Posted on

My arctic experience at -180° with Cryotherapy

 

Stripped down to my boxers, given thin cotton gloves and booties to wear; the single person chamber I was standing in had reached -160° celsius, blood was rushing away my extremities and I felt a deep chill like nothing I have ever felt. Only a minute more and this would be over!

It doesn’t sound like the start of a story that a sane person would volunteer themselves for. While my sanity certainly is debatable, I have been interested in Cryotherapy ever since learning about it from ultra motivator and life coach to the masses Tony Robbins describing his daily routine.  As it is with cognitive biases, I had then consequently kept hearing more about it including that a number of top athletic sports people turning to this therapy as treatment for fatigue, anti inflammatory properties and faster recovery muscle and joint soreness and other maladies.

So when earlier this year, while attending the Tokyo Health and Sports Technology conference SportTec  I chanced upon a Japanese company named Saraya demonstrating their Cryotherapy machines, I took note and contacted them to arrange to try it out for myself. They generously invited me to their office to discuss and try it out and the following photo’s are from my experience.

 

 

The Experience

While I already have a daily routine which involves me finishing my morning shower by turning the temperature to ice cold, I don’t know anyone who had done this and I confess, I was still a little nervous. I took confidence that lot’s of other people had done this before and there was no reason for me to be a chicken about it!

Stepping into the chamber you notice quickly the ice cold temperature dropping rapidly and it was around 1 minute and around -140° that I felt arctic, my elbows were the most noticeably cold feature perhaps because my knees were covered with a thin cotton cover or that my elbows were a bit close to the edges of the unit I’m not sure. Shortly after my legs were starting to chill deeply and then, my whole body started to somewhat pleasantly ‘numb’. Then, it’s around minute two and you know you are in a deep freeze and your brain is telling you something isn’t normal! You are told you can ‘turn’ yourself in the unit if it’s bothering you a lot and I did move around a little but even though I was starting to freeze, I didn’t feel panic and it wasn’t as ‘shocking’ as I had expected. But I’m a guy that does ice plunge after sauna and goes from hot shower to cold shower, so perhaps I’m conditioned for it.

In the third minute of the session I was counting down until I stepped out and the chamber had reached its lowest temperature of just under -180°, but honestly -160° or -180°, at these temperatures it’s all feels just bloody freezing!

As soon as I stepped out into room temperature the sensation of blood returning to my extremities was palpable and would continue to give me a tingling sensation for the following 10 minutes or so but that wasn’t the highlight. The “WOW” experience was how good I felt mentally! I felt refreshed, more alert and clear in my thoughts, these being the exact same reasons I cold shower in the mornings, but this was on another level! For this point alone I will be doing future treatments when I have the chance.

In terms of muscle recovery or joint pain improvements I can’t provide an strong opinion as this was a one off treatment and I don’t have any injury I’m focused on recovering from.  But for the sensation of alertness and freshness alone I would certainly consider to get one of these units installed my apartment, but that’s going to need to wait until I have something a little bigger than my shoebox in Shibuya.

 

Saraya Story

Saraya have only recently started develop of the Cryotherapy units and are the only Japanese business currently manufacturing the devices. They initially intended to bring in imported models from Europe, but given Japan’s engineering and technology excellence it was not at all surprisingly found they could create a superior product with more features at a lower cost for the domestic market. The features they developed were those such as a safety switch emergency stop button, self drying operation and exhaust features to prevent the machine from suffering from moisture buildup.

If you would like to speak to Saraya about acquiring a unit or trying the product for yourself, please contact the very helpful (and English speaking) Deputy General Manager of Saraya, Marlon Amado V. Mamaril

 

 

Posted on

Where to run in Tokyo. Yoyogi Park.

 

Located in central Tokyo, Yoyogi Park (代々木公園, Yoyogi Kōen) is a staple destination for runners of Tokyo.

Given it’s central location it is easily accessible by public transport, with train stations ‘Harajuku‘ (Yamanote Line) , Meiji-jingumae and ‘Yoyogi Kōen‘ (Chiyoda Line) all taking you to the parks doorstep.

Yoyogi Park hosts all the facilities you need for an enjoyable run as there are plenty of toilets, water fountains, vending machines throughout the park. The paths are superbly maintained and if you are looking to go for an afternoon or evening trot, the inner loop paths are well lit.

 

One less common known points about running in Yoyogi Park is that it offers not only one, but two running routes; an inner loop and an outer loop.

Yoyogi Park – Inner Loop

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 15.15.32

This one is as simple as following the footpath around the park from any of the main entrances. It is possible to weave around a little as there are a number of foot paths to choose from that are all connected, just stick in one direction (for some reason, counter clockwise is the standard in Japan) and you can easily explore the options. The example pictured below is the very inner loop.

Length: Approx 1.3 km long
Track: 100% Pavement
Good for: Interval training, short jog under 10k, people watching while you jog.

 

 

Yoyogi Park – Outer Loop

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 15.15.56

This is also pretty easy to find as long as you know it’s there! Locate one of the main entrances and look for a worn path that follows the outside of the park. You can traverse the park and see a different perspective of Yoyogi and enjoy a trail run like feeling.  Depending on the weather you might want your trail shoes for this path as it can be muddy in parts if it has been raining. This loop is slightly longer and offers a trail run feel despite being in the center of Tokyo city.

Length: Approx 2.6km long
Track: 20% Pavement / 80% Dirt Trail
Good for: Trail run feeling, longer runs (longer distance means fewer loops)

Tips for running in Yoyogi Park

  • It can get very busy and a congested during weekends and public holidays when the weather is good. If that is the case when you plan to go, head out early to avoid the crowds
  • There are a number of large crows living in the park. Generally they are a bit of a nuisance as they sometimes do like to swoop low as you run past but I haven’t heard of them ever causing any harm
  • Careful to avoid cyclists as there is a cycling route in the park that’s used mostly for parents with young children to enjoy so keep an eye out especially when you are crossing the cycling path
  • Don’t run in the Meiji Shrine area of the park (the right side entrance to the park after exiting Harajuku station) it’s forbidden to do so and there are too many tourists to make it a comfortable location to jog anyway. Stick to the routes above.
  • Take a break from your run by the dog fenced area (you will pass it on the inner loop) and enjoy watching the dogs at play
  • If you would like a locker, a place to shower and change after your run the check out Nohara by Mizuno. This service is especially for runners and as shown in this google map and as you can see it is conveniently located in Harajuku. The service is available to the public for a small fee.

 

 

  • Inner Loop Track

 

 

Posted on

Where to run in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace.

Where to run in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace.

If you are visiting Japan for the first time and looking for a place to run that’s central in Tokyo then look no further than the Imperial Palace. The track at the Imperial Palace is the quintessential Tokyo City running destination and it might well be the most popular of all running locations in Tokyo for Gaijin and local Japanese alike.

Why is Running at Imperial Palace so Popular?

  • Central access from a number of stations in the area makes getting there by train easy. There are nine train stations (Hanzomon, Sakuradamon, Hibya, Yurakucho, Nijubashimae, Tokyo, Otemachi, Takebashi, Kundanshita) that all either take you right to the route or close enough for a short walk/jog or jog to the track
  • There are no traffic lights or other reasons to stop/start along the way
  • It’s an even 5km loop start to finish, so it’s simple to measure your 5km 10km 15km etc etc distance if you don’t have a sports watch
  • Access to numerous clean public restrooms along the route
  • Water Fountains access for a quick sip or replenishing your water bottle. Especially handy if you are doing multiple loops in the summer time.
  • Community spirit of runners is alive. Rain, hail or shine and regardless of time of day, there seems to be always at least a handful of runners out enjoying the course with you
  • Well lit and safe while Tokyo itself already has an exceptionally low crime rate the Imperial Palace is well lit and guarded by numerous police who are stationed around the palace
Gardens at Imperial Palace
Gardens at Imperial Palace

Helpful Tips

  • Most (maybe all) of the train stations have lockers if you need to store goods while you jog
  • Check out the running services in the nearby area such as Runners Station where you can shower, use a locker, grab supplies – you can even rent running gear from them if you need it. They even have an english text imperial palace running map illustrating the water stations/bathrooms.
  • Run only counter clockwise around the course, it’s simply an etiquette that’s followed by all to keep congestion to a minimum.
  • Much like most of Tokyo, there are no trash cans on the loop so be mindful of this and hold onto any litter until you are home.
  • In contrast to the last point and somewhat out of place for Japan there are no vending machines along the route, if you seek a drink other than water you can simply cross one of the roads at the traffic lights and run for a while. You are bound to come across a vending machine in no time.
  • The route can get congested as some areas of the path narrow and the runners numbers do get high during peak times. The Japanese runners of course are generally highly courteous people, locals will nearly always clear the way when they can ‘sense’ you are wanting to pass. If you are stuck and the person is unaware, simply call out Sumimasen (pronounced soo-mii-mah-sen), which simply means Excuse me!

 

Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace
Posted on

Cheap & Healthy Eating in Japan.

 

Cheap & Healthy Eating in Japan. FamilyMart.

After lunch today, I decided I would share exactly how dead easy clean eating is in Japan – even if you are on a budget. 

Todays lunch menu:

  • Salad
  • Boiled skinless chicken breast (really delicious)
  • Boiled egg
  • Sparkling water
  • Banana 

All this for under ¥1000 (around $8USD)!! It was all purchased from the Family Mart, loaded with protein and less than 500 calories.  They even give you hand wipes and chopstick + toothpick along with the purchase. 

So, get yourself a healthy and quick lunch on a budget is dead easy, just walk into any Family Mart (they really are available prolifically throughout Tokyo) and you will be presented with literally dozens of healthy and budget priced options (along with a gazillion other fascinating food products you will be tempted to try, but that will wait till cheat day right?) 

 


 

 

Itadakimasu!

The word ‘itadakimasu is spoken before eating and is roughly translated as “I humbly receive” It’s nearly always used before eating food by Japanese it’s much like saying “Bon appétit”!