Saturday came with some much-needed, wonderful sun here in Suzhou and I went for an even more-needed jog around the blocks. As usual, I got a lot of unwanted attention: cars that didn’t wanna cross the street but instead kept insisting on driving next to me, while the men yelled ‘hellooooo!’ from the window, the ‘what the f*** are you doing, sweating is NOT okay for a girl’ –eye from the well-dressed, petite girls in heels and the usual pointing and staring from some pedestrians. However, it wasn’t until I came running down a smaller hill and saw three men in suits waiting for a taxi, when things got interesting. I could tell straight away that something was up. When they spotted me they got almost childishly excited, started pushing each other, nodding and pointing.
And very well. When I ran past, one of the men started running next to me. Although he wasn’t running normally, no. He was doing this sort of heavy bear-running style, huffing and puffing and swinging his briefcase in the air (as a result of him waving frantically with his arms –I am actually not quite sure what he was trying, I've never seen anyone run like that ever before)?! I understood that it was supposed to be a joke, and his cool suit-friends (middle-aged, Chinese men) looked as if they were about to pee in their pants of laughter. I am just wondering who they were laughing at? Me, running there, all normal, not even caring about them or him, a man in his late 30-ies, in a suit, fancy shoes and who is running next to me?
I still don’t quite get the novelty of running here in China. Fair enough if I came on roller skies, or even a skateboard (not so usual I assume)? But come on –running?! The most universal form of exercise there is? Everyone knows it is good for you? Chinese people must know that too? It’s not like they are totally lost when it comes to sport (even though ‘exercise’ is a quite new concept over here, I know I know, no need to point that out to me) –just look at their performance during the Beijing Olympics last year?! And the few races I have participated in here in China have been jam-packed with Chinese people? Still, WHY is it so special to see a laowai breaking some sweat?! I think I will continue wonder until I die.
I wonder if it is the same for guys running here in China. Or if it is a little bit special if you are a jogging girl? Or maybe I am just unlucky, constantly bumping into the wrong people every time I decide to go for a run?
I cannot wait for some important doctor to go on national TV and tell everyone that ‘running is good for you’ (just like ‘opening the window is good for you as we need the fresh air’, or that ‘shopping burns calories’, or that ‘tampons are very unhealthy for girls’). What is he waiting for –come on!! Go on, tell people it is normal.
(One funny thing is that at the gym where I go, the treadmills are always in use. People use them for jogging and walking. And there's nothing strange with that. But running outside? Not OK? Maybe it's considered bad to be seen sweating in public? Is it some kind of 'losing face'-thing that I have totally missed? If so, things would make a little bit of sense)