Learning From Runners in Japan

I was in Tokyo a couple weeks ago doing my market research on runners. During my time there I did a fare bit of running and then I watched 35,000 runners run by at the Tokyo Marathon. Some things I learned while watching.

  1. Minimalism in running shoe speak is a way of life there.  It always has been. Most racing flats will do just fine for everyday running. Lightweight trainers to runners in the USA are heavyweight trainers in Japan. 6 hour marathoners you ask? Well racing flats of course.
  2. Rarely if ever do you see a runner from Japan striding out. No long strides. The running form is compact with short strides. In general turnover is high. There are studies done on the runners in Japan vs the runners in the rest of the world. Not just running form but also foot shape and more. I won’t go into detail here just know they are built to run the way they do. Part of the reason #1 above is what it is.
  3. Running is a part of the culture. The fans lining the streets for the marathon were cheering for the front pack runners by name. They had their favorites from Japan but they also knew the lead Africans were pushing to break a world record.
  4. Fast finishes – Somewhere we Americans have lost the art of finishing fast. Around the rest of the world and especially in Japan runners finish every run with a bit of speed. It’s always a good reminder.
  5. Interested in following the great running scene in Japan. @JRNHeadlines does a great job on twitter.