Monday, July 26, 2010

Prevent looking like a newbie

In my first race, I was more concerned about what and what not to eat the day before and on the actual race day. Never knew that there were rules (both written and unwritten) when running road races. Which is why veteran runners that I know find it annoying about the inconsiderate behaviors from new runners. 

I'm no veteran.  But as I continue to join road races, I developed a pet peeve with other participants that walk and block the road.  Here are some guidelines that we can follow:

1   Know your pace.  If you are not sure how fast you can run better stick in the middle of the crowd or at the back of the pack.  Faster or elite runners normally line up at the front of the starting line.  I remember during my NatGeo run, that in my first 300 meters I had to weave around slower runners.  I know that it is a fun run but understand that there are other racers who run competitively or who aims to break their current PB (personal best)
2 Don't hoardthe road.  If you are running/walking with your friends, do not block the whole road.  Do not run side by side with more than 2 runners.  This will allow other faster runners to overtake.  It is really annoying when you have to break your pace because a bunch of slower runners are in front and blocking the way
3 Loose the change.  Do not carry coins or keys in your pocket.  It doesn't only ruins your rhythm but other participants as well
4 Don't suddenly stop.  Be careful at the water stations as it can be crowded at times.  Once you see a hydration station, start to slow down and as you nearing the tables you may walk or jog.  Grab a bottle or cup then continue walking.  You'd want other runners to be able to get water as well
5 Move along people.  Once you've reached the finish line don't just stop.  We do not want to congest the finish line.  There will be runners coming from behind unless you are the last runner
So on your next race, remember these etiquettes and have a fun and safe run

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Runner's Haven

Several weeks ago I noticed that I wasn't recovering as fast as I did before.  I noticed that my leg muscles are still sore on my next practice run which restricts my mileage.  Maybe a longer period of rest is needed.  Also to minimize the risk of a possible long-term injury

Flew out of the country for my needed time off from running and work.  During my stay in Singapore, I couldn't resist to go to the mall and survey some running equipment.  I went to Velocity (Novena MRT) and bumped into Running Lab

Was really ecstatic when I saw that there's a specialty running store in Singapore.  Similar to the local stores that we know like RUNNR (High Street) and Second Wind (Home Depot).  Running Lab also have a treadmill to learn your running gait and be able to know the shoes that you need (neutral, motion control or stability)

Found myself like a child inside their store.  They sell a lot of stuff.  Shoes, apparel, hydration belts, power gels, hrm watches, socks, and caps are just some of the things you'd find

I easily spent an hour just by looking at all the stuff they carry and still confused on which one to buy.  Can I just get them all?

Running Lab can be found at Funan Digitalife Mall, Velocity, and Tampines 1.  Be sure to drop by whenever you are in Singapore

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fit and Fun Wellness Buddy Run 2010

Fifty five minutes.  That's the number of minutes my buddy and I wanted to finish our 10k run.  Either we keep a 5'30"/km pace throughout the race or do a 10-mins run + 1-min walk with a pace of 5'/km.  I knew that my speedwork sessions will be key in order to meet our expectations.  However two weeks prior the race I wasn't able to do my scheduled practice runs.  This got me a bit worried.  How will I be able to shave 9 minutes from my current PR (1 hr 4 minutes)?  Carlo and I settled that we will just go with a sub-hour instead of pushing ourselves hard and crossing the finish line cross-eyed
Met up with my buddy around 5:30 at the starting line.  A handful of runners were lined up already and getting ready for the gun start.  We walked our way up to the starting line so we can set our intended pace and won't be slowed down by the other runners in the first 500 meters.  We eagerly waited for the emcee for the countdown.  At 5:47, the race begun
In the first 2km, Carlo and I was able to maintain a pace of 5'27"/km.  The slight uphill going to the 3rd kilometer did have an effect on us and we were able to hit it in 5 minutes 44 seconds.  We maintained the same pace until we reach the 4th kilometer (5 minutes 45 seconds).  At this time we were quite optimistic that we can finish our run in 60 minutes

We fetched some bottled water at the hydration station and walked for at least a minute.  Doing so, ate some of our time and not to mention that we needed to climb up the Buendia flyover.  We managed to complete the 5th kilometer in 6 minutes and 35 seconds.  I said it is still not bad.  We can still make up for the lost time since we still had 31 minutes more to complete the remaining 5 kilometers of the race

Side stitch.  It became unbearable to run when we couldn't make our side stitch away.  We found ourselves walking again in the middle of Buendia flyover.  After a minute or so we decided to continue running until the 10k U-turn.  Grabbed some water and walked again until the 7th km.  Completing the next 2 kilometers in 11 minutes and 17 seconds

The 7th km marker was found at the foot of the flyover, Carlo and I decided to run up but my heart gave in first.  As we reached the top, I had to stop so I can lower down my heart beat and catch my breath again.  Walked for another 2 minutes and after that we ran again.  However side stitch was still haunting Carlo and he asked me to go ahead and he'll just catch up

I was waiting for the 8th km mark but none was found.  Since I didn't knew how fast I was going I decided to stop running.  I needed to properly pace myself else I might ran out of gas and unable to finish the race.  Eventually Carlo caught up

Roughly in the 8th kilometer, we thought of running the remaining distance 'til the finish line.  Just before we hit 26th St, we saw the 9km marker and the last water station.  At this time, I was very tired and exhausted.  I blame it for not having enough mileage for my practice runs. I stopped running and started walking.  When we crossed 5th Ave, we ran again but my heart beat shoot up to 99% of my max heart rate.  I had difficulty breathing and my arms weren't swinging properly.  I knew then that I was already spent.  We had to stop again fearing that I might lose consciousness if I'd still continue

We walked along 26th St and aware that we won't be able to keep our sub-hour goal.  Instead we just aimed to beat my 10k PR.  Upon turning left in 11th Ave, we resumed running with whatever reserves that remains in me.  I haven't fully recovered yet but with the remaining 300 meters in the race, we gave it a go for one last time.  Wanted to sprint my way in the remaining 5 meters but my body just couldn't do it

We finished the race in 1hr 2mins and 49 seconds.  Just a minute shy away from my PR.  Cool!  And more importantly, we finished strong and with smile on our faces

At the finish line you go directly to a chute where the loot bag (read: grocery bag) was being given away
We stayed for awhile and checked out the booths in the wellness area.  A lot of stuff was being given away - Gatorade, Ensure, taho, Gardenia, cheese, Enervon Prime, etc.  We didn't bother to line up in the photo booth as the line was just too long, the sun was up and it was getting hot already

The race organizers, extribe, did a wonderful job in keeping the race fun and organized. Also the road marshall were cheering the runners giving the boost we needed in order to keep us motivated
'Til the next buddy run

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Avoid heat-related illnesses when running

What does Milo Marathon and heatstroke have in common?  A runner named Remus.  I picked up the story when I was looking for the race results of the recently concluded Milo Marathon in Pinoy Fitness.  Here's an open letter from Remus' father in MenardConnect

Learning about the incident got me really scared.  Especially when I am about to run my 1st 21km race this August.  I thought that I only need to prevent/avoid running-related injuries, little did I know that there are heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke, that I should be aware of
Here are some tips on how we can lessen such risk:
1 Drink. Before. During. After.  This is what I follow (if possible): drink 16-24 ounces (470-700ml) of water an hour before, drink 4-8 ounces (110-230ml) minutes before, drink 6-8 ounces (180-230ml) every 20 minutes, then I drink at least 700ml-1li of water after running
Do you need a sports drink?  If you intend to run for more than 90 minutes else plain water will suffice. 
2 Shirt.  I go with drifit and climacool.  Stay away from cotton.  Choose light-colored ones.  Remember what they taught us in science during grade school?  Dark colors tends to absorb the sun's light and heat
3 Listen.  Your body will send signals to you.  If you are after beating a PR, don't push yourself if your body is already telling you to stop.  Even elite athletes know when to drop out on a race
4 Squeeze.  I remember Globe fun run having a sponge so you can squeeze some water on your head and body.  If the race you joined doesn't have one, you can always splash some water using the cup or bottle provided.  It will really help your body to cool down

We only have 1 life.  There are tons of races.  Train well.  And always listen to your body

(image: www)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paint The Town Pink - Team Women Run 2010 by Lactacyd

The Team Women Run is an all-women race event.  One can either join the 5k individual run or create a team of three or four, and join the team relay.  The relay is a 21km, 3-4 member run through the high-end communities (residential, office, commercial, school) of McKinley Hill.  The Packing Team registered for the 21k relay.  The first runner (Angel) will cover 10km then the second runner (Oden) will be in charge of the 5k distance, and the third (Tin) and fourth (Jo) runners will run 3km each

We came in 10 minutes before 5am and there was a long queue in the parking lot.  I said to myself "there seems to be a lot of runners today".  I remembered the Neutrogena Run where I initially thought that it was an all-women event.  I guess because of that, there was a low turn-out of runners (about 2000) despite the marketing and exposure made

A few minutes past 5am, the 10k runners had their gun start.  While waiting for the 5k individual runners for their gun start, we saw Iza Calzado (3k on relay) and grabbed the chance to get a picture of her with the team
Fifteen minutes later, the individual 5k runners were set off.  The remaining team members were now asked to go to the transition area and wait up for their team mate to arrive.  Being the team's appointed photographer, I've thought of going to the 9.5km mark and wait for Angel to arrive and snap some pics

It was 45 minutes after the gun start when I arrived in the parking lot where the 9.5km mark was. I saw a handful of runners already.  This made me think.  I soon realized that there were a lot of strong runners, i mean really strong, that showed up.  I saw school varsities, elite runners, and triathletes.  Imagine this, you see a runner still sprinting their way back to the finish line.  They already covered 9.5km and still running at full speed?  I checked my watch again and calculated their gun time based on their pace.  It was an easy sub-50 (minutes). Whoah!  And remembered I was already struggling on my last kilometer and was able to complete my 10k in 64 minutes.   

I waited for another 10 minutes.  I already saw "Darna" but Angel was still nowhere to be found.  Then I thought I should go back to the transition area.  Perhaps she passed by already.  I went back to Park Ave where the transition area was
Surprised that Oden was still there and waiting for her turn to run.  A few minutes more then Angel arrived.  She passed on the plastic loops to Oden.  Oden started with a good pace for her 5km run

While waiting for her to come back, we noticed that some of the teams were now waiting for their 3rd runner to complete the 3k distance.  I felt the competitiveness of the other groups.  It was so competitive that some male elite runners were serving as pacers in order to yield a better time.  I also overheard from an elite runner that one of Iza's team mate is a varsity.  It really felt a different world.  There was a different sense of aura from the usual run that I go to.  I remembered Jo telling us "hindi na ito fun run".  She was definitely right especially with the P70,000 (cash), a P12,000 gift certificate from Everlast and a 3D2N stay in Boracay at stake

We also kid that Oden should come back after 15 minutes because she was wearing a shirt that says "CoreTech can do it in 15 minutes"
I believe it was around 35 minutes when she arrived then Tin was up for her 3km run.  She wanted to finish her run in 10 minutes
But, same with others, it was a bit difficult to accomplish because of the hilly, not to mention steep, parts of the route.  I guess t'was the reason the place was called McKinley Hill.  When we saw Tin approaching the transition area, Jo now positioned herself and getting ready to grab the plastic loops.  During this time, there were only 2-3 teams left waiting for their last member to set off
As we were advised, we headed to the finish line and wait for Jo to arrive.  While on our way, we bumped into Coach Rio and asked to have our pictures taken with him.  He happily obliged.  Each of us got a picture with him.  Even asked Angel "nag-enjoy ba kayo?".  Speaking of Coach Rio, he was very hands-on.  Before the gun start of the 10k runners, he was in front making sure that everything was set and ready.  We also saw him in the transition area, helping the runners by running after them whenever a plastic loop was dropped.  Roaming around the event area with his brand new Vespa

As Jo now approaches the finish line, Angel, Tin, and Oden went up to her so that the team can cross the finish line together.  Now there's the true spirit of a team
Everyone had fun despite the scorching heat given off by the sun.  This was one of the organized events that we've joined.  We will be looking forward for a 2nd Team Women Run next year

Congratulations to everyone

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Why Run Barefoot?

March 24. Coach Ige of Mizuno graced our office and gave some pointers about running. He talked about proper form, heart rate zones, running gait, and the different type of shoes such as cushion, motion control, and stability. One lesson that I was most curious was about the 3 different foot strike patterns and the collision force that it made on our bodies. Coach Ige told us that it is best to land on the fore-foot compared to mid-foot and on the heel

On the same day I've re-evaluated how my feet landed by taking a closer look at my photovendo pics. Realized that I was doing a rear-foot (heel) strike. This has prompted my quest to find means on how to change my foot strike pattern. In my search I've learned that our footwear somehow alters how we strike the ground. This is due to the thickness of the heel of modern shoes. Every time we land on the ground, we prematurely land on our heels first thus encourages rear-foot strike over mid- and fore-foot.

I looked into several shoes that promotes fore-foot and mid-foot strike. I bumped into a handful: Newton Running, New Balance MR790 and MT100, Mizuno Wave Universe, Puma Cabana Racer, ASICS Piranha SP, and ASICS Gel-Hyper Speed. All of these shoes have low (thinner) heel thus it'll be easier and more natural to land on your mid or fore-foot. I was drawn in getting a pair of Newton Performance Trainer because of its Action/Reaction Technology that helps a runner transition in becoming a fore-/mid-foot striker. Only thing that held me back was the price (P7k+)

Also learned that there are several running methods that will help us runners change the way our feet lands on the ground: Pose, Chi, and Evolution. Pose uses gravity to propel you, it focuses on hamstring contraction and forefoot landing.  Chi uses gravity as well by leaning forward and focuses more on midfoot landing.  Lastly Evolution works on hip extension to propel you and same with Pose, it trains you to land on forefoot.  All of these techniques have their own merits and introduces a number of drills in order to prepare your feet and leg muscles for a fore-/mid-foot strike. Videos can be found and downloaded from the interweb if you are interested. Remember, Google is your friend. But none of the three appealed to me because I am a lazy cat.  I wanted an approach where it will be more natural for me to shift or rather will force me to change my foot strike.

Found the answer.  Run barefoot.

Try running barefoot and you'd instantly and effortlessly land on the balls of your feet.  Because you have to.  If you land on your heels, the impact is just too great it will immediately come up to your knees.  It teaches the body to adopt.  A word of caution - tread softly and carefully.  Our feet has already been accustomed to wearing shoes, feet coffins to some, for many years that running barefoot is like learning to run again for the first time.  Start running on something soft first - grass, soil, or on clay (oval track) before you work your way up on running in asphalt.  I know its really fun because you'd feel like a child again but don't take in tons of miles on your first few attempts.  Do not be tempted.  You'll only end up with painful muscle cramps, if you are lucky, or get injured in the process.  You have to condition your body and muscles first before you start piling up your weekly mileage.  Allow your feet and leg muscles to learn slowly from the experience

Then there's a problem in finding a suitable location where it will be safe for unshod runners besides the track.  Instead of going all-out barefoot, there are minimalist shoes available in the market: Nike Free 3 (yes, v3), Terra Plana, Feelmax, and Vibram Five Fingers.  Let me get the facts out first, these are not transition shoes.  There is no such thing, in my opinion.  You still need to run barefoot to know your optimal running form.  Then grab yourself a pair so that you'll have protection from possible dangers on the road and at the same time have enough ground feedback.  Running barefoot and running on minimalist shoes though biomechanically the same but are totally different.  I am currently using Feelmax Kuusa for my runs
More about barefoot running and minimalist shoes in the coming days
For now, run safe and always smile.

An article about barefoot running in Runner's World (Feb 2010)
(images: www)
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