Tag Archives: training

Tuesday Afternoon Thoughts

When I was a high school junior, my class had Ateneo Hall of Fame football coach Ompong Merida as its PE teacher. He gave these heartfelt lectures on the importance of staying physically feat. Coach Ompong was fond of shouting “fitness for life,” with a determined fist thrown high up the air, each time we bumped into his workouts. During one such PE class, he told us about how he had recently rediscovered the joy of running.

Fast forward eleven years later. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I’ve hung up my spikes for good, putting an end to a decade’s worth of competitive athletics. In the months that I’ve spent away from the track, I found a precarious sense of peace doing absolutely nothing training related. I took pleasure in bumming around and going out with friends, shunning the spartan routine of an athlete with a day job. Soon enough, the novelty of such a lifestyle wore off. I could not, for the death of me, stand spending late nights in bars every single weekend. I began to miss the fantastic feeling of endorphin high – and to some extent, athletics itself.

Coach Ompong’s impassioned fitness speeches came into mind. I can live without the hurdles, but I cannot comprehend being sedentary.

I began a gradual return to an active lifestyle, as I picked up the pieces of my shattered athletics dreams. The weekly basketball leagues at work has been the focal point of my  competitive urges. As the rancor gave way to acceptance, I made a gradual return to my old haunts and to a watered down version of an athletics conditioning program. Without the pressures of the balancing act of work and competitive athletics, I can honestly say that I’m happier. I have finally outgrown those youthful pursuits.

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.

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.

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.

Fresh Air! (18 January 2012)

In the past two weeks, Moro has been devoid of its usual denizens. At night, when I usually train, the badminton and basketball courts seemed like eerie graveyards. The cavernous expanse of the indoor gym was dimly lit. Aside from a handful of PT patients, employees and the ever so diligent jogger/former Ateneo President Fr. Ben Nebres, Moro was practically deserted.

Hence, I kept the training sessions mercifully short. I could not last more than an hour and a half in those circumstances anyway! The speed endurance routine I’ve been doing left little room for boredom. Somehow, all the panting and lactic acid had blocked off the monotony.

Thankfully, I trained with a former high school teammate a couple of days back. It was refreshing to actually talk to someone real for a change. I’ve had enough quality time with my imaginary training buddies! Having a friend nearby takes a lot of the weight off my back. I’ve been training alone for so long that I’ve almost forgotten how it feels to have teammates.

Then it hit me. I know quite a lot of people, former track athletes at that, willing to hit the track to stay in shape or compete again. I am not that alone after all. Who knows? Maybe in a few months’ time, an informal club could take root.

Stoked! (4 January 2012)

I’ve been feeling down the past few days. I opted to rest and stay home on Tuesday night, instead of going to Ultra for my weekly hurdles workout. Last night, I was dead set on doing the same, laid back routine. I’ve already eaten dinner and was comfortably perched in front of the boob tube, watching the Powerade – Rain or Shine PBA semifinals.

I’ve told myself many times that I should have taken my childhood basketball lessons seriously. Who knows what could have happened, had I started early and channeled much passion into the hoops game. But past is past. It’s too late to be a competitive pro baller. And I’m way too short. If I didn’t suck at high school basketball, I wouldn’t have shifted to track.

Nevertheless, watching that game gave me a much needed jolt. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was only 8:00 PM. There was ample time to do speed endurance workouts. For a split second, I hesitated. I turned on the TV and went for a quick shower.

A few minutes later, I was off to the track. I stayed at the track for around one hour. The crisp, night air was invigorating. I was particularly proud of the last rep. I wasn’t all that tired, but I was feeling lazy. I wanted to just stop and go home. I slapped some sense into myself and put on my game face. All throughout the last 200m sprint, I imagined myself running the last leg of the 4x400m relay, shadowing one of the Borlee brothers. At the imaginary homestretch of the fantasy race, I took the outer lanes as I successfully passed a non-existent competitor. I summoned the last vestiges of strength to reach the invisible tape signifying the finish line.

Despite subjecting myself to the most difficult workout I’ve had in the nascent 2012 season, I felt alive with exhilaration after the lung-busting, 7x200m sprint, 200m jog workout. I was breathing heavily and sweating profusely; it was the first time I did something that intense in recent memory.

I’ve had a great workout!

Riled Up (28 December 2011)

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.

Gym Survival Tips

I think I’ve found the cure to my anemic weight training sessions: stay warm and listen to good music.

I used to thoroughly enjoy gym sessions. With a gym filled with interesting members of the opposite sex, determined athletes from a variety of sports and knowledgeable mentors, who wouldn’t? I could stay for hours at length at the good ole Marco Lorenzo Weights Room without a whimper.

But now that I train alone (and at a regular fitness gym at that), weight training has become problematic. Instead of intense training sessions, my gym routine has been but a shadow of its old self. Even if I’m intrinsically motivated (a phrase I have long since over-used!), the fact remains that the Celeb Gym and its environs isn’t conducive for athletics training. Hence, a steady sense of subtle resentment has brewed underneath. Nowadays, I almost always feel something short of dread at the thought of another weight training session.

This shouldn’t be the case. Resistance training is an integral part of every athlete’s regimen and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Taking note of the following pointers might help:

Entertainment

From experience, the best way to fight gym dullness is to listen to a wide variety of music. My personal choices gravitate around old school rock, modern hits and time-tested love songs. But mind you, one cannot possibly listen to a music player all throughout. It is best to alternate between watching a badass sports show, music and periods of silence.

Warm-up

The warm-up is integral. For the past months, I’ve been doing my warm-ups on a stationary bike wearing a slim-fitting tank top. In the air-conditioned gym, this combination is time-consuming and relatively ineffective. In my effort to rush through my training, I’ve neglected this important phase. Note to self: wear a jacket or a windbreaker!

Variety

One cannot do the same routine day in and day out. Being self-coached, it’s a struggle to come up with innovative workouts with my limited knowledge. Time constraints also hamper the need for variety. Thus, I keep things simple, opting to follow clear-cut themes (dumb bell days, barbell days, body weight days, etc.) to fight monotony. Time-saving routines like super sets, compound sets and circuits are my favorites.

Beautiful Strangers

There’s no better training booster than an attractive female. Such sights are rarities at my gym. Every time a beautiful stranger graces the weights room, I get an instant jolt of strength. My intrinsically motivated self is propped up by extrinsic factors!

With these pointers in mind, I’m hoping to make the most out of my time as I set my sights on being the best hurdler I can be. The proverbially rough road ahead will be worth the effort when the opportune time comes. Things could have been much worse, so I’m learning to count and appreciate my blessings and make the most out of the circumstances.

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