My Milo Marathon race kit arrived!

Whenever I register online, my biggest worry is whether or not I have ACTUALLY registered. Yes I get email confirmation but nothing beats having the race kit in hand!

So now I can breathe a sigh of relief as my Milo Marathon race kit has arrived.

Interested in joining the Milo Marathon?  Sign up here.

Milo Marathon racing bib

Milo Marathon racing bib

Milo Marathon singlet (front)

Milo Marathon singlet (front)

Milo Marathon singlet (back)

Milo Marathon singlet (back)

Booklets included in the Milo Marathon race kit

Booklets included in the Milo Marathon race kit

Interval workouts on a Garmin Forerunner 610

Defining workouts through Garmin website

Here’s another reason why the Garmin Forerunner 610 is such a great workout and training tool!

I came across this article on improving one’s lactate clearance rate.  As you may all know, the buildup of lactic acid is the cause for muscle fatigue, so the goal is to train your body to run efficiently and facilitate the clearance of lactic acid.  The lactate clearance workout lets you run at a “fast pace” to spike the production of lactic acid then you ease into your desired pace to train your body to flush out the lactic acid at that pace.  I was eager to try out this workout.

I inputted the info into the Garmin Connect website, which is some personal portal where one can log and plan one’s individualized workout.   Once I entered the info, I clicked on the link at the upper right to send the info to my Forerunner 610.

Now the fun begins!

I selected the workout on my watch and started my run.  The screen changed to a two panel layout.  The top half showed my pace and the bottom half showed the number of kilometers left.  In one glance at my watch I can see if I am meeting my targeted pace and how many meters I still have to run.  As I near the end of an interval, the watch alerts me by a series of “countdown” beeps, and then, at the start of the next interval, it would display the interval info—“Run 1.5 kilometers 7:00-7:30 pace”—so I don’t have to struggle and remember if I have to do a fast or slow interval.  Plus, if I am running too fast or too slow, the watch vibrates and alerts me that I am off the pace.  “Speed up” it would display; or “slow down.”  I don’t even have to look at the watch—the vibration and the audible alerts me if I am off the pace and then it also alerts me if I am back at my desired pace!

If you couple this with a heart rate monitor, you can even tailor your workout based on your heart rate.  You can run a fast interval until your heart rate reaches a certain level (like 80% of your maximum threshold) and then ease down until you reach your “resting” heart rate and then repeat.  The watch will alert you as you meet your interval goals!

Great tool and it’s one purchase—albeit an expense one!—that I don’t regret.

 

Exercise to strengthen your body, not to show off what you can do

A friend of mine who is a fitness junkie recommends against using any sort of performance-enhancing gear.  If you frequent the popular gyms, I am sure you notice people using all sorts of accessories to help life weights—e.g., gloves to avoid chafing, wrist straps to help grip barbells, huge leather belts to supposedly support the back.  My friend, a lean but strong guy, does not use any of those accessories.

His logic is sound:  You are there to strengthen your body, not to show off how much you can carry.  He scoffs at people who rely on gear and accessories.  “Why use wrist straps?” he says.  “If your grip is your weakest link, then strengthen your grip.”  In a life-or-death worst-case scenario, you won’t have any time to look for wrist straps.

He is a firm believer on what he calls functional exercises—multi-joint exercises that mimic important body movements.  He is fond of bench presses, dips, pull-ups, shoulder presses, squats, and deadlifts.  In an emergency, he says, these are the exercises you need.  You lift things.  You carry things.  You need pull-ups to scale a wall, or bench presses if something has you pinned down.  In many exercises, he uses his own bodyweight instead of barbells and dumbells.  He sneers at isolation exercises—“What good are tricep extensions in an emergency?”  He also does running and swimming.  The latter, he mentions, is extremely important.  There is always the possibility of being on a capsized boat.

I have to say his logic makes sense.

On compression gear

I was hanging around Toby’s one day and was tempted to purchase compression garments.  In case you don’t know, compression garments are form-fitting garments (think cycling shorts) that claim to squeeze muscles, drive blood back to the heart more quickly, and flush out lactic acid and other exercise waste products.  This supposedly reduces swelling, increases performance and aids in recovery.   Compression garments also claim to reduce muscle vibration, resulting in less fatigue and better performance.  I’ve seem many runners use these compression garments—some wear compression shorts, others wear compression socks or cover their calves with compression sleeves, and others wear full leg-covering compression tights.

Those garments aren’t cheap.  The costs hover around the P5000 range. I withheld purchasing the item, deciding instead to do some research.

I found this:

There is a place for compression socks I think. Are they the cure all, guaranteed to improve performance? Doubtful. But there is no magic cure all, so you shouldn’t be looking for one. But they might be able to help increase recovery/decrease soreness.

I’ve seen many other sites that say the same—that it doesn’t improve performance but it may help recovery.   Good thing I didn’t fork out the cash.

Garmin power problems?

I love my Garmin Forerunner 610. Prior to having this gizmo strapped to my wrist, I was relying on my iOS device for tracking distance, pace, time, et cetera. Now, I don’t have to wait for audio cues; I can just glance at my wrist and be updated of my running progress.

But lately I’ve been plagued with some power-related problems. For one, I have experienced the infamous “reverse charging” issue. Other instances include the battery draining for no apparent reason and being unable to charge the watch. There was a time when I was awakened by the constant chirping of my Garmin watch and to find the watch incessantly recycling—i.e., the screen would display the Garmin logo, go blank, then show the logo again. That cycle would continue until the battery was drained. I would do a master reset but no improvement. Imagine my anxiety when discovering my costly, relatively new GPS watch dead and unable to charge!

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Zombies, Run! A first look

When I first heard of Zombies, Run! last year, I was excited.  Who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves in a zombie apocalypse,  running and eluding them slow-witted lumbering corpses? So I was eagerly awaiting for this app to appear in Apple’s App store.

I took it out for a spin this morning.  I was due for a 10-kilometer run and was excited to try it out.  As soon as the game started, I heard the rotors of a helicopter, some talk of a guided missile, followed by a helicopter crash.  Before I knew it I was some sort of runner running out into a world populated by zombies.  The game story unfolds in between songs in your playlist and you are picking up supplies as you run.  While you run, there will be moments that some zombie horde will chase you and you have to speed up to avoid them.  The zombie chase lasted about a minute,  so you can look at this game as some sort of interval training routine.    There are 13 missions in the game.  I completed the first mission in about 30 minutes, and in those 30 minutes I think there were two occasions when I was chased by zombies.  Once you get back to base, you can distribute the supplies to upgrade base facilities.

Sounds fun?  It was.  I specifically enjoyed the moments when there were zombies hot on my trail. I looked at my Garmin data and yes you can see when I had to pick up the pace to avoid being caught.   I also noticed that, versus the first time I encountered zombies,  I had to run faster the second time.  Does that mean that succeeding batch of zombies will be faster?

Sadly though, at $8, this app did not actually meet my expectations.  My hopes were probably too high.  I am of the old-school Dungeons-and-Dragons mold, where I enjoy the experience of being immersed in a fantasy realm.   Maybe it was because of the cheesy script, or maybe because I expected a world similar to the Fallout RPG game series, but I didn’t feel the dread and despair of living in a zombie-apocalyptic world.  I particularly didn’t enjoy that, after a mission, you are switched over to a “radio mode,” where two disc-jockeys are bantering in between the songs in your playlist.

Still, it’s an entertaining concept, and it does add an element of fun and variety into your workouts.  The game does have potential.   I would like to believe that the there are twists and turns in the story and that the developers have some tricks and surprises under their sleeve.

Check out Zombies, Run! at the App Store.

One month to go

One month from now, on February 5, I will be running my first marathon.  Undoubtedly I am filled with excitement and anxiety.  Here are my five top questions that are nagging me as I approach D-day:

1) Will I finish?

I have to.  And I will. Failure is not an option.

2) What will be my time?

My goal, first and foremost, is to finish.  But in the back of my mind, I do want to finish with a decent time. I hope I can finish below 5 hours.

3) Will I cramp up?

Recent experience (i.e., my 32K run and my CIHM run) had shown that I am prone to cramping.  I’ve been doing some web-research on how to prevent cramping, and yes I’ve been adding training routines that would hopefully strengthen my hips and calves (perennially the areas where I experience cramping seizures).  But as they say, proof of the pudding is in the eating.

4) Will I run a marathon again?

When I first crossed the finish line in a 21K run, I swore never to run a half-marathon again.  3 weeks later I ran another 21K!  I suppose the same thing will happen—I will run the Condura Marathon, then, maybe after a few days, I’ll begin planning my second marathon to beat my time, especially if I didn’t meet my 5-hour goal.  Much more if I miss that goal by just a few minutes!

5) What gear should I use?

Should I change to traditional running shoes? I have been running using Vibram FiveFingers, the longest distance being 32K, but I’m still wondering if I can survive the long 42-kilometers using minimalist foot wear.  But now is not the best time to change a routine.

Should I use compression shorts to reduce cramping and delay any fatigue?  Do those things actually work?

Try jump rope

Jump topeJumping rope is such a great cardio workout that you can do in such a short time that I wonder why I don’t see more people do it in gyms.  Probably because it takes timing and coordination.  Many probably also believe that it is more of a kid’s play-toy than a serious workout tool.

I can’t last for more than a minute without tripping up.  I can’t do any of those fancy tricks like criss-crossing the rope or jumping on one leg.  I tried the latter but I find I can’t get through more than two reps before the rope snags on my ankles.  I suppose with more practice I can, but admittedly it’s tough.  Maybe soon, with more effort and more practice, I can get to the level of this guy:

Here are some tips, courtesy of www.builtlean.com.

1) Jump on the Balls of your feet

When you jump rope, try to softly jump up and down on the balls on your feet. Your heels should never touch the ground, which is one reason why jumping rope is a serious calves workout!

2) Don’t Jump too High, Relax

Many people who try to jump rope jump so high it’s like they don’t realize the rope is an eighth of inch thick. If you’re trying to get in a rhythm and jump rope for more than 30 seconds without burning yourself out, keep your jumps as small as possible without tying up the jump rope. Just relax and don’t worry if you trip up the rope.

3) Don’t Swing your Arms/Shoulders too Much

Jumping rope is all in the wrists. Watching someone who doesn’t know how to jump rope reminds me of how some people will try to swim really hard, but barely go anywhere. Then you see another swimmer who is barely trying yet flies through the water. Just as swimming is all about the efficiency of your stroke, jumping rope effectively is all about the efficiency of the revolutions. If you are using your arms and shoulders while jumping very high, jumping rope becomes a VERY difficult cardio activity. Just use your wrists in a circular motion as I describe in the video.

4) Use the Correct Rope Length

How long should the jump rope be you ask? If you bisect the jump rope by putting it under your feet, the handles should reach your sternum. Much higher, or lower will affect the rhythm and make jumping rope much harder. The jump rope should tick the ground each revolution, which also makes it easier to count reps and get in a rhythm.

5) Hands Slightly Above Waistline

Hand position is important and this is also dependent on the length of the rope you have. Your arms should be comfortably bent, hands placed about a foot from your sides and about waist level.

6) Get in a Rhythm

You can really jump rope as fast as you want, but getting in a rhythm can make jump rope easier and more fun. It’s kind of like hitting your stride as you jog, so you can do the same thing jumping rope. I like to complete a certain number of revolutions, or reps in a certain amount of time, let’s say a pace of roughly 150 reps per 60 seconds. It’s really up to you what feels comfortable and what type of workout you are doing.

7) Practice, Practice, Practice

This is by far the most important tip of all! Most of my training clients do not know how to jump rope properly at their first session. But after their 4th, or 5th session ,they are jumping rope like a pro. How is that possible? First, start out with the rope behind you, then:

a) Do one jump rope rep then stop

b) Do two jump rope reps, then stop

c) Keep on going

This progressive strategy helps prevent, or unlearn the dreaded “double hop”, which is when you hop twice in between every revolution. In addition, the main reason I created the preceding video is so you can watch how I do it and just follow along. Then, it’s really just a matter of putting in maybe an hour, or two of practice, next thing you know, you’re jumping rope like a pro boxer and you’re burning fat like it’s going out of style.

Updating Twitter and Facebook via Siri

So the new iPhone 4S was launched in the Philippines about a week ago. What does that mean to us runners?

For one thing, you can use the new iPhone 4S’s Siri to update your social networking feeds! This means that you can update your Facebook status and tweet while running . While this may not be appear to be such a big thing, consider this: you can keep your friends, family, and other supporters updated in real-time of your racing status. You can post something like “Just passed the 10 kilometer mark and still going strong!” or “I’m exhausted, cramping, and I still have 3 kilometers left!” What’s more, after finishing a race, you can review your posts and relive the experience.

But first, a slight caveat. You actually can’t directly update Facebook or Twitter using Siri. But since you can send tweets and update your Facebook status through SMS, you can use Siri to send SMS to Twitter and Facebook.

The instructions below apply to Globe subscribers. Sorry, SMART and SUN users, I am only familiar with the Globe text commands, but I am sure the other providers have something similar.

Twitter

1) You first have to register your mobile phone to Twitter. For GLOBE subscribers, send TWEET REG to 2363.

2) Then create Twit as a contact in your iPhone’s address book and enter 2363 as the phone number. (Don’t create an address book entry with Twitter as the contact name. For some reason, it confuses Siri)

Now you can tell Siri to send an SMS to Twitter. For example, you can tell Siri “Send SMS to Twit. Tweet I’m tired” and the tweet “I’m tired” will appear in Twitter!

Facebook

1) Go to your Facebook page and go to Account Settings. Click on Mobile.

2) Register your mobile phone. Facebook will send you a confirmation code to your phone and asks you to enter that confirmation code

3) Create Facebook as a contact in your iPhone’s address book and enter 2933 as the phone number. This is Globe’s Facebook number.

Now you can tell Siri to send an SMS to Facebook and it’ll appear as your status.

(Photo Credit)

My Vibrams survived Corregidor

Despite the advice of the race organizers (they advised to bring running shoes and not racing flats), I went ahead and used the Vibram Five Fingers KSO for the Corregidor International Half-Marathon.  These babies went through hell and back! I sloshed through mud and puddles, pounded on concrete roads, climbed up steps, navigated through rocky terrain, strode through grassy fields.