Shanghai’s discerning runners

Updated: 2015-07-25 04:57

(China Daily USA)

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Shanghai’s discerning runners

Running is the exercise of choice for many city slickers limited by space and time. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Avid runners can now be found not only on the city’s streets but also on social networking sites. Many young runners today love to show that they have adopted the fashionable and healthy lifestyle and Yan Wen is one of them.

“We call this punching in for running. It’s like I’ve accomplished a work project and I want to share it with my friends,” said Yan, 34, who became a jogging addict about a year ago and schedules two evening runs every week.

The habit of sharing running pictures on Weibo and WeChat, two Chinese social networking services, possibly originated from the entertainment circle, she said. “Some celebrities from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan update their Weibo very often with pictures showing them jogging in the night or participating in local or overseas competitions. This may be a reason why the passion for jogging has spread among youngsters,” said Yan, who is the director of marketing and communications at an international company.

Joggers say the practice is a method of self-supervision and is inspiring to beginners.

“When I started evening runs earlier last year, I took pictures of the landmarks on my running route as well as myself before and after being drenched in sweat and uploaded them on WeChat. My friends clicked ‘like’ and I felt it was a way to motivate myself to keep running,” said Shao Feng, 31.

Some applications on mobile phones, designed to help joggers calculate mileage and speed, also make it easier to share these details online.

The Nike+Running app, for example, uses GPS to calculate the length of the route, running speed and the number of calories burnt during the run.

“We can also see the recent rankings of my friends. That’s interesting and makes running competitive,” Shao said.

Many also mentioned that fancy sportswear is a must. Some purchase a pair of jogging shoes worth more than 1,000 yuan ($160) a month and some head to Hong Kong for certain limited edition running gadgets.

“Collecting running equipment is my hobby and keeps the sport refreshing to me,” said Yan, who has running shoes from almost all the biggest sporting brands.

Yan also dresses up appropriately for running. “I want to show that pretty girls can also be wonderful runners and the sport belongs to everyone, not only those who aim to lose weight or have a better body shape,” she said.

But professionalism is a priority when it comes to shoes. Almost every jogger does research using websites which provide evaluations of shoes according to a runner’s height, weight, shape of feet and their running gait — how the feet land on the ground — before choosing their first pair of jogging shoes.

Some sports brands let runners add design elements to their own shoes, such as having their names or a particular pattern embroidered. This is popular among runners, especially women. Men pay more attention to the performance of the running gadgets, say some amateur joggers.

Jiang Jiawei, a 27-year-old bank clerk who runs three mornings a week, said one of his running buddies has seven sports bottles owing to his pickiness about their size and weight.

“He wants to feel the bottle as little as possible when it is attached to him while running but its water capacity must be enough for him to run 15 km,” he said.

Sports watches are also a must for jogging pros as mobile phone applications for entry-level runners don’t cut it for them anymore.

“The professional watches show the frequency of their running steps and the change of heart rates so that they can figure out if they still have any room to speed up,” Jiang said.

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