Skip to main content

Maximizing Hakone Ekiden Performance With Low Pressure Chamber Training and Adaptive Data

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/hakone-ekiden/2017/feature/20161222-OYT8T50092.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tokai University's Shonan campus features a "low pressure chamber."  With 20 cm-thick walls it is like a room on a submarine.  In preparation for the Hakone Ekiden, twice a week the school's athletes work out in the chamber on running machines and other equipment.  According to Tamotsu Terao, professor of exercise physiology at Tokai University's Sports Medical Science Laboratory, the interior of the 24 square meter, 3 meter-tall room can replicate altitude conditions ranging from 0 to 4000 m, and by adjusting temperature and humidity it is also simulate a variety of weather conditions.  "By setting it to 3000 m you create a situation that replicates running at Mt. Fuji's eighth stage," said Prof. Terao.  It is said that training in a low pressure, low oxygen environment increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which improves the endurance and "last kick" capabilities essential in long-distance running.

During training, measurements were taken of each athlete's heart rate and arterial blood oxygen saturation, a representation of the binding rate of oxygen and hemoglobin in red blood cells, and along with their subjective assessment of whether different situations were "hard" or "easy" the study yielded valuable data.  "The aim is to bring out the body's inherent adaptability to the environment," explained Prof. Terao.  "Visualization of an athlete's condition via diagrams and numerical data will help us understand what are suitable goals and necessary training for that athlete."

Having been named to run Hakone's downhill Sixth Stage last year, 3rd-year Reo Kuniyuki commented, "It gave me the ability to push hard in the last part of the race.  If you combine it with outdoor training you can simulate the course's ups and downs."  The team dormitory also features a "low oxygen tent" that can create the same conditions found at 3000 m, improving their adaptation while they sleep and helping with recovery from fatigue.

Low pressure chamber training, also employed by Rio de Janeiro women's 200 m breaststroke gold medalist Rie Kaneto, was introduced in fully-fledged form at Tokai University in 2013 as part of its "Hakone Ekiden Support Project." Since then, the team's performances have steadily improved.  "I am very excited that we have added a very strong first-year class to that this year," said Prof. Terao.  "I want to help them execute their runs in perfect condition."  The good professor should be considered one of the team's star members.

Translator's note: Tokai University's current roster includes fourteen men with sub-14 bests for 5000 m, eight with sub-29 bests for 10000 m, and three with sub-63 bests for the half marathon.  More here.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Kawauchi Outruns 103 Teams to Win Yashio Isshu Ekiden

2017 London World Championships marathon 9th-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) gave local club and high school runners something to remember when he ran Sunday's Yashio Shinai Isshu Ekiden solo against 103 six-runner teams. Kawauchi spent most of the 20.0 km race in 2nd, briefly taking the lead at the end of the 3.9 km Second Stage before falling behind after a Third Stage course record run by Kotaro Minowa (Matsudo T&F Assoc.).

Down 13 seconds, Kawauchi came back to split a time 14 seconds faster for the 2.7 km Fifth Stage than its fastest ekiden runner, Yusei Otsuki (Kasukabe H.S. A). Now ahead of Matsudo and out front alone, Kawauchi saved his biggest running for last, dropping a 2:40 final km to split 14 seconds under the 12:34 course record for the 4.0 km anchor stage. Desperate to catch him, Matsudo anchor Shunsuke Matsui went 6 seconds under the old record to become its official new holder but couldn't match Kawauchi's closing speed.

Kawauchi's…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men