What every city needs: Runners’ Stations!

The Husband got back from China on Saturday evening and on Sunday, he and the Dude had a morning together and I had a morning off. They went to the zoo so the Husband could see his first panda bear and the Dude could ride on the Thomas the Tank Engine again, and me? I went for a decent, solitary run. Bliss.

I took the underground to the Imperial Palace, as I’d planned to run the circuit twice – basically six miles. That’s about as long as I’m running these days. However I also wanted to check out a facility I’d read about called Joglis. I’d actually popped in a few days ago and got all the information, which was helpful.

Joglis is one of a couple of Runners’ Stations across Tokyo. There’s another one nearby called Adidas Runbase. Joglis is owned/sponsored? by Asics, so it looks like running companies are funding them. They’re genius. You go in, pay up, get a locker, dump your stuff, go for a run, come back, shower and go. These two facilities are near the Imperial Palace which seems to be THE place to run in Tokyo. Both cost 700 yen for a one-off use ($8.50/ 5 quid) and towels are 300 yen to rent as well. I believe that both have monthly membership rates which I guess are better value although I can’t read the leaflet to confirm. Both facilities that I checked out had small but pretty great running shops on site, and Joglis had a cafe.

Adidas Runbase entrance – at the back of an office building
Right opposite the Imperial Palace in the Tokyo FM building

So in I go, and in my pigeon Japanese, with lots of pointing and smiling, I pay up and get my locker key and go into the girls’ changing room. Big mistake number one…I don’t take my trainers off at the appropriate point – it’s important not to wear shoes in the wrong place here.  No-one seems to notice, phew. I get changed, leave my stuff in the locker and go and run.

I joined what seemed like half of Tokyo running in an anti-clockwise direction round the Imperial Palace. Hundreds of runners, including some ridiculously fast children doing a relay race! I did two laps and loved pretty much every minute of it. I loved the sunshine and the cold and the people-watching and the crowd-dodging. It was great!! I forgot my watch (doh) so have no idea about my time but I’m very zen about that at the moment. It was a good run and my legs ached for a good few hours afterwards!

Running round the Imperial Palace on a Sunday
I love this view…moat, palace, skyscrapers…this is a fabulous city!

When I’d finished, I headed back to Joglis. For once, I was more excited about the shower than the run. I remembered to take my trainers off this time! It was slightly nerve-wracking, I’m not sure of the etiquette in such places here in Japan so I watched what others did as regards prancing around in underwear etc. My shower was spectacular – the free shampoo and conditioner smelt SO good that I immediately wanted to buy the stuff! And then I got dried, dressed and sat in front of the swanky mirrors to do make-up and dry my hair. The Japanese girls are TINY. I am fairly happy with my body (although don’t all girls have some body-insecurity?) but I felt seriously flabby next to the tiny Japanese!!

Locker area
TV showing the Tokyo Marathon on a loop.
Hell, even I wanted to run it by the time it’d finished!
Go, buy La Casta shampoo!! It was amazing.
Classy toiletries, thanks Joglis!

Once I was all primped, I headed out and grabbed a Soyjoy bar (not bad, even as someone who is anti-soy) and a Pocari Sweat energy drink. I had to try it, the name is amazing, and it tasted pretty good!! I was going to buy the shampoo…but it cost $25/15 quid which is waaay more than I’m willing to spend on shampoo. So thank you Joglis for such a lovely treat!

Pocari Sweat. Not an appetising name
Here goes…
Surprisingly good!

I think Runners’ Stations are such a fantastic idea. When I worked in central London, I would have used this facility all the time and if they had one in Golden Gate Park (or anywhere in SF to be honest) I would be going up there to run much more frequently. Does anyone know of anything like this in the UK or the US? I’ve not heard of anything like it!

So now I’m on a mission to bring Runners’ Stations and Cat Cafes to the Bay Area. Or we could combine them and have a runners’ station with cats in it. I’d never leave!

And finally…a few snaps of the weekend, post quake!

Our little apartment, in case you’re interested
Japanese dancing around a tree. Most intriguing!
His first big-boy bike ride in Yoyogi Park!
Where are we? Bavaria? No…Tokyo!
Dear Santa, I’d like this amazing tutu for the housework please.
A Japanese Santa in Shibuya
LOVED this glass wall in Shibuya
Forever 21, Shibuya style. Utterly amazing.
Shibuya at night
Two lovely sushi chefs preparing our best meal of the year!
Hello Sushi!!!! Exquisite beyond description!

33 Comments Add yours

  1. I felt the same way when I liked in S. Korea about how TINY everyone is! I felt like such an ogre beside some of them in the locker room

    1. Cathryn says:

      Luckily I’m short, so I didn’t feel enormous but I did feel flabby!!! Crunch-season starts when we land back in CA!!!

  2. That sushi looks awesome. So fresh and delicious!

    The runner station sounds like a great idea. Especially for big cities. The only thing that would make it better is if they offered childcare. But then, it’s just kind of a gym. Our gym will let us run outside, although the director said it’s kind of a side thing that I’m not supposed to tell people about. So then I don’t do it as often because I feel too renegade whenever I do it.

    I felt that way about the Trump shampoo in Chicago. It smelled so great!

    1. Cathryn says:

      So our conclusion is that expensive hair smells amazing and the rest of us have Pantene!!! Boo. My gym in the UK let us run outside etc but not if we had a little person in childcare which is fair enough.

  3. Jen says:

    I like your business ideas! I’m not sure I’d pay $8.50 per visit, but it’d be great to have a membership to such a thing. I feel like gyms could make a tremendous profit from people who want to run outside, but just use their shower facilities afterwards.

    1. Cathryn says:

      When I worked in central London, a local gym allowed me to do that – to use a locker and their showers. I think they let me do it for free, even though I was willing to pay a little! I was so grateful. But I agree – there’s an untapped market for gyms there!!

  4. Nic J says:

    I am loving the Joglis idea. I did join the local gym when we moved to the Wallops, but detested the indoors bit, so it turned into a £50 a month shower function, which didn’t seem the most prudent use of £50, so I stopped that! We have tapped up the local hotel over the road for shower facilities after sponsored runs, but I’m not sure they’d go for 2-3 times a week – they don’t seem to be too keen on once a year, but given we give them so much business, they let us do it!
    Have you firmed up your dates for visiting the UK? x

    1. Cathryn says:

      No…I need to do that. Yeah, Joglis is a great idea. I can’t believe they aren’t anywhere else!

  5. Angela says:

    BRILLIANT. We totally need these here!!

  6. Moody Tang says:

    Thanks for your comment on Joglis. I’m going to Tokyo next week and being headache about the after-run shower. I will try the Joglis as well as the Adidas since I will run twice around the Palace.
    In Hong Kong, there is no such private-run running facilities. But people can go to the public shower rooms in the large public park/sport ground. Some people would pay a little to have a nicer facilities and privacy.
    Thanks. Keep running and have fun.

    1. Cathryn says:

      So glad it was useful – I really liked Joglis. I’d be interested to know how Adidas was as well (it’s quite hard to find…once you’re at the building, go round the right hand side and it’s at the back). I’ve not heard of anything similar anywhere else…I hope the concept spreads. Enjoy Tokyo, it’s wonderful – I miss it!

  7. dave says:

    Hello Cathryn,
    (i’m sorry for my english… i’m french)
    Last week, when i ran with my wife in the park in France, i had the same idea!
    So i looked on Internet and i found your blog which talks about Runner’s station in Tokyo. It’s amazing there is no place in the world where you can find it, only in China! why in your opinion?.. Because it’s very good business!! Running have increasingly practitioner!!
    Since your Tokyo’s trip, have you create this business in your country? if you don’t, why?

    1. Cathryn says:

      Your english is perfect! (And I love French people)

      Runner Stations ARE genius ideas, aren’t they!! I have no idea why other countries haven’t set them up. I haven’t done anything about it here in San Francisco because my work permit only came through yesterday 🙂 But now I have it….you never know!

      1. dave says:

        Thank you for French people 🙂 …
        I do not stop thinking about this concept for 15 days!! In addition, there are plenty of possible services around Runner Stations..not only lockers and showers..because sport outdoors increases sharply!!
        I also hesitate to get into its creation in France because my current job takes me a long time. But I think of my conversion as a business leader.
        I’m starting to think about the business model.
        But I still have several questions about this concept:
        – A service like this, can it be used throughout the year? (or only in spring and summer)
        – If the service has not been created yet, there is really a customer market?
        – People are willing to pay to take showers and have a locker room?
        – For example, do you think that such a concept would work in San fransciso, London, Paris, Lyon …mainly in big cities..
        – In China, Runner Stations are close to parks or in cities center..?

        It would be necessary make a significant market survey to answer these questions…

      2. Cathryn says:

        I def think the idea has potential. I DO think it would work in any urban area – near where people regularly run and cycle. I would happily pay for somewhere to shower/use lockers. Maybe $5- $10 euros? (Not sure of the exchange rate any more). Do think about it.

  8. marnieh says:

    Hey Dave and Cathryn! I think this a really great idea. I agree with Dave, that a market survey would help in determining if this idea would take off. But my hunch is that these “running stations” would be a big hit! It seems like there would be a market for them even among “running tourists” as well as locals – by “running tourists,” I mean people who travel to foreign cities but also love to “run” a city as a way of exploring (me!!!). As for the business model that Dave referred to, I have a few thoughts – I’m thinking these “run stations” could be open all year, regardless of the season. Maybe there is a way to put them in very urban centers as well, to cater towards people who want to go for a lunch-break or after-work run. I know the Adidas Run Base in Boston is located in a pretty urban environment where a lot of people work in offices. I’m also wondering if there is a way to make it really cheap – say maybe $1-$2 to use the showers/locker. It could be a really big hit, especially if costs are low! I’d love to help start this.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I LOVE your enthusiasm – it is an amazing idea, isn’t it. I don’t think I am the person to do this in the US but SOMEONE should!

  9. dave says:

    Hello Marnieh,
    I’m sorry for my late (very late) reply…:-(…
    I love your enthusiasm too!! because I think there is a big market to conquer!
    Moreover, more and more companies find an interest between sports and theirs employees…because people whom do sports at work, they’re more happier in their company…so each company should have this kind of service..but they don’t have facilities to provide it…
    i think the link “Sports at work” will be a good business for the next years..

    It’s a little bit strange that the big sports companies like (Nike, Adidas..) don’t launch this concept in each cities, isn’t it?
    Where do you come from? Are you interested to create this business in your country?

    1. marnieh says:

      Hey Dave! Definitely! I am really interested in this idea and what it could bring to runners everywhere:) It is strange that big sports companies don’t see this as a niche service they could brand and own, especially in really urban environments. I’m living in NYC right now and know of a few places to stash items when heading out for a run…but it seems limited, like there is much more market potential. None of these options have showers. I’m wondering if any of these “run bases” could exist within an already existing gym/sports club…perhaps there could be a partnership between the club and a “Run Base” company that allows runners to use the facilities for low cost? Hmmmm….

  10. dave says:

    The “running stations” have to be close to the park or somewhere you can run…(maybe in the business area during the lunch…) The place is the most important thing. The partnership is a good idea but why creating a run base if the clubs allows runners to use their facilities…? what is the added value of “Run Base”?
    The concept can also be adapted for the cyclists…or for all outdoor activities….

    I would be very interested to discuss with you about this concept… if you are agree, what is your email?

    1. marnieh says:

      Hey dave! Would love to chat more about this…my email is mnhogue@gmail.com🙂

  11. dave says:

    Thank you. i send you a message 🙂

  12. j7d6 says:

    Thank for that Article. Greets from Germany

  13. dave says:

    I’m back on this website..:-)
    I still believe that this concept will be a big hit!!
    Now, I have time to think about it… and i hesitate to launch into this adventure very soon in France…But I don’t have enough any information and runner’s opinion.
    If somebody believes on this “runner station”, don’t hesitate to contact me for sharing about it.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Dave, if you are on Twitter, why not tweet about it and see if anyone’s keen? Or contact some local running clubs?

  14. dave says:

    Yes, i’m going to do that..

  15. Dave says:

    A message just for your information, I am creating a concept store dedicated to running and cycling in the city centers / business districts in France. A concept that brings together a set of services to provide a solution to the needs of sportsmen (changing rooms, showers, coaching, food and shop) to facilitate and encourage the practice of sport in the daily life of everyone without constraints …
    If you have opinions, ideas, do not hesitate to contact me .. 😉
    Do you think that running is only a trend or is this sport still popular in the years to come?
    What changes can be envisaged for running?
    Have a good day the runners !!
    Thanks 🙂

  16. Cathryn says:

    Great stuff! Best of luck! Let me know when your first one opens!

  17. Dave says:

    Hello Cathryn,
    How are you?
    My first “Runners’Stations” will open soon.. 🙂
    If you want to give you support about my project “Dehors- La Conciergerie Sportive”, I participate in a business creation contest.
    If you want to support us, just click and vote on the following link.
    Thank you very much for your support and do not hesitate to share it to have more votes.

    1. Cathryn says:

      This is so exciting! I’ll definitely be voting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s