Doing a sport in a different country will always be a little different from doing it at home, with different facilities, weather and people, you probably won’t get the same experience. Running is no different.
When I started running, back in the Canary Islands in 2013, the conditions were just perfect for me. The club I ran with organised running routes to the next village and back, as well as some core strength exercises before we set off. The weather was quite humid and warm most of the time, even though we ran in the evening. The run to the next village was along the coast, and there was also a part with about 400 steps if I remember correctly, and we ran up and down those steps at least once each training session, which was essential as most of the races were mountainous.
When I went back to the UK and joined the triathlon team, to be honest, I didn’t really get into the running part of it until quite late. Sure, I did some interval sessions and a couple of runs around campus, but I didn’t join Strava until about June, so I wasn’t really invested in my running.
Strava definitely changed that, I loved finding segments when I went out running and was surprised to break a few course records. What was even better, was going to a different city or country and topping the leader board in another place. I currently own CRs in three countries!
In the UK, I would go running on a route around my house, near a lake, near the canal, through housing estates, but always quite close to greenery and along a nature footpath. The mornings would be cold, so I often ran in the evenings before dinner time and the running community in the UK is so friendly. When runners come across each other, we smile and wave (before going home later and seeing the flyby and checking out their run!*)
Anyway, running in China is definitely the most difficult of all the places I’ve ran. Firstly, the air quality. When I first arrived, after every run, I had a sore throat and a bad cough and I knew it was because of the air pollution. My friends told me that after two weeks, my body would adjust and it kind of did, but of course there are days that are more polluted than others, and if I exert myself too much, I might get a cough.
Some Chinese cities are great to run in, there are parks, hills, lakes and rivers. But often, that’s not the case and I find myself running on the road. Chinese cities love big leafy avenues, but sometimes the tree takes up the whole of the pavement, so I have to run on the road instead. China is always constructing and reconstructing, so you have to watch out for open manholes, tools left on the ground and construction vehicles. This is probably why most people run on the athletics track on campus.
But the good thing about all the construction is how much my run has changed. I used to run until the pavement stopped, but then they added more pavement, so I run further now. They also added tactile slabs on the ground and have filled in some of the big holes that were in the floor. Running in China is always an experience, especially in the morning when you come across people doing tai chi or other strange exercises.
*Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this