Welcome to my new blog dedicated to jogging. The idea came when an old friend mentioned that he was interested in picking up jogging to get back in shape. Instead of just sending him some e-mails, I thought that a blog might help others as well to start running.

In some elitist racist circles (racist is in the rat race), some make the distinction between jogging and running, the later deemed like a more serious endeavor. But who cares if it is more serious or not? If you know me, you will understand that I do not care much for such snobbish opinions. In this blog, I will use the terms jog and run intermittently, although run will often have a more serious connotation to it.

My goal with this blog is help motivate anyone interested in jogging, whether it is at a turtle or hare pace. Especially, the focus will be on those who are new to it and are looking for advice and motivation. On the purely technical side, I will not be much of help, as I am not a qualified trainer, nor an experienced expert. But I have been jogging for over eight years, and I wish to share with you some of the things I have learned on trail, from experienced friends, on the internet and from other sources. I will supplement my entries with links to others sites that are more serious about it than I.

I remember my first 'run', held on December 31, 2001. Then, I joined my uncle in Hong Kong on a Hash run. What is hashing? Well, follow the link to find out, but note that it is no way related to illegal drugs. Instead it refers to hashed food. But regardless, although no illegal drugs are involved, members do follow a trail to an often unspecified location where coolers of legal beer await! Needless to say, as an unfit dude back in the day (and I'm not that fit now), I did not enjoy the running much, but knowing that beer waited for me at the end proved to be good enough motivation to go on.

In the beginning, I only ran once a month, as the closest group only met at that frequency. And truth be told, I did not enjoy the running so much, although, as I was new to Japan, the trails always proved interesting since we went anywhere and everywhere, allowing me to discover the country a little more. But every time I went, my slow jogging and walking ratio increased. And then one day, much to my surprise, I finished the trail first, thanks in great part to luck at the last few checks.

Before long, I started jogging once in a while just on my own. When I moved to Osaka in 2003, where a local club was running every week, my running regimen increased. Still, I was far from a strong nor fast runner (and I am certainly not fast now!), but running every week did increase my stamina, and I even surprised myself at running on my own on top of the 1 or 2 runs I would do with the Hash every week.

Then, in 2006, a Hasher friend told me about an event that would take place the next year in 2005. The inaugural Oxfam Trailwalker Japan would be held the next May, and my curiosity was piqued. The Trailwalker is a 100km event in which teams of 4 must complete a course, after having amassed funds for Oxfam. I wondered if I could ever do such a thing. I talked about it with my Hasher friend Yuriko 'Wanda', who enjoys ultramarathons. She thought that with training I could probably do it, and with that, we decided to go on a longish hike (about 30km) in the mountains to get a taste of what it could be like. After completing it, I realized that I was not in such bad shape, and that indeed, with training, I could probably finish it. The rest, they say, is history (well, my story).

Training for the Trailwalker, I even tried to run a full marathon, but got beaten by the unseasonably warm weather; I missed the 30.6km cut-off time by less than a minute. But two month later at the Trailwalker, my team, composed of Hashers, not only walked-jogged the 100km event, but we rallied the finish line in 25hr 48min, 17th overall and 3rd in the mixed team category! I felt so good! It was unbelievable. I joined the event again in 2008, and I try to run the Kyoto Sanjurokumine Mountain Race (30km) every December (I missed it last year due to injury).

But these racist endeavor aside, I mostly jog, slowly, to keep in shape. Not only does it help with my physical shape, but I find that it helps my mental well-being as well. I will have entries on these specific topics in the future, but for now, let me just say that jogging sometimes allows me to relieve some stress, empty my mind, find inspiration (for work and photography), and think up of one plan or another, just like this blog. Working up the courage to put on my jogging shoes on cold rainy mornings or hot and muggy evenings after work also builds up my mental strength. I think jogging is a great lesson in life that we all can take advantage of.

With that, I hope you will enjoy these entries as they come and go. The next entry will deal with the only important equipment you will need, a pair of jogging shoes. For those new to the activity, it can be confusing choosing the correct footwear, and I will guide you through it.

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