Daily Archives: June 19, 2010

Barefoot Running

The Men’s pole vault in the 2004 National Open was a hotly contested three-pronged duel between two Thais and the Philippines’ top vaulter, Emerson Obiena. Obiena fought valiantly against the younger Thais, but ended up in third place. After the event, the Thais took off their spikes and ran barefoot on the field. I was puzzled, for at that time, I was unaware of the benefits of barefoot running for cool down purposes. I did my research. Soon enough, running barefoot after an especially hard training session or a grueling meet became the norm. The cool feeling of the wet grass (or the hot track!) was refreshing for my tired feet.

At home, I rarely wear slippers. Unless the floor gets too dirty or my feet too caked in dust, I almost always walk around barefoot inside the house. Come to think of it, prehistoric men roamed their harsh environs barefoot. This genetic predisposition, no matter how dormant, probably explains my preference for walking unshod!

Back in 2006, Nike released the Nike Free line of shoes.  It was a catchy campaign, all right, but I just did not like the lack of support it provided. Being a track athlete – a cash-strapped student-athlete at that! – I needed shoes that can provide much needed support in running/hurdling drills, weight training and plyometric exercises. I’m a traditional sort of guy; hence, I preferred my regular running shoes to those expensive alternatives.

Months ago, I saw ads of the Vibram Five Fingers. The innovative shoes reminded me of legendary distance runners like Abebe Bikila and Zola Budd (who ran barefoot at the Olympics!).  For those who want to try barefoot running in the harsh, city streets of Manila, trying out those Vibram footwear is good insurance – if you want to err at the side of caution! The bare soles of a city dwellers’ feet aren’t used to running without shoes.  I have yet to try Vibram, but the shoes really do look interesting.

I guess the safest way to start running barefoot would be after a workout on a soft, grassy field or on a synthetic track – and to read up on the pros and cons of such such an unorthodox move.

The following sites seem reputable enough. See for yourself:



Wouldn’t it be nice if your feet get calloused enough to run barefoot all the time? At least you’ll save up on loads cash spent on running shoes!

Additional link:


Photo credits:




Ed Sediego

As a former athlete of his, I can say in all honesty that Ed Sediego is a great coach. Whatever accolades I accomplished throughout my track years, I owe it all to the man who introduced me to the track & field and hurdling.

My first encounter with Coach Ed was during P.E. class back in my sophomore year in high school. I was a feeble, 115-pound weakling. Although I harbored some dreams of basketball glory, never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself competing in track. A year and a half later, I did just that.

Coach Ed taught me the most important facet of hurdling – the three step stride pattern. I practically spent the entire summer before my senior year in high school attempting to master three-stepping – to no avail. It took a single one-on-one training session with Coach Ed to do just that. And it felt great! Coach Ed’s instructions were simple: “Sprint! Sprint! Sprint! Shoot the hurdle!”

Throughout college, I made it a point to visit Coach Ed and the high school team from time to time. We talked about a lot of things, but of course, the main topic was track & field. Amidst the frantic routine of college and college track, Coach Ed’s calm demeanor was an oasis.

Coach Ed (UAAP 72)

What I admire most about Coach Ed is his humility. Despite countless achievements, he is always modest underneath the spotlight.  He considers himself as a good motivator, not a great coach. Not once have I seen him scold or berate a student-athlete. Instead, he has quite a few catchy lines such as “Enjoy life!” and “It takes time to cook good food!” at his disposal.

In more than two decades as head coach of the high school team, Coach Ed has trained the likes of Jay Arteficio, Illac Diaz and John Aguilar. He really does have that keen eye for talent. As a scrawny 16-year high school junior, I found inspiration in the exploits of these fine athletes. But then again, my nascent knowledge of track prevented me from seeing the entire picture. Even today, emerging talents like JB Capinpin and Maki de Jesus – both Palarong Pambansa medalists – can trace the roots of their success to this humble man from Zamboanga (although I’m sure, in Coach Ed would deny this, in his usual self-deprecating fashion).

Coach and I after my last UAAP (UAAP 70, Feb 2008)

8 years later, having competed for 5 years in the college ranks, I found myself in Rizal yet again. I witnessed a high caliber high school competition, with Palarong Pambansa standouts among the young athletes. With the high school team’s 20-year winning streak (and the subsequent 5-year winning streak) a distant memory, the current crop of student-athletes lost 1st place by a measly 6 points from a determined rival in UP.

The young men were openly crying, ruing their lost chances and their lost Crown. I haven’t missed a single UAAP meet since Season 64; this is the first time I’ve seen such raw emotion.

Coach Ed was nowhere to be found, however. At first I thought that Coach was just a sore loser. I was light years away from the truth. In a YM conversation days later, I had my answer. “Okay lang sa aking matalo,” said Coach Ed. “Hindi ko lang kayang makitang umiiyak ang mga anak ko.”

I was touched by Coach Ed’s concern. This was cura personalis at its best.  Through the years, Coach made it a point to do various chores for his athletes as much as possible (piecing together makeshift racing bibs, bringing food, carrying throwing implements and hurdles around), likening his wards to his own children. I never realized how seriously he took this to heart until then.

If I can highlight an underlying reason for Coach Ed’s success, it has to be this close, paternal bond with his athletes.

Indeed, training programs, coaching philosophies and genetics matter. Ultimately, what binds all these – what makes winning worthwhile or defeat less damning – is the unique relationship between athlete and coach.

Photo credits:

Joseph Angan

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