Perhaps you watched the women’s marathon in the World Championship. And perhaps you saw a runner from Japan named Mao Kiyota racing the entire distance with a stiff arm motion that kept her wrists well below her waistline. It was the most uncomfortable looking running form, yet she kept up with the leaders all the way through 20 miles and finished in just over 2:30 for the distance. Quite impressive.
Every other woman in the race had a relatively high arm carriage. Some pumped and even flailed their way through the 26-mile distance. Kiyota kept her stride length short and low. She kept her arms straight down by her side, and ran from the hips.
In the first few miles of the race, I wondered aloud: “What is that woman doing?” It figured that she would soon drop off. Yet she didn’t. On and on she went. Right there with the African and American runners that would place 1-3.
She never faltered till after 20 miles. I sat there slack-jawed. Her performance raised all sorts of questions in my mind. Were the other girls actually wasting energy using so much arm motion? Or was the Japanese girl by some cultural or coached dictum losing speed and pace with her low arm carriage?
I did an Internet search to see if anyone made comments about the unusual running form of the Japanese athlete. Nothing. So I captured video from the On Demand recording of the race and it to a running group of longtime distance people. The comments were mostly curious, with a few jokes thrown in, about the nature of her form.
It may be a cultural thing. I see many Asian women walking and running with the same form.
I’d seen the course a million times and my coach had told me that even if the pace sped up every lap it would definitely slow down again on the city center part. I didn’t do anything hasty and I was relaxed enough to be able to tell who was cheering for me, so I thought that I had enough of a margin to be able to keep it together.
I think I dealt with the back and forth in the first half pretty well. But if I had to pick something that I did wrong, maybe I was too emotional and impatient. Every time, I keep on doing things that make it impossible to deal with the move in the second half. I have to get control of that, and from that to develop the confidence to be able to lead it myself and deliver a hard-edged race. I have to reevaluate my training approach so that I can gain that kind of confidence.