Tag Archives: ultra

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.

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.

Philippine Athletics’ New Home

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!

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.

Pre- and Post-Training Thoughts (5 December 2011)

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.

Enough said!

Little Things

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.

Hurdling Videos in HD!

Kidding!

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):

2.) Five-stepping:

I shall save up for a fancier phone.

Typhoon Woes

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.

Refreshing (22 September 2011)

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!

The Tattered Flag

I wasn’t in the best of moods last Thursday. Coming from a weeks long illness, I was still reeling from the waning effects of the virus. Too see the work that I’ve put in the past few months crumble was simply frustrating. The track was dark when I got to Ultra. As I sat by the bleachers eating a quick snack, I felt horribly drained – an increasingly common occurrence in my “lone wolf” training routine. There and then, I felt the hopelessness of my hurdling enterprise, now that my Saturdays have been eaten up by a one-year certificate.

But one vivid image clung to my mind. The image of a tattered Philippine flag strewn ingloriously in the locker room room below.

I first encountered that a flag almost a month ago. I know for a fact that the simpleton who placed the flag on top of the locker room cabinet, for all the track users to see, hardly knew the Philippine Flag Law. I pitied the guy, whoever he is. Deep down, I was seething with anger. Taking part in sports (whether as an athlete or as a spectator) should instill national pride. Government-owned facilities are at the forefront of disciplines that require expensive venues, such as track & field and football.

To see the flag disrespected in the confines of government property reiterated the fact that Philippine sports is in the doldrums. The crowning glory of any athlete’s career should be on top of the medal podium, hearing one’s national anthem proudly play as the flag is raised for everyone to see.

For some reason, I did nothing. Opting to join my other insensitive countrymen who saw the flag in its undignified manner of storage. For my exhortations of competing proudly for my country, I could not even spare the time to right the most fundamental of wrongs. The medal ceremonies at the Daegu World Championships reminded me of my dream of seeing the Philippine flag raised in a major international competition – and of the disgrace in Ultra. The story of a little girl who braved a raging storm to save a muddied Philippine flag was the clincher.

That night, I took out the box where the flag lay half-stored in plain view. There were two flags. I folded it neatly and placed it inside a black plastic bag in the box.

Why do I hurdle? I do it for flag and country.

Adjustments 2.0 (14 August 2011)

I breezed through the Trust test (might have flunked it) so I left Makati a bit early, just in time to catch the last events of the PATAFA Weekly Relays in Ultra. It was good to see familiar faces like Coach Ed, the Obienas and the PPVC crew again. To save time, I planned on having a hardcore midday training session.

Thankfully, I misread the schedule board of the venue. I thought that the Rugby games would be held in two weeks’ time, as I fail to decipher message of the info board! It turned out that right after the PATAFA event, the entire stadium is exclusively reserved for the Rugby folks. I was able to sneak in some running drills and plyometric hurdle drills under the harsh sun. It was half past twelve when I finished, thirty minutes into the supposedly exclusive schedule. I’d have to thank the PRFU for allowing me to intrude!

By the time I finished, I was sunburned. I wasn’t overly exhausted from the heat, which is a good sign, considering that I almost always train at night. Such conditions are excellent preparation for future competition days that are less than ideal.

After a quick lunch, I headed straight home to rest. I went to the good ole Ateneo campus to do some uphill sprints. I capped the two-pronged training session with a bad-ass, lung-busting routine up the good ole uphill route of yore.

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