I went running!
Granted, I tried to go running in the spring once or twice, in my neighbourhood, which proved to be a REALLY dangerous idea since I wear headphones and blast music, and the streets are narrow enough to get hit if I’m not all the way to the side. And then summer happened, and my schedule at work was rough, and that idea was quashed.
But no, not now! I went running!
If you’ve been following along, you might recall that I mentioned I was going to be trying out two local run stations located near my office and next to the Imperial Palace, which offer a shower and locker on one-off costs, or on a monthly basis.
The first one I tried is called Run Cube (<< left). This one is technically closer to my office by about 2 blocks, but that means it’s a longer walk TO the palace track. Not a huge problem, but an item to consider when making my final choice of which place I’ll eventually become a member of. The OTHER run station (Run Pit) is literally RIGHT across the street from the palace track. 2 blocks from Run Cube. They know how many people run around the palace.
Run Cube charges Y500 ($5) for a locker and a shower. I also managed to pack everything but my damn socks, so I had to rent socks there for Y300. Not terrible. You can also rent clothes to run in, towels for the shower, and I think even shoes, which I’d probably never consider. But hey, towels is nice.
I think, in my American, post-Bally’s Fitness Club mind, I imagined that the rental lockers and showers would be some dingy place with a tiled, wet floor, full of nude women, in which I’d have to bring all of the shit I needed.
Back when I was in my 20’s and a member at Bally’s, having to cart ALL of my shit for a post-workout shower (2 towels, shampoo + conditioner, hair dryer, curling iron, brushes, makeup, styling products) after a workout was only minimally made better by the facts that:
a- I drove there and could leave my shit in the car when I was done
b- I did it early in the mornings before work, and then would go across the parking lot to the store (and leave everything in the car)
c- I was getting free personal training every day from the trainer I’d drive to the gym.
Thankfully, Run Cube aims to lessen the load by providing just about all that you need (see the photo above and left). Aside from the fact that the place is carpeted with a waterproof flooring AND you can rent towels if you need them, they provide hair dryers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and even q-tips free of charge in the locker rooms. This seriously lowers the sheer amount of things I’d need to carry with me in a gym bag.
It ALSO solves my mid-week shower issue, which is mainly that between Wednesday morning and Sunday evening, I literally have to make the time to take a shower (and lose much-needed sleep), or run the risk of having really terrible hair on Sundays. So running on Thursday or Friday might serve multiple purposes.
This was supposed to be a blog about getting back to running, but I felt the need to record my thoughts on this awesome place before getting on with it.
About the run:
I’m back to using the Couch210k program, since I pretty much have to start back at rock bottom in order to get back into fighting form. Anyone who’s followed for a while knows that my knee starts bitching whenever I try to pick up running after taking a break, and Thursday was no different.
I was doing Week 1/Day 2 of the program running intervals of 1 minute on, 1.5 minutes walk. It really wasn’t a lot of running at all, but much more than I’d done the day before. Oh, and on concrete, which I’m just waiting to herniate an L disc again. We’ll see if that happens. The run felt a lot like I was trying to run with my legs half-asleep, because I had NO proper form and felt awkward moving so much at work. I must have looked really, really silly. Not that that is ever a concern for me. But this wasn’t ‘I have MS and can’t move properly’, this was ‘I need to learn how to run again, because I’ve lost body coordination’. I can fix that, at least. If I were relapsing, it’d just be futile.
It took 17 minutes for my knee to complain, and from there, I walked more than I should have. At the start of every run interval, though, I ran for as much as I could before it came back. By the end of the run, I had a bit of my form back, but I’m still going to have to pay attention to that so I don’t hurt myself.
The palace track is 5k, and I made it just over 1.8k before having to turn back at the halfway tone. I’m not even going to bother doing the full circle until I can pass running for more than 20 minutes straight. So until then, I’ll turn and face the wrath of multitudes of runners passing me, going the other direction. Probably glaring at me for being that dick going the other way. You think I’m joking.
Initially, I had thought I could possibly run THROUGH the gardens and take a shortcut back to Run Cube, but I don’t think it’s possible. Well, it’s possible, but no one does it, and I’d probably get chased down by the palace guards for running INSIDE the gates. The track actually goes around the palace wall, and is across the moat from the actual proper ‘grounds’. So most runners are happy enough to have a 5k circle with no breaks for roads and traffic lights. I’m inclined to agree with that thought process. I understand that just about all runners prefer to run the palace course like a normal track, in a counter-clockwise direction. I also understand that Japan likes to breed followers who don’t like to break rules very often, so when I DO decide to just turn back and run clockwise to my start point, I’ll be literally swimming against the tide, getting ‘looks’.
That being said, I saw a few other people doing it, so that means I can do it, too. And I did, and I will continue to do it, until I can make the entire run in under 30. Which will take quite some time. I can’t wait to feel powerful when I run again.
The new running clothes were great, by the way. I wore my regular UnderArmour top that I usually wear under my Gi when doing Budo, and the gear kept me warm, but not too hot, and not sweaty at all, as I mostly ran on a nice November day.
More notes to come! I’ll be excited when I can run for 20 minutes straight again. We’ve got about 5 weeks before that happens, at least.
And here’s a song that felt appropriate on the run: the lyrics are good for how I’m feeling here in Japan as I learn more about how women are seen, treated and expected to fit in boxes. Grab an axe, or step aside.