Morio Shigematsu is a long-distance runner born in 1940 in Japan.
In 1965 he won Boston Marathon and shortly afterwards set world’s marathon record with a time of 2:12:00 at the Polytechnic Marathon in 1965. Now, at the age of 80 he is the head of Japan Slow Jogging Association and believes that’s the sport for all of us, young and old, fit and in poor shape.
SJ: In 1965 you were the fastest marathon runner in the world. Now you are the head of Japan Slow Jogging Association. What makes you believe Slow Jogging is the sport for us all?
MS: With Slow Jogging, we use our thighs, the quadriceps muscles. These are our biggest muscles so the results are faster than with walking. Slow Jogging is also refreshing for our body and mind.
SJ: And how did it all start? Did you meet Professor Hiroaki Tanaka, the creator of Slow Jogging concept?
MS: When my competing days were over, I was offered a position of a head coach for Iwataya Female Track and Field Team. I felt that I needed to have more theoretical knowledge of Sports Physiology and wanted to get support from Prof. Hiroaki Tanaka, renowned specialist in Sports Science at Fukuoka University. Luckily he was happy to cooperate and invited me to join seminars for his students. He set them up in the evenings so that I could study Sports Physiology together with them after work.
I have many great memories with Professor Tanaka. We went together to America to look for a place to do high attitude training for long-distance runners I was coaching. We spent 2 weeks in Colorado and stayed overnight in 11 different places looking for best running courses. Professor Tanaka was running everywhere himself and finally found a great place in Denver. He liked that there was a shopping mall nearby for the runners to have some fun and a 30 kilometers running course around Lake Dillon.
I still remember Professor Tanaka was going to bed after dinner and waking up at 2am to study. I was impressed that studying was more important for him than sleeping!
SJ: And how did you train as a young athlete?
MS: These were the days when hard training was considered the only and obvious choice. As far as the pace is concerned, unfortunately I didn’t base my training methods in Sports Physiology the way we can do it now.
However, my running technique was very similar to Slow Jogging. To recall it now, my usual, barefoot trainings must have been effective in my forefoot running. Sandals were popular back then and I remember running in sandals as well. Running in sandals naturally taught me the forefoot landing we now encourage so much in Slow Jogging.
Years later, during my days as a coach I made the runners stronger combining trainings at lactate threshold (their niko niko pace) with weight reduction recommended by Professor Tanaka.
SJ: Slow Jogging has proven positive results in all age groups, at all fitness levels. What would you say to children?
MS: We are all running creatures. I want you to go outside and play in the sun. Use your school ground and run before lessons start. Running does wonders to your brain and motivation!
SJ: How about the students?
MS: You all go to schools and take extra lessons afterwards, so I guess you don’t have much time to exercise. I’d love for Slow Jogging to become part of school curriculum!
SJ: And working adults?
MS: Working days are surely busy, but I’d love you all to try finding time for Slow Jogging in between the many tasks you have. When my competing days were over and I started working myself, I quickly put on some 8kg or 18lbs. That’s when I decided to jog to commute. It was 5 km one-way. I quickly noticed it was not just good for my fitness. When running I was often getting inspired and had great ideas. Daily jogging had definitely good influence on my work performance as well.
SJ: How about the elderly?
MS: With age we all feel more and more reluctant about doing things. I would love to create a local, supportive environment encouraging exercise. Soon after the pandemic was announced I saw an older lady walking back and forth in my apartment building. I guess her doctor or family advised her to walk. Becoming conscious about moving our bodies is very important at this age, so I would love for the elderly to have more encouragement. We should make use of neighborhood associations, councils and notice boards to introduce local sports classes and ways to exercise.
SJ: And can you tell us more about your plans for Slow Jogging in Japan?
MS: I feel we need a familiar environment to do Slow Jogging, small groups to educate. Slow Jogging Clubs flourishing all over Japan would be the best example. For that, we need to train more Slow Jogging instructors. Cooperation with doctors is also important, it would be great to have them understand Slow Jogging better. Health specialists could definitely contribute to spreading the word and making Slow Jogging even more accessible and popular!
SJ: It was great talking to you. Thank you!