Japan Sitting on Untapped Goldmine of 2020 Olympic Medals and World Records
Somax Performance Institute has found Japanese distance runners run 50% farther than East Africans in the vertical direction during the marathon, but are only minutes behind them
Multiple analyses by stride analyst Bob Prichard, president of Somax Performance Institute in Tiburon, California show that Japanese distance runners run 50% more in the vertical direction than East Africans, but are only seconds to minutes behind them in the 5K, 10K, marathon and women's triathlon.
'When I was hired by NBC Sports to analyze the men's Olympic marathon in Barcelona in 1992 (where I correctly predicted the winner at the halfway mark as he was the most efficient runner in the lead pack), I was able to finally review a copy of the embargoed video of the 1988 Rotterdam marathon where Belayneh Densamo set a World Record of 2:06.50 that lasted 10 years," says Prichard.
Prichard had wanted to analyze Densamo's stride for four years because of a comment Densamo made at the end of the race—'I feel like I could run another five miles'. While East Africans typically bounce up and down 5.08cm with each stride, Prichard found that Densamo was bouncing up and down only 1.27cm, which is why he did not feel tired at the end of the race.
"It's the vertical distance that makes the marathon difficult, not the horizontal distance, explains Prichard. "A 5.08cm bounce adds up to 1.331km up and 1.331km down, for a total of 2.662 vertical kilometers. Japanese runners, on the other hand, bounce 7.62cm which adds up to 3.992km, or half way up Mount Fuji and back down again. This is but one major aspect of their stride that makes them slower and less efficient than East Africans."
Japanese runners go halfway up Mount Fuji and down during marathon.
Because Japan's training volume is so much greater than East Africans, Japanese distance runners also lose flexibility in their hips and legs, which reduces their Stride Angle (maximum opening between the front and trailing upper leg, usually at toe-off) and shortens their stride. They then overstride to make up for their short stride, which slows them down even more and leads to knee injuries. They also twist in their upper body which forces their legs toward the midline, leading to fatigue and pronation injuries.
It also appears that Japan's distance runners have tight chests, likely a result of carrying school backpacks at a young age. Nine studies from around the world have documented a reduction in lung capacity up to 40% from carrying school backpacks.
Prichard has developed a one-month program to reduce bounce to ½", increase stride length and lung capacity and reduce crossover and overstride in elite runners. His amateur runners have cut up to 1 ½ minutes per mile off their running pace with his program.
He estimates that elite Japanese runners can reduce their times 10%, which would produce 7 Gold Medals and World Records, as well as multiple Silver and Bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics.
Extensive analyses of Japan's best distance runners can be found in these PDF's:
A video showing the Somax program with a distance runner who cut 9% off his running time can be seen at the top of the home page at http://www.somaxsports.com/
Before and after photos of Somax runners can be seen at http://somaxsports.com/
In addition to his 45 year's work with over 4,500 runners, Prichard's athletes have won 44 Gold Medals and set 11 World Records. He has written widely on efficiency in sports magazines and the New York Times. His YouTube sports analysis channel has over 6.5 million views and 9,900 subscribers.
"Japan's industrial giants like Mitsubishi, Toyota and Honda spend large sums supporting and training their distance runners to be more fit, but nothing to improve their efficiency. On the other hand, their cars dominate the world today because of their efficiency. This is due to the Japanese tradition of kaizen (constant small improvements)
Somax Performance Institute