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Anonymous
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LandOfTheRisingSun said 1 week ago

The Rise of Japanese Marathoning

I was reading a LetsRun recap of Chicago and came across the interesting stat that this year alone 9 Japanese men have run 2:09 or faster, including 2 at Chicago (Osako's national record and Taku Fujimoto's 2:07:58). I'd never heard of Fujimoto before so I looked up his IAAF profile, he has PBs of 13:38, 28:20, and 1:01:30. Most of these sub-2:09 men are similar, no crazy fast track times, however they consistently post fast marathon times.
How is it that Japan is able to produce so many sub-2:09 (and even more sub-2:10) performances? How come we as a country are so far behind? How are these men with relatively modest track times pulling out these huge performances on the road? Mega mileage? Different mindset? Just throwing all of their collegiate runners at the marathon and seeing what sticks?
It's also interesting to note that in the lead-up to Tokyo, the Japanese federation is offering a 100 million yen (~$1mill) bonus to anyone who breaks the national record, which has already fallen twice since the offer has been on the table, and there have been several other attempts and close calls. Maybe all we need to do to get more men in their mid-20s to move up to the full is to offer enough cash to make it worthwhile?

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    LandOfTheRisingSun said 1 week ago

    Bump

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    Lasse_Viren said 1 week ago

    For starters, Japan has a population 4X the size of Canada's. They're also an extremely resilient/tough country, as history would show you, thats been deeply ingrained in a large selection of its citizens psyche. This alone makes them mentally qualified to take up a 42km race, compared to us westerners. All around they have much more developed society than Canada TBH, and hold a very high importance on progress and efficiency.

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  • dad-bod-jogger User since:
    Nov 8th, 2015
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    Dad Bod Jogger said 1 week ago

    no idea on the physiological or psychological details behind Japan's depth over the 10km to the marathon, but i saw an interesting series of tweets this summer that went something along the lines of: person a: 9 Japanese men ran sub 2:09 for the marathon this weekend, more than the combined number of Americans have in history. person b replied: 13 American men broke 4:00 for the mile in one race, more than the combined number of Japanese men have. i can't remember who tweeted those, but they remain true (i probably have the numbers off but whatever).

    additionally, here's a link to a 2016 article where 360 (three hundred and sixty!) Japanese men ran under 70 mins for the half in one individual race: https://runningmagazine.ca/sections/runs-races/ageo-city-half-marathon-2016/

    perhaps it's a crazy amount of discipline, or a deep love for running long. but no matter what the underlying factors are, it is clear that the Japanese are fast for long

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  • meizner User since:
    Oct 8th, 2013
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    Meizner said 1 week ago

    It comes down to the fact that they really care about the marathon there and lots of people train seriously for it. I would estimate that on the men's side in Canada, we have not had more then 5-6 guys training seriously for the marathon at any time since the late 80s. In some years that number was 2-3. With their corporate ekiden and university road racing culture I would guess that they have 10-20x that number involved in serious marathon training-- many of them getting into it earlier with longer races starting in university.

    It's the same reason we're really good at hockey. We care about it and lots of kids do it seriously.

    The small reason we may be seeing a relative resurgence of non-African depth (2 sub 206s in the last year + other good runs) is that there is now a modicum of drug testing in Kenya which may be muting the effect of PEDs. Not sure there is even a modicum of testing in Ethiopia; however, any testing gains where there were previously none is a plus.

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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Marathon standard is 2:05:30 over there. Crazy.

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    Little men said 1 week ago

    another factor is that in Japanese culture competition is valued. the Japanese are very competitive and punch well above their weight, internationally, in many athletic endeavors.

    couple that with the fact that in many sports size matters, and that the Japanese are on average much smaller in stature. in the marathon however, size doesn't matter, in fact being big can be a detriment. this is one area where the small man can compete with the best in the world and so they throw all their weight into it. all 115lbs.

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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Meizner
    "The small reason we may be seeing a relative resurgence of non-African depth (2 sub 206s in the last year + other good runs) is that there is now a modicum of drug testing in Kenya which may be muting the effect of PEDs. Not sure there is even a modicum of testing in Ethiopia; however, any testing gains where there were previously none is a plus."


    Not sure I follow. How does testing in Kenya or Ethiopia lead to Japanese or American fast times?

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  • paavo-nurmi User since:
    Jul 24th, 2015
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    Paavo_Nurmi said 1 week ago

    There have been a few recent articles that addressed this very question. Here:

    http://citiusmag.com/japanese-marathoning-explored-brett-larner/

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2284811/why-are-japanese-marathoners-so-good

    Also this podcast: https://ultrarunnerpodcast.com/adharanand-finn-interview/

    On Japanese running culture, more philosophically, the great novelist Haruki Murakami wrote a fascinating memoir titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Highly recommended.

    This post was edited by Paavo_Nurmi 1 week ago . 
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  • meizner User since:
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    Meizner said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Anonymous
    "Not sure I follow. How does testing in Kenya or Ethiopia lead to Japanese or American fast times?"


    Two step inference so obscure link I admit. However, for a long time, non-African's haven't even bothered to try to contend in the longer stuff. Bringing the testing landscape towards something of a level playing field should allow more runners in high testing countries (in this case non-Africans) to believe they have a shot at competing. More people in the mix believing they can compete = more people training hard = more fast times.

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  • cowardnessthyname User since:
    Oct 11th, 2013
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    Cowardnessthyname said 1 week ago

    Brett Larner, who writes the excellent blog Japan Running News, probably has more insight into this than any other Westerner. Back in 2016 he wrote a post saying why he believed a breakthrough was coming: http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-shape-of-things-to-come-hakone.html

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  • coachf User since:
    Dec 17th, 2015
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    CoachF said 1 week ago

    Japanese marathoning has always been a big thing ... maybe a bit of a downturn for a while but I remember having similar conversations back in the 80s about this guy ..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshihiko_Seko

    and there were a few other really fast Japanese runners to go along with Seko .... and they just killed it in the marathon but were not dominating the track races

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  • rsb3 User since:
    May 5th, 2015
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    rsb3 said 1 week ago

    Agreeing with CoachF here, the Marathon has a long and proud tradition in Japan. In the early 1980's, we were at a training camp at Boson, just outside of Stockholm, Sweden, and a number of Japanese marathoners, including Seko, the So brothers, and another dozen good quality marathoners, were there at the same time. I watched them do the following workout on the track ... 8-10 times 3000 metres, with a jog recovery lap in between. They weren't hammering, probably running around Marathon pace, or a bit faster.. So, sort of a race pace, efficiency, type of workout ... very impressive !

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    Yuki said 1 week ago

    Lots of good input here. From what I gather, these are some of the reasons Japan is so much better than Canada at Marathoning.

    1.) Cultural Pysche: The Japanese are known working extremely hard. Very Driven, Very disciplined people.

    2.) Strong Traditions: The Ekiden race.

    3.) Corporate and Gov't Funding: Corporations sponsoring professional teams (and often providing jobs to athletes) similar to biking and the tour de france. Big money incentives from the Gov't help too.

    4.) Fat Tax & Healthy diets: I wish we had this here in Canada, but you wouldn't hear the end of it from SJW's!

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  • oldster User since:
    Sep 25th, 2013
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    Oldster said 6 days ago

    Quoting: Yuki
    "Lots of good input here. From what I gather, these are some of the reasons Japan is so much better than Canada at Marathoning.

    1.) Cultural Pysche: The Japanese are known working extremely hard. Very Driven, Very disciplined people.

    2.) Strong Traditions: The Ekiden race.

    3.) Corporate and Gov't Funding: Corporations sponsoring professional teams (and often providing jobs to athletes) similar to biking and the tour de france. Big money incentives from the Gov't help too.

    4.) Fat Tax & Healthy diets: I wish we had this here in Canada, but you wouldn't hear the end of it from SJW's!"


    Fair points-- except for the gratuitous dig at "SJWs" (and when will we retire the alt right lingo?). It's actually big fast food and soft drink corps that have led the way against measures to encourage healthier eating, including "fat taxes". As for the SJWs, they're the biggest proponents of more money for healthy urban green spaces and public education-- two things that improve public health in ways that make it possible to produce a larger pool of potential elite athletes.

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    Anonymous said 6 days ago

    Quoting: Yuki


    3.) Corporate and Gov't Funding: Corporations sponsoring professional teams (and often providing jobs to athletes) similar to biking and the tour de france. Big money incentives from the Gov't help too.

    4.) Fat Tax & Healthy diets: I wish we had this here in Canada, but you wouldn't hear the end of it from SJW's! "


    Rare to see somebody clearly pro-corporate undercut their own views this hard

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  • meizner User since:
    Oct 8th, 2013
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    Meizner said 6 days ago

    Quoting: Oldster
    "Fair points-- except for the gratuitous dig at "SJWs" (and when will we retire the alt right lingo?). It's actually big fast food and soft drink corps that have led the way against measures to encourage healthier eating, including "fat taxes". As for the SJWs, they're the biggest proponents of more money for healthy urban green spaces and public education-- two things that improve public health in ways that make it possible to produce a larger pool of potential elite athletes."


    What's worse than an alt-righter? A wannabe one who can't even get his critiques right. Since when have alt-righters been pro 'nanny state' taxes that tell us what to eat and drink....?!

    This post was edited by Meizner 6 days ago . 
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    Anonymous said 6 days ago

    Yeeez Is this trackie or LetsRun? Am I right guys ;)

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    Anonymous said 6 days ago

    Quoting: Oldster
    "Fair points-- except for the gratuitous dig at "SJWs" (and when will we retire the alt right lingo?). It's actually big fast food and soft drink corps that have led the way against measures to encourage healthier eating, including "fat taxes". As for the SJWs, they're the biggest proponents of more money for healthy urban green spaces and public education-- two things that improve public health in ways that make it possible to produce a larger pool of potential elite athletes."


    But could you imagine the backlash in Canada if a company started measuring the waistlines of their employees!! We can't all be Gaels.

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  • new-post-last-visitanonymous Anonymous
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    BestCoach said 5 days ago

    Japan will win both marathons in 2020. They will work together in a way we have never seen before. That's just how they roll. National pride taken to a level no hockey playing hoser could ever understand.


    Quoting: LandOfTheRisingSun
    "I was reading a LetsRun recap of Chicago and came across the interesting stat that this year alone 9 Japanese men have run 2:09 or faster, including 2 at Chicago (Osako's national record and Taku Fujimoto's 2:07:58). I'd never heard of Fujimoto before so I looked up his IAAF profile, he has PBs of 13:38, 28:20, and 1:01:30. Most of these sub-2:09 men are similar, no crazy fast track times, however they consistently post fast marathon times.
    How is it that Japan is able to produce so many sub-2:09 (and even more sub-2:10) performances? How come we as a country are so far behind? How are these men with relatively modest track times pulling out these huge performances on the road? Mega mileage? Different mindset? Just throwing all of their collegiate runners at the marathon and seeing what sticks?
    It's also interesting to note that in the lead-up to Tokyo, the Japanese federation is offering a 100 million yen (~$1mill) bonus to anyone who breaks the national record, which has already fallen twice since the offer has been on the table, and there have been several other attempts and close calls. Maybe all we need to do to get more men in their mid-20s to move up to the full is to offer enough cash to make it worthwhile?"

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