In Search of the Ideal Movement 〈MOMOKO AKIYAMA〉
In our sixth issue, we introduce Momoko Akiyama, who has retired from a track and field team and is seeking a new relationship with running.
Her calm demeanor makes it hard to believe that she was a front-line track and field athlete. Her love of fashion, drawing illustrations and making accessories is also a little different from the image of an athlete generally associated with her. However, she has just retired from active running, having won the 2020 Ome Marathon 10km in 33:29.
The three and a half years in the business world was a little tough.
I've been thinking about retiring for a long time. From the first year, I couldn't catch up in terms of time and feelings, and I wondered why I couldn't get results when I was paid to do it. After all, results are everything in this world. I was told that it wasn't that time yet, that it was just the beginning and that I would be fine. But the year I retired (2020), I was not happy at all even though I achieved a personal best at the NITS meet and won the Ome Marathon 10km. Until then, I was naturally happy when I achieved a personal best or won, but I didn't think anything of it anymore. I started to think that there was something wrong with me.
So, Akiyama asked for a break from the team and joined his old high school for practice.
I was away from the team, but I still felt the urge to run, so I talked to my high school teacher and asked to join the camp. I still enjoyed running, and I made up for the time I had missed."
He later returned to the business team, but he still could not get his feelings back. Ms. Akiyama's performance was not in any way declining; in fact, she had broken her own personal best and even won a championship. Perhaps it was just that running as a profession was something that she was not used to.
Addicted to creating movement
Akiyama says that he was required to take the initiative in creating his own training menu from his time at Tsukuba University, and throughout his competitive career, he particularly focused on "building movement," or running economy, which improves running form and running efficiency.
I felt good throughout my athletic career when my movement improved. I wanted to move like Suguru Osako, so I watched a lot of videos and found myself a personal trainer, and when I started to get a sense of how to move like this, the training was very fulfilling.
I felt that my upper and lower body worked well together, and that I was able to move forward easily. When I got it right, I felt like I could run with ease, and my running improved rapidly.
I often watched the movements of Kenyan athletes who could compete in the world. I paid attention to the way they landed on the ground, the direction of their knees, and the way they entered the ground.
Akiyama, who maniacally pursued his moves while also observing the moves of other athletes, was asked about his best race during his active career. When asked what was the best race of his career, Akiyama answered, "The one in which I made the best moves.
I competed in the Queen's Ekiden in 2019, the last race I competed in, and I was able to get into the right moves. It was tough at the end, but overall I was able to run with a lot of energy, and I was able to catch up with the runners in front of me and run with a good feeling. I felt like I was finally able to do my ideal moves."
She loved making it and supporting it.
A quick peek at Akiyama's Instagram page reveals many posts of pop illustrations and handmade accessories.
She says, "I used to like making things, but when I was feeling a little down, my mother suddenly suggested that I try making a ring or something. I didn't know anything about it at all, but I bought a set of tools and started making it, and it turned out really well. Then I decided to try making rings more properly. Now I make rings for people who want them, for a fee of materials only. When I was a member of an industrial company, illustration was one of the things that supported me, as was making things.
Akiyama loves making things and fashion, and enjoys wearing HERENESS half tights in her daily life. Now that she has retired from the business world, she will start running for herself with her beautiful form while enjoying the freedom of wearing clothes.