Why I Love Running in Hong Kong

I used to live in Mainland China and while there were many things that I enjoyed about living there unfortunately running was not one of them. Since I am tall and have white skin, it’s almost certain that I would attract attention from people. I remember having to avoid certain hours when the students were getting out of classes or they were on a break because those little kids are the worst at giving out a big fake ‘hello!’ or trying out other phrases that they know. To them it was the most hilarious thing that happened all day but for me it was just annoying. Other people would just stare. I guess I’m a fairly low key person and don’t like that kind of attention. Of course there were other obstacles to running in China, especially in bigger cities like Shenzhen where it’s not always easy to find good routes.

Anyways, here in Hong Kong nobody looks twice at me and it’s great. There are also many places to run, especially up here in the New Territories where there is generally more space. There is a strong running culture here and it seems like there is always somebody out there running. I find it motivating to be part of a community, even if I don’t talk to the people as I pass by. There are also races every weekend during the fall and winter months and it’s great to have lots of options.

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12 Weeks To Go – Enter Mesocycle 2

This is my second time through the Pfitzinger 18/70 marathon training plan.  I used to follow Hal Higdon’s advanced marathon training plans and now that I look back I can see that while those plans were good in some ways, they were just too easy. The Pfitzinger plan got me a sub three marathon earlier this year and I’m confident that it will get me another good performance and probably a PR in Macau. Just need to stay off the injured list.

This week I decided to skip the Saturday 5 mile recovery run and go on a hike with Jenny. We’ve been enjoying our hikes together on the weekends, so it’s something I’d like to keep doing, regardless of how it affects my marathon training. In fact, it’s probably a good thing because it provides a low impact workout and a steady calorie burn. I’ll just need to be sure not to overdo it on the hikes, especially next weekend with a 22 miler on Sunday (damn!!).

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Another Bout with the Pfitzinger Plan

So I’m back into the 18/70 plan (from the book Advanced Marathoning). That is: 18 weeks toping out at 70 miles per week. I’m giving it my best, but I’m finding it hard to keep the paces in the current weather conditions. The author recommends long runs and medium long runs at around 10%-20% of marathon pace. This can be difficult at the best of times.

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Injury = opportunity?

Last week’s post: my foot is injured but I’m going to conquer it.

This week’s post: Same

That’s about it. Repeat of last week. I’m now officially frustrated, but resolute now that I know that this pesky injury has officially declared war on me. I will be victorious but it will take guile and cunning, not brute strength.

I ran 25 miles early in the week, mostly easy. 5 mile jogs seemed ok and there were no problems at all. Then there was a longish run on Friday of 9 miles which may have aggravated it again. I also cycled 100 miles on my trainer. I did two kettlebell sessions of 25 minutes (one of which may have also aggravated my foot).

My strategy now is to avoid any particular poses or movement where my toes bend, and of course to lay off running. I have taped my foot and even rigged up a modified insole to off load weight from the ball of my right foot. It’s now just a waiting game – a war of attrition.

Off to Canada on Wednesday so hopefully thing will be good soon. I’m so disappointed and depressed to be injured, but what the hell. Other things can fill in the space and every negative thing can result in a positive thing. This week I will focus on being super positive.

Sesamoiditis Dammit Dammit! And I Saw a Cobra!

I’m an idiot. Last week I was upbeat about my niggling foot injury (aka sesamoiditis) and the fact that I had pretty much conquered it. “It’s almost healed now so I’m going to ease into the running this week,” I wrote. So what did I do?

Well, I started my week on Monday by power hiking up a mountain and running back down (5 miles round trip with 500 m elevation gain). Is that easing into it? To some, this might not seem like much, but given that I have done zero hill training, it was actually quite a shock to the system. It felt ok at the time, but I was sore for almost a week! I have to say though, it was a nice view!

One of the 'Eight Immortals

Taken on one of the ‘Eight Immortals” in the Pat Sin Lung Mountain Range. I live at the base of this mountain and have been meaning to get up there for a while.

Instead of resting on Tuesday or maybe going for a swim I decided it would be a good idea to shake out the legs so I ran 5 miles. On Wednesday I ran 8 in the morning and 4 in the evening. This is definitely not easing into it…

On Thursday I thought maybe an easy hike would be ok as a change. That seemed to be going well until I saw a cobra on the trail. Big and black and scary. It just slithered off, so there was no danger, but it freaked me out. I do not like snakes. Period. So I headed back to the road and slow jogged for a few more miles. That’s why I don’t like trail running in Hong Kong. Call me a wimp, but I think I’m going to wait till the winter kicks in before I start doing solo runs on those trails, especially during the weekdays when it’s so quiet.

The next day I woke up with niggling pains again in my foot. Nothing too serious, but definitely something abnormal going on. Dammit! Serves me right. Well, I haven’t run since then, so it’s been four days off. To top things off I woke up on Saturday with a major kink in my back, which I am only now getting over. I hate being a gimp! But at least I didn’t get bitten by the cobra, so it’s all good.

In total, I ran 27 miles and did 3 x 25 min of kettlebells (the old cheesy Kettleworx to be precise). I also hiked 9 miles on Saturday with Jenny. So not a complete disaster. This week I will show restraint. More time on the bike and a few slow and easy runs. That’s it!

No, I didn't take this. There is no way in hell I'd get that close

No, I didn’t take this but that’s what it looked like. Jet black and totally evil looking… actually quite a beautiful creature

Sesamoiditis Dammit!!

Injuries are of course a bad thing, but they can also be a blessing in disguise. In my last post I wrote about how I was going to run 55 miles this week… I was excited after a successful 50 mile week and was looking forward to cranking things up to a new level. I also mentioned, almost in passing, the nagging problem with my foot and that I was hoping that it would just go away…

Well surprise surprise, after a 9 mile run on Tuesday, the problem became just a bit more noticeable. Not painful exactly, but just aching and certainly not going away. It was enough for me to realize that I need to face reality. The foot problem is not going to magically get better unless I lay off running.

I’m pretty sure the problem is sesamoiditis, which is basically foot pain under the ball of the foot, right around the joint of the big toe. Of course there are many kinds of treatments a person can find online and product you can buy (shoe inserts, etc.), but in my case I think it really seems to come down to just resting and icing regularly. So my week consisted of a one mile swim, a 9 mile run, 60 miles of indoor cycling, a 7 mile hike, three 20 min kettlebell routines, and a few easy yoga sessions.

Instead of being depressed by the lack of running, I’m actually feeling a sense of relief. It’s good to take a break and just focus on other things. With the other exercise, I’m sure that I’m not losing anything in terms of overall fitness; in fact, I’m probably helping my body to become more balanced and stronger in the long run. It is also worth mentioning that Hong Kong is now hitting record high temperatures so it’s not like I’m missing out on ideal running conditions.

My foot is getting better and I don’t even notice any pain or irritation when I walk around. So maybe it’s healed. But I’m still going to play it safe and give it a few more days. On Tuesday I’ll go out on a easy short run and see what happens. I’ll then try to build back up slowly with more rest days mixed it.

Turn up the base

I had a good week of running. I managed to hit my goal of 50 miles and also went on an 8 mile hike on Saturday. My body held up pretty well, although there are a few aches and pains. I’m confident that I can handle more and I’m especially happy about the fact that I’m able to beat the heat. Running at 6:30 am is clearly the way to go. Earlier would be better, but I find this is a good time for me since I am able to deal with it consistently. There was one day this week when it was especially hot so I did my run in the morning and followed it up with an evening cool down. I may have to do that more because running doubles like that allows me to avoid the effects of overheating that seem to intensify after 9 or 10 miles.

I know that this is hardly original, but I find the best way for me to deal with the early mornings is to arrange everything the night before. I actually set out my running gear and even brew a cup of coffee the night before. Cold coffee works for me; if I start drinking hot coffee the minutes can fly by and next thing you know, it’s too late. I don’t eat anything before runs of under 9-10 miles. I might grab an energy bar just in case, but I find that I’m ok running slower paces on an empty stomach.

Everything else is going well. I managed to do a few short and easy yoga sessions and two strength training sessions (each about 20 minutes). I alternate between kettlebells, resistance bands, and body weight routines. I’ll try to write more about that later.

The toe problem has come back, which is something I’m trying not to think about too much, although I know it could be a problem. The thing is that it really doesn’t seem like it’s a big problem because there is no pain when I run. It’s just a nagging feeling sometimes – I notice it especially when I walk around the house. Hopefully this week it disappears…? I’ve tried duct taping some padding under the toe, which seems to help.

My goal this week is to get up to 55 miles and stick with another easy hike on Saturday. Turn up the base is my mantra. I’m following a training schedule which includes some speed work, but I’m going to make modifications in order to keep the intensity relatively low.