2 June 2017

Long may we run

A fledgling business is said to be one that is immature, inexperienced and still underdeveloped. The definition certainly fits my little operation here in Japan but it also suggests that one should have all the time in the world to update their blog weekly. Not so my friends. As a good mate of mine recently said, I’ve been as busy as a one-armed taxi driver with crabs.

My running route had become a little predictable these last few months. It didn't seem to capture my imagination like it used to. I no longer noticed the quaint wooden arched bridge or the small town that modelled itself on a bygone Japanese village. I didn't even notice the river surging along after a recent burst of rain. Despite the course being dead flat, it felt stale and worn having run it so many times before. 

A few weeks ago, a mate of mine shouted me out to a buffet lunch. His way helping me cushion the blow of turning 49. The restaurant wasn't that far from home. It nestled among the many hills that surround the city. We could’ve taken a bus but instead decided to walk. The trek up through a beautiful bamboo forest took no more than 30 minutes. The restaurants patrons were a mix of university teachers, administration staff and the general public.

It was on the walk home I found my new running route. Instead of the trail we’d used to get up the hill, we walked a cheery blossom tree lined road all the way down to the city. With a few minor modifications, I now have an 8km run that meets all my summer season running requirements. It's:

  • very steep. A 3km continuous climb followed by a 500m drop then climb again. 
  • sheltered most of the way with overhanging trees or embankments of manicured gardens. 
  • extremely quiet. In fact, at one point the road is closed entirely to cars. Just me bounding along in the shadows of one of Japans most elite university campuses. 
  • of course, downhill too for the same 3km distance to finish. Essential to build pace into my workout and to increase strength in my quads. 
  • a distance short enough to get out of the heat in Japan. 36 degree days in the peak of summer literally kills. That said the workout is hard enough in its intensity.

I’ve missed updating this silly little ‘runningraggedy’ site. I wonder why? I may not be running the distance or the frequency I used to but that's not to say I don't love it just as much as I always have. Am I getting better? We’ll see … I determined to try. 

That's what we all strive for, right?


  1. Thanks Mark. I've been wondering what you've been up to. The ideal summer running route is something I'm always looking for too - although right now I'm seeking the midday sun on my runs. Belated wishes for your 49th young fella. That means you're pushin' 50 and have less than a year to get in shape! Long may you run!

    1. Thanks mate. I'm heading home for a months holiday in July and I'm really looking forward to 1 or 2 winter races. One half for sure and I might even tackle a couple of 5k park runs that have become quite popular since I've been away.

  2. Sounds like a good route, especially the fact that it's shady. What about long runs?
    What is the university?

    1. It's the best course ... for now. Your comment was timely. I'm set to run the above tomorrow morning but instead of returning home at 4k, there's a loop further out that'll give me another 8 to 10k. 18k in summer is all I'm prepared to do after last years disastrous heat stroke incident. One of the 4 Kyoto University campuses spread throughout the city. I believe it's one of the more prestigious universities in Japan.