What made you want to become an athlete?
Up until first year junior high (grade 7), I did judo and basketball. But what I really wanted to do was compete in track and field. I’d loved running ever since I was little, and in elementary school I always came first in local road races. That inspired me to join the track team. I ran my heart out and gradually got better. Running was so much fun back then. These days, I have to deal with high expectations and lots of pressure, so it’s not always fun! (Laughs)
You played an active part in the relay road race when you were in high school, but how was your battle record?
I took part every year for three years. During my second year, I was the fastest in my leg of the ekiden for all races that year.
What makes the marathon special for you?
I’d have to say the satisfaction I get when the race is over. Actually, practices are tougher than races, and you have to deal with injuries as well. So after every practice, I say “I’m quitting!” (Laughs)
How much of the year do you spend at training camps?
Although I’m based in Osaka, I mostly practice in other prefectures or overseas. Training camp is in Hokkaido in summer and in Miyazaki and Okinawa in winter. We even trained in Albuquerque, New Mexico (U.S.) before the pandemic. I don’t have many chances to come back to Osaka, except when I come back to rest before a big race. At that time I stay with my family.
What do you do on days when you aren’t training?
I go out to eat good food. At the very least, I want to enjoy sweets on my days off so that I can get through the next practice session. But normally most of the food I eat is quite mild; things like sushi, simmered fish, and chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard). To relieve stress, I often go to a ganbanyoku (hot stone spa).