How to “Train” for a Long Distance Move

At exactly 7AM, the pop of the starting gun sliced through the predawn haze, followed by the low rumble of thousands of pairs of feet. I drew inspiration from the recent discovery that many of those pairs of feet belonged to people in the Arpin Shanghai circle: valued clients, trusted partners, friends, and spouses whose zeal and perseverance (both personal and professional) knows no bounds.

For the first few miles (in spite of my own zeal and perseverance), sheer crowd density limited me to a torturously slow jog. In the meantime, I let myself be mesmerized by the spectacle of it all. I especially marveled at the idiosyncrasies of Chinese runners, at least a dozen of whom answered their cell phones without missing a step. And while gimmicky costumes are a mainstay of marathons worldwide, many Shanghai runners sported odd getups that clearly weren’t costumes, including the young woman running in skinny jeans and the countless men checking their splits on luxury wristwatches.

Novelties grew thin on the ground in the last 5K, so my mind drifted toward a common mid-run distraction: considering running as a perfect metaphor for some random aspect of life. As I pondered whether my Arpin colleagues had braved the drizzle to catch the race, it occurred to me that running a marathon is kind of like a big move. The next day, I (gingerly) sat down at my desk and developed that thought into a worthwhile reflection.

As with a road race, preparation is the most important part of a successful move—beginning with picking the right shipment method. Not everyone goes in for the full marathon and not everyone needs a 40’ sea shipment, so we make sure clients are familiar with the various shipment sizes and restrictions. We also make sure clients are aware of all necessary documentation. Before I could be cleared to run, I had to present my passport, visa, and medical examination certificate at the pre-race expo. Just as each runner must register and receive a bib number so that he or she can get a timing chip for race day, each shipment must be officially documented so that shippers and government officials can track its progress. These steps may seem like formalities, but without them, the race (or move) could not go on.

At Arpin, we also pride ourselves on formulating great “race strategies” for our clients, which includes setting expectations, establishing target timeframes, and troubleshooting en-route concerns. Every marathon course (and every moving route) is different. I ran my first half-marathon on winding dirt paths in the Carolina backwoods; needless to say, Shanghai was a completely different experience. Moving to China will differ from moving to Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc.; thus, our Arpin team equips every client with destination-specific information and advises against drawing comparisons with past moves.

With the course plotted and the timeframe set, runners and movers alike turn to the inevitable meat-and-potatoes of preparation: runners train, movers pack. Training and packing both tend to be tedious, tiring tasks, best done in increments over an extended period of time. I trained for several months before the race, with a long run every weekend. Arpin helps clients make and execute a packing plan that gives them enough time to sort everything out with minimal stress. And we always serve as our clients’ indispensible “training partner” on long-run days, when their items are officially boxed up and hauled away. 

By the departure (or race) date, the goal is to have allayed any potential concerns. When you’ve put in the miles, the race should feel like a breeze. Yet in practice, moving abroad or running a race will puts some butterflies in the stomach no matter what; a road race or a big move is a major life event, so a little pre-move/pre-race anxiety is completely natural. Yet, it’s reassuring to know that when faced with challenges in a race (a cramp, an untied shoe, etc.) or in a move (a customs holdup, a weather event, etc.), Arpin will be among those persistent and committed enough to push through.

And ultimately, running a race and moving internationally share the same ideal outcome: arrive at the finish line on time, in one piece, and no worse for the wear. Shanghai’s marathoners claimed success in that respect: 97% of entrants finished the race and the men’s and women’s champions each set new course records. And while I may have finished my half-marathon just as the full marathon champion came down the final stretch, my own personal sense of victory was a product of the same dedication and passion that is always a winning combination for Arpin.

Submitted by Lauren Forman, Intern – Arpin International China