Checklist for an International Race

Thursday, 3 December 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

The last thing you want to happen on the eve of your international race is this: You’re laying out all your gear at the hotel room only to discover that you’ve left one or two items behind. Gasp!  It could be something as vital as your lucky underwear (horror!) or as tiny as a nail cutter. But, big or small, all these little things matter if you want to perform well on race day.

Here’s my own checklist for my Singapore trip. Feel free to edit as you wish.  (Last year, I left behind the keys to my luggage. I don’t think you’ll make a mistake as dumb as that one!)


  1. top: still deciding!
  2. bottom: CW-X compression tights
  3. running shoes: Nike Lunar Glides
  4. underwear
  5. socks: Wrightsocks or Nike
  6. insoles: Spenco orthotics full
  7. mp3: iPod shuffle
  8. watch: Garmin 310XT
  9. HRM
  10. cap
  11. extra set of apparel for changing
  12. post-race slippers: Betula (note that in Singapore you’ll walk back to your hotel!)
  13. water belt: amphipod
  14. gels: Hammer (espresso)
  15. hydration: Gatorade endurance powder
  16. cellphone: Samsung B2100 (it’s waterproof!)
  17. Body Glide
  18. shades: Optic Nerve
  19. hair accessories: no slip rubber bands
  20. small towel (can “borrow” from the hotel)
  21. small pack of tissue
  22. Printed Singapore registration form
  23. small bag for check in at race (with nametag)
  24. camera, extra batteries
  25. anti-inflammatories
  26. Fern-C
  27. Berocca
  28. Caltrate
  29. Glucosamine
  30. Neosporin – what I use on blisters or chafing
  31. nail cutter
  32. shaver
  33. needle to pop blisters (sorry gross!)
  34. tape
  35. bandaid
  36. powder (for my foot to prevent blisters)
  37. coffee (I stick to my own brand and try not to experiment with what hotel provides)
  38. food: Nature valley bars, graham crackers, pretzels
  39. detergent (to wash race clothes in)
  40. plastic to hold wet race clothes
  41. small plastic for ipod
  42. large ziplock for ice

Shoes I Wear When I am NOT Running

Friday, 27 November 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

There’s all this talk about choosing the right shoe for running. But, what do you wear when you’re NOT running? Most runners don’t realize that their everyday shoe plays a big part in the health of their feet and overall running performance.

I’m a big believer in barefoot running. (I think I’ve said that here more than a handful of times.) Barefoot runners prophesize that keeping your feet free from all the support and cushioning from shoes will actually strengthen the tiny muscles in your feet and make it stronger. Some run barefoot all the way, while others advise runners to practice this only once or twice a week.

While I haven’t mustered up the courage to run with my naked feet on the road nor grass (still waiting for my Vibrams, hubby!), I’ve at least gone as close to barefoot as I possibly can when it comes to my everyday shoes.

For the past months, I’ve favored wearing these three pairs of shoes that I hope will strengthen my floppy, flat-feet:

Nike Free 5.0

The Nike Frees are designed to simulate barefoot running by allowing the feet full range of motion.  For running, one is advised to gradually break in the shoe and cover short distances first.

– My first pair of Nike Free 5.0. This pair made its way to TBR Mag Oct-Dec issue. See Nutrition section –

At this point in my training, I use no other shoe than my ever reliable Nike Lunar Glides for  running.  I’ve ran as much as 2km in my Nike Frees (and thoroughly enjoyed the new, barely-there feeling), but running in longer distance in the Nike Frees will have to wait till after Singapore.
However, the Nike Frees have been put to good use in my home.  These are the first shoes I pull out on dress-down days to the grocery, picking up the kids, casual meetings, and even for traveling (they went with me to Oregon to visit their birthplace!)
It’s the most comfortable shoe I’ve had. It has a sockliner that just wraps around your foot and fits snugly like glove.  It’s light, durable, and easily washable.
I’m flat footed and there is definitely no arch support in there, but I haven’t felt any pain nor injury.
Check out this link for all the colors they have.  It’s like a candy store for Nike Free lovers like me:

At this point in my training, I use no other shoe than my ever reliable Nike Lunar Glides for  running.  I’ve ran as much as 2km in my Nike Frees (and thoroughly enjoyed the new, barely-there feeling), but running in longer distance in the Nike Frees will have to wait till after Singapore.

However, the Nike Frees have been put to good use on non-running days.  These are the first shoes I pull out on dress-down days to the grocery, picking up the kids, casual meetings, and even for traveling (they went with me to Oregon to visit their birthplace!)

– I was as giddy as a schoolgirl when I got this 2nd pair. Black and yellow always reminds me of Lance! –

I’m flat footed and there is definitely not enough arch support in there. But, that’s the way it should be when it comes to barefoot technology.  So far, I haven’t felt any pain nor injury.

My only problem with the shoe is that it gets dirty easily due to the material.  But, it’s easily washable.

Web: Nike store
Available at: Nike stores

Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers

“Sanük” in Thai means happiness and balance, and that’s exactly how I feel when I wear my Sanuks.  Harping on their “barefoot un-technology,” Sanuk says that they’re sandals (they don’t call them “shoes”) are like natural footbeds that allow your feet to bend naturally when you walk.

– My White Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers. Due to abuse and overuse, they’re not as white anymore –

My Sanuks have much more thinner soles than the Nike Free; I almost feel the road I’m walking on. Yet, it is very light and comfortable. May I say that it looks cool, too.  I feel like a cool surfer runner dudette when I’m wearing them. Yeah right.

Price: P2,490
Available at: R.O.X.

Fit Flop

Fit Flop sandals—“the shoe with the gym built in”—was engineered with barefoot technology in mind. They say it helps you imitate the gait of barefoot walking and gives your foot and legs (and butt!) a workout with each step. I first heard about it on Oprah and when I saw them at R.O.X. I just had to get my hands on them.

– Just one of the many Fit Flop designs to choose from –

Walking in Fit Flop sandals is definitely a different experience. I use the wobbleboard and bozu at the gym to improve balance (an essential in running) and I have a somewhat similar experience when I’m wearing my Fit Flop sandals, of course, to a lesser degree.

– Thick-soled but they say it’s still based on barefoot technology –

The sandals have excellent cushioning, they come in various designs and colors, and best of all, they can be worn with shorts, jeans, and casual dresses. They’re a bit on the bulky side, but surprisingly, they’re very light on the feet. Fit Flop sandals for men are available, too.

Click here for research behind Fit Flop which includes reducing Plantar Fasciitis pain (an injury I suffered from earlier this year.) How cool is that?!

Price: P3,290
Available at: R.O.X.

Strength and Conditioning for Runners

Monday, 9 November 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

After our TRX Seminar last week, Coach Jim Saret came to talk about the benefits of the foam roller, but as the Philippine Olympic Committee’s Sports Training and Fitness Consultant for all national teams and Speed and Conditioning Coach for RP SMART GILAS Basketball Team (plus many more!), he ended up giving us a Running 101 talk that I believe every runner, especially beginners, should hear to prevent injuries and further improve performance.

A few things I learned from Coach Jim that day:

1. The most important leg muscle for a runner is the HAMSTRING, not the quads as commonly mistaken. Hamstrings are used for the lift off of the foot from the ground.

2. It is important for a runner to exercise the foot too since this is what makes contact with the ground. Best equipment for this: ELASTIC BELT.

3. Runners should spend 40% of their training working on their CORE. Core and strength exercises can help make you a faster runner, not just speedwork.


 Coach Jim had us perform a simple test to check which leg was more stable:

1. Lift one foot off the ground. Other leg has knee slightly bent.
2. Do the same with the other leg.
3. Based on that test, which one feels more stable? (Less shaking, more balanced)
4. Now, close your eyes.
5. Repeat no. 1 and 2.  (Try not to laugh as I did!)
6. Based on your performance (less falling or swaying), which leg is more stable?

The leg that performed better when your eyes were closed is actually the stronger, more stable leg.  Which one is yours?


1. Lift one foot off the ground. Other leg has knee slightly bent.
2. Point your leg towards 12:00, 6:00, 3:00, 9:00, etc.
3. Do the same with the other leg.



The stability ball is another useful tool for runners. Here are two important exercises runners should perform:

1. PLANKS for the CORE

– Crawl forward with the stability ball moving from your thighs down to your feet. –

– Hold this position for 30 sec. You can progress to 1 minute or more as you improve. Poor Neville! –

2. HAMSTRING exercise

– For beginners: move the hips up and down in a straight line
– For advanced: keeping the hips up, move the ball back and forth using your feet. To add difficulty, keep one leg up

– Beginners –

– Advanced –

Previous posts: TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar and How to Use the Foam Roller for Runners

How to Use the Foam Roller for Runners

Thursday, 5 November 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

After our TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar, Coach Jim Saret arrived to discuss a product that I believe all runners should have: the foam roller.

The foam roller is a product that I searched far and wide for during my ITBS days earlier this year.  I had done extensive research on stretching and loosening up my tight ITB muscles and I learned that the foam roller could be a good ally in the battle against ITBS.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge, it wasn’t available locally.  

I did the next best thing. I wore my Martha Stewart hat and proceeded to create my very own foam roller.  I bought a PVC pipe at the local hardware store, cut up my old yoga mat, wrapped it around the pipe twice, and voila, I had a foam roller that was a quarter of the cost of the original!  I foam rolled on my ITB thrice a day.  A couple of days later, when I paid a visit to my doctor, he looked at my black-and-blued thigh in horror and said “What have you been doing?!”  I replied proudly, “foam rolling!”  He advised me to stop it unless I got a real foam roller, which was probably 10x softer.  So much for resourcefulness!

So, here I was in the gym.  This time, with the real foam roller in my hands (yes, it was a lot softer than my PVC pipe or a rolling pin…duh!) and, even better, one of the most sought after coaches was right before me to teach me how to use it!

It’s very simple, really. Here are tips from Coach Jim on how to use the foam roller effectively:

1. Place hot compress on the area or warm up with jumping jacks or easy run.
2. Foam roll on the area:

ITB: lie sideways and slowly move up and down the upper thigh (Click here to view the You Tube video I followed during my ITBS days. A quick search in youtube will provide you with enough demos to guide you on proper use)

– Hec demos foam rolling on ITB. Tongue exercise need not be followed. For progression, you could lift both legs off the floor –

CALVES: sit up with legs outstretched and foam roller under the calves. Variations: foot outward, inward, straight

– Mitch Felipe rolls on her calves, muscles that get extremely tight for runners –

QUADS: face downward and place foam roller under the quads

– Coach Jim rolls on his quads –

3. The slower the movement, the better.
4. Run.
* You can also perform the exercises anytime during the day.

PREVIOUS POST: TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar 
NEXT POST: Coach Jim Saret on Core, Stability & Strengthening for Runners (Best brief talk I had ever been to for runners!)

Foam rollers are available at Chris Sports.

TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar

Tuesday, 3 November 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

It was back to school for me last Thursday morning. Only the school was a gym. And, my classmates were athletes, such as Pinoy Ultra Runners’ Neville, Second Wind’s Hector, and super fit Mitch Felipe-Mendoza, columnist for Phil. Daily Inquirer. Last but not the least, instead of seats and desks, we were half-suspended in air most of the time.

I took a TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar offered by U.S. Certified Instructors, Gilbert Tang and Coach Jim Saret. Gilbert taught us all the exercises we could perform using TRX Suspension Trainer, while Coach Jim gave us a brief talk about running and introduced the use of the foam roller. The half-day talk was fun, informative, and (gulp) completely exhausting.

– Class pic: Lisa Tang, Mitch Felipe, Neville Manaois, myself, Gilbert Tang, Joseph Pagulayan, Coach Jim Saret, and Hector Yuzon –

TRX Suspension Training develops functional strength while improving flexibility, balance, and core all at the same time. I’ve been using the TRX for over a month now and here are the benefits I see for runners:

  1. Functional exercise. It doesn’t isolate muscles, but uses a whole range of motion. In other words, it doesn’t strengthen just one muscle group but builds optimal strength and performance.
  2. Core is used all the time. No matter what exercises you do using the TRX, the core is working all the time. For runners, a strong core is vital to maintaining your running form especially for long distances.
  3. Adjustable intensity. One can progress from easy to hard workout just by changing the resistance levels and position (stability).
  4. Quick workout. It takes as little as 25 minutes to get a good workout.
  5. Can be used for stretching. I got some good stretching using the TRX, none that I could do on my own.

– Nevs and I looping the handles for single-hand exercises. Very serious work! –

– Gilbert teaches us how to do the TRX squat and single-leg squat. Great exercise for runners –

– Mitch and Hec doing the chest press to strengthen triceps, shoulders, and core. Yeoouch! –

– Neville and Mitch doing the deltoid fly for strength and stability in the shoulders. Nevs, don’t forget to breathe! –

– Demo of the single leg chest press. None of us attempted to do this. –

– Gilbert assists Hec as he does his suspended prone planks –

The next day, my body was tired and sore all over. It made me feel a wee bit better when I heard that the Pinoy Ultra Runners felt the same!

For those interested in taking this seminar, click here. TRX Suspension Trainer is available at Chris Sports. More info here.

NEXT POST: Coach Jim Saret teaches us basics on running and how to use the foam roller.  It was, by far, the most informative talk I ever heard on running.  And, you know that I’ve been to a lot.

* Thanks to Hector for some of the photos.