Naseba Naru: Try and You Will Succeed
That’s 55-year-old Naomi Kamasawa’s mantra, now that she’s started running to get healthy. But it wasn’t always like this.
“I would say I HATED that season…” –Naomi Kamasawa
It all started back in Japan when Naomi was a child. “In Japan, elementary schools usually have long-distance running events in winter that are mandatory, and we all needed to do training in gymnastics classes.”, Naomi told me. “I would say I HATED that season (though I liked sports, especially ball games, volleyball, soccer, softball, etc.). I always wondered what the point of running was because I found it so tough!”
Can Running Help You Get Healthy?
In the early 2000s as an adult in her 40s, Naomi had been living a fairly sedentary, somewhat unhealthy, lifestyle. At that time, she had taken a job in Colorado as a research scientist. To get healthy, she decided to buy a pair of running shoes. But memories of grade school and those mandatory running competitions haunted her. No matter how much she wanted to try running again, she still couldn’t bring herself to run in her new shoes.
After accepting a position in a research lab back home in 2007, she headed back to Japan and secured an apartment for herself on the western side of the country. Although the job was rewarding, she had to take a bullet train (3 1/2 hours one way!) to the eastern part of the country every weekend to be able to spend time with her family. This meant she had to take a local train between her home and the Tokyo Train Station, and a bullet train between Tokyo and her work.
One Day, Disaster Struck!
Early one Monday morning, Naomi was on the local train heading towards the Tokyo train station. The train suddenly stopped. There was an accident on the tracks up ahead. The train eventually started up again, but it arrived at Tokyo Station late. This meant that when she got off the local train, she would need to run about a half-mile to catch the bullet train. She sprinted as fast as she could, huffing and puffing the entire way, and just barely made it on the train before it pulled away from the station. When she was on the train getting funny looks from the other passengers for being so out of breath for so long, she couldn’t help but feel old and out of shape! She vowed to do something about her lack of fitness and unhealthy lifestyle right then and there.
Another New Pair of Running Shoes!
So once again, Naomi went out and bought another new pair of running shoes. Only this time she also purchased a book about running to get healthy. She started running 1-2 times per week, roughly 1-2 miles at a time. Although her fitness level was improving, she still had trouble catching that train when her local train was delayed. She knew that she had to do even more if she was serious about improving her health and fitness.
Moving to The Running Mecca of the South
In 2011, Naomi accepted another research position in the US, this time in Jupiter, FL. Since the Florida environment and the neighborhood she settled into was conducive to running, she decided it was time to ramp up her running game to get healthy once and for all. She started running a few times a week, 2-3 miles at a time. (I guess she bought a new pair of running shoes too!) After a while, she found some colleagues at work who also enjoyed running and formed a workplace running group that is now about 20 members strong. She found that running with friends was not only motivating, it also helped ignite her competitive spirit. As a result, she signed up for her first 5K race in 2015 and enjoyed it so much she knew she was on to something…
Her Nemesis: A Sub-30 5K
For the next five years, Naomi signed up for a few 5Ks per year. She was running, on average, an 11-min/mile pace during training runs, and turned in 5K race times above 30 minutes (roughly 10-min miles). Naomi incorporated a little random speed work into her training and managed to finish one 5K in 2018 at 28:55 but was never able to do this again. She kept telling herself, “I guess I am just a slow runner. I will never be able to break the 30-minute mark again!” But she really wanted to leverage running to get healthy.
In late 2019, Naomi found Off to a Running Start. She signed up to take the free, FUNdamentals of Running Training Program and learned how to run with good form and manage her cadence, something she knew very little about. Naomi completed all of the workouts and documented her progress in the training workbook that was provided with the program. She was so motivated that she even completed some of the workouts more than once!
In January of 2020, she signed up for another 5K. She had high hopes of breaking 30 minutes this time, and prove to herself that she’s a healthy runner. When she woke up on race day she found she was tired and her legs felt heavy and the weather was downright horrible (raining, windy, and cold). She gave it everything she had and turned in a respectable 30:07 time (9:41 pace) despite all of the race-day obstacles, but this still wasn’t good enough. She had to break that 30-minute mark!
The Moment of Truth
She doubled down on her speed work and started incorporating additional ORS interval workouts and running ladders. Then, she and other members of her workplace running team signed up for the Riverbend 5K Green Run in February. When race day arrived, it was a beautiful day and she felt ready. She took her team out for a pre-race warm-up jog and tried to keep her body and her mind as loose as possible. At the starting line, the countdown timer reached zero and she was off!
Her Race Plan
Naomi planned on running her first mile in nine minutes or less. She accomplished this by running it in 8:50. During the second mile, she started to get tired and eased up a little, and finished it in 9:27. But being a research scientist, she quickly calculated in her head that even if her third mile slowed to 10:00, she would still make her sub-30 goal.
Sub-30 wasn’t good enough for Naomi on this day in February 2020. She rallied during the third mile and completed it in 9:10. She ended with a kick during the final tenth of a mile at a blazing 8:37. This enabled her to finish in 28:34!! Naomi set a PR, earned sixth place in her age group and ranked in the top one-third overall!
Set a Goal, Develop a Plan, Live Your Dream
Naomi proved to herself that if you set a clear goal, develop a plan, and put in the effort, anything is possible. Naseba Naru!
Since this victory in February, Naomi had hopes of entering additional races. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and temporarily suspended this goal. She continues to learn and practice how to run and enjoys the times when she has to run solo. She even recently started running with the ORS tribe on weekend mornings for our socially-distant group runs.
If you live in the local area and are interested in joining us one of these mornings, add a comment below or click here. We would love to see you!