge hulking giants or tiny little leprechauns. It doesn’t matter.

The Goldfish Principle of the People Walking in Front of You dictates that those people – no matter how many of them there are or how big they happen to be — will expand to fit their surroundings.

You know, just like goldfish.

And, like goldfish, they will totally block your running path and annoy the heck out of you. (Okay, so I don’t think goldfish actually do that, but go with me here.)

Therefore, if you want to continue your run, you’ll either have to ask them to move or wait until they notice you barreling towards them. And, let’s be honest, goldfish don’t always have the best observation skills.

The park where I run is usually pretty quiet in the morning. The walkways there are huge – at least big enough to fit a full-size bus. (I would know because that’s where I came head-to-head with a bus once.) And, let me remind you, Chinese people are, for the most part, pretty petite.

None of this matters, though.

Every time I’m running behind a group of people – even if it’s two tiny little Chinese grandmothers — they will take up the entire walkway.

Always.

Seeing as I don’t know how to ask people to move in Mandarin, I have to wait for them to notice me barreling towards them — which doesn’t always happen in a timely manner. Usually, I end up jogging in place behind them for a while and getting really annoyed with them because, remember, this is Morning Sally we’re talking about here. I also get annoyed with myself because I should really know how to say “Excuse me” by now in Mandarin… or, maybe something a bit more to the point, like “Move it or lose it.” (I don’t know what they would “lose,” but I’m sure Morning Sally would come up with something.)

Eventually, they notice me huffing and puffing behind them (or, err, “oxygen-loading”), and they move to the side… or, you know, they just stand there and stare at me… as you do.

8.    The Pants
As I was attempting to pack light before moving to China, I only brought one pair of running pants with me in my luggage. You know, because spandex running pants take up sooo much room.

While the one pair is holding up surprisingly well, I’m a bit worried they won’t last long. Not only do they have to resist a lot of wear and tear while I’m running, but they also have to withstand a lot of spin cycles in my rather abusive washing machine.

Given my general lack of enthusiasm to shop for pants in Asia (springing from my general lack of enthusiasm to purchase any piece of clothing with multiple X’s on the tag), I’m not looking forward to venturing out to find myself a new pair of running pants. But I’m also not looking forward to having my current pair split open while I’m running. (At least, then, the people would have something worth staring at, I suppose.)

9.    The iTunes
Running makes you do a lot of things you wouldn’t usually do in your everyday life – like wake up before noon or wear spandex or download music by someone with a dollar sign in her name on to your iPod.

In my everyday life, I pride myself on my music taste – I tend towards eclectic, alternative, indie bands or musicians – you know, adult music.

But in my running life, I have no pride. (I am wearing spandex, after all.) In my running life, I’m also a twelve-year-old — a twelve-year-old with a credit card.

I’ve downloaded so many new cheesy pop songs from iTunes recently, that, frankly, I’m afraid to look at my credit card statement.

I’m also afraid that, should I lose my iPod, the person who finds it will just return it to the nearest twelve-year-old because, clearly, there’s no reason why an adult person would have Justin Bieber on her iPod. (No pride, I tell you. None.)

10.  The Enjoyment
I try to pretend I’m not one of those people — you know, one of those people who actually runs for fun and enjoyment and not, say, to justify eating an entire tube of Pringles for breakfast.

But the truth is I like running.

I like being outside. (Even if the air in China is actively giving me a tumor.)

I like how running jumpstarts my brain in the morning and gives me a chance to think over what I’ll be writing about that day.

I like the sense of community I feel while running in the park each morning.  The other “regulars” at the park have started to recognize me and wave at me. The grounds crew and security guards now smile and say nihao to me instead of just staring. Every once in a while, I’ll see another foreign lady there and we’ll nod encouragement at each other.

And I like the feeling of accomplishment I get after completing a particularly difficult run.

It feels good to know that you defied acid rain, spandex and park-lurking chickens  — all before your morning coffee.

I believe this is what the fitness professionals call a “runner’s high.”

I don’t know.

I’m too scared to Google search it.

61

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On July 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm Joseph said:

    Another fascinating post 🙂 I took up running as well…the miracle lasted for 3 days – as miracles tend to last…at some point I should run again, but alas, no spandex running shorts, and I simply refuse to put Bieber on my iPod. But I do remember feeling better after running – after calming down from the “oxygen loading”…luckily we don’t have acid rain (yet) so it should be safe. Right?! I googled it, and it wasn’t pretty!

    • On July 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm Sally said:

      Ahhh, I don’t want to know what your Google search told you. I was a bit worried that after posting this people would feel a need to fill me in on all the information I refuse to look up for myself. And if that does happen, I’m just going to cover my eyes and start singing, “La la la, not reading!”

  2. On July 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm Jacob Yount said:

    Enjoyed it Sally and can definitely relate. Dodging the cars, the people, the bikes, the electric bikes, the cards, the guy pulling a wagon with cardboard loaded on it, the street vendors, the kiddies squealing “hullo” in a high pitched, “look at the funny laowei” style voice, and the cars…it’s almost as if it’s another sport.

    One I noticed while running in China is you next to never meet other runners.

    Breathe and run carefully.

    • On July 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! Sounds like your running course is more of an obstacle course than mine. If I make it out the door early enough, I can avoid most of the cars and crowds. But there have been a few times on the weekend where I’ve had to run through social dance classes & massive group tours — that took some major maneuvering!

  3. On July 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm Mary Anne said:

    So when I get back in August, will you be all sylph-like, doing wheatgrass shots and name-dropping Gwyneth Paltrow and your million dollar publishing contract? Will I have to hang my head in shame, because not only did I not start running on June 1st as planned, I’ve also stopped writing? Oh dear! I think I may need you to act as my life coach next…

    By the way, bravo for sticking with the running in spite of all the wonders of sulfur dioxide and expanding goldfish that China throws at you (I still dare not jog outside in Shanghai for fear of instant death)!

    • On July 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm Sally said:

      Uh no. The jogging has been going well, but I’ve been using it as an excuse to eat ice cream and beer for dinner. Needless to say, I have yet to lose much weight. And, the, uh, publishing contract is still VERY far off.

      • On July 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm Mary Anne said:

        Aren’t ice cream and beer the meal choices of pro-athletes in training? Maybe you should write a fitness book about the effectiveness of combining acid rain, alcohol, ice cream and intensive running?

  4. On July 15, 2011 at 2:22 pm Erik said:

    I took up running last year after I lost some weight sweating like crazy everyday for a month is Israel. I wasn’t really in better shape, I’d just lost every ounce of water in my body there. I finished my first 5k last 4th of July, and made a goal to do 5 more before the same race the next year. I ended up doing two more (which is less than 5 but more than 0 for those keeping score). My times aren’t all that great, and I can’t yet run the whole 5k, but at least I’m out there doing them. I’m also finishing near the very bottom of my age group, which annoys me. If they were grouping them not by age but by weight (like boxers) I would have to be finishing near the top of that group, because I am almost always one of the fattest people at these things. (As my raging shin splints will attest to.)

    As far as music goes, I love that you listen to stuff running that you don’t usually listen to elsewhere. I listen to 80s hair metal when I run. I’m always worried someone will get a look at my itunes and say “Warrant, Whitesnake, Winger & Telsa? Seriously, dude, you need help.” They would, of course be right.

    I also only run outside when doing a 5k. I go to my Bally’s with it’s padded track. Concrete is bad for a flat-footed person like myself.

    Keep up the good work!

    • On July 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm Sally said:

      Good for you, Erik! I didn’t start doing races until I moved to Japan. While I used to run a lot in the States, I never did any races. I think I’d be too intimidated! But for some reason I didn’t mind being slow in races in Japan because I figured they’d just chalk it up to me being a slow, fat American. Ha ha! I’m hoping to do a race in China in the Fall — hopefully the Chinese racers & audiences will be as supportive as the Japanese ones were.
      Yeah, I really worry about someone looking at my iTunes playlist — it’s all across the board. Everything from Bieber to Brazilian jazz. If someone was analyzing my psychosis based on my music taste, they’d probably figure I have multiple personalities… and they might have a point.

  5. On July 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm Heather said:

    I’m scared to resume running come September (I’m waiting for the summer heat to pass…really!) but if you can get up at the crack and jog in some heat, so can I!

    I think one of the best parts is being a regular somewhere and seeing the same folks. You come to expect them and they expect you. If you stopped for a couple of weeks, they’d miss you! You HAVE to get up now so they won’t be worried 🙂

    • On July 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm Sally said:

      I would like to think the locals would miss me if I skipped my running — I’m sure they would miss the show that I put on while I do my pre-running stretches. (Not that I do anything special — but I do always seem to have a crowd around me.)

  6. On July 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm The Travel Chica said:

    Running in foreign countries has been a challenge for me as well. I had to wake up before 6am due the insane heat and traffic while in Central America, Ecuador, and Buenos Aires. I am quite certain my lungs have taken a beating as well.

    But dammit, I have to run if I want to eat dessert and drink wine every day.

  7. On July 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista said:

    I’m an early morning runner too although I don’t have the smog to contend with. That must be a killer! I liked your comment about running in the AM sets you up for the day. I couldn’t agree more. Plus it then allows me to not eat perfect every day 🙂 Keep it up and stay safe.

    • On July 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm Sally said:

      Unfortunately for me, I use running as an excuse to not eat perfect… like ever. Given all the dangers I have to face while running and all the bad food I eat because “hey, I just went running,” I’m probably the only person on earth who could make running an unhealthy hobby. Oh well, got to have your hobbies!

  8. On July 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm Ken C. said:

    Way to go, Sally!
    Good job, Unbrave girl!
    Nice work, foreign-lady runner!
    [just some SHOUTS of runner-type encouragement from your fans in California]

    Honestly, you are one of the most athletic teacher-in-China writers that I know of…and I know of, well, okay, just you, actually…but, I’m sure you’re in good company.

    You are an inspiration! Keep running, and keep dodging those buses on the sidewalk. “Let’s go, Sally!”

  9. On July 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm Katherina said:

    So…. I started running, for the first time, ever. At school I used to be this really popular asthmatic girl that could hardly do any sports, but when I moved to Madrid, it went away (does this make any medical sense?). Anyway, I never went running because I always associated it with not being able to breathe (and so, I chose alternatives like playing tennis or horse back riding…).

    Now I finally gave it a chance and actually surprised myself! I may even like it! I need to check out how it feels like running next to the lake here in Switzerland, there are so inviting paths (that probably have a huge creperie at the end of it!).

    China sounds far more dangerous than Switzerland. I think I really wouldn’t dare to do it (specially because of the air!)

    • On July 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm Sally said:

      I think a nice outside path makes all the difference. I used to run a lot of races in Japan — some of them were just on city streets with no scenery and it felt like they took forever whereas other races that were in nice scenic spots just seemed to go by faster (even though I certainly wasn’t running any faster!). And, yeah, I think the promise of crepes at the end would make a huge difference. 🙂

  10. On July 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Ummm I think I would skip running and find a gym haha. That dangerous creature though is kinda cute!

    • On July 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm Sally said:

      Ha! Sounds like a much saner idea. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many gyms nearby — the closest one is a 30 minute bus ride away. I’ve already learned that I just won’t go to the gym if it’s hard to get to (unfortunately it took a lot of expensive gym memberships to teach me that lesson!). Plus, I prefer running outside than to running on a treadmill… even though the outside wants to kill me. 🙂

  11. On July 16, 2011 at 3:55 am Len Pipkin said:

    Sally,

    In the USMC we, obviously, ran quite a bit. This pre-dawn activity usually entailed the use of a cadence; a vocal / repetition to assist in establishing pace, rhythm and motivation. I see no reason why this can not be the same for you while on your endeavors…

    Keeping in mind that I want to appease both Late-Night and Early-Morning sensibilities, I kept the utterances overtly benign; the true venom is, most assuredly, to be found abstractly embedded between the lines…

    Keep in mind that it has been ages since my rear-end was in China, and I will be using a rather oafish dialect known to most Chinese though claimed by none; irrespective, the message will be duly noted. Within weeks, you will either be captured and placed into a “nervous” hospital / revered by the dawn-folk to an almost deity-esque degree; here’s to hoping for the latter:

    Benzhong de juren,
    airen,
    jinyu,
    zhuyi qing.
    Wo,
    qilin,
    wo zai shangwu de fabao hengxing…

    Jiang zhexie wellai,
    huo pinchang wo de fengsheng de kogju!

    translation:

    Hulking giants,
    dwarfs,
    goldfish,
    attention please.
    I,
    a unicorn,
    am running amok in the morning’s magic,
    move those ahead,
    or… taste my bountiful dread!

    lp 🙂

  12. On July 16, 2011 at 5:56 am NomadDanib said:

    I think you should invest in an airhorn. But one that has been genetically fused to an Exterminator (those things from the 80’s with 4-16 buttons and each button is a diff sound; like a mchine gun, a train, a bomb dropping, really loud monkeys, etc) so you now have this mutant Airterminator thing that you can set off when people are in your way.

    It would make your run much more interesting, give the poor chinese people morning stories, and possibly get you arrested or chased by a mob of chinese with pitchforks and such (but it sounds like you’d have no problem outrunning them)

    • On July 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm Sally said:

      I think an airhorn would go over really well here. People love to honk their horns while they’re driving (LIKE ALL THE TIME), so I think it only makes sense that people should be able to honk horns while walking. In fact, I’m really surprised I haven’t seen anyone with an air horn in my park. It’s just a matter of time, I’m sure!

  13. On July 16, 2011 at 8:40 am Lois said:

    First laugh of the day again Sally, thanks to your amazing sense of humor. Gotta hand it ya. I’m not a big fun of running myself. I do love tennis. But running without a ball to catch or hit? Running without a goal but the act itself? I will need a morning coffee or a chocolate bar at the end of each run just to get me to start the first few steps.

    You go Sally!

  14. On July 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm Tom said:

    Hahaha this post is brilliant!

    Morning Sally terrifies me. Also, I wholeheartedly condone your love of some of Ke$ha’s “songs.” (I love ‘Blow’…the unicorn video and James Van der Beek).

    Everytime I attempt to run here, the heat gets me. And the stares. Then again, at my gym the treadmills are populated by middle-old ladies strolling and chatting obnoxiously loudly…you know, you’re not actually supposed to run on treadmills in Korea.

    Chickens ARE dangerous. We had a rogue rooster on my dad’s farm. Said rooster jumped on my back one day and started clawing me. The rooster was then taken from my neck by my father with a rifle in his hand. Said rooster was never seen again.

    • On July 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm Sally said:

      SEE. Chickens ARE dangerous. People who didn’t grow up on a farm or have a lot of close contact with farm animals as children just don’t know this stuff. But chickens are not to be trusted! They have beaks and they know how to use them. I always hated collecting eggs because those hens were brutal.

  15. On July 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm choi kum fook said:

    Hi, girl, keep on running constantly sans (without) fear and worry, as same for me walking a lot everyday in the farm. It makes you more healthy and confidence. As for me, it is a reality because I have come across it. I was so surprised, have not seen you done any running in the farm before. Do not worry so much about the air and surrounding because you couldn’t change the atmosphere.How often you do it? What is the distance? Anyhow have a good trial! Lastly, do it in your capability! Do not do it until huffing and puffing! O.K. Ha.Ha.

  16. On July 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm Alouise said:

    Hilarious post. This has definitely convinced me not to go running in China. Of course I hate running, so I can’t imagine why I would run… except maybe if I had to catch a train or something. I can relate to the Morning Sally thing though. Morning Alouise is would probably throw rocks and yell gibberish at people if she was made to get up at 6am for running.

    Seems your pretty heroic for running in China. Maybe you should get a cape to go along with your spandex pants. I can see the making of a new superhero.

  17. On July 17, 2011 at 8:03 am The Turkish Life said:

    Good for you! I can definitely relate to a lot of these — especially the expanding walkers (I can say excuse me in Turkish but getting people to pay attention is another matter), the traffic, the air quality (much better in Turkey than China, surely, but still), and the heat/humidity. We also have people that look at you like you’re crazy, taxi drivers that honk persisently as if you *must* need a ride, and creepy dudes that stare and occasionally worse. All in all, I find it kind of amazing that I took up running for the first time while living in Istanbul, but I love it.

    • On July 18, 2011 at 5:05 am Sally said:

      Glad you can relate! It appears jogging is dangerous EVERYWHERE. We should both be getting awards just for trying, right? Luckily, not so many creepy dudes here. The stares are more like, “What the?!” versus “Hey, hot lady in the spandex pants…” I do get a few honks by guys in trucks, but I think I’ve been in Asia too long. I actually feel flattered. Sad, really. I think my brain would explode if I went to the Middle East where men actually overtly express interest…. or, as you said, do worse.

  18. On July 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm Ceri said:

    Okay, admit it – you’ve totally gone running while listening to the Eye of the Tiger. 😉 … (Bonus points if you’ve gone running while listening to the *actual* Rocky theme song)

    • On July 18, 2011 at 5:11 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! I should really put that on my iPod as I do really think I’m Rocky when I’m running in the rain (okay, and pretty much all the time.) I will tell you, my favorite memory from the marathon that I did in Japan (okay, maybe my ONLY good memory from that marathon) was as I was coming close to the finish line this little old Japanese man was standing on the street corner playing the Rocky theme song on a kazoo. I was in major pain, but that made me laugh so hard… and kept me going for the rest of the race.

  19. On July 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm Donna said:

    Lmao – you do crack me up! Know what you’re saying about Morning Sally…Morning Donna has Night-time, optimistic Donna terrorised – she can only set the alarm if there is a genuine and pressing need. Or she’ll be beaten to death with said alarm. And she wouldn’t DREAM of setting an alarm that BEEPS – that would be kamikaze suicidal!!!

    Anyway, I had a thought about people blocking your path…could you get a horn? An air horn maybe? Or sing as you’re running. There’s a guy who used to in my neighbourhood and he’d start singing as he came up behind you…so as not to scare you (didn’t work, his singing was terrifying!). Haven’t seen him for a while…maybe he got arrested for scaring people with his singing? x

    • On July 19, 2011 at 2:46 am Sally said:

      I do tend to sing while I’m running… not really on purpose but because I just end up singing along to my iPod… plus, it helps cover up the sound of my huffing and puffing (err… oxygen-loading). Hasn’t really helped move people out of my way, though… I do like the idea of a air horn, though. I’m pretty surprised walkers don’t use air horns already in China as people here, in general, seem to love honking horns.

  20. On July 20, 2011 at 11:07 am Nomadic Samuel said:

    As an avid runner I’ve often given it up while backpacking – especially in really hot & humid countries. I find it difficult to enjoy the experience when I feel like I’m losing half my body weight in fluids 😛 I like the points you’ve raised. I certainly feel the quality of air would be a factor. I noticed that as well when I traveled in China.

    • On July 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, running definitely does lose its appeal when the weather is bad. I didn’t run for the entire year I was traveling since I was only in hot & humid countries. At least China has 4 seasons, so it’s pretty nice to run in the spring & fall… except for the teensy issue of smog. 🙂

  21. On July 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm Rease said:

    Running in Buenos Aires poses a lot of the same problems! I do love to run though. I used to hate it but I now cannot imagine not doing it. However, right now it is freezing, especially when I get up at 6:30AM (just like you!) so I do my running on a treadmill for now.

    • On July 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm Sally said:

      There’s a treadmill in my apartment complex & I should really run on it as it would probably be easier than running in the heat, but I get so bored on the treadmill. I need to see trees and people and the occasional creepy crawlie to keep me enthralled!

  22. On July 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm Turner said:

    The air quality alone is enough to make me want to avoid running in China.

  23. On August 2, 2011 at 1:33 am Uncle Ed said:

    You’ve made the right choice about the Google thing, my students used to call me doctor death, Aside from the few fingers I may have saved from showing the DeWalt and Milwaukee safety tapes I don’t think paranoid students, permanently immobilized with fear like quivering tribbles are particularly a good thing.

  24. On February 10, 2014 at 11:45 am Hugo Sanchez said:

    I will be visiting China in April. Nanning.
    I was wondering if you could recommend any good websites where I could find places to run or running groups. I have had little luck so far.

    • On February 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm Sally said:

      Honestly, I would be surprised if you found a running group. Running is not very popular in China — especially among the locals. Basically, the air quality really IS as bad as everyone says, so Chinese people do not choose to run, so the only wackadoodles out running are the foreigners. If you’re in a city with lots of foreigners you might have some luck. In fact, I’ve heard of Hash House having some branches in China, and had a friend who was in Hash in Beijing. But the city I lived in was not very international, so I usually just went running by myself.
      As for places to run, you shouldn’t have a problem with that. Every city I ever went to in China had a million parks with tons of miles of sidewalks. It’s just a matter of going early enough in the morning or late enough at night so that you’re avoiding the heat, smog and huge crowds.

  25. On May 8, 2014 at 3:53 am Mark McCallum said:

    Nice blog about running in China, especially the ending about how much you enjoy it. I run in the South of China and have run in two marathons here as well. I am lucky in that I live in a smaller city which has lots of sub-tropical country routes to enjoy. You’re definitely right about the summer heat. I run at night in the summer to avoid the sun.

    If you need more running inspiration give my book, “Run Your Destiny,” a look on Amazon.

    Keep on running.
    Mark

    • On May 11, 2014 at 4:32 pm Sally said:

      There were plenty of places for me to run in China, too. The problem for me was the smog. I think my lungs are still recovering! Good luck with your running.

  26. On September 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm Greg said:

    Please let me know the best places to run in Shanghai, Xi’an, and Beijing. I would like to participate in a 5k or 10k while there.

    I’ll be between cities Between October 20th and November 31st. Xi’an on the weekend of the 25th.

    GTreadway@cox.net

    Thanks in advance!

    • On October 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm Sally said:

      Hi Greg,
      I didn’t live in any of those places, so I really can’t help you out. I suggest you see if there’s a Hash House Harriers group in the area (they’re most likely is), join a run and ask them where they suggest.

  27. On March 10, 2015 at 7:00 pm Linda said:

    This post really inspired a laugh. It brought back memories of when I started running, the short attempt that I actually made. I tried to start running while traveling in Europe. At first, it was a morning run but apparently the country I was staying in has a severe angry dog population. My first day I was chased home by a pack of them until the neighbors dog jumped over the fence and saved my life!!! Needless to say, I decided not to run in the mornings anymore. Running at night didn’t work either. I would usually end up running until I hit a donut cart or the crepe cart. After which, I was obviously having to much fun enjoying my dessert I figured I would need a cup of coffee to go with it, maybe some dinner and a snack. But, I’m sure, walking burned some of those calories off, so I figured I no longer needed to run. I’m new to your blog just discovered it and started reading at the very beginning of the archives, so far I’m up to this post. I look forward to reading the rest.

    • On March 11, 2015 at 11:23 am Sally said:

      Hi Linda! Thanks for stopping by. And I’m super impressed that you started at the beginning of the archives and a bit embarrassed… I can’t even bring myself to read some of my old posts for fear that they might be horrible… who knows what I was even thinking back then? Lord, who knows what I’m thinking now?
      Anyway, I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog. And, yes, one can never continue running when faced with donut and crepe carts. That would just be wrong!

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