It’s no longer just a hobby, an activity—something to suffer through to drop a few kilos. Spurred by a few visionaries in cities around the globe, it has become a culture all its own.
This is the first in a series of runners’ city guides, brought to you by Jaybird. In this series we speak with some of those visionaries to find out why the best way to tap into the rhythm of a city is on two feet. Here, in their own words, is what it’s like to run in their world.
First up, a local’s guide to hitting the streets in Tokyo. Ultimately, it’s about finding your limits and pushing them, while inspiring others to do the same, like Lono Brazil III, a DJ, model and running crew leader. Here, he shares his story of life in Tokyo, a city that’s catching the running bug and why he’s born to run.
Run in My World: Tokyo
BY LONO BRAZIL III
AUG 22, 2018
When I grew up to be a creative professional, I never quite fit in with the traditional running scene. And as a runner, I never quite fit in with the traditional creative scene.
It wasn’t until I joined the Bridgerunners in 2012(considered the original running crew) and Black Roses (founded by running crew pioneer Knox Robinson) in New York City that I found my place. My two worlds—running and creativity—joined.
When I moved back to Tokyo in 2016, where I grew up, I found a similar type of running group in the Athletic Far East Club (AFE). We run on Wednesdays, but running is almost an afterthought, a second priority to catching up and socializing with friends. Training happens but on your own agenda and your own schedule. You see runners who you’d never expect to be runners.
Here in Tokyo, we don’t end the work day until about 7 p.m. So, we don’t get together for a run until 9 p.m. AFE meets every Wednesday night at a bathhouse in the centre of the city. That’s a very Japanese thing to do, the bathhouses. I usually don’t like to run where everybody else runs, like the Imperial Palace. But on Wednesdays, we run straight to Shibuya Crossing, a tourist hotspot in the heart of Tokyo.
We run through the people and the lights in the middle of the city because it's not a training run. It's social. As Tokyo becomes a more popular tourist destination, we welcome visitors. And who wouldn’t like to run through Shibuya Crossing? Normally you’d just take a picture but running through it is a totally different experience.
And in following Japanese culture, after our three-mile run, we rinse off in the public bathhouse, which is like a spa. It’s a very old-school thing to do.
Running through Tokyo is surprisingly more peaceful than you’d think. Yes, it’s hectic, but a different kind of hectic. In Tokyo, you can still hear yourself think. It’s not as crazy as it seems.
While there are times I like to get away from it all and not listen to music when I run, there are plenty of times I do. The music I play will set the tempo for the run.
And that’s how I develop playlists. I've designed one in partnership with Jaybird that has a mix of music so you have something that matches the type of running you’re going to do.
After a Wednesday night run, we always get a drink. When it’s nice out we get some beers and hang out in a parking lot near the bathhouse. I usually go for the Japanese beer. But another favourite—you can find it at convenient stores—is a green tea mixed with sake, kind of like a cocktail. It’s refreshing.
And if we’re not outside drinking, we usually head to a Chinese restaurant nearby for shrimp fried rice or fried dumplings.
Running itself is an outlet, to get things off your mind. You go running and you get your body flowing. For me, and for many of my teammates who are in the creative industry, it’s also a way to express yourself. We do this through what we wear.
And yes, you want performance gear, but it’s also important to be comfortable when you run, too. When I put together my running outfit I look at a certain colour palate, and I may choose to include an item that's not running specific. Sometimes I'll wear items, like a hat, from my shop, Union Tokyo—it’s the Tokyo branch of the L.A. Streetwear Boutique. The clothing isn't designed with running in mind, but it stands out and shows who I am.
Being able to put together a cool running outfit and go out and run is a good way to express yourself outside of your day job.
There’s a lot of buzz right now surrounding the 2020 Olympics that will be in Tokyo. People are making efforts to be healthier, running and otherwise. It’s kind of like a secret until you get here. But Japan has a really cool running scene—there's a huge running community here. The Games are definitely encouraging people to go out there and sweat.
Don't Hold Back
Whether you’re getting ready for an event or just pushing yourself to a new PB, training takes commitment. It also takes grit to push through when things get tough, so the last thing you need is gear that holds you back.
Since 2006, runners, hikers and snowboarders have looked to Utah-based group Jaybird to give them uninhibited movement in the golden moments and the gnarly ones, too. They know the benefit of music to push potential, but having a long, loose wire connected to a device was a hindrance.
Created by athletes for athletes, the Jaybird crew wanted to feel as free as possible outdoors and set their goal to create headphones they could forget they were wearing. They created and released the first secure-fitting, sweat-proof wireless earbuds and kept innovating from there.
Working with professional runners helped them design a seamless fit that anyone could tailor to the shape of their ear and wear in complete comfort. They worked on sweat-proofing to ensure their buds could survive high-intensity training, unexpected weather, and even an occasional load in the wash. And then they tackled sound.
The Jaybird App is an immersive experience that you create and use as a personal training tool. With the app, you can customize your EQ levels for any activity, save your sound preset to your buds, and share your preset to help others find the ideal sound too.
Jaybird believes in sharing experiences and has created a 360-degree platform to support you in getting the best out of your buds. The Jaybird App continues to evolve and most recently has incorporated a Find My Buds feature, allowing you to track the last place your buds were connected.
Stay tuned for future instalments of Run in My World as Runner’s World and Jaybird explore other global running epicentres and how their communities are evolving the sport.