Chinese Pensioner, 66, Runs 318 Miles In Living Room While Self-Isolating

by : Emily Brown on : 24 Mar 2020 15:00


A 66-year-old man went the extra 318 miles to exercise while in self-isolation, and managed to do it all from the safety of his living room. 

Li Zhanzhe experienced his first taste of long-distance running at the second annual Beijing Marathon in 1982, and became so passionate about the hobby that he went on to take part in every major marathon in China for the following 37 years.


He has been a torchbearer for the Olympics and the Asian Games and continued his daily running routine as a pensioner, but he was forced to take a break from venturing out on to the streets as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Li Zhanzhe running marathon before quarantineGolder’s News & Sport/Li Zhanzhe

Zhanzhe, who lives in China’s capital, Beijing, has had to stay indoors to avoid catching the virus, but being confined to his small flat hasn’t stopped him from donning his running gear and getting in his daily dose of exercise.

On January 29 he started running laps in his small home, managing to cover a distance of about 10 kilometres (six miles) each day. He continued the routine for the next 50 days, all the while keeping a diary of his weekly progress.

Li Zhanzhe stretching indoors while in quarantineGolder’s News & Sport/Li Zhanzhe

Though Zhanzhe only had a very small space in which to run, he never gave up or got tired of passing the same cupboards over and over again. By March 19, he calculated he’d run 513 kilometres (318 miles) – or just over 12 full marathons.

Speaking of how he achieved his incredible accomplishment, Zhanzhe said:

Every day I run between my kitchen and sitting room. There’s not a lot of space, so one lap is about 10 metres (32 feet).

I run about 10 to 12 kilometres (six to seven miles) a day, so around 1,000 laps, which takes me nearly an hour.

Li Zhanzhe runs 318 miles in flatGolder’s News & Sport/Li Zhanzhe

With China doing all it can to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Zhanzhe is making sure he does his part to keep fit while avoiding getting sick.

When restrictions are lifted and the situation is more under control, Zhanzhe hopes to return to the streets of his home city and pick up his normal daily running routine from where he left off.

Li Zhanzhe smiling while outsideGolder’s News & Sport/Li Zhanzhe

I’m sure Zhanzhe much prefers changing scenery while out running, but his incredible accomplishment means there’s no excuse not to get your exercise while self-isolating. If Zhanzhe can run 12 marathons in his flat, I’m sure most of us can manage a few star jumps or a bit of zumba.

His determination is astounding – well done, Zhanzhe!

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Beijing, China, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Marathon, Quarantine, Running, Self-Isolation