For the Love of Running: Audrey Battelier

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Hi Audrey! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What brought you out to Shanghai?

I’ve been in Shanghai for just over 3 years, for work. A big change from my life in France, but I’m still loving it!

The month of February is all about Love for us here at Shanghai Dolls – not least because of Valentine’s. We want to celebrate all kinds of love – love for each other, love for our bodies, love for food, love for sports – and we hear that you’ve got a love for running, and that you’re pretty good at it 🙂 How did you get into it and how do you stay active with it in Shanghai?

I like to exercise on a regular basis so one of the first things I did when I arrived in Shanghai was to get a membership at a gym. However, I only got into running just over a year ago, for personal reasons. In January of last year, I decided to train for my 1st half-marathon (21km), before which I had only run up to 10km. I completed my first half-marathon in mid-March last year, and I’ve run 7 others since then.

Where have you raced in China? What was your favorite place to travel to for a race?

The Great Wall was a pretty cool location for a race. I did the half marathon there in May of last year, under a beautiful blue sky. It was painful, but the view was worth it! Another one I really enjoyed was the Hakka half marathon, near Xiamen. The race takes you through some Hakka villages in the mountains, and even includes a loop in a Tulou house! I probably wouldn’t have seen this part of China if it hadn’t been for the race, and I highly recommend it.

Those are races designed mainly for tourists/expats. There are also races organized at a larger scale, like Shanghai Marathon. I managed to secure a spot last year (quota of 30,000 participants and it always fills up so quickly that in 2015 they changed to a lottery system!). You can imagine the chaos at the start, but that’s exactly what makes it fun. Everyone gathered for the love of running, encouraging you along the way by saying ‘jia you!’ (literally ‘add oil!’). It feels great to be part of it.

I have also run outside China, in North Korea (Pyongyang). That was surreal as an experience. Not so much because of the race itself, but more because that’s the only time in the year when North Korean citizens are allowed to make eye contact with foreigners and to cheer in the streets.

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Do you have any tips for eating well to stay in shape for your runs, and stay nourished?

I usually avoid running on an empty stomach. Bananas are good for a slow release of energy.

If I have an important race coming up, I also stock up on other carbs like pasta, rice, and bread in the days leading up to it. It’s important to stay hydrated before a run, which is why I stay away from alcohol the day before a race. Coconut Water is perfect to replenish afterward.

What would you recommend to anyone wanting to start training in Shanghai? The air quality is always a concern so we’d love your tips!

It took me a while before I ventured into running in the streets of Shanghai myself – it can be dangerous with all the bikes and cars around! However, even after I got used to it, I still find it more enjoyable to run in Century Park in Pudong, or the Promenade along the West Bund (by the river).

Shanghai isn’t short of running groups where you can join friendly runners of every level.

The first group I tried was Puxi Run, a female running group that gathers on Monday nights to run along the West Bund – although I haven’t run with them for a while, so I’m not sure if they’re still meeting. There’s also another group that runs along the same way, but on Tuesday nights: Shanghai runners. The group I’m the most loyal to, Urban Tigers, does track training near Zhongshang park on Saturday mornings, and a 10km run along Suzhou Creek on Wednesday nights. Finally, you can also try Hash, which is aimed more at beginners but good fun!

The pollution definitely adds into the difficulty of maintaining regular training. Rule number one for me is to avoid outdoor run whenever the AQI is over 150. The best option is to run on the treadmill at the gym. Swimming or spinning classes are also good alternatives to stay robust.

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Last but definitely not least, we heard you’re getting married soon – congratulations!!! Can’t get more lovely than that 🙂 How did you meet your soon-to-be hubby?

Thanks! There’s only two months to go before the wedding, so I must admit that running has become my second priority lately! My fiancé is Australian and we met in Shanghai. He started to run with me, and we’ve got our next half-marathon coming up two weeks before the wedding. That will be in Wuxi, where I completed my first half-marathon last year. I wouldn’t say it’s easy to find your other half in Shanghai, just like in most big cities. But it’s not impossible Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice to provide for that. For running though, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Recommended Running Groups and Races:

Running Groups

Urban Tigers: http://www.meetup.com/Urbantigers/

Shanghai Runners : http://www.meetup.com/RunnersHai/

Puxi Run: Federica : puxirun@gmail.com http://www.savoteur.com/china/shanghai/en/xuhui/living/puxi-run

Races

Hakka Villages in Fujian province: http://www.great-hakka-marathon.com

Great Wall: http://albatros-adventure.com/great-wall-marathon 

Pyongyang: http://uritours.com/tours/shanghai-direct-pyongyang-marathon-north-korea-tour

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