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Kenta and Kota Murayama - Amino Acid Supplements a Vital Partner in Building Stronger Bodies

by Takaomi Matsubara
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kenta and Kota Murayama were born Feb. 23, 1993 in Miyagi prefecture.  After graduating from Meisei High School Kenta went to Komazawa University, where he played a major role in the team winning four-straight National University Ekiden titles, while Kota went to Josai University where he was coached by one hour run national record holder Seiji Kushibe.  As students both brothers had strong records of achievement outside the ekiden, Kenta breaking the Japanese university student half marathon record in 2014 with a PB of 1:00:50 and going on to run for the Japanese national team at the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships, and Kota running for the Japanese national team at the 2014 Asian Games where he ran a PB to place 5th in the 5000 m close behind four African-born athletes.  After their graduation this spring both twins joined the Asahi Kasei corporate team.  Both will run on the Japanese national team at the Beijing World Championships later this month, Kenta in the 10000 m and Kota in the 5000 m.  This article is part of a series published by Sports Graphic Number Web on top Japanese athletes in different sports talking about their use of amino acid supplements.

As university students they competed for different schools.  This spring Japan's top twins reunited on one of the country's most prestigious corporate teams.  Together they will target the best in the world.  Supporting that kind of high-ambition running requires impeccable awareness and condition management.

An outstanding performance record from middle distance to ekidens to long distance and experience running for Japan in international competitions.  Surpassing the boundaries of student athletics to claim the position of the brightest hopes for the future of Japanese distance running, the twin brothers Kenta and Kota Murayama.

The twins spent their university lives apart, Kenta at National Champion powerhouse Komazawa University and Kota at Josai University, before their graduation this spring brought them back together at the Asahi Kasei corporate team.  "In the past we thought of each other as rivals, but we don't feel that way so much right now," says Kenta.  Starting off their corporate lives as teammates, the twins share a common blueprint and goal: to compete together on the Japanese national team in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"I want both of us to be there together, to show our strengths against the best in the world, and to deliver runs that'll leave people saying, 'Well done, that was incredible,'" says Kenta of the pair's dream.  "I have a rough image in my mind of what it'll be like when we're in the race," elaborates Kota.  "We'll both be on the attack right from the start, and when it comes to the end it'll just be the two of us competing for the win.  If we both make the team, we'll be the first ones since the Sohs, won't we?  That's not something that happens every day, is it?"

The "Sohs" are twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh, the Murayama twins' predecessors at Asahi Kasei with long careers at the national level including making the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams together in the marathon.  Since joining Asahi Kasei the Murayama twins have received advice from the Sohs, who told them, "If you build a strong body when you are young then you can have long careers as athletes like we did."  Already having a wide range of experience, the young brothers aiming to become world-class have become aware of the importance of properly building the body, and with the Sohs' advice they are paying more attention than ever to the details.  And with a tough day-to-day schedule, they need to.

"Our days are kind of like this," says Kota.  "In the mornings we more or less get up at 5:30 and at 6:10 we start off with exercises [core work and strength training].  After that there's group practice.  After work we have practice again in the evening."  That kind of routine is why Kota came to put a heavy emphasis on the importance of conditioning.  "The nutrition element has been important every since college, but my coaches there really did their homework with regard to amino acids.  That's why I started to take amino acid supplements.  Taking them before bed you feel great the next morning.  All the fatigue from the day before is reset to zero and you get used to feeling like, 'OK, I'm ready to work again today!'  So, I continue to use them now."

Kenta became aware of the existence of amino acid supplements after reuniting with Kota post-graduation and seeing the products his brother had.  "'Whoa, what's all this?' I thought at first," he says.  "Kota taught me about them as I tried them.  Then, just like he said, the amount of fatigue I felt started to change.  Now I take them before and after workouts and before going to bed."

Under his brother's influence, since starting to incorporate amino acids into his regimen after joining the corporate leagues Kenta was the top Japanese man at 2nd overall in April's Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m before going on to run a meet record 27:39.95 to win May's Golden Games in Nobeoka 10000 m, the sixth-fastest time ever by a Japanese man.  At the same meet Kota was the only Japanese man in the otherwise all-African 5000 m C-heat but took 2nd overall in 13:19.62, at the time likewise the sixth-best Japanese time ever, and went on to win the 5000 m at June's National Championships.

The pair has been delivering the results, and on the strength of those results both were named to the Japanese National Team for August's Beijing World Championships.  But as big as that goal is, they are already looking beyond it.  "My focus is the World Championships," says Kenta, "but I'm working on developing my stamina so that by winter I'll be in a position to be able to take on the marathon."  Kota adds, "I feel like I want to follow the same route as Kenta and go after the marathon.  Building stamina for that is important too, but more than anything the most important thing is to avoid getting hurt so you are able to put in uninterrupted training."

At the World Championships team announcement press conference Kota said the following:
"From here on out I want it to be said that this is the era of the Murayama Twins."
To surpass their legendary Asahi Kasei predecessors.  To the day when they become top-level marathoners.  Running toward destiny and hopes for the future, the twins both recognize the important role amino acids will play in helping them achieve their dreams.  "To us," they say, "they will continue to be an absolute necessity."


TokyoRacer said…
So was this article (series of articles) sponsored by Amino Vital (made by Ajinomoto, Inc.)? I wonder... I'm sure there was a one-page or multi-page ad for it in the magazine, and maybe some other payments as well.
Note: Amino Vital is the main Japanese amino acid supplement, mainly in gel form.

It would have also been interesting to know how much of the stuff they take each day.

Are amino acids really that helpful? Wouldn't other high protein sources be just as good? For some reason, the article doesn't go into that. The reason probably being, Amino Vital is buying ad space big time.
Or am I just being cynical?
Brett Larner said…
It does read that way. The online version features an Amino Vital ad so you are probably right. Some interesting content nevertheless. I'm very disappointed to hear that they are planning on following through with this early marathon debut talk they've been doing since arriving at Asahi Kasei and coming under the Sohs' influence. The 1500 m, 10000 m and half marathon national records are just waiting for them.

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