I try to get some cardiac exercise every couple of days, though work and family mean I have to pick my moments. If the weather is wet, I have my exercise bike - a 40 minute ride while watching an episode of "Criminal Minds". But, with Winter approaching, the weather is drier (if colder) and I try to get out for a run, weaving between the ongoing construction disruption and the consequent cars parked on what should be walking paths. The older I get, though, the lower my energy levels...
Run 'til you can run no more...
Fitter v fatter
Jiajia and I had free comprehensive medical check-ups last week, courtesy of vouchers from one of her VIP bank accounts which needed to be used by the end of the year. Neither of us had any major problems show up, but we were both told we needed to lose weight.
I've been doing 40-minute "rides" on my exercise bike 2-3 times a week for 6 months, but I think I need to up my game a bit. So last week I did an 18km (11 miles) walk from my house to the Waterfall Park in the north of the city. It took 2½ hours and I was blistered and exhausted by the time I sat to eat my sandwiches there. It then took me three buses to get back home.
JD and I hiked up to MiaoGao Temple the other day. Good exercise, fresh air and a cheap vegetarian lunch with the monks.
Liking the cycling
I completed my 100th cycling session today. I was given the exercise bike six months ago as a Birthday present, so I reckon that's about four times a week on average since then.
And how do I know it's exactly 100? Well, I time my sessions by watching a 45-minute episode of a TV show called, "West Wing", and I've just watched the 100th episode.
Once I've dropped JD off at his thrice-weekly basketball class, I cross over the road and do my own exercise.
LianHua Park has a roughly circular path around the central lake, signposted as being a convenient 500m long. So, ten steady laps means I can run 5km and still get back to catch the last half of JD's class. The route includes two small Chinese bridges, a gentle hill and a couple of little shops selling bottles of cold water, should I need to rehydrate. The only negative is having to dodge groups of Chinese folk dawdling along, oblivious to the elite athlete trying to dodge past them!
Run a long now
My only other Park Run was two years ago when I last visited Hereford. That run was with Josh who dropped out halfway, injured. This time I was joined for the 5km by my brother Dave (and his dog Evie). It was great fun to run with him - running is a hobby we share but had never done together before today. We both made it round in under 30 minutes, though Dave was ahead of me by the end.
Bridge too far
A sunny day with a cooling breeze, JD at school, Jiajia busy at the store and my afternoon class cancelled - no excuses left for avoiding the "long run" which I planned for myself a few weeks ago. So I took the e-bike to my University and, from there, ran along the PanLong River for 10km to the Waterfall Park. I was too tired to run back, so I took a taxi back to the University for a half hour swim and the drive home. Great day out.
The recent cold weather in Kunming makes the University swimming pool seem a little less chilly, so there's been less shivering as I start my twice-weekly swims. I've never been a very strong swimming (200m certificate at school!) but I did some research on YouTube and bought myself some decent goggles and now I can swim non-stop laps for about 30-40 minutes (breaststroke). I started with 10 laps (500m) but have been slowly increasing the distance and managed 900m yesterday. Hoping for a whole kilometre tomorrow.
With JD back at school (despite a lingering cough), I've been trying to find time for a bit of exercise. I went for a short run yesterday and have made a couple of visits to my University's 50m-long swimming pool. I've never been a fan of swimming, but with various aching joints, it seems that a less impacting activity might be worth getting into. Plus, exercise which leaves me clean and fresh makes more sense than one which sees me going into class smelly and sweaty. Frustratingly, the swimming pool shuts during the crazy 3½ hour lunch break, which would be an ideal time to use it. So my main options are half an hour before my morning class starts or half an hour after my afternoon class ends. However, 30 minutes of swimming lengths is actually plenty for me, for now. I'm not a strong swimmer and I'm concentrating on trying to improve my (breaststroke) technique as I continue.
Today was a sunny day, so we (Jiajia, Nanny, JD and I) decided to head up to the hills and grab some fresh air. We drove to a vantage point, avoiding the rather crazy driving on blind bends by some of the Chinese drivers, and then walked further up until our legs ached.
Our Nanny proved rather sprightly on the mountain paths, no doubt the result of her countryside upbringing, while I managed to keep up despite having the baby on my back. Jiajia lagged behind a bit as her fitness suffered during the pregnancy! Spectacular views of Kunming from the top.
The unusually high amount of sports and exercise I've been getting involved in over the last few months leaves me permanently achey but buzzing! Whether it's 5-a-side football (once, so far), badminton (at least once a week), running (6-8km, 2-3 times a week) or weights (1-2 times a week) I haven't felt this fit, or weighed so little, in many years. Euro footie, Wimbledon and the Olympics help with the spirit - even Dorta has been doing her bit. I can't honestly say I'm 100% well these days but, with my various meds, I've been well enough to work up a sweat, which helps with the stresses of doing double lessons during July.
Weight is eighties
Being gout-free for the last three months or so has enabled me to exercise more regularly - mostly running and weight lifting. That, and having less and fresher food each day (thanks for that mixed blessing, ma-in-law!), has helped me lose some weight at last. A year ago I was over 100kg (16 stone). Six months ago I was down to 95kg and I'm now under 90kg (12½ stone) for the first time in decades. The internet informs I'm still technically "fat", but no longer "obese"! Naturally I'll be celebrating this with a KFC bucket....
Up and running
With the current warm, dry(ish) weather and an improvement in my gout, there's no excuse not to get out for a run every day or two. Right outside the house there's a shady, flat oval which is 125m a circuit (160 laps for a half-marathon, Dave!). So no 20 minute walk to the gym any more - I have the running track on my doorstep! I just have to avoid the neighbours who stroll around it, do TaiChi, play badminton or take their dog/child for a walk.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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