Running Shanghai: The First 8 Lessons

It’s hot & humid as hell here. That’s lesson #1. 


Knew it’d be hot, but not like South Texas. 

Therefore, I am being forced to transition from an early evening runner to a wicked early morning runner. That meant starting out at 0620 today. But on a school day, it will mean starting my run no later than 0515. 

I would endure the heat, if that’s all it was. I’d push through that as I do during brutally hot & humid times in America. 

However, here I’ve seen so far that early mornings bring “good” air quality. Right now at 11:26am it’s “moderate.” But in mid-afternoon yesterday it was listed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

Tremendous numbers of people are still out & about here by 0600. But there are significantly fewer motor vehicles shooting around the roads. 

Lesson #2: Beware of 80 year old women in the park swinging silver swords overhead–yes, an actual sword–nearby a man spinning ’round while snapping a long circus-like whip across the ground. Sounds like firecrackers as it hit the ground.

Lesson #3: There are many tree lined thoroughfares far better landscaped and cleaner than along most busy American roads. Compared to NYC, this is no comparison. It is faaaaaarrrr cleaner here in terms of amount of litter (which is very little), landscaping, and general organization via street signs–some large blue ones filled with moving red lights. 

Lesson #4: Be prepared to run on many bricks & paving stones. 

Lesson #5: There are a lot of Chinese runners around these parts. Old & young. I have a feeling none bat an eye about waking early & many are out by the time I’ve been out at 0630, then 0620. 

Lesson #6: Even men with sizable beer bellies seem better acclimated to the extreme heat index (over 105 in the sun with heat & humidity) than I am currently. 

Lesson #7: JiaoTong University’s campus & oblong-shaped track (is it actually 400m?) is an oasis of green space & calm in the midst of a massive city.  Track lined by beautiful trees at both ends and full of runners of all abilities. 


And it took only 11km of running to get there! (6.8 miles) But I also got a bit disoriented and off track along the way. 

Runners even hang bags on these beautiful trees. 

Lesson #8: There are runners like Zheng Zhe who may take you & your zapped legs over to the C Store (tomato logo) across the way afterward, buy you cold green tea & a huge bottle of water, then escort you into your first Shanghai neighborhood train station and help you get on the route back home ( only 5 stops away ). 

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