I’ve always enjoyed an active lifestyle (dancing, the gym, kick boxing, etc), but when I came to Japan I found it difficult to find affordable hobbies similar to the ones I had done back home. I had run in the past, nothing too hardcore, just a 30 minute jog around the park, so I decided to take it up again. I started slow, 20-40 minutes by the river, or I’d jog to the bank instead of biking. As my fitness increased I gradually increased the distance and the amount of time I ran. It’s a great feeling when you realise that the route you could barely make it around four weeks ago, without panting your head off, has become a very easy, pain free course.
I find that running not only keeps the tyres at bay, but it’s a great way to clear my head, get some fresh air, explore the area, or work off the packet of Haribo I’ve just scoffed!
I much prefer running outside to on the treadmill. One of the reasons for this is that it’s a lot more interesting. I like to actually see things and go places as opposed to going nowhere fast whilst watching TV. In the past, I sweated it out in the gym on the treadmill and hated every second. I get bored very quickly when exercising alone. If there isn’t something there to keep me constantly entertained, I usually quit before completing my workout plan. Great news for me is that Gunma is the land of endless mountains, riverside trails and lots and lots of countryside. I never have to take the same route twice if I don’t want to, so boredom never sets in and the workout plan moves forward. Even better news, it is all absolutely free!!
As much as I love running, I’m not going to lie, it hurts sometimes, especially in the winter when I don’t want to leave the warmth of my kerosene heater. Staying home in the winter, whenever I have free time, is fine for a while but eventually it can get very depressing. These are times when I really have to force myself out of my apartment. However, it only takes a minute or two of running to warm up and I immediately feel better. For the most part, I don’t let the weather keep me indoors.
Last year, after I’d been running on a regular basis for a couple of years, I decided to ‘run for a reason’, so I signed up for the Tokyo Marathon. I’m very pleased to say that I completed the marathon. It was an emotional and painful experience, but a rewarding one when I crossed the finish line. I’m very glad that I did it! Obviously participating in a marathon involves a lot more training than running just for mental and physical wellbeing. I waved goodbye to leisurely jogs by the river, and welcomed endless hours of training and multiple running related injuries. Marathon training was difficult and time consuming but, because Gunma is such a scenic place, running was never dull.
Marathon training has been my life for the last 8 months or so. Now that it’s over I don’t know what to do with myself….I feel kind of lost! The pain in my muscles is fading, and I’m thinking about signing up for another one (only thinking!).
If you would like any hints, tips or help with running or with marathon sign ups and training, or you would like to join me on a run, please get in touch.
For those of you who are interested and would like to do a marathon, here is a link to a list of all the marathons in Japan: