A month at the Phaung Daw Oo School
Running in Myanmar has been amazing, I’ve seen so much more by getting up and running the streets early in the morning. Sometimes its hard to run because the sites are so amazing, I just have to stop and take them in.
Here are a few tips from my experience of running in Myanmar in the hot season.
The heat and/or humidity will affect you. Be careful! On your first run don’t plan to go too far. You need to learn how your body copes with the heat. Run a third, no more than half of your typical distance. Know where you are going, take a map or your phone. Take water, you can get though a lot more than you think and dehydration will lead to heat exhaustion or worse.
Run when its coolest, I run early in the morning just after first light, it’s 10C cooler. But in an hour, it can climb 5C, those few degrees make all the difference. I wouldn’t recommend running in the dark, its cooler but a lot of vehicles don’t have or use lights and they aren’t expecting runners.
Road running is more like trail running, the running surface can be very uneven, you are continually adjusting your stride, looking ahead to see where your feet need to go etc. You’ll likely be running on the road so be aware of the traffic, there’s lots of it. I run against the traffic so I can see what’s coming, but lane discipline is slack and a lot of bikes and scooters will go the wrong way on the inside of the lane especially if they are entering or turning off. You have to listen for them, they announce their presence by toting their horns. You get used to judging the distance and direction from the pitch.
There are dogs here, lots of them and most are strays. 1 in 10 will bark at you, 1 in 20 acts aggressively, 1 in a few give chase. Typically, the locals shout at them and they stop, I just ignore them now, they are literally all bark and no bite, so far anyway…...
Clothing, wear it. I run in a vest and shorts, doesn’t matter how hot I keep it on. Respect the locals, they don’t mind shorts but I wouldn’t go near a temple dressed in my running gear. When people swim here they do so fully clothed so ladies, no bra tops, use vests, or a light tee and modest shorts or knee length leggings. I have seen plenty of local female runner in shorts so its not unusual.
Heat exhaustion is bad, heat stroke is really serious. If you are on your own you have to monitor yourself, that’s why I suggest not running too far initially. If you do start to feel the heat (you have a headache or just don’t feel well), stop running, find some shade and ideally get into air conditioned space. In a city like Mandalay that’s not difficult, in the countryside it can be harder. Drink water and get a taxi home. Always take some money with you. Don’t push on in the heat, it saps your energy, here you have to have your wits about you because of all the other distractions.
Afterwards take a shower to cool down, it can take some time for the body to cool off. Getting a cold shower isn’t always easy.
A final word - Ear buds - choice is yours, I don’t and wouldn’t. Your two main senses when you run are sight and hearing why deprive yourself of one, especially in a place where the sound is so important.