Like A Sore Thumb

This is the second post in a row that touches on exercise.  In case you’re worried this is going to become a fitness blog – HA! – I’m fairly confident that this fad will play out as all my previous attempts at fitness have gone.  Cue cycle: get annoyed with excess weight, begin exercise plan, talk about it a lot, get injured/grow bored/don’t get results, return to general state of inertia.  

Wait it out a couple weeks, okay?  I’ll be all philosophical ramblings and excessive photos of my kids in no time.

I don’t know if you know this, but all Korean women are skinny.  Okay, maybe not all, but most of the country falls into the “slender” category, and quite a few are even model-thin.  I honestly do not know how they maintain this, though.  I never see young Koreans exercising.  By young, I mean under the age of retirement.  Granted, I haven’t seen the inside of a gym since moving here, so maybe they’re holed up there for hours daily, or maybe they exercise at night, like they do everything else.

I can tell you what they don’t do, though, and that is run in public.  I have never, not once in my whole 21 months of living here seen a Korean go running down the street for exercise.  (Other than the marathons, of course, but those totally don’t count!)  There are exercise parks where older people work out, and many people walk along the Sincheon River, but running?  NO.

I began a Couch-to-5K program a couple weeks ago and have faithfully stuck to it.  My recurring exercise problem is that I have little energy after the kids go to bed and under no circumstances, no matter how many times I’ve read it in parenting advice columns, do I wake up before them in the morning.  Oh no.  They need to drag me from bed, usually with their piercing screams, before I give up my night’s resting place.

Late morning, after I’ve had my coffee and we get some schoolwork done, seems to be the best time for both me and the kids. So off we go.  It took a little tweaking, but this is what we do daily.  We get ready for our morning playtime outside.  I drop the kids off at the playground and then run the circuit of our apartment “garden.”

Why yes, I do run over the tree-tops!  Aren’t you amazed?

(Are you impressed with my wicked awesome Microsoft Paint skills?  Watch out, Crappy Pictures!  I’m gunning for your job!)

This routine has many benefits.  It’s right outside the apartment, so no excuses for me.  I can hear and see the kids from nearly every part of my run.  The playground is usually empty at this time of day.  There is a bathroom right off to the right.  The admin office is right there next to the bathroom and they LOVE our kids, so if there is an emergency (knock on wood, nothing yet) there are adults just a couple steps away.

This all works out very well for our family in every way, save one.  I am a spectacle.  A brown-haired blue-eyed, slightly pudgy, huffing, puffing spectacle.  Remember how I said they don’t run in public?  And along chugs little ole me…  Sometimes I really am grateful I haven’t mastered the language.  Under no circumstances do I want to know what they are muttering as I run past.

To make matters worse… The 5K app is really helpful for timing running/walking intervals, so I want to keep it with me.  Only problem with that?

In Korea, the land of the technologically advanced everything, this is my phone.  A slide phone circa 2001.

There’s only one logical solution, then.  I bring my iPad.  And I run with it in my otherwise empty stroller.

Sorry, America.  I just nailed the coffin shut on bad perceptions of Americans in Korea.  All in the name of (most likely temporary) fitness.


  1. Oh my gosh, you do not! Hysterical!

  2. Hahaha! Too funny! Good luck in your temporary efforts 🙂

  3. You’re too funny!

  4. I am so in love with this visual! Just you, your ipad and your empty stroller….

  5. This is the most wonderful blog post in the world, and the very reason blogs exist!!!!

    I absolutely love you all the more for this, iPad in stroller!!!!

    …and the pictures are gorgeous! But how the heck do they train for marathons?

    • I’m not sure how they train. The two or three marathons I’ve seen have all been international events with lots of international runners. Maybe they train at night? or there are indoor tracks? I’m stumped.

  6. Oh my gosh….jogging with the Ipad in the stroller. I love, love, love it!

  7. First, you look AWESOME! I meant to mention it Sunday, but I was busy dodging out the back door before the recessional… Second, they jog with puppies in strollers here, so there is little room to mock. And third – you are TOO FUNNY! Love it.

    • Thanks, T. Good point about the puppies. I’ve never seen anyone actually jog with a puppy in the stroller, but many times i’ve approached ready to coo over a baby only to be shocked by a pampered dog in an expensive stroller.

  8. Hilarious. I know every person in your neighborhood is saying: “That crazy American lady takes her IPad with her even when she runs!”

    Thanks for keeping up with the “making a good impression in a foreign country thing!

    When do you move back Stateside?

  9. bahahaha! too funny 🙂

  10. They don’t run in public? Too funny! There are some similarities between Korea and Japan, but I’ve just found another difference. Japanese people run/exercise anytime anywhere it seems. I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed old men doing calisthenics in the children’s play area of the park, and I see people running in all kinds of state of dress from “ready for a marathon” sporty shorts to folk who look like they were on the way to the store, but decided to run instead!

    I am totally convicted by this post, however. I really need an exercise plan! I can’t run (arthritis), but I so need to get out and walk more. Thanks for the inspiration – from one obvious foreigner to another! 😉

  11. That is HILARIOUS!!! Running with the iPad. But, hey….whatever WORKS!!!! Go girl!

  12. 1. I am jealous that there is a pirate ship outside for you, I mean, the kids to play on.
    2. I have had a horrible cold this week & have lost my voice. After reading the last part and seeing the picture of the ipad in the stroller, I laughed so hard I had a 5 minute coughing fit. Totally worth the pain and lack of breathing!