translated and edited by Brett Larner
Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (29, Team Sysmex) returned on Jan. 7 from a training camp on the island of Amami Oshima in southern Kagoshima Prefecture, landing at Osaka Airport. At the camp she focused on cross-country running. "At first I had a bit of a sore throat, but I was able to complete the training menu," Noguchi told reporters at the airport. She visited a shrine near the camp on New Year's Day, where she prayed "with a clear and empty mind" at the start of the Olympic year.*
While training on Jan. 6, Noguchi encountered Hanshin Tigers pitcher Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (39) at a track where both were doing solo workouts. After watching Noguchi practice, Shimoyanagi shook his head and commented, "I'm glad I decided to become a baseball player." At 150 cm Noguchi weighs in at less than half Shimoyanagi's body weight, but her strength and stamina made a huge impression on Hanshin's star pitcher.
When he arrived at the track for morning practice Noguchi was already working out. During a break she told him that it was her second run of the day, having already done 15 km earlier in the morning. After Shimoyanagi completed his full training menu, Noguchi was still running. That evening she went back out for road work.
Noguchi for her part was also impressed with Shimoyanagi's weight-resistance sprint practice. "The amount of focus he showed while training alone was amazing. Watching him I felt that most track and field athletes, including me, practice like amateurs. Seeing how a professional trains taught me a great deal about my own training." The two athletes had dinner and talked about this and other issues in athletics.
Noguchi will run her first race of the year on Jan. 13 in the All-Japan Interprefectural Women's Ekiden in Kyoto.
*Translator's note: Noguchi is refering to prayer in the Zen ideal of emptiness and self-negation as opposed to praying for a specific outcome for herself.