Sunday, May 22, 2011

Running in Hong Kong: California Fitness

Back from Bangkok, and back to the gym. Compared to the gym, the Khaosan Road seems fairly civilised; it might be full of people on their gap yah, complete with fake dreadlocks and youthful idiocy, but there isn't the sound of overheated techno and madmen bleeding through from an aerobics studio.

Still, I suppose the gym does continue the proud Hong Kong tradition of staying indoors as much as possible. I mean, I could have gone outside for a run. It only rained this morning, and it's not that hot, and I do have to run outdoors when I compete in the marathon, rather than scamper along a treadmill for the best part of four hours. But no, I chose to go to a industrially-decorated space in Causeway Bay, full of terrible music, and then blot that out with worse music on my ipod, and then run for half an hour, until I'd lost a few pounds and my shirt weighed a few more.

Half the running machines at California Fitness were out of order today, and the first one I got onto wouldn't go faster than 6 kilometres per hour. Initially I was quite pleased, because I thought I was running at 12 kilometres per hour and finding it blissfully easy. Then I went to another treadmill, and put myself in some discomfort.

One reason why the music in the gym is so bad is because it's better to exercising. Or rather, music I like is no good for running: I tried Plan B (too retro, too slow). I tried Faith No More (again, too slow and not repetitive enough). I tried Guns N Roses (terrible for your concentration when W Axl Rose starts bellowing on about the Falun Gong as if that makes him incredibly wise and politically aware). I suppose there's some adrenalin rush from listening to Chinese Democracy, insofar as it's illegal to do so just up the road in mainland China, but it's just not lairy enough to make you run fast. Basically, guitar-based music is no good, you need mindless techno to encourage you to put one foot down after the other again and again.

I suppose if music to run to = music to take drugs to, it's no wonder all those athletes get caught doping. I wonder if in a parallel life they'd all just be bouncing up and down in a club somewhere, telling people how much they loved them. Possibly wearing clothes that look as bad as athletic gear, too.

So after half an hour I'd done 5.8km, and was ready to drop, so I stopped and stretched next to a man who was standing on his head, then took a long cold shower.

That wasn't just to put myself through further pain, or because I missed the icy interiors of Bangkok's hotels and shopping malls. It was also because every single time I go to the gym, I'll stop exercising, take a shower, get changed ... and five minutes later find I've sweat all the way through my shirt. By dousing my body with cold water I hoped to avert this disaster of perspiration.

And thus far, my clothes are dry, so it seems successful. It does feel rather inefficient that half an hour's exercise took me an hour to do, but I suppose it's not that bad a ratio: after all, it's going to take most of six months to train for a 3:30 marathon, and that's over 800:1.

If I spent all the time before the marathon training, that is.

With any luck, this is the start of a training regimen, and not the first of six panicked running sessions before the race. I wonder which it will turn out to be.


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