Octopus lunch, student runners and the perfect afternoon of running.

A slow start to the day as the kids sat around playing Nintendo games and the adults lazed around on the heated carpet. The TV was on a survival show where a pair of women and men were set on separate islands and had to fend for themselves while completing specific challenges.

Both had to complete fashion show challenges but I could not work out why the women were allowed to bring their fashion outfits with them (vintage couture Armani dresses) while the men cut plastic sheeting to make their outfits. I suspect it had something to do with the women being real catwalk models while the men were comedians.

The teams had to forage and fish for their food and the islands provided a bountiful array of fish for them to catch. The men were particularly adept at catching fish by trident as they dived into the deep-sea waters. One of the men speared an octopus and brought it back to base camp for the team to prepare and cook. I think a team of British comedians would struggle to dive for their dinner and then prepare their food over an open fire.

I left the family to finish watching the island fun to watch the last stages of the Hakone Ekiden (day 1) in the kitchen live on television. Japanese distance running has a real depth to it, is fiercely competitive at all levels and is major draw for viewers, both on the streets and on TV, during the New Year holiday. University students with sub-63 half marathon times? I wish Great Britain had this amount of depth at senior level, let alone those starting towards the professional ranks.

I have watched the Hakone Ekiden each January when we visit Japan but without really understanding the rules, the calibre of runners and the sheer depth of long distance running talent in Japan. This year I watched the race on TV while watching the excellent live updates via the Japan Running News @JRNHeadlines twitter feed. The fantastic Japan Running News has a write-up of the first days racing. The names of the runners may be unknown to the world now but these will be the men contesting for places in the Japanese team for Tokyo 2020.

With a slumbering household planted firmly in front of the goggle box, and the afternoon clear of all activities & responsibilities, I decided to rejig my training plan and head out for my long run. A slow(ish) 16 miles required so I headed out the 5k towards Tokiwa Park and joined the local runners completing laps of the lake. The sky was blue and completely clear of clouds so made for a wonderful afternoon of running through the monkey enclosure, the flamingos and all the other assorted wildlife. The route home took me close to Ube airport, where I timed my run just as the afternoon flight from Tokyo was landing, so I had the pleasure of racing the plane (I lost… no surprise!).

The sun was starting to dip and I finishing my run along the beach just as the sky was starting to flame red with the impending sunset. A couple of young children saw me approaching and began chanting “Ganbatte kudasai” (“Do your best”), which was really cute. A truly perfect run in lovely conditions with plenty to keep me occupied.

Mrs Dan wanted to go for her run straight away so we completed another 2 miles with a run-walk along the beach and then back home via the same route.

Janathon 2014:

  • Exercise completed today: running
  • Distance run today: 18.8 miles
  • Distance run so far: 23.98 miles