Category Archives: Training

Staying in Shape

I have loads of free time now that I’ve stopped with competitive athletics. Since I’ve lived a spartan routine for the past decade or so, living a regular joe’s life can be refreshing. But then again, there’s this urge to stay physically fit. The end of my track & field days does not necessarily mean the end of all sporting activities. I am a competitive person by nature and I need my regular dose of organized sports. I’ve been getting invites from friends to try out triathlon, road running, Ultimate, and floorball. Frankly speaking, I don’t have much interest in new sports.

I am content with the three basketball tournaments (two corporate leagues and one Ateneo league) available in a given year. It feels like I’m back in the year 2000 again, chasing after far-flung hoop dreams. The time I’ve spent away from the hard court, however, has stunted whatever basketball fundamentals learned during my time as a [frustrated] cager. To cope with the fast paced basketball game, I rely mostly on my athleticism.

Despite hanging up my spikes, there is still a need to stay in shape – for competitive and aesthetic purposes!

Weight Training

I haven’t stopped lifting weights since I was 15 years old. This have been the bread and butter of training regimens the past few years. I can go on and on about the benefits of weight training, but in a nutshell, it helps me (1) toughen up against taller hopes and (2) avoid injury from all the running and jumping of basketball.

Plyometrics

Plyos are an excellent way to train for fast-paced, explosive sports. Since I usually play defense (in light of my lack of offensive skills), doing plyos gives me an edge over those more-gifted basketball players.

Think Hanamichi Sakuragi.

Mile Runs

Back in my high school track & field days, we ran one mile to warm-up for training. Every single day. I lost the zeal for this when I got into college team, as I lowered my warm-up mileage to 1.2km instead of 1.6km. Because I have loads of time and I don’t have to train for the hurdles anymore, what better way to keep in shape by running a friggin’ mile? Moreover, it is refreshing to run against the clock for a change.

I don’t see myself joining the cacophony of road runs anytime soon. I prefer the solace of a solo run to the jam-packed environs of a race.

Sprints

I get a certain sense of fulfillment doing sprints. It soothes one’s longing for speed, without the need to burn expensive fuel. Going full throttle (or half-throttle when doing speed endurance workouts) makes me feel alive. It’s a good way to keep those endorphins flowing, without the pain of a long run. Even if I’m a retired track athlete, I still get the urge to don my spikes and go out for a spin, so to speak.

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The Diadora Ghost II

In the first nine month of my 13-month old Diadora Velox’s existence, I used the pair only for running, sprinting, drills, and some plyometric exercises. I turned to my trusty, old Umbro Club Runners as my weightlifting/plyometric companion. When I finally hung up my spikes last April, I gave my old Umbros to my brother. I figured that the Velox could last for another six months tops, in light of my significantly reduced workout load.

I thought wrong. The Velox’s fabric had thinned out the past year. Using it for weight training and plyometrics resulted into annoyingly ugly fabric tears. It was time to buy new shoes from my favorite outlet shop in EDSA Central.

Running shoes should be ideally replaced after six months. Since I don’t really run beyond 20 minutes, I usually use my shoes for a year and a half before relegating it to full-time gym duty. Since the Velox lasted for just 13-months as my main running shoe, I opted to look for a more robustly-built shoe.

The Diadora Ghost II fitted my specifications perfectly. Its nylon, mesh-type lining looks and feels tough. There is significant heel cushioning, making the shoe ideal for long-distance road runners. It has a snug fit especially at the forefoot area.

 

I’ve always loved metallic-colored footwear. The Ghost II, with its predominantly chrome and grey finish fully satifies my aesthetic requirements. I particularly like the stylishly-positioned streaks of blue. Blue, after all, is my color of choice as I pay homage to good old Alma Mater.

I went out for an easy mile run as soon as I got the Ghost II. Unlike some shoe brands, my feet felt instantly at ease with my new Diadoras. I ran on the unfamiliar streets of our subdivision, since the ongoing Ateneo College Entrance Tests (ACET) made it impractical to follow my usual running routes. The Ghost II provided sufficient traction in the moist and sometimes mossy sidewalks. I also found it quite easy to negotiate the oftentimes changing contours of the path I followed.

Priced at just Php 2,027 (approx. USD 50 and EUR 38), the Ghost II is a tad more expensive than my old Velox. Nevertheless, it is still much more cost effective compared to those mainstream brands.

I can see myself as a satisfied owner of Ghost II in the coming months. It is an inherently robust pair of shoes that exudes good style – and for a reasonable price.

Some Updates

Until the start of our MART/ACI basketball league, I haven’t played the hoops game since our ABL defeat last February. Unsurprisingly, I was rusty. To make matters worse, I am not in tip-top shape, since taking a one-month break from almost everything physical. My coordination and shooting was off. What limited basketball I.Q. I have was stunted by a lack of practice!

Thankfully, I have such able teammates. I can ride the bench anytime I make a series of fumbles. During D2003’s ill-fated ABL 2012 campaign, I could not even take a one-quarter break amidst the absence of our big guys.

With the Philippine National Games in Dumaguete going to full swing, I need an outlet for all my excess energy, lest I don my track kit again. These basketball games are perfect avenues to do just that. I can take a step back with youthful abandon. Despite my obvious lack of basketball moves, it feels superb to be able to unleash all these pent-up athletic energy. More importantly, there’s an excuse to focus on my fitness again. During my month-long hiatus, my body experienced withdrawal symptoms as it ingested more and excreted less endorphins.

I had an interesting talk with a couple of my athletics friends. One of them advised me stay in shape, just in case. Just in case, I have a change of heart.

For now, however, I shall take a low profile.

Shocking Lemon – Inner Light (Hajime No Ippo はじめの一歩 2nd Opening)

Hajime no Ippo はじめの一歩 never fails to pump me up!

Out of the Quicksand

I’m the type of athlete who draws confidence from the long hours spent training. There’s the rub. Since I train part-time in light of my day job, I do not have the luxury of time. Gone are the days when the hurdles are a mere 10-minute walk away. Now, hurdles training means an hour-long commute or a 45-minute drive. Hence, my confidence has suffered the past few years. The less time I spent hurdling, the more fearful I’ve become of the barriers.

Once fear of the hurdles sets in, a sprint hurdler is in a serious quagmire.

I’ve suffered just that the past few months, especially the last couple of weeks after my ill-fated morning training session. Negative thoughts kept swirling inside my head. Instead of picturing myself clearing the barriers flawlessly, the dreaded images of stopping mid-way into the race haunted me.

I stumbled upon an IAAF article on Liu Xiang’s experience with German masters athletes. The 2004 Olympic Champion was awestruck at their dedication, despite their advanced age: “Watching them train, I was moved. I admired their enthusiasm in Athletics.”

Then it hit me. I’ve been pressuring myself to much by comparing my performance with my contemporaries from abroad. I decided to take a cue from my idol Liu and those hardy German athlete: Athletics is fun. The main reason why I’m still hurdling is that I love the hurdles. I loaded songs like the “Hajime No Ippo” soundtrack and Rivermaya’s “Alab ng Puso” into my iPod. I watched Liu Xiang’s bad ass warm-up routine (I’ve forgotten how many times Liu has bailed me out of a bad rut!)  to put myself into the right mindset.

I’m an eleven-year hurdling veteran, I told myself. Despite the flaws in my form and my mediocre flat out speed, the fundamental hurdling motions have been deeply ingrained. Hell, I’ve been through a lot. Hurdling is second nature.

Gradually, I pulled myself out of the quicksand.

Hurdles Training (31 March 2012)

I had a terrible time adjusting to the harsh morning weather a few weeks back. My one-year Trust class had just ended; hence, freeing up my weekends to do more productive and fun-filled things. But lo and behold, my body couldn’t seem to find its usual rhythm. My legs could not seem to explode off the blocks. I had difficulty negotiating the first two barriers.

I’ve been training at night or in the afternoon for the past months. Such an outcome is unsurprising. To remedy the situation, I had to clear lower hurdles, just to get my rhythm and confidence going. Thankfully, I was able to salvage the training session.

Thanks to Zed’s badass new phone/tablet, I’m gonna post videos of my training sessions (the good ones only, mind you!).

Holiday Thoughts

I just friggin’ hate it how the athletics stadium stay closed during holidays. The Philippines, being a supposedly Roman Catholic country, values its religious holidays. During Holy Week, the five-day weekend notwithstanding, being a sprint hurdler takes a back seat.

Even if I welcomed the respite from work, I was a bit pissed off at how public facilities like the Philsports Track & Field Oval stay closed THE ENTIRE FIVE-DAY WEEKEND (Monday is Bataan Day). It’s totally understandable to shutter the stadium on the most solemn religious holidays. But for the stadium to close shop on Bataan Day (or any other non-religious holiday for that matter) is stupid.

It doesn’t take much to run a friggin’ track oval. It’s not like Ultra is well-managed at all (the restrooms stink and there is no running water). Besides, the facility employs a multitude of security guards who work 365 days a week. In this day and age of sedentary lifestyles and slow-killing vices, why not open the gates to public-owned tracks to encourage the running-crazed public to break a sweat?

I honestly don’t expect much from the Philippine bureaucracy, rife with tomfoolery as it is. Most of the time, I hardly think about our so-called public servants. I just had to let off steam since I hate getting my training routine interrupted.

With these circumstances in mind, I’m seriously considering buying at least five hurdles (and a pick-up truck) and train at the good old high school oval in peace- unhindered and unencumbered by outside forces!

I’m Back!

When Andrew told me the exact date of the Philippine National Open a couple of days ago, my heart skipped a beat. I have not competed since May 2011. I even contemplated retirement at the latter parts of 2011, only to decide to continue, thanks to the prodding of my training partner. The Nationals is barely a month away. Although I’m relatively more well-prepared, there’s still a sense of apprehension in light of my lack of exposure.

The month of March has been a cathartic experience. Ever since the two sessions I had with Sam Goldberg, I’ve been in the hurdling zone. The veteran coach rekindled the fires of my self-confidence. And in this event, belief is key. Furthermore, having regular training partners (shout out to Zed and the Philippine Pole Vault Club!) has done wonders to my outlook. Having your friends around to give you feedback complements the self-awareness I’ve developed in the years spent training alone (It sure as hell beats talking to imaginary training partners!).

All of a sudden, I threw away all notions of fear. For the first time in years, I can honestly say that I’ve got my old engine finally running full-throttle. When you’ve experienced countless solitary training days, struggling against demons within and without, getting your hurdling rhythm going is god-sent. Sometimes, it’s surreal to think that only a year ago, I was struggling to even three-step over the senior barriers.

I’m not going to lay my predictions for the Nationals just yet. It’s way too early. Frankly, I do not care much about the time I’ll be running, considering the span of time I’ve been competitively inactive. What I’m after is that wonderful feeling of speed in between the hurdlers – the incomparable sensation of skimming over those 1.067m-high barriers gracefully and efficiently.

Wednesdays

My first athletics coach, Ed Sediego, will make the big move to a foreign land by mid-2012. When I went back to serious hurdles training this year, I was surprised to bump into my former coach one Wednesday night. Since then, I’ve tailored my training program to coincide with his practice sessions with the Ayala Corporation team.

I’ve always been close to the guy, even during my University days when he was no longer my trainer. His laissez-faire, happy approach to training played an integral part in providing an enjoyable atmosphere in our high school team practices.  While some coaches function like slave masters, Coach Ed acted the exact opposite. He never shouts or insults his athletes. He is every inch the father figure. Coach Ed’s relatively light training loads jived perfectly with the difficult balancing act of being a student-athlete.

Even if he doesn’t closely monitor my hurdling nowadays, Coach Ed takes the time to glance at my progress, never stingy in giving out A’s when asked for my hurdling grade! Come to think of it, this is the nearest I’ve actually been to training with my coach again. As much as I’m fond of being self-coached, I’m willing to shed the free-wheeling independence of my current routine, should Coach Ed offer to train me again (a far-flung possibility considering his busy schedule).

At twenty-six years of age, I’ve been a hurdler for the past eleven years. My experiences on the track played a big part in molding who I am today. In a sense, I owe it all to my first coach, who patiently taught me the rudiments of the hurdles.

Sometimes, its surreal to think that I’m actually competing again. Three years ago, I would not have thought that such a comeback would materialize. Seeing Coach Ed on the track, exchanging training views and inputs and talking about the good old days, reminds me of my early days with the sport – strengthening my resolve to be the best sprint hurdler I can possibly be.

The Saucony Showdown

I just bought a new pair of sprinting spikes. This is only my second since starting my comeback in 2010, since track & field footwear are hard to come by in these islands. I’ve always wanted to own white spikes, ever since I saw the 2007/2006 Nike Powercat. But the allure of the all-blue Asics Lite-Ning 1 was too much to resist.

I love the Saucony Showdown’s snug fit. It has a comfortable feel, similar to my old Adidas Demolishers from 2005. It has sufficient forefoot stability, as expected from a rigid spikeplate. The Showdown even has a zip overlay to hide the laces, providing for a slightly more aerodynamic feel. The synthetic material is glossy – like a the shine on a newly waxed car. Nevertheless, the fabric feels tough despite its obviously high make.

 

Click here for high-res photos from Saucony

For a sprint hurdler’s spikes, toughness is of utmost importance (even if I rarely hit hurdles!).

The only drawback is its lack of breathability. The fact that I tried out the spikes on a scorchingly hot Manila afternoon made matters even worse. My feet felt uncomfortably hot after a few minutes. But then again, the shoes were designed for short bursts of speed in sprinting competition – not long drawn training sessions.

The Saucony brand is known for its distance running heritage than its sprinting pedigree. But with many-time World Championship sprinting medalist Wallace Spearmon as its endorsers, the brand has a notable figure behind its products.

My only qualm about the Showdown are the hints of neon green. Even if I no longer compete for the alma mater, I try my best to keep the color motifs of my track gear pair well with my old college kits. Blue does not match well with Green.

Hence, I replaced the laces with the black ones from my battered Demolishers. I’ll be putting electrical tape inserts to cover up the remaining patches of green.

Additional Link:

Details of the shoe from Eastbay

With A Little Help From My Friends

It’s surreal to think that only a month ago, I actually thought about retiring from the hurdles once and for all. It was just too time-consuming, training for the 110 high. The fact that I work out alone multiplies the training difficulty a hundred fold. I could not bear the thought of another lonely hurdling session at the track, surrounded by hordes of faceless joggers. Besides, there aren’t that many local competitions catering to post-University athletes. At 26 years old and an athletics nobody, it’s not like I’m on the fast track to Olympic glory.

Simply put, there is no future for me in the hurdles.

After months of contemplation, I felt resigned to a life without the 1.067m high barriers. It was like a big rock was lifted from my back. Gone were the pressures of being a self-coached, solitary athlete. Although I planned to continue competing in the sprints (to stay fit and to maintain my competitive edge), such a move would have constituted a life-changing decision.

Thankfully, I did not yield.

It was due to the prodding of my former high school teammate, Zed Paz, and a bad ass dose of extrinsic motivation. He was at the nascent stages of a comeback himself. Zed needed a training buddy. Since I was, technically, still preparing for the sprints (and the ABL season), I tagged along. The turning point came while watching UAAP 74 Athletics. The fires of passion were re-ignited, in a strange twist of deja vu.

A few days after the conclusion of the meet, I went back to serious hurdles training. Even if I hadn’t trained over the hurdles in a month and a half, I was in tip-top shape, thanks to my no-nonsense conditioning regimen. Getting back in prime hurdling condition has been a breeze.

The familiar faces on the track did wonders to my motivation and focus. In the three weeks I’ve been training for the hurdles, not once did I feel the discouraging, stifling loneliness so prevalent last season. Once a week, I get to train within a stone’s thrown from my friends from the PPVC, Zed, the HyperSports crowd, and my high school coach. It was refreshing to have fellow athletes to talk to, aside from my imaginary friends. The difference in one’s temperament and outlook is astonishing.

In the past weeks, I’ve progressed dramatically. My confidence is at an all-time high. I’m dead set on competing at this year’s National Championships and doing well – with a little help from my friends.

U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

I love listening to good music to put me into the right mindset. At the early parts of my comeback in 2010, my favorite tunes were The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” and The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.” In 2011, Paramore’s “All We Know” jump-started my oft-solitary training sessions.

While at the Ayala MRT station a few weeks back, I heard snippets of a familiar line: “I want to reach out and touch the flame, where the streets have no name.” The song was none other than U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name.”

Shrugging off the humidity-induced discomfort, I felt an instant jolt of energy. The song’s upbeat tempo and uplifting aura made me want to change into my track clothes and sprint/hurdle all the way to Ultra!

Early Afternoon Thoughts

I’ve been stuck in an on-and-off athletics rut the past few months. I could not seem to get into the groove to train. I had trouble keeping myself motivated, a condition exacerbated by my solitary training regimen. To recharge my batteries, I took it easy during the Christmas season and the early parts of the year. I kept my athletics training at the bare minimum, opting for regular basketball pick-up games and conditioning session.

I’m glad to say that things are much better, with my former high school track teammate joining most of my sprint sessions. That great feeling of getting one’s athletics groove back is priceless, especially now that the indoor season is shifting into high gear.

While scouring the web for track & field news, I stumbled upon a video of Darya Klishina competing at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow. It was the first time I’ve watched a recent athletics clip in months. The fact that the video featured my athletics crush did wonders to my attention span too!

The Philippines isn’t the ideal country to be a track & field athlete. But hey, things could be much worse. Even if my Olympic dreams are becoming ever so faint, I’m thankful for the opportunity to compete again. At 26 years old and juggling a full-time career, I do not have the luxury of limitless time. The best I can do is make the most out of what’s available and soldier on!

Get Fit with HyperSports!

More and more people are getting into running, in this day and age of weekly road runs. The need for a no-nonsense, scientific approach to training has become more urgent. After all, one cannot blindly join running events without preparation. Such lack of training can lead to injuries – and unnecessary medical expenses.

Click here to learn more about Hypersports

Photo from Hypersports

What makes HyperSports interesting  (aside from the fact that it is run by my athletics friends!) is the quality of training it offers. With Ralph Soguilon (100m and 200m dash national record holder), Sheena Atilano (100m hurdles national record holder), Ninoy Marayag (2011 SEA Games bronze medalist) and Djundi Binas (former national level decathlete) at the helm, the weekend warrior is sure to pick-up loads of sporting knowledge.

According to HyperSports marketing manager Edmar Dionson, the weekly training sessions are still free of charge – for now. So if you want to experience elite-level athletics training, take part in Hypersports’ Get Fit 2012 campaign!

Visit Hypersports’ Facebook fan page for event schedules

P.S.

I’ve been wanting to join the weekly training sessions of HyperSports in Philsports (Ultra) the past few weeks. But due to my packed weekend schedule, I could not seem to find the time. I’ll definitely head out to Ultra after the four-day UAAP Track & Field meet is done and if we don’t have ABL games that day.

Thinking Things Over (21 January 2012)

I was supposed to train in Ultra last Saturday, but it turned out that the entire venue was unable for public use the entire day. Not wanting to let the day go to waste, I went to Moro to do some sprints. It was a fortuitous turn of events as my former team was also training in the same venue.

It was a welcome sight to see familiar faces (although this number is steadily dwindling). I had a good chat with Coach Igor Quodala prior to starting my workout. The University track & field grassroots program has grown by leaps and bounds, apparently. Since I had an ABL game scheduled the next day, I opted for a light workout. I did a few reps of hurdle walkovers, the first time I worked over the hurdles in 2012.

I’ve been hounded yet again by thoughts of retirement the past few months. Under the circumstances, I just could not see the point of pursuing my far-flung athletics dreams. In a sense, I was in limbo. One part of me wants to keep the dream alive while the other yearns for something bigger than hurdling. Nevertheless, hanging up my spikes is out of the question. The past couple of years has been enlightening, reinforcing the fact that the good old athletics training routine is an excellent way to get fit – competitive aspirations aside.

But then again, the scheme of things tend to nudge one’s decisions to a particular direction.

During the rest phase of my 4x60m sprinting workout, my former college coach remarked “Jobs, puwede pa (You still have it).” For someone who trains alone and struggles to mix and match what scant athletics knowledge, this was a heartwarming compliment. Come to think of it, I’ve put so much work in this season’s GPP. At least I’ve seemed to regain some measure of my old strength.

For the nth time, let me say that I’m not retiring yet. As for the question of hurdling, I still have time to think things over.

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