The Chinese have got it goin’ on when it comes to balanced energy and self care. Let’s start with steam rooms. I’d never been in a steam room, and frankly, with the Wuhan temperatures at 106 degrees with 85% humidity, we were pretty much working in a steam room everywhere we went. But, just last night, a colleague said, “Have you used the steam room in the hotel yet?” I said no, not my thing, and besides, I keep trying to find ways to cool down – cold showers more my craving. But, she was persistent, telling me that it’s unlike anything else and will make me feel cleansed and “opened.” And then she said, “you have to stay in long enough for it to work – when you feel you really need to leave is when you have to decide to stay.”
So, this morning, I did a brief workout on the treadmill and then found the steam room, wrapped myself in a towel and went in. It was about 2 million degrees with so much steam that I could hardly find the seats. I wondered if I should write a note with my name and room number in case someone found me steamed into a human dumpling and needed to notify my loved ones. But, just when I hit the moment when I thought, “I can’t stay – it’s too hot,” my body relaxed and I started dripping sweat.
I thought I held out for quite some time, but when I finally left, it had only been about 17 minutes. It turns out that 17 minutes was definitely enough minutes to thoroughly release all the water in my body through my pores – pores I didn’t even know I had. As I toweled off, I realized it was the most refreshing feeling – soft, flexible, relaxed. Amazing. The only downside to the steam treatment is that I discovered it in the last 4 hours of my time in China, so my “openness” will soon be voided by 24 hours of airplanes and airports. But no matter – still totally worth it. 🙂
Also, let me tell you about Chinese foot massage – it’s all about reflexology – a keen understanding of pressure points in your feet and their relationship to other points in your body. It sounds like it would be gentle, peaceful, and not nearly as aggressive as the calf massages I get from Dusty. But, in this case, the foot massage includes not just traditional massage and pressure, but a whole bunch of slapping and pounding and wriggling. A bunch of us were treated to traditional leg massages in Wuhan (thanks to Claire Du’s incredibly generous mom!) and the entire experience was memorable – it was late at night (about 10pm), with a Chinese soap opera on the tv above our heads, and four of us getting slapped and pounded, which led to a whole bunch of laughing or gasping depending on what was happening. The funny thing was that when it was over, we were transformed – we couldn’t stop talking about how great we felt, in spite of the abuse, and have been actively trying to figure out how to get one more shot at it before we board planes later today.
I have managed to keep running throughout this trip – not the distances I need for endurance, but on the treadmill almost every day and my feet seem to be holding up well! I have to think that my feet might be healing, in spite of the continued workouts, and I’m hopeful that I can clock an 8 miler without too much discomfort when I’m back on the roads of mid coast Maine.
Check out this brief video of our foot massage experience – only my leg shows in the video in order to protect the identity of my colleagues. 🙂
And, not really anything about running, but a cool photo of the Shanghai skyline …