Traitors In The Team

Tuesday, 18 September 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Not too long ago they were my best running buddies. I could depend on one as I would a Coach; he would tell me if I was running too fast or too slow or if I should run a little farther or stop for the day. The other friend would make long runs feel shorter by keeping me entertained all throughout the run. The three of us were a team. We were inseparable.

Until one day, they both betrayed me. It was during the Run To Bring Hope that they stabbed me in the back, took my heart and stomped on it till I was numb, and left with no explanation nor apologies for their cruel actions. Why did they do this to me? I stood at the end of the finish line with a new PR feeling victorious yet alone.

Who were these running buddies?

My ipod Nano and Nike+ Sports Kit. Er, who did you think?

Some of you know the story. After running my best 10 km race ever during the Run To Bring Hope, I pressed on the Nano to end the workout only to realize it had hung on me. Worse, when it finally shut off 30 minutes later, I learned that it did not record the entire run. The jerk. I cursed it for over a week. He retaliated by hanging three more times; each time when I ran over 10 km. Crazy fart. So, I exiled the Nano and his partner in crime, the Nike+ Sports Kit, to Power Mac in Greenbelt almost a month ago. Dumb fools. (Can you tell I was pretty calm about all this?)

A couple of weeks later, I called Power Mac and asked how my ex-buddies were faring. The technician said they did not hang on him. The evil hypocrites, I thought. I informed him that they only show their bad side when you take them out for a 10 km run. Caught unaware the technician replied “Er, maam, we uhm don’t have running shoes so uhm since we noted that there is an intermittent hanging while browsing your ipod and connection problems with the sports kit, we will replace both items.”

Woohoo! Just what I had hoped for! Good riddance to those two traitors!

Last Monday, I purchased new flowers, cleaned our home, and bought a cake to welcome my new running buddies. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I did do my best to make them feel welcome by washing the little pouch they would be living in.) It was a bit difficult for me in the beginning as seeing these two brought back all the hurt from the ex-friends who looked identical to them, but after a few minutes, I knew these were new and improved running buddies.

So far, so good. I’ve run thrice with my new ipod and sports kit and I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship—no skipping nor hanging please!

New Ipod and Sports Kit

To Power Mac Greenbelt, I commend you for the excellent service provided by your personnel from the receiving station to the technician to the SMS message informing me of my items being ready for pick up. Keep up the great work!

Choosing Your Running Attire

Wednesday, 8 August 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

One thing great about running is that it doesn’t take much for you to do it. You can jump into whatever outfit you choose—jogging pants, biking shorts, tank top, or sando—and end up getting a great workout like any other runner donning the most fashionable or high-tech get up. Still, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally get your hands on some new apparel to look your coolest while you’re sweating it out.

Here are TBR’s 5 tips for buying new apparel:

  1. Go for moisture-management fabric. Choose light-weight, breathable material that can wick sweat away from your body. Please stay away from cotton or other heavy material unless you want to return from a run looking like a human condom that’s as heavy as an elephant.
  2. Check for chafing. Before you purchase a shirt, shorts, or sports bra, look at every single seam or knot. These tiny little nuisances can ruin your run as they rub against your skin a hundred times over. Ouch!
  3. Consider the weather. In Manila, we are fortunate (or maybe not) to only have either of the two: rain or shine. So, a runner’s wardrobe would consist of ultra-light clothing (I opt for sleeveless tops and shorts) and maybe shades and a cap for summertime and jacket and cap for rainy days.
  4. Know your needs. Do you carry your keys, powergel, or lucky charm around with you? Then you’ll need shorts with a pocket. Do you run at night? It’s best to choose clothing with reflectors. If you go mountain climbing or cycling, you may want apparel that can be used for those sports too.
  5. Invest in socks. When purchasing socks, go for quality. You can also bring your running shoes along so you can go for a brief test run in the store. Don’t scrimp on socks unless you find joy in popping blisters or murdering your toenails.

Speaking of apparel, I was fortunate enough to receive manna from heaven—or more like Hong Kong—a couple of weeks ago. The Adidas regional head office sent me two new Adidas ForMotion(TM) samples! Both are white Supernova tees: one with classic Adidas lines in red on the sides (92% polyamid, 8% elastane) and the other with orange lines running down the sides (100% polyester).

I was saving the shirts for a special occasion and I thought the Run To Bring Hope was the perfect event to sport the one with red lines for three reasons: 1) I love it’s smooth fabric (I prefer it over the slightly see-through polyester. I’m very conservative, you know?) 2) It looks more like a shirt with oomph! 3) The red lines bring out the blush in my cheeks after I beat my PR. Yeah!

Adidas Tees

– “You’ll never want to run in anything else. This ventilated ClimaCool(R) running tee uses ForMotion(TM) technology for improved comfort when you run.” From Adidas.com –

What can I say? This running tee was a delight to wear. It was superbly comfortable and light. The fabric was as smooth as silk yet it was breathable. It moved along with me through the entire race despite the sticky sweat. I don’t usually use shirts with sleeves in a race because I find them bothersome, but these tees have completely changed my views about it.

To Adidas: thumbs up to your ForMotion(TM) tees! Thank you for the gifts. By the way, one small request: could you please put pads in your sportsbras? Pretty please?

Lovin’ My Nike+

Sunday, 8 July 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Surprise surprise…guess who just got a Nike+ Kit!

Nike+

I’m afraid to tell you that I have succumbed to the Nike+ fever and I’ve decided to forego any plans of purchasing my Polar—at least temporarily until I am completely sure that this will be a permanent relationship with my new Nike+! Hey, so far, so good.

You all know that I was pining for the Polar RS 200 for what seemed like f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I wanted the HRM in the Polar badly. Very badly. To the point that I would always tell my hubby “How can I ever improve without knowing my training zone?” or “Do you know what Grete Waitz said about heart rate monitors?” or to go straight to the point “Can’t you buy me my Christmas gift in advance? I can’t wait till December.”

I had little or no interest at all in the Nike+ that—from what I read online—was changing the fitness landscape and getting more people across the globe hooked into running. Blah, I thought. It’s no good if there’s no HRM.

Then, it started happening. All things in the universe started conspiring to persuade me to buy the Nike+. First, I read about it in the papers. Then, I heard more from friends and Philmuggers who were raving about their own kits. Last but not the least, the one that got me seriously thinking was my brother’s SMS: “A guy I met while swimming at Ultra says Nike will eventually include an HRM with its kit.” Really? No way! Really now….hmmm….

I researched online and, true enough, people were talking about it. It was the blog of Brilliant Days that got me completely convinced as he wrote “I’ll eat this webpage if there isn’t a iPod-ready heart rate monitor from Nike within a year.”

So, I was off on a mission: to canvass prices and decide ASAP which one to purchase. Here are the results: (Please note—I included the ipod shuffle under the Polar because I still would need an MP3 player for my tunes. The Nike+ would allow for this through the nano.)

Price Chart

Now, if I had all the money in the world (or if I was married to the Prince of Brunei—wait a minute, was that a redundant statement right there?) I would get the Polar. It is still the best brand out there for these things. But, for little ol’ me who has mouths to feed, tuition fees to pay, and outfits to purchase (yup, that’s part of the household budget), I am pretty content with the Nike+—and extremely ecstatic about the P9,000 savings!

So, last Monday, I sold my ipod shuffle to Mon of H@ppy Feet Runners and instantly bought my Nike+ and ipod Nano. Fine, it doesn’t have an HRM yet, but I can wait. (Hitme says they should launch the HRM by October this year.) Now, I finally know the distance I’m running and the calories burned (and how much I can eat thereafter to make up for the deficit!) Oooh, I’m lovin’ the Nike+!

Music on the Run

Friday, 22 June 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

When the running gets tough, the tough listen to power music. The tunes you put into your ipod or mp3 player play a vital part in motivating you to run longer in training run, faster in a race, or simply keep you from hanging in the towel before you even break a sweat. Conversely, choosing the wrong songs (think “How Deep Is Your Love”) may make you fall in love with your fellow runner (make sure you’re running alongside one of the opposite sex then) but it may slow you down to a screeching halt long before you reach the 1km mark. So, people, take the time out to plan, prepare, edit, and re-edit your playlist before going on a run, moreso if it’s a serious race.

During my early days as a runner, all I had to carry my tunes was my hubby’s ipod video. Oh, I pity myself for what I used to put myself through. There were three tedious steps before a run: First, make sure ipod is firmly in place in its case. Second, grip ipod tightly with one hand (my husband’s parting words: “Care for it as you would my heart.”) Third, wrap it’s long cords thrice around my wrist. Now, if I needed to adjust the volume (which was almost every other song), I would have to go back to step one through three again, which would only be easy if I was doing all this with my feet up on a lazyboy at home—not running on a busy street! There was a time when I literally bumped a parked car while making the music louder! I repeat, I was the one who bumped a non-moving car, not the other way around.

So, on my birthday almost two months ago, I received a scintillating new blue ipod Shuffle with matching Marware arm/wristband from the hubby.

ipod Shuffle

– Meet my best friend during solo runs –

Had I received this during my pre-running days, I would’ve bartered the ipod for a small wacom tablet, but as you’ve seen how running has changed me, I accepted the gift with open arms—err ears. The ipod became my new best friend on solo runs egging me to run just a bit longer for the most frivolous reasons like “So you can hear the end of this song” or “So you can hear the next song” or “So you can hear even more songs.” Well, who cares if I was fooled by my ipod, at least I got the miles in.

Since I only use my ipod for running, I only loaded workout songs. For others, that would mean ear-piercing, sweat-inducing, heart-pumping beats that keep your blood pressure way above normal during the entire run. My definition of workout songs are those that keep me happy and energetic throughout the entire session. You can listen to a preview of my top favorites over here.

I’m all for little surprises during my runs, so instead of listening to a particular playlist, I keep the shuffle button on and enjoy bits of hed kandi music that pops up every so often to speed up my tempo. I also loaded a few tunes from Fitpod, which is great because it provides the beats per minute of the song to match your workout intensity. My entire shuffle is filled with power music except for two cool down songs: “Fix You” by Cold Play and “Indigo Daisies” by Desiree. Aaah, I’m feeling relaxed already.

So, what are you waiting for? Load up on workout music and get running. Oh, one last thing, please resist the urge to do a karaoke run (TBR definition: singing out loud while running). While it may be good for the lungs, it will definitely kill your social life in the running world.

15 Tips For Buying Running Shoes

Wednesday, 30 May 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Out with the old and in with the New. New Balance, that is.

A few days ago, I was still too enamored with my NB 807’s to even think of letting them go. I loved their fit and design. Deep inside though, I knew that our relationship had been slowly turning sour since last year. Around December, due to my constant abuse, I noticed small tears on its sides near the laces. In March, as I was staring at it lovingly, I suddenly became aware of how it had gotten older than its years. My love remained unconditional though. Decrepit and dirty as my shoes were, I could not find a suitable replacement despite the many many times I shopped and surfed for other shoes (well, mainly because my 807s have a B width while local New Balance stores only sell D width.)

Then, over the past weekend, heaven intervened (perhaps our relationship wasn’t good for either of us?) Heading towards the cinemas, I decided to pass by New Balance, Festival Mall to take a quick peek. Hallelujah, they were on sale! Before entering, I hesitated as I remembered my 807s, but I felt that it was the right time to move on and let them go. I thought the sale was a sign and God was whispering in my ear saying “Come in, child. It is time for you to buy new running shoes.” When God speaks, I certainly listen. So, I went on in and came out with a new sleek pair of 1222’s.

- My new running buddy -

– My new running buddy –

The following day, as I was reading my favorite running book, I learn that there must be a thumb-width gap between my toe and the shoe. You know that feeling when you just ran about 2k and realize you’ve forgotten to wear your underwear? Oh, you don’t, do you? Well, neither do I so let’s just get back to the story. Anyway, sirens were ringing in my ears. I knew the tips of my toes touched the end of the shoe. Oh god, I was cringeing at the thought of more blisters and more dead toenails. Immediately, I call New Balance and ask if I can get a bigger shoe size. I fly to the store and get the shoe that fits me perfectly well. End of story.

Now, out of my good heart, I’ve decided to compile running shoe tips to save you from committing the same stupid silly mistakes I did:

Running Shoe Tips:

  1. Buy new running shoes every 3 to 6 months regardless of its use. Your shoe will lose its shock absorbing qualities in about 80 to 1000 kilometers of running.
  2. Do your research. Search for the best running shoes online, read reviews about a particular shoe you’ve been eyeing, and ask your running friends about what they recommend. (Although a shoe may not fit as well on you as it does for a friend.)
  3. Choose a running shoe based on your needs: do you need stability? or motion control? or cushioning? (perhaps a drink before you go insane with all these choices?) If you are unsure, select a more stable shoe rather than a more cushioned one.
  4. Evaluate the wear on the sole of your old shoe and ask your shoe dealer what brand or model they would recommend that would last better and longer for you.
  5. Do not buy lightweight shoes for training; these should only be used for races.
  6. Consider buying two pairs of shoes if you expect to get one wet and dirty under the rain. Buy the 2nd pair only after you’ve tested the first…and when you know you’ve got the extra money.
  7. When buying shoes, make sure you leave a gap as wide as your thumb between your big toe and the end of the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes up there. Remember: your feet expand while running.
  8. Make sure the shape of your foot (long and narrow or short and wide) matches the shape of the shoe.
  9. If one foot is larger than the other, fit the shoe on the larger foot.
  10. Shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening when your feet are bigger than it was in the morning.
  11. Bring your favorite socks.
  12. Run inside the store if you must. Just don’t bump into the glass door.
  13. You don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line shoe but do not buy the cheapest non-running shoe either.
  14. Wait for a sale. Running shoes can burn a hole in your pocket. Be patient and eventually your favorite shoe store will have to place some of its stocks on sale. (Now this is one tip I followed!)
  15. After buying the shoe, use them for walking first. It is not advisable to train in them immediately. Ditto for races.

Oh, are you wondering how my 807’s reacted to my new 1222’s? They took it well. I told them they would never be replaced in my heart. First love never dies, right? Naah, maybe that holds true only in the shoe world.

NB shoes

– the old and the new happily co-exist –

Reference: Gloria Averbuch, New York Road Runners Complete Book of Running and Fitness, 4th Edition, New York, Random House, 2004