Steve Lacey and Bay asked me recently how I'm fitting in my kilometers and although Ewen offered up a theory I'll briefly answer this another way. Rick also asked me "Why Japanese runners are so good" and I'll answer this in the process.
I'd like to give both these questions a lot more thought and analysis but I know if you all wanted that you'd be reading other peoples blogs so I'll offer up a bit of my from the gut home spun philosophy and let the more intelligent take the topic from there.
Firstly the reason, I think, the Japanese are so good at running is because they run!
I'm not being facetious. Marathon running in Japan is like nowhere else in the world a "popular sport". It gets prime time television coverage, it is promoted at and participated in at the university and club level, and people of all ages have a chance to run in any number of races almost every weekend of the year.
Most people would think "Kenya" if asked which country would you most associate with marathon running but I'd argue Japan has the history and numbers that easily put it on top.
I could go on about how the Japanese feel an affinity to the marathon as it reflects their Buddhist roots and their stoic personalities but I think the ability of the Japanese runners comes down to there being a good system of promotion and a large number of participants on all levels. Simply marathon running is thought of as the number 1 sport by so many and it has becomes just that.
Contrast this to Australia where running hardly gets a mention in the main stream press and one can enter a race the size of the "Gold Coast Marathon" and be running one third of the race virtually alone with the occasional spectator shouting sarcastically "Run Forest Run!!" or other such things. Another "spectator" yelled at me once at the GCM from a top a high rise apartment "You guys look like ants" I yelled right back "Yes, and you are clearly a fuckwit!" In Japan us runners get the respect we deserve and even the small country races can have spectators lined 4 deep, they wouldn't think to put shit on us and they really want to be there. I'm sure I run faster partly because of this kind of support?
And to answer the question of how I'm fitting in all those hours running? That boils down to an understanding wife and a job that usually starts at 10:30am. The second run in the evening is sometimes hard as I start it late and I'm ususlly tired but I can get in at least 10K, I just have to make sure I run in the morning and it is my longer one of the day, at least 15K better 20~25K.