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Yoichi Watanabe: Better Running Through a Better Body

translated by Brett Larner

At the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon on Feb. 3, individual runner Yoichi Watanabe (27, Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) ran 2:15:17 to finish 6th overall. Despite falling and sustaining some injuries during the race, Watanabe was able to sail on to a sizeable PB.

"The course is completely flat so it is easy to run a PB," Watanabe said of his performance in only his 2nd marathon. His accident happened at the 19 km aid station. Colliding with a foreign runner ahead of him, he fell and suffered cuts on his thighs and hip. Although it was very painful, despite having broken his concentration Watanabe was able to relax and run a PB of over 10 minutes.

Watanabe is originally from Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture. At Shonan High School he was a no-name runner. When he went on to become a jitsugyodan athlete Watanabe weighed less than 50 kg despite being 1 m, 70 cm tall. When practicing he frequently suffered from severe fatigue, often vomiting. With insufficient training as a result, he ran his debut marathon at the 2003 Nobeoka West Japan Marathon where he recorded a time of 2:25:22 to finish 13th.

Watanabe was unsatisfied with such a result. With a game plan of "building my body through running," he began a program which included weight training and careful attention to nutrition.
His weight increased to 52 kg, and, "from this 1 point, he can go to have a successful next 2 years," commented his coach Jun Kuroki. Since last fall he has done 7 training runs of 40 km within the span of 3 months.

Having reached 10 years as a jitsugyodan runner, Watanabe finally achieved a milestone performance. His goal is to duel with Osaka World Championships men's marathon 5th place finisher Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku): "I'd really like to beat Mr. Ogata some time." Achieving such a dream is now within sight.


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