SiuHei Chung doesn’t stand still for long. So far, they have lived in three different continents. And each night they rack up an average of 14 km (8.7 miles) on foot, split with a 7 km run and a 7 km return walk. Running is their daily adventure, maintaining their physical and mental health while they adjust to a new city where Covid-19 lockdowns have made finding new friends even more challenging. We caught up with them to hear their full story.
Q&A with SiuHei Chung
SiuHei – when and how did you discover running?
It’s something I’ve always done. When I was younger, I joined the local running team. I’ve kept running ever since. It keeps me happy. It gives me time to free my mind, be myself and just enjoy the run. I fell in love with it straightaway. When you’re running and find it difficult to breathe, of course it’s hard. But when you go through the whole journey, you feel amazing.
What does running mean to you?
When I was in Hong Kong, I needed personal space because I lived with all of my family in a small apartment. If you run at night, obviously there are not many people out on the streets. You’re by yourself. Your mind empties. You can just be yourself. I run where there are no people – just empty spaces, me and the moonlight.
How does running help you in the rest of your life?
I suffer from anxiety and depression. Running definitely helps me to fight off the worst feelings. It gives me time to figure out what I want. I can daydream. The better I learn to relax my mind, the better I feel. Running is key. It’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. It’s incredibly important to me.
What do you think about when you’re running?
I feel like my mind is quite jumpy. I’ve got a crazy imagination. My work in fashion gives me creativity and vision. When I’m running, my mind jumps from one thing to another. It never stops. But I get that runner’s high and I enjoy being alone when it’s dark. It’s exciting. I love running at night. Then after the journey, I have to walk home. So things start fast, then slow down. It’s a good rhythm.
Most people run a loop, but you do a long run and then walk the same route home. Why?
I’ll usually run 7 km (4.35 miles). Running back is just too exhausting. I want to enjoy the whole journey. When I walk back, it frees my muscles. It loosens my body. It’s my medication.
Do you only run at night?
I love daytime running, but I wake up too late. I’m lazy during the day. Running in London is very different to running in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, almost everyone lives in high buildings. When I run at night there, the lights are still on and you’re just running between skyscrapers. But in London, a lot of buildings are only a couple of floors high. You can see the sky, the stars and the moon. I love that connection.
Do you have set routes?
No, I love running freely instead. I don’t have a journey in mind. I just run to wherever I feel like. If I decide I want to explore Hackney, I’ll run there and then walk home. Running gives you the chance to see the city in a way that public transport doesn’t. That’s been amazing for me settling into a new place. I can choose exactly where to go, where to explore, and that’s really opened up the city to me. As well as Hong Kong, I’ve also lived in Australia and Bali and I used running in the same way there. I love that it allows me to see places that people don’t normally enjoy through public travel.
What’s your relationship with running?
I definitely have some days where I don’t want to do it. Rainy days, cold days – they’re difficult. But if I stay at home for a few days, I will push myself to go out, even if it’s just a walk or a short run. It keeps my energy up, so I make sure I do it.
Do you track your runs?
No. For me, running is about relaxation. It’s not a training session. I just want to lose myself, do the best I can and do what I want.
How does running benefit the rest of your life?
It teaches me to push myself. Because I’m skinny, I have to use a lot of energy if I do a longer run, say 10 km. But it’s a lesson I can apply elsewhere too. You have to push yourself to do something that’s really hard. You have to go to the limit to achieve your goals.
What would you say to someone thinking about starting to run?
At first, it’s hard. You really have to push yourself. You have to make yourself think that you have to do it today. Not tomorrow. Once you start, you’ll keep doing it.
They don’t see us; we don’t see them.
Every night, it’s just you and me.
Alone. Free. Ready to fight off the battles of today and prepare for tomorrow’s new dawn.
New streets, new cities, new discoveries.
Wherever I go, I know you’re with me.
The stars and the moon shining on our path, guiding us forward.
You free my mind and give me the space I need.
For that, I’ll be forever yours.
I’m so glad I’ve got you.
So proud to face down your tests.
And so comforted by your presence, my enduring rock when things get tough and the darkness takes hold.
Tonight, we’ll lace up and go again.
This run is dedicated to you. It always will be.
SiuHei wears the Weather Jacket in Black | Pebble, the On-T in Black, the Tights Long in Black, the High Sock in Ox | Navy and the Cloudflyer Waterproof running shoes in Black | Lunar.