December 24, 2011
Posted by on
I love this song. I used to listen to this upon waking up for an early morning session or for a competition. Nowadays, track meets are rare commodities. And I almost always have to drag myself out of bed for work.
I discovered this song way back in 2006. “Morning Glory” was part of the soundtrack of the movie “Goal.” The opening line of “all your dreams are made, when you’re chained to mirror and the razor blade” is an apt description for the rise of the film’s protagonist – and to my own circumstances as well!
The choice of music is of utmost importance, now that I train alone. The song almost always dictates the tempo of a training session. It can rouse my senses from the lethargy of routine. In this day and age where I’m susceptible to slacking off, many a time have I been saved by my iPod shuffle.
I’ve always said that I’m thankful for being given another shot at my athletics career. Never mind the fact that domestic track & field is a fringe sport no one cares about. Simply put, I’m ecstatic – and somewhat relieved – to live an athlete’s life again.
December 8, 2011
Posted by on
After visiting my dad at the hospital the other night, I went to the track in Ultra to do some hurdle drills and interval workouts. During the short jeepney ride, I spaced out, blankly staring at nowhere. Why am I doing this? It’s not like track & field is the route to financial stability. I have a stable job which pays relatively well. Why spend my valuable free time training solo?
At twenty-six years of age, I’m stuck in a rut. I’m not exactly the poster boy of a driven young professional. The time I spend on the track reiterates the importance of doing what you love. It reminds me of the days when passion ran deep. To chase something improbable – a national hurdles title – is invigorating. I’ve always loved underdog stories. This time I’m actually living in one.
My tight hamstrings almost ruined the training session. A good amount of pain-killing liniment, pump-up music and intrinsic motivation did much to assuage the dull, mildly annoying pain. When I got my rhythm going, I felt like I could take on the entire world. The steady rain turned out to be conducive as I soldiered on. The rustiness, in terms of physical fitness and technical know-how, due to my month-long layoff was minimal. It felt like I was never gone at all.
During the MRT ride going home, I thought about Jessie Owens. The great athlete faced a life of poverty and racial discrimination and still managed a prolific, once-in-a-generation Olympic feat. I may not be at the same caliber as Owens, but my circumstances in life are far more advantageous.
So enough of these oft-circuitous questions of “why?” I love the sport and I’ll continue to hurdle and sprint for as long as I can.
November 26, 2011
Posted by on
I was supposed to formally start training on the 5th of December. The desire hit the track again was just too much ignore; hence, I began my training program a week early. After packing my sports stuff the night before, I was momentarily stumped by the magnitude of my decision.To prepare for a competitive hurdles race is no joke, especially when one trains alone.
As all things in life, it takes commitment. But since I’m self-coached and I train solo, to stay focused is a herculean task.
I hardly felt rusty at all since I stayed physically active throughout off-season. In fact, I found the speed endurance workout a bit easy, thanks to the lung-busting basketball games I’ve played. Psychologically, I was in tip-top shape too. The time I spent away from the track has done wonders to my state of mind.
Amidst all the challenges of training solo, one develops a keen sense of self-awareness. I’ll do my utmost best not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
November 22, 2011
Posted by on
I’ve only been away from the track for almost a month. Although I’ve been playing basketball and lifting weights regularly to stay in shape, my body craves for the high-intensity track & field workouts. Nothing quite compares to the sheer sensation of hurdling and sprinting. Every inch of my body is bristling with energy. There’s this longing to head out to the place I love best – the track. The change in my disposition was drastic. Weeks ago, I remember feeling stale at my drawn out, solitary training routine that I contemplated a change in priorities. The time I spent away from the track has done wonders to my state of mind.
In the years I’ve spent being an athlete, the past few months have been the most difficult. I was accustomed to the easier, cut-and-dried routine of a student-athlete. It took quite some time [and busload of rants] before I found my rhythm in balancing my nascent professional career and my passion for the sport. Despite the sleepless nights and the ups-and-downs, I can finally say that I’ve achieved some measure of equilibrium.
At my mid-twenties, my body is at its peak. I know for a fact that I still have it in me. I haven’t lost the edge, contrary to what I’ve previously thought. I am motivated and confident at the tasks at hand. The events of May 2011 wasn’t the end; it marked the beginning of something far bigger in scale.
November 14, 2011
Posted by on
I haven’t been updating this blog lately, save for the weekly Track Beauty posts and the occasional filler article. Since I decided to stop training last month, I’ve made it a point to distance myself from the sport. The solitary training sessions had become too problematic that the quality level of training had taken a dive for the worse. I felt stale and lonely. The fact that I did not have any athletics meets to train for compounded my training woes.
When the 26th SEA Games started, I was disinterested at the events, in stark contrast to the fanaticism I displayed during the Daegu World Championships. Deep down, I’m still frustrated at how my post-collegiate athletics career turned out. The balancing act of work and training was so taxing, that I contemplated on hanging up my spikes for good.
Perhaps I take sports too seriously. Although I’m a good sport, I sulk for days after every loss. I just could not see the point of smiling amidst adversity, like most of my countrymen do. I take each and every defeat to heart, learning from the experience as best as I can.
Hence, a second retirement is out of the question. Not yet. Deep down, I know for a fact that the fires of passion still burn.
October 31, 2011
Posted by on
It’s funny how I subtly miss the track, when only a few weeks ago I felt my mind crumble from the stresses of training alone. Such are the pitfalls of solitude. Emotions tend to multiply ten-fold, clouding one’s sound judgement. The decision to take a step back has done wonders. It’s refreshing to momentarily stop the balancing act of work, social life and athletics.
I have a couple of track & field meets planned for 2012 (an ominous year if you believe the ancient Mayan projections). Conditioning will start at the latter parts of November. In the meantime, I’m staying fit by playing weekly games of basketball and hitting the weights room for at least twice a week.
I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering. I am turning twenty-six in less than a month’s time. My life the past few years hasn’t exactly been the portrait of the go-getter I once was. It is time to make a change for the better, to shun mediocrity and get the eye of the tiger back.
October 24, 2011
Posted by on
One of the pitfalls of being a Filipino track & field athlete is the lack of local competitions. For athletes who had used up their collegiate playing years, only the annual National Championships and the poorly organized PATAFA Weekly Relays are open. Most athletics meets in the Philippines are schools-based. I originally planned on competing at the PATAFA Relays, but since I’m taking a one-year certificate course for work, all of my Saturday mornings have been taken up by a three-hour class.
During the early parts of the second macrocycle, I fared well with the prospect of another competition-less season. After all, it’s not like I have much of a choice. As a cash-strapped, quarter-life stricken professional, I could ill-afford to fly abroad to compete. Hence, I had to make do with what I have – a pitifully short athletics calendar. Then the illnesses came, interrupting my training momentum. I tried my utmost best to regain the lost edge, but somehow, the thought of training for training’s sake was etched at the back of my mind.
I lost the motivation, the intrinsic desire to be the best hurdler I can be. In my solitary training routines, I easily lost focus. I brooded and sulked, wanting to train and compete so badly. During those dark days, I felt the urge to simply hang up my spikes, to pursue other more worthwhile pursuits. And regrettably, I considered those options seriously. It seemed as if I was on the verge of quitting with every single solitary session.
I know better than to listen to the hazy thoughts of my tired self. Despite Philippine athletics’ pitiful state (and my equally pitiful 2011 performance standard) the love for the sport still burns fervently. Being an athlete – an amateur, self-coached one at that – requires gargantuan mental toughness. I’ve been training alone for almost two years now. I guess my psychological endurance has reached its limits.
As 2011 winds down, I’ll be staying away from the track as I explore other ways to stay in shape, physically and psychologically, for the battle ahead.
October 18, 2011
Posted by on
One of the coaches in Ultra remarked a few months back that I led with my foot, instead of with the knee. I was aghast since I’ve always been a stickler for proper hurdling form. I was deep in training for the National Games back then – by my lonesome. I had absolutely no way of verifying the aforesaid observations. With the National Games barely a month away, the logical thing to do was to focus on my racing, instead of fixing a fundamental flaw in form.
A hurdler could have the most aesthetically pleasing hurdling clearance, but without the confidence to sprint over the barriers, this technical skill will be for naught.
I began the second half of the 2011 season with an emphasis on correcting my technique. I did my utmost best to do hurdle drills as often as my schedule and body would allow [twice a week at least, thrice at most]. Instead of settling for the lower hurdle heights in the hurdle walkover sessions, I pushed myself to re-learn the swag I previously had over the .916m barriers. Gradually, I found my rhythm. Halfway through the macrocycle, I felt the benefits of building up my technical base.
However, a couple of unfortunate bouts with illness cut my momentum. This, coupled with the occasional niggle and the laziness attributed to having a competition-less season (my Saturday classes ruled out my participation in the PATAFA relays) bogged down the progress of my training. As I wind down the year, I can’t help but look back at the past months with disappointment.
Last Saturday, I was just about to stay home when my friend John prodded me to whip my lazy ass to the track. A close review of the video clips show that the second half of 2011 did not go to waste. Even if I was visibly tense during the course of the hurdling session, I was particularly proud of the way I led with the knee. Those drilling sessions proved fruitful in the end.
Now this is what you call High Definition!
I’ll try my utmost best not to feel down in the dumps. After all, there wasn’t much I can do with regards to the scheduling constraints. It is best to stay cheerful and appreciate the good things – no matter how little.
October 16, 2011
Posted by on
These are just crappy phonecam videos John took during yesterday’s training session. It feels great to actually have someone to record your form!
1.) Side clearing (trail leg):
I shall save up for a fancier phone.
October 16, 2011
Posted by on
I had a good talk with my friend John yesterday afternoon. Like myself, John had experienced training alone, when he left the college team half a decade ago because of conflict with the coach.
For months, he clung on to track training, sticking religously to a daily, no non-sense regime of sprints and weights – all by his lonesome. He was aiming for the 2007 National Open, an event originally scheduled for May-June 2011. Due to funding constraints and the usual political infighting in Philippine sports, the said event was pushed all the way back to November 2011.
Naturally, John lost interest and eventually lost touch with the sport – until now.I was pleasantly surprised when my good friend told me about his plans for an athletics renaissance weeks ago. Talk about good timing. Here I am at my wits’ end, trying to grasp the last vestiges of my waning passion, when all of a sudden, a former teammate sprouted out of nowhere with such an aucadious goal.
It feels good to actually have a training buddy for a change, but I know for a fact that my motivation is in such a precarious position. I cannot possibly go on training in a half-hearted passion. It will just be a waste of time.
I need to clear my head and sort out my priorities.
October 12, 2011
Posted by on
As you all know, I am a die hard Liu Xiang 刘翔 fan. Ever since I watched Liu romp to the 2002 Busan Asian Games gold, I’ve followed the exploits of my idol. I jumped with joy when he won Olympic gold in 2004 and sulked with disappointment as he limped out of the Bird’s Nest four years later. Liu, with his remarkable recovery leading up to the 2011 Daegu World Championships is on the right track towards redemption.
Aside from his fluid hurdling, what endears me to Liu is his being laid-back. I’m quite volatile in terms of mood; hence, it’s good to have role models who epitomize the aura of cool. As a testament to Liu’s coolness, he finds the time to actually sing and make records, like the great Manny Pacquiao himself- who is another exemplar of being laid back.
I remember the time five years ago when I first stumbled upon “Want You Know,” a collaboration between Liu, Se7en and Anson Hu.
My teammates and I kept on singing the catchy tune during training. It was definitely one of the happiest training sessions we’ve had. Looking back, I realize importance of having a serenely intense, calm outlook towards training. Liu Xiang and my former college team certainly made the tedious experience of athletics training seem like a walk in the park.
The pressures of training alone can be quite overpowering. One tends to slack off or tense up too easily. It is of utmost importance to remain calm, clear-minded and cool as ice.
October 5, 2011
Posted by on
The past five weeks have been difficult. The weather has been uncooperative, with several typhoons ruining my training plans. As a result of the cold, rain-soaked environs, I succumbed to a series of illnesses, further interrupting my otherwise consistent training cycles. I could not help but feel so frustrated. Just when I was starting to reap the gains of my technical sessions, training had to take a back seat due to the aforesaid factors.
Last night was no different. Even if my legs felt well-rested, I was somewhat out-of-sync. It was my first hurdles workout in almost two weeks and only my second track workout since coming back from a mild throat infection (thanks to Typhoons Pedring and Quiel). I was hurdling quite well under the circumstances. Hell, I was feeling the rhythm! Perhaps it was my being overeager that did it. I felt a slight niggle in my left hamstrings during the first round of flat, three-point starts.
I tried to shake it off, opting to go straight to the sprint workout. But my leg felt wobbly and somewhat numb. I know for a fact that I had a mildly strained muscle. Rest is the only option.
I sat at the one of the monobloc chairs in the track, blankly staring at the joggers trudging in circles and the frisbee players throwing discs all over the field. The second half of the 2011 season has been a big disappointment. My weekend classes prevent me from participating in the PATAFA Weekly Relays – the only other local athletics meet open to non-students.
There and then, I wanted to hang up my spikes and quit the sport for good. I felt fucked up with my uncomfortably-drenched spikes and mildly-throbbing leg. Dammit, I said, as I cursed silently. Thankfully, I did not storm out of the track in a rash manner. I weighed down the facts. In a few weeks’ time, I shall be in race shape – good enough for a couple of rounds doing the 100m dash, should my class schedule permit. If worst comes to worst, I’ll end the season with an ignominious trial run (pitiful, isn’t it?) and rest for the upcoming 2012 season. It won’t be entirely fruitless since I have made significant inroads into technical proficiency, especially with my hurdling technique.
October 4, 2011
Posted by on
During last Sunday’s training session in Moro, I chanced upon a professional basketball team working out. I couldn’t help but look at the millionaires with certain tinge of envy.
In the hierarchy of Philippine sports, the cagers are at the very top. Basketball players get paid a maximum of Php 420,000.00 while the rookies earn a maximum of Php Php 180,000.00 – excluding won-game bonuses. For this part-time sprint hurdler with a full-time day job, such amounts are staggering. Being corporate-sponsored teams, the players get top-of-the-line coaching and strength & conditioning to say the least. The fact that they get to play the sport they love for hard cash seems like a pretty good deal, albeit with the caveat of relatively short career spans.
The opportunity to take part as a professional athlete is an interesting, if not utterly impossible prospect. It’s nothing but a pipe dream, since I’m nearing twenty-six years old. There are no corporate athletics teams in the Philippines. I only have a few years left before my body succumbs to aging. Reality bites. I honestly don’t see myself competing in the European big leagues in such short a time span.
Irregardless, I won’t hang up my spikes any time soon. Despite being an amateur in every sense of the word, I’ll continue to soldier on. The most unexpected things happen in the realm of sports. Who knows? Maybe one day I can live the dream, should the stars align and the moon shine brightly enough.
Until then, I’ll be doing my utmost best to work within these circumstances – hoping for the best and working to be the best.
“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek
September 26, 2011
Posted by on
Living in a tropical country certainly has its perks for the track & field athlete. The lack of a cold season means one can practice the sport all year long, in contrast to the northern countries where indoor facilities are a necessity during winter. The weather is relatively conducive for training and competition, so long as you don’t bask under the midday sun!
But there’s the rub. The Philippines only has two seasons: wet and dry. It is usually the former that brings forth the most difficulty. Whereas one could choose to train early (or late) to avoid the atrocious summer heat, typhoons and monsoons are much more troublesome foes.
- Typhoon Pedring/Nesat (Photo from PAGASA)
I was supposed to head out to Ultra tonight, despite the erstwhile tropical storm Pedring lurking nearby. I’ve finally shrugged off the lazy urgings of the past weeks, feeling more motivated than ever. However, it seems like the weather has different plans. Pedring has intensified into a typhoon by mid-morning. Classes all over the main island of Luzon were suspended as a precaution.
With these developments (and with Moro’s indoor track inaccessible, as the Blue Eagles hold nightly closed-door practices), it seems prudent to scrap tonight’s training session altogether.
September 23, 2011
Posted by on
When my former teammate, Emilio, joined my sprint workout last night, I asked myself: “When was the last time I actually trained with another athlete?” Although I had the opportunity to warm up with Rocky, another former track teammate, and the PPVC crew, I always do my workouts alone (the former is a distance runner, while the latter are pole vaulters).
I had to backtrack almost four years, during the twilight of my collegiate athletics career. Ever since I the comeback, I’ve always been a lone wolf.
My former teammate have been frequenting Ultra the past few months, as part of his rehab program for an injured knee. He trains with Coach Salazar’s group, doing bad-ass long runs and circuit routines. I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw the former decathlete a weeks back. Seeing a familiar face, a former track teammate at that, is a rarity nowadays.
The workout went stupendously well, despite a few errors in pacing. We were supposed to do 6×150′s in 20s each, but the time fluctuated from a low of 18s to as high as 22s. It was great to have someone to talk to in between the reps. Having someone nearby also does wonders to one’s motivation, especially when laziness starts to set in.
The ideal training partner is someone who takes part in the same discipline. But since sprint hurdlers are a rarity in this part of the world, I’d gladly train with almost any type of athlete!