Summer Trail Series runner profile: Johnny Fukumoto

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As we announced previously, the Summer Trail Series co-directors will be featuring profiles on some of the inspiring runners who participated in our race series in 2016. Hopefully their stories will get you excited to hit the trails yourself. We’ll be looking for more runners to feature, so if you or someone you know did one of our races in 2016 and would accept a shout-out, send me an email.

Johnny Fukumoto

Johnny is a husband, father, obstacle course racer and CEO of Fukumoto Fitness. He puts in lots of miles in his training for races like World’s Toughest Mudder and the OCR World Championships, and goes the extra mile professionally, too. He takes pride in how Fukumoto Fitness takes an inclusive approach to fitness and excels in niche areas like kettlebell training, fit pregnancies, OCR, and helping people age better. Through Fukumoto Fitness, Johnny has introduced a lot of people to trail running.

Why do you run?

I run because at this point of time, it is a pretty integral part of Obstacle Course Racing (the sport in which I compete) and I am driven to find better ways of improving. Truth be told, I run because it is one of the weakest parts of my game and I need to not let that make me avoid it but look deeper into how I can grow as a runner.

When did you start running?

I started running more regularly (i.e. about 2-3x/week from March-October) around 2013 as I got more into OCR. Prior to that, I was mainly involved in strength training and functional fitness while playing team sports like hockey for many years.

What’s your favourite race or race distance?

My favourite distance currently would be a 6k-8k (and if its an OCR race that is preferred) but I am trying to transition to be better at the 15-16km distance as well. My favourite races last year were called Battlefrog 16km which were 2 laps including 50+ obstacles that were extremely tough on the upper body. You had to complete an obstacle to continue and so it helped even out the pure runners and the strong athletes to a healthy balance. Unfortunately this race is now non-existent but the OCR World Championships are a similar format so that was a highlight for me in 2016.

What’s your favourite thing about trail running?

I enjoy trail running likely for many reasons that others do! Its more interesting, the nature of it all, its easier on my body than pavement, and it promotes a greater sense of adventure. You never know what’s coming around the corner and I enjoy the balance and agility and level changes of some of the more technical routes. The culture of it also seems a bit more laid back and peaceful (in general) which I appreciate coming from being an intense person a lot of the time.

If you had one piece of advice for people doing the Summer Trail Series, what would it be?

Hmmm, this is an interesting one. I feel my advice is usually getting people to just give it a try and knowing they’ll love it and can build off of that first experience (kind of how I coach OCR). For those who are already engaged, here are a few simple things that have made a difference for me.  Firstly, find a proper pair of trail shoes if this is something you want to get into regularly…there is no substitute for having the right tool for the job. Second, figure out a dynamic warm-up that is right for you to prepare your body and reduce risk of injury (I don’t see many people warming up at ANY race no matter if its trail or otherwise). Lastly, try to do more trail running (or running in general) without your headphones in and music blasting. My personal opinion is you miss out on the sights, the sounds, even noticing things about your breath and how your body is feeling when you overload the music. You also miss out on some human moments of encouragement, smiles, and connection. To go all the way out into the woods and then bring things in that drown out the awesomeness doesn’t make sense to me. But to each their own!

Editor’s Note: Johnny gave me some other great information about the work he does at Fukumoto Fitness. Highlights included the charity drives the FF community participates in, a philosophy of promoting progress instead of perfection, and how FF serves as a pick-up location for local community-supported agriculture deliveries. You can find out more on the Fukumoto Fitness website.

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