Since Barbara and I arrived here on August 13, we've seen runners almost everywhere. Evidence: The 2009 Tokyo Marathon had 7+ times more applicants than the 30,000 limit. We are excited to announce that we will soon have a Galloway training program in the Tokyo area.
After taking a "jetlag modification" trip to some of the cultural centers and shrines, things got busy. I conducted a 5 hour running school, ran with a local Japanese running club and learned to enjoy sushi with the locals. We used the great train system for one of Barbara's shopping missions and met with our Tokyo Galloway Training Director. On Sunday, between regular samplings of Japanese cuisine, and a good run from our hotel room to a nearby park, we met with editors of the Japanese counterpart of RUNNER'S WORLD, explored the Shibuya district, spectated the wild world of pachinko, and experienced sensory overload on the sounds, colors and signage in the shopping districts. The best part is that we have half the trip left!
Running has an amazing way of bringing people together. The questions from the runners here were essentially the same as those from runners in the US. More powerful is the mutually shared experiences. Runner after runner listed the universal enhancements that are available each day: a daily attitude boost, personal empowerment, a unique sense of joy and freedom and a lingering vitality boost and attitude enhancement. These experiences and many others over the years reveal runners to be predominantly friendly, helpful and interested in improving the quality of their lives - and those of others. When runners gather, anywhere in the world, a positive spirit permeates.
Our host for the first three days was the Navy Fit program at Yokosuka Naval base. Running is one of the most popular activities and I enjoyed watching and participating in part of one of their events: Run-Swim-Run. Brent Grubb, at Navy Fit, asked me to conduct one of my 5 hour running schools for base personnel and local residents which resulted in a record enrollment - it took quite a while to give everyone an individualized running form evaluation. The Navy, as other US armed forces, requires each member to pass a timed running test and there were requests for a training program for the shorter distances. Most, however, wanted to finish or improve times in a marathon or half marathon. The most popular topic was my Run-Walk-Run™ method, as many had already received benefits from using it and wanted to know more.
I served in the Navy during the Vietnam era, and visited Japan twice - but never historic Yokosuka. This was where the Emperor of Japan allowed Commodore Perry, in the mid nineteenth century, to land. Until that point, Japan had isolated itself from the western world, but in Yokosuka, Perry negotiated the commercial and cultural opening of Japan. Since 1945, this base has been the command center for the US Pacific fleet. My Naval Officer father had been in and out of Yokosuka during the Korean War. It was a treat to run through the base, see the ships and submarines, while helping men and women of the area improve their fitness.
On Saturday, August 16, I was invited to give a clinic to a local running club in Tokyo, the Harriers. They rent their own apartment near a park, offer a number of participation and informative activities, coordinate club travel to races and have socials. Several members had read the recently translated (into Japanese) Galloway Training Programs book and had lots of questions. With the help of an excellent translator, Kaori Omori, we communicated well, laughed, shared experiences and enjoyed some tasty and interesting refreshments.
Yesterday we had a fascinating session with editors of RUNNER'S magazine - Japan's version of RUNNER'S WORLD, including one of the prominent professional coaches. The Japanese coach and I compared problems and found more similarities than differences. He said he was generally frustrated that Japanese runners don't focus on following a training program, but tend to pick one item from one plan, another from another, and don't understand why they get confused and don't make progress. All of us wanted to stay in touch and hoped to do projects together.
Now we're on the plane to Okinawa - on to new adventures!