Triathlon in Japan with Keren Miers
Keren Miers our triathlon coach gives us some insights about what triathlon exactly is: the benefits of this sport which is more accessible than you may think, how and where to practice in Japan. Great article, thanks Keren!
What is triathlon ?
Triathlon is a multi-sport disciplines, involving running, swimming and cycling in immediate succession on various distances.
Triathletes compete for fastest completion time, including timed "transitions" between the individual swim, cycle, and run components.
It's a very physical discipline because it combines 3 differents sports, and it's important to have a winner's spirit to practice it in competition.
The sport made its debut on the Olympic program in 2000, at the Sydney Games. The olympic distance is 1,500m of swim, 40km of bike and 10km of run. This sport will be present at the Japan Olympics games in 2020.
What are the benefits of triathlon ?
There are great health benefits as you need to train a fair bit. This is ideal if you are into an active lifestyle. And there is a mental side as you need to have discipline to do the training that is needed. You also learn to be very good at time management to fit your training into your busy life.
Do you suggest a diet plan or any food plan recommendation ?
My advice here is eat what you want to eat, but in moderation. Protein (animal or vegetable) is beneficial for recovery, and carbs are needed for energy. Cutting back on sweets and junk food is a good way to improve your eating habits and to lose weight. Alcohol can be consumed in moderation. I find that a drink or two is a great way to relax the night before a race.
Who can practice triathlon? Is there any age and health restriction?
Anyone from high school age and up. There is no upper age limit. At last year's Ironman World Champs, the oldest finisher was an 83 year old Japanese man, Hiromu Inada-san, who I have been lucky enough to have met at a race here in Japan. And there is also the famous Iron Nun, Sister Madonna Buder, who is still competing at 86 years young! Triathlon and running are lifetime sports.
Being fit at the start would be a plus, but it will only take 3 or 4 months to prepare a triathlete for their first race.
Where do you train your athletes for swim, bike and run in Tokyo?
Tokyo is a surprisingly good city to train in. Pools are a little difficult due to limited opening hours (they don't open early like most other countries) and a few strict rules. But there are lanes available at pools all over Tokyo with great squads if you know where to find them. Plus you can be at the ocean in about one hour, with some nice beaches for safe Open Water Swimming training.
There are also terrific places to ride your bike, in and just outside of the city. There is open, Japanese countryside about two hours away by bike, or an hour away by train which are perfect for training. The same goes for running. There are a many great road and trail running courses in, and close by the city. I know most of the best routes from my years of riding near to Tokyo.
Do you organize training camps outside Tokyo sometimes?
I am now planning the first training camp for the year at beautiful Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula. Shimoda has great beaches for ocean swimming and spectacular cycling and running routes along the coast and through forests and over mountains. There will also be training camps later in the year in the mountains in Nagano, as well as at Atami on the coast.
Is triathlon very popular in Japan?
Triathlon is booming in Japan right now; and I expect it to grow as the 2020 Olympics approach as triathlon is one of the included sports. For most races in Japan you need to enter a lottery many months ahead to gain a slot. So forward planning is needed.
Is there any difference of training here in Japan compared to western countries?
Triathletes in Japan are very friendly and helpful. They really do "live" their sport and are very dedicated. The Ironman brand is very strong and most Japanese triathletes have the dream of winning a slot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
What are the next races in Japan?
Take a look at Race Check for a comprehensive list of popular triathlons, Open Water Swim races and running races located all over Japan.
Are there any famous triathlons in Japan?
The biggest, most famous triathlon in Japan is Strongman Japan at Miyakojima in April every year. It takes Japanese people at least three goes of the lottery to get in. But they do seem to favour foreigners.
How can I register to the races?
Most are through websites, but some still require paperwork to be filled out and sent in. Mainly in Japanese, but some races do have website pages in English as well.
Do we need to speak japanese to race in Japan?
No, not at all. Races do their best to make foreign athletes to feel welcome. But have a friend or partner around who can speak Japanese would be better!
You want to learn more about Keren Miers and his triathlon coaching methods? Read his interview.