Running in Japan – 200 days of running in 2020

Growing up, I was never an athletic child. In high school, I couldn’t complete one lap. You wouldn’t know it if you’ve recently followed me on social media.

I started running in February this year. When I say running, I mean jogging. My best pace thus far has been 7:02 minutes per kilometer when I ran a total of 6 Km. That’s another thing when you start running, you realize that runners focus on pace, the inverse of speed. For reference, Eliud Kipchoge’s pace is around 3 min/km. At his fastest, he ran 2:52 min/km.

I run along this road in Mitaka City, Tokyo. It stretches over 10 KM and has a cycling/pedestrian path that’s decently shaded even on sunny days.

Why am I running?

Why did I start running? I don’t really know. I think I am motivated by a desire to get fit, to reduce body fat so I can look better. It’s also probably a way to cope with the stress and anxiety that is guaranteed when you’re adulting. I definitely run to cope with the separation blues – I haven’t seen my son in over 5 months. I missed his 7th birthday. I’m no closer to engineering our reunion, and then covid-19 happened…

Maybe I’m running from my demons. Either way, I kept running until I reached a point of no return.

Anyway, this isn’t my first attempt at regular running. I jogged infrequently over the course of my PhD, and then I would slack off after a few weeks.

When I was in campus, doing my undergrad, I woke up at 6am for a few months to jog in the morning. Then I didn’t jog again until like 5 years when I was doing my PhD. I’d do 2-3km stretches.

But now, this current streak is the longest I have done. It’s also the most serious and most dedicated.

Just do it. My running outfit. When I started, my pace was quite slow. Now, 3 months later, I cover this distance in about 45 minutes.

Feb – The Beginning

When I started in February, I did not use any app to track my distance. I just ran to the nearest Gyomu Super(market) and then turned back. I felt so good and thought I had run so far. I would then get home and feast bananas, apples, yoghurt, thinking ah.. fruits, so healthy. (Wrong, they’re actually full of sugar). I’d weigh myself and wonder why the scale was trending upwards!

Only later, when I started using Runkeeper to track my distance, did I realize that I had been covering only 2.4 KM! Barely burning 200 calories.

I was also running 2-3 times a week. I realized if I needed to complete my goal of running 200 days, I would need to up my frequency to 4 or 5 times a week. I was hoping to reach 100 days by the end of June.

March – The first 5K

I ran my first 5 Km race one morning before work. It was quite easy to just keep going once I reached the Seven-Eleven convenience store that marked the turning point for 3.3 Km.

Well, approximately 5KM. There is no natural turning point (traffic light) that gets me to exactly 5KM.

April – Getting to 10K

By April, we were completely working from home. I realized I could use the commuting time to exercise.

I was running 4-5 days a week, covering 5-6 KM each time.

I also got proper running shoes with good sole support.

Got a pair of Adidas running shoes. I got them at a discount for about 30 USD.

I did my first 10K in early April. Thereafter, I did 10K every weekend but I realized I needed a couple of days after to recover. I learned to take it easy whenever I had to.

May – No turning back

My weight stabilized. I am probably losing fat at the rate I’m building muscle, so it is all balancing out. I look leaner though. My skin has experienced the biggest change so far. It’s always been smooth but now it’s silky soft.

I enjoyed the flowers blooming in May, especially azaleas and roses. See the header image..

On Sunday, May 30th, I decided to keep going 20 minutes after the temple that marks the 10K run. I realized I had succeeded in running 14KM!

This temple marks the 10K turning point.

When I realized I could do 14KM, I realized I was finally within my bucket-list goal of running a half marathon.

June – Weight Worries and the Unofficial Half-Marathon

As I write this, I’ve run on 79 different occasions. I still have another 121 more days of running to do before the end of the year.

My weight is not going down, and my housemate is impatient with my whining as I step on the scale daily. If you are running, please don’t frustrate yourself with the scale. Keep it out of sight.

I’m now watching what I eat, even as I keep running.

Saturday June 13th – Unofficial Half Marathon

It was forecast to rain from Saturday at 8am. Figuring I needed about 3.5hrs to do the half-marathon, I woke up at 4am! I never knew I had it in me to wake up this early.

I carried my phone (I have a phone holder) and some cash to buy water at the convenience store on the way. I also carried 3 tablets of these hydrating salts.

It is summer now, so the sun was already rising! It was a dawn kind of light, and it got daylight-bright by 5am.

I started slow and just kept going and going.

At the 7KM mark, I popped in the first tablet and felt refreshed – ish.

At the 10KM mark, I stopped at a vending machine and got a 600ml bottle of water. I kept sipping and kept running. I also took the second tablet.

I had to keep running with the bottle of water in my hand, taking frequent sips.

It was past 6am when I neared the 14KM mark, I think. I took the final tablet at the 15KM mark. I had finished the water and disposed of the bottle at the next convenience store I came across.

I had only 5KM left to go when it started raining lightly at first and it increased in intensity. My legs, especially my knees, were starting to feel the strain. I told myself if I kept going, I would get home to rest. I was soaked to the bone.

There was no turning back. The sooner I got home, the sooner I could rest. I took walking breaks when it got too much.

I was expecting to take 3.5 hours (the average cut-off for a medal in official half-marathons), when I was pleasantly surprised to find I had finished after 2:40!

And even though I still had over 1 KM left to make it 21KM for an official half-marathon, I knew I could cover that in less than 10 min. So I can do a half-marathon in less than 3hrs. When COVID-19 is over, I’m signing up for an official half-marathon.

I may not be able to run in the coming week, for reasons I shall blog about later. (Subscribe so you don’t miss it!).

But I am very proud that I was able to run an unofficial half-marathon. My smartwatch told me I had done 22KM and that’s why I stopped, although Runkeeper recorded only 19.71 KM.

I was surprised to find I was able to move about the next day and went for the Black Lives Matter March in Shibuya the next day. I walked over 6KM.

I rested for a couple of days, doing some light walking. On the 4th day after the half-marathon, I was able to do a 5K recovery run.

Running in Japan

I am happy I can run safely in Japan. Even at night, it’s relatively safe to jog in my neighbourhood. No white men will come hunting me down and shooting me in broad daylight like they did Ahmaud Arbery.

#BlackLivesMatter.

Follow my running journey on Instagram Stories or Twitter. I still have 120 days to go this year.

This entry was posted in Blog, Life in Japan and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Running in Japan – 200 days of running in 2020

  1. This warms my heart. I’m truly proud of you, girl. I’d say I’d love to run with you someday but there’s simply no way I’d keep up with you.

    Like

  2. Sakshi Agarwal says:

    This is so inspiring. I love reading your blogs. Keep telling more stories.

    Like

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