Sunday, 18th of November

Training in Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School has many surprises, including a half marathon competition. On Sunday, eleven students and our headmaster decided to try their best and run, for most of us, the longest distance we had ever run.

Was I prepared? Probably better than if I wouldn’t train Shaolin kung fu. But Kung Fu training is definitely not designed for running long distances. Yes, we run every day – mornings and afternoons, a lap which has around 1.6 km. Yes, we have Power Training, where we run-up to the mountain, which is pretty exhausting. No, we never run longer than 10-15 km.

I am very happy that unexpectedly I checked Half Marathon off the List of Things I Always Wanted To Try. It turned out to be easy and very difficult at the same time.

first half marathon experience

My First Half Marathon Experience


  • I didn’t have any problems with endurance. My breath and heart rhythm were steady. It felt like I could run and run, if not…
my first half marathon experience


  • After already 3 km, I started to have pain in my left ankle.

I needed to stop every 1 km or so and make circles with my ankle. Otherwise, I was unable to run.

  • After around 10 km, my right ankle was sore.
  • At that moment, I also started to feel my leg muscles working out hard.
  • Then my knees slightly gave me a sign – TOO MUCH RUNNING!

This run was like a sinusoid. The 8th km seemed very difficult. After 10 km, I kind of recovered, and it went easier. Again 16th km gave me a headache, while the 18th km felt like this run was not such a big deal after all. I completed the half marathon in 2h 09 min.

What Makes The Half Marathon Enjoyable?

  • The support from the audience and runners was amazing. I could hear “Jia you!” everywhere. Its literal translation would be [add oil], it’s kind of like saying, “You can do it! Go for it!”.
  • Another enjoyable thing during the half marathon was drinks. After every few kilometers, there were stations with medical support and beverages. Sometimes they were giving just cold water, sometimes warm, sometimes water with some minerals, and my favorite tea with sugar. I would never expect that this simple drink could make such a big difference in my energy level.
  • They were also handing out cookies after 17km. I didn’t try them, though. I never like to eat when I exercise. No difference here.
  • When the run finished, I received hot tea, cookies, and a reward for 40th place between the women, a big 1,75l thermos.


How My Body Reacted To Half Marathon Run?

After I changed my clothes and talked with the other students, when all the excitement was over, I realized how exhausting was this run. My legs, especially the sides of the hips, started to be sore to the extent that I had trouble walking. My ankle hurt.

We went to eat lunch. I wasn’t that hungry. I was very sleepy instead. After I ate a bit and took a shower, I fell asleep in my room immediately. I slept till dinner time. Whenever I wanted to stand up from bed or a chair, I had trouble because of muscle soreness. It bothered me for the next few days.

Recovering after half marathon - Stretches

Half Marathon Recovery

Recovering after a half marathon – 5 stretching exercises, self-massage to relieve the ankles, knees, and lower back pain… READ MORE

How Did The Run Affect My Daily Training?

  • On Monday, I couldn’t run or participate in Kung Fu Basics class due to my ankle. I was just stretching.
  • Tuesday was similar.
  • On Wednesday, I tried to run a morning lap, and halfway, my ankle became painful again. I pushed myself to do some Kung Fu Basics, though.
  • Thursday was relaxed as always – Qi Gong and Stretching.
  • On Friday, I finally could run a whole lap and train some jumps. Still, my ankle bothered me a bit.

Final Thought

It took one week for me to recover after this run, but it was definitely worth it. Now, I know the half marathon is NOT EASY. It does require preparation. I hope someday I will run a full marathon. Right now, I cannot really imagine doing it. My joints would just give up.


This is the last chapter from my 2nd year of Shaolin Kung Fu training in China.

Shaolin Kung Fu


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