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Category Archives: Ultra/Philsports
April 16, 2012Posted by on
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.
April 10, 2012Posted by on
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!).
April 8, 2012Posted by on
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!
March 29, 2012Posted by on
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.
March 22, 2012Posted by on
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.
February 23, 2012Posted by on
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.
February 2, 2012Posted by on
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.
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!
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.
January 5, 2012Posted by on
In the past months, there has been talk of converting the Philsports (Ultra) football field into artificial turf. Such a move would have been disastrous for the Manila-based athletics scene – the home of the nation’s best collegiate squads and national team. With Rizal Memorial hosting an ever-increasing number of football matches, holding an honest-to-goodness track & field competition at the venue is next to impossible.
Although there a multitude of athletics stadia in the country, the looming absence of a dedicated track in the nation’s capital s speaks volumes of the sport’s insignificance. The loss of Ultra would have been the coup de grace to a dying sport.
Thanks to the head honchos of the PSC, the FIFA artificial turf project will be moved to Rizal Memorial instead of Ultra. “Athletics will benefit from the move as it will also find a permanent home at the PhilSports field,” said PSC Commisioner Jolly Gomez in an Inquirer article. “It’s a win-win situation for all parties.
There’s hope for Philippine track & field after all!
December 31, 2011Posted by on
The track was relatively deserted when I got to Ultra Wednesday night. The rugby and frisbee teams were on break; hence, only one single floodlight was turned on. I usually do my hurdle workouts at the 100m straightaway, far from the maddening crowd near the entrance. With the lack of illumination, I was forced to setup the hurdles near the security guard’s desk.
When the exuberant watch lady told me to bring back the hurdles where I got them, I was subtly pissed. Her tone of voice implied that I was an ignorant amateur. There and then I decided to do my hurdle workout in front of the prying eyes of the security guard. I saw her murmur and beckon to the maintenance men as I placed the hurdles in its proper places. I felt the anger boil, raring for a confrontation. I took off my earphones and asked the lady guard in the most authoritative tone I could muster.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Is it forbidden to use the hurdles?”
She asked if I was an athlete. She said something about asking permission from her first. This got me riled up. Here I was toiling amidst monotony and ignominy for a sport no one cares about. For someone to threaten and interrupt my workout – to be treated as a petulant child – was simply unnacceptable.
“I’ve been training at this stadium for the last eight years,” I replied as I kept my emotions in check. “This is the first time I got chided for using the hurdles.”
She instantly toned down her confrontational words. All she wanted was for me to return the hurdles where I got it, not leaving the barriers in the middle of the track.
“Of course I’ll put them back,” I retorted. “I always do.”
By this time, I could feel the eyes of the other track users looking at us. I was glad I kept my composure. The guard finally understood that I was far from an ignorant track & field practitioner and left me to train in peace.
But I wasn’t at peace. I was fuckin’ pissed. All of a sudden, the frustrations of the past few months were at the boiling point. The encounter with the security guard riled up my emotions. I’ve had enough, I said. I used to be one of the best hurdlers in this fucking country. I was hell bent to show the handful of people in Ultra – and the exuberant guard – how good a hurdler I still am.
For the next half hour, I cleared hurdles like a man possessed, grunting with each barrier cleared. I threw away all notions of modesty, putting on a badass display of hurdling in front of the dozens of eyes looking at me. I was beyond caring.
Thankfully, my Team Hwa Liong teammate and friend Riezel came. Seeing a familiar face brought me out of my spell. I calmed down and took a breather.
Heaven knows what could have happened have I lost my temper. Thankfully, I didn’t. I just kept in mind that the last thing I want is to alienate myself from the only local stadium where I can do hurdles. Humility, after all, is the quickest way out of a dicey situation.
December 8, 2011Posted 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.
October 18, 2011Posted 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.
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, 2011Posted 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, 2011Posted 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 5, 2011Posted 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.
September 26, 2011Posted 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.
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.