Quick photo quiz – 英語で写真クイズ 20161013

Any ideas what this fruit is? Please write your guesses in the comments.

この果物は英語でなんと言うだろう? 回答をコメント欄に入れてみてください。

Quick photo quiz – 英語で写真クイズ 20161012

Any ideas what this fruit is? Please write your guesses in the comments.

この果物は英語でなんと言うだろう? 回答をコメント欄に入れてみてください。

Great concept for running with a watch

About a month ago, I received delivery of an item that I backed on Kickstarter. The item in question was something called the Shift by EdgeGear.

Basically, it’s a strap that allows you to keep your watch in a comfortable position on your hand rather than on your wrist while running. Ever tried to look at your watch while running? It’s hard to keep your rhythm while you lift your arm and if you’re like me, squint to see the numbers close-up after having been looking into the distance. This way, you don’t have to bring your arm right up to look at your time or other stats while running. You can stay in the flow. 

Although it seemed to take forever to actually receive the product (I’m sure I ordered it in late summer or early autumn 2015), once it finally came, I was thoroughly impressed. It was dead easy to take my Garmin Forerunner strap off and fit the Shift to it. They even sent tools with the strap and a link to a video on YouTube to walk me through it.

This endorsement is in no way solicited and I paid full price for the product. I’m posting this because I really love the product and recommend it to any runners I know. I’m looking forward to testing it out over full marathon distance when I run #kobemarathon next month. So far, so good!


来月の#神戸マラソン でシフトを付けて長い距離でも走るのも楽しみです

Why I’d rather be in Himeji than Tokyo, except Feb 26th –        一年364日東京より姫路に居たいが、2月26日だけは違う

Earlier this year, I moved with my family from Tokyo to a city just outside Himeji.

A city of 500,000 people, Himeji has a population similar to Copenhagen. It is the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture, which has a population of about 5 million people. This happens to be about the same size as Denmark’s population. Himejians eat lots of almond butter but not so much Lurpak butter though. 

Tokyo is in a league of its own. Many people will remember the infographics that were doing the rounds on Buzzfeed a couple of years ago. If not, take a look at the link. It’s awe-inspiring. According to the UN, the population of the Greater Tokyo/Yokohama conurbation is more than 37 million people. That’s bigger than the population of over 100 countries on this planet, including the likes of Canada and Australia. Now try imagine getting on a train with all those people…

I already made my choice on where to live. It’s a no-brainer really: serene yet efficient Denmark, or the whole of Toronto packed every morning onto the Yamanote Line. Just thinking about sweaty summers and autumn typhoons was enough to make me feel faint. I chose Copenhagen – or a place on its outskirts really:


World Heritage Himeji Castle

But recently, I was faced with a new choice between Himeji and Tokyo.
These two cities host a full marathon on the same day in 2017: February 26th.

I applied for both races because they are oversubscribed and hold a lottery to decide who can run. I wanted to run one of them and decided to let fate decide which. 

Tokyo Marathon had a subscription rate approximately twelve times the 35,000+ that can actually run the race. Even a vast city such as Tokyo has to limit the number of runners that can navigate the narrow streets at the start. When I last ran the race in 2014, I was in C block (the third section from the front) but it still took me ten minutes from the gun to get over the start line. That year, I foolishly paid a whopping 100,000 yen (I had more money than sense then) to enter as a charity runner, though I have to say it was worth the experience, and the money went to support the rebuilding efforts in Tohoku (northern Japan) after the 2011 earthquake. 

To be honest, I didn’t expect to get accepted although they do say that gaikokujin have a higher chance than native Japanese. Since 2014, I entered as a regular runner and failed to get in twice. So this was third time lucky!

Himeji Marathon is my local race and has a beautiful castle. It would be a great opportunity to get to know the city a little better. 
Having lived in Tokyo on and off for 11 years, I’ve had my fill of living there. I would definitely choose Himeji any day to live!

But I don’t know when the opportunity to run one of the six Majors will present itself again. So this time around, I’m going to run Tokyo:


Not quite so world heritage Tokyo Tower
Definitely I will run Himeji in 2018!

Wish me luck!!






Faux German Shiratori Castle - Not the best castle in Himeji

申込者人数が多く、抽選になるのと知っていて、両方のマラソンに申し込んだ。 どっちか走れるかと信じて、運を試した。






Tokyo from quite high up

“Sports” Day?? – 体育の日

Today is a National Holiday in Japan. According to my calendar app, it is translated as Sports Day. I’m not really sure if 体育の日 (Taiiku no hi) really should be translated as Sports Day though. Taiiku is more accurately translated as physical education rather than the more general sports. But oh well, who am I to question the wisdom of Apple. They make far more money than me!

今日は体育の日です。iPhoneのカレンダーアプリによると英語で「Sports Day」だそうです。私にとっては、体育が「sports」より学科の「physical education」に訳する方が正しいか思うのですが、Appleは私よりずっと利益を取れる会社なので、本当は私から疑問できない立場かな!^_^

Anyway, here are some pics from today’s run. 


Signs of Autumn – 秋の兆し

Today was a little bit chilly—about 18 degrees when I started my morning run. The temperature was just the way I like it. If things carry on like this, I won’t have any excuses not to run. But who can blame me for not running in 35-degree heat?

Here are a few pics from today’s run. I particularly liked seeing the persimmon trees and the cosmos—a definite sign of Autumn!



Pics from my morning run

Much prefer running in the countryside than in smoggy Tokyo! 

Here are a few pics from my run this morning. 

The slow cost of eating fast food

Thanks to this great article from the BBC worldwide website, I now have a handy cheat sheet from Harvard Health Publications that details how many calories I burn depending on different exercises. 

I weigh about 70 kg, which in “old money” in 155 lb. So looking at the chart, for a 30-minute run at 8 mins per mile (my average speed), I burn 465 calories. Of course, the major caveat with this type of chart is that everyone is different. Some people have a really quick metabolism and can burn three times as many calories as others. The same can be said of the food we eat. It’s not an exact science.

Not that I eat them very often, but according to the average burn rate for a person of my weight in the chart, I would have to run about 64 minutes to burn off a Big Mac Meal or about 36 minutes for a nice bowl of Japanese tonkotsu ramen (like the one in the picture). It really is true to say “A moment on the lips equals a lifetime on the hips!” Or at least by this calculation, 20 minutes in McDonalds and a noodle shop, 100 minutes running down the road.

 Harvard Health – calorie table

Eat and Run: Book Review


Whatever the problem in my life, the solution had always been the same: Keep going! My lungs might be screaming for oxygen, my muscles might be crying in agony, but I had always known the answer lay in my mind.

Not a bad solution to live by. 

Scott Jurek doesn’t do things by half. He gives his best and just keeps on pushing further and further. I first learned about AQ: Adversity Quotient (a theory developed by Dr. Paul Stoltz) when studying for my MBA a few years ago. Jurek epitomizes this never-say-die spirit.

We meet Jurek as he is vomiting, lying prostrate on the searing ground of Death Valley, his brain being cooked in the heat of one of the hottest places on Earth. He is attempting to run the Badwater Ultramarathon — 135 miles of pure scorching hell.

For those who have read Born to Run, you will know Jurek as ‘El Venado’ or The Deer. Jurek is one of the greatest ultra runners of all time. 

It is not often that he succumbs to the elements nor to his own inner monologue telling him to stop, asking why is he putting himself through it. And as we soon find out, this is not going to be one of those times.
We get an insight into the mind of an elite runner and learn that he is no different from you and me. He too gets that inner voice that says, “It’s ok to stop and have a rest. Just this once.”

The next morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. I could hear music. It was the siren song of a warm bed, a cozy couch, a few hours of reading, or listening to music, or just being. No one was forcing me to run. No one said I had to. No one was going to die if I just relaxed a little. Those were the lyrics of the song. It was the catchy, terrible tune that had seduced so many runners to drop out of races. It was a melody I could not afford to listen to. The song was calling: Rest. You just ran one mountain. No need to do another.

The difference is that he didn’t succumb. He doesn’t succumb. 

Jurek didn’t start out as an athlete. At school, he was a bookworm and spent most of his time studying. In fact, his route into running actually came through skiing. At his high school graduation, he gave the valedictory speech and left his peers with four key messages:

  1. Be different
  2. Help others
  3. Never let others discourage you from achieving your dream
  4. Do things while you are young

Good advice indeed from an 18-year-old. Sounds more like something a 41-year-old might say to his kids! He took his own advice, even if he admits that at the time of his speech, he didn’t know what his dream was. 

As an adult, Jurek remains an avid reader and a student of life. Through various encounters during his time as a runner, he has shaped his own development.  His visits to Japan and to his bookshelf exposed him to the principles of Bushido. He likens the emptiness of the warrior’s mind in battle to the importance of remaining in the present when running a race. A wandering mind loses focus, and in a 100-mile race that can be dangerous. 

His studies do not rest solely with philosophy. He also studies the effects of the foods he puts into his body. He started out as a meat-eater, became a vegetarian and is now a vegan. Jurek cites studies that link the Western diet with the three most common causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer and strokes. He has studied through trial and error and lots of reading the effects of various foods on his performance. This book is not just for runners, but for those who care about what they put in their body. He ends each chapter with a recipe that he himself cooks up for himself or for his friends.

The healthier I had eaten, the faster and stronger I had become. Was it a coincidence that sick people were being served starchy, crappy food?

If you like running, Eat and Run will give you lots of practical tips, from how to breath to what training to focus on. If you like Born to Run, you’ll love this book which has more of a flowing style. If you care about your body, you’ll learn some quick and practical recipes, including a good one for chia seeds. And if you like autobiographies, Jurek gives you a clear insight into his mind.