My First Brick

Saturday, 19 July 2008  |  Running + Triathlon

Bricks, in the triathlon world, is defined as training in two disciplines during one workout: bike/run, swim/bike, or run/bike.  Most triathletes practice bike/run as their brick workout with minimal interruption in between as if they were in a real race.

It was Sen. Pia Cayetano who first introduced me to bricks when I interviewed her for my Runner’s Interview (a portion of my blog that I think I should resurrect).  Running was the only thing on my mind then.  No way would I have guessed that, in less than a year from that time, I would be having my own mini brick session today.

This morning, Annie and I met at the same time and place for our usual Saturday run.  But, this time, we were going to bike.  She arrived late and so did I.  Both of us were distracted: she was pumping air in her tires, I was tightening my helmet, then I too had to pump air.  Aaaaah!  We agreed that life was so much easier when we would just jump out of our cars and run.  “Tara, takbo nalang tayo?” she joked.

Off we went on our bikes, er, well I used my hubby’s mountain bike.  Annie used her racer and led the way.  It was a smooth ride through the rolling hills of village roads, most of which we were very familiar with since it was our regular long run route.  Yes, it was enjoyable but half the time I was wishing I was running instead.  I believe Annie felt the same.  “Annie, gaano ka tagal tayo dito?” I asked.  “30 minutes?” she replied.  “Then, let’s run?” I said with a smile.  

After 27 minutes and 8 kms, we parked our bikes and wobbled our way into running.  (They say they call it “bricks” because your legs feel like bricks when you get out of your bike and start to run—so true. It’s great that they didn’t call it “poop” because that’s what seems to be stuck up your butt once you get out of your bike and attempt to run.)  

Just as we were about to start, we bumped into Patrick C. again (this was the 3rd time I saw him that morning) as he ended his 15k run.  The three of us running freaks spoke about our undying love for running and how nothing—nope, not even biking—could compare with the adrenaline rush it gave. 

Annie and I ran easy for just 3.5 kms, a distance that was all too short for this running buddy of mine but was just right for my slowly recovering shins.  We were able to chat again as we always do and laugh out loud in the middle of the road as if it was our own.  Oh, how I missed those days!

My first brick session was short—just a little over an hour—but it was a great start (considering it was unplanned!) I was ecstatic over the intense workout I got from both disciplines combined since an easy run or a short bike trip just didn’t do it for me the past few weeks.  Oh, I think I’m going to be doing this regularly from now on.  Uhm, I’ve actually penciled it into my training journal already.

Biking Bravado

Tuesday, 1 July 2008  |  Bullish Insights, Running + Triathlon

We were to meet at 6:30 am on that fine Saturday morning.  I was a little bit excited over my first bike trip with my two girlfriends, Annie and Marga, but it certainly did not compare with the usual over-the-moon feeling I have over each and every morning run.  Put it this way, for a run, I am Manny Pacquiao…fight!  For any other sport, such as biking, swimming, or the gym, I give it a good fight like Diaz but there’s just something missing.  There’s no umph.

I arrived at our meeting place to find Annie in complete biking attire, something I have never seen her in since we met as running buddies over a year ago.  She was standing over her driver who was fiddling over the tight chains of her road bike.  Where was Marga?  Probably somewhere in between Bicutan and Sucat.  She biked all the way from her place, and unknown to us at that time, she actually had to walk through parts of the West Service Road as it was under construction.


– Annie testing her bike.  I want a road bike like hers or Margas! –

By the time Marga arrived, at around 7 a.m., Annie had declared that she couldn’t join us because her bike chains needed oil.  As for me, I had lost all enthusiasm for biking under the intense heat.  How could so many things go wrong that early in the morning?!  At that point, there was one thing that could turn things around: McDo!

We decided to bike out of the village for a good meal at nearby McDonalds.  It was to be my first ever bike trip on public roads and I was nervous.  As we biked our way towards the exit gate nearing the first intersection, I yelled out at Marga: “How do bikers stop at the traffic light?”  (Yes, you can kick me for such a dumb question)  I couldn’t quite hear her response and, as much as I wanted to just close my eyes and teleport my way to McDo, I knew that on a bike I would probably find myself at the hospital instead.  Luckily, the light turned green and we just biked along with the cars.  After crossing the street, Annie who should’ve been behind me was unusually quiet (Annie is never ever quiet!) so I had to yell out at Marga again: “Where’s Annie?  Can you check?”  That’s because I can’t even look behind while on a bike, much less scratch my face, fix my helmet, bike in between that narrow strip of flat road between a hump and the sidewalk, nor stand on my pedals to avoid the pain that comes from passing over a hump.  Gosh, I’m such a newbie.

A little over a kilometer later, we were happily chatting about running, boys (to my hubby, I was actually just listening!), and races over our meals.  We biked our way back to the village and, surprisingly, the super short bike trip gave me a lot more confidence already.  It was definitely a more relaxing ride on the way back—I could actually manage a smile!  Yeah, I finally found the courage to explore more roads on the bike.  Give me a month and I’ll be fast and fearless…I hope haha.

Secret Training Exposed

Tuesday, 29 April 2008  |  Running + Triathlon

What have I been doing the past month? Had you looked closely, I rarely discussed my training sessions nor did I complain about my evil knee. Truth be told, I found little time to write here as running had taken over a large chunk of my idle time leaving me with the rest of the day for work and family.

A couple of running friends have dubbed my past month as “Secret Training.” You see, it’s been a month since I signed up with a new running coach, Jo-Ar, to begin rehab training for my knee yet there was no mention (just a hint) of him in this blog.

Well, now the “secret” is out. And, I’m proud to say that this has been the best month of running ever since I started.


– Me with Annie and Coach Jo-Ar after he made us do intervals that made me want to barf. –

Coach Jo-Ar has been my guide/boss/friend on this slippery road to recovery. In the beginning, it was a bit frustrating as he asked me to slow down when I felt like I could go faster or to rest for a full day when I was eager to run on the road.

After a couple of weeks, however, I had little to complain about as things got more exciting at the track. With my knee and quads a bit stronger, Coach Jo-Ar would push me to run 5 more hills…or 10 more steps…or 3 more laps…and, as I struggled to catch my breath or control my wobbly legs, I would think “Please, no more!” yet find myself achieving what seemed impossible. At the end of each session, I felt I was improving, getting stronger and fitter, and taking a step farther away from my poor injured self.

Last week, for the first time in my life, I ran everyday for six consecutive days. And, on Sunday, I was able to run 8k, my longest ever since I got injured in January. It was a tough, tiring, and challenging week (or month, actually) but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. Salamat Coach Jo-Ar!

5 Reasons Why Runners Should Strength Train

Thursday, 17 April 2008  |  Running + Triathlon

The jury is still out on whether a runner should lift weights or not.

I’ve interviewed several runners asking whether they pay regular visits to the gym or do strength training exercises at home and I’ve received different responses. Elite runner A only uses free weights on his arms to mimic the vigorous arm motion while running. Serious runner B lifts weights 3 to 4x a week. She increased weight training on both upper and lower body a few months before a marathon for strengthening and only decreased this a few weeks prior to her marathon. It worked for her as she finished her first marathon in tip top shape. Serious runner C is against any kind of weight training for runners. He believes one can perform strengthening exercises through drills and running hills.

Almost all running books I’ve read recommends strength training twice a week as a good cross training option for off-running days. Why even Paula Radcliffe believes it’s beneficial to runners.

I guess there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to weights and running. I say just do what works for you. If strength training can improve your performance in running (and gives you a svelte and toned body as a bonus), then why not right?

Here are TBR’s top 5 reasons why you should lift weights:

1) builds and strengthens muscle

2) prevents injury

3) improves performance

4) speeds up metabolism which leads to burning more calories

5) gives you a chance to spot Aga Muhlach* in the flesh! I just saw him at my gym two days ago!

* Note to men: kindly replace Aga Muhlach with your favorite female celebrity.

Chi Running

Thursday, 7 February 2008  |  Running + Triathlon

Chi Running, as its name clearly denotes, is a fusion of the ancient principles of Tai Chi together with the power and energy of running. Created by Danny Deyer, an accomplished ultramarathoner, this unique running form focuses on relaxing the muscles and keeping the body aligned to run efficiently thereby preventing or completely avoiding injury. Dreyer teaches his runners to fall slightly forward while keeping the back straight so that the weight is supported by the frame. The legs remain loose and are just lifted; they don’t push down.


– Chi Running on Discovery Health –

I learned about Chi Running only recently when a friend of mine—perhaps after reading through the pitiful posts I’ve written over my condition—emailed me about Chi Running and shared how her knee pain vanished after practicing this for over a year. She ran the half-marathon at Subic and was pleasantly surprised to feel minimal pain or soreness the day after. She says, and I quote, “it has become my running bible.”

In back issues of Runner’s World, I do remember reading about the benefits of the Pose Method, which like Chi Running, prevents many of the common injuries runners experience. A quick google pointed me towards an article where Danny Dreyer discussed the differences.

Now I don’t have the book nor DVD yet, so I wouldn’t be too quick to call Chi Running my own bible. However, I would go as far as saying that this has certainly piqued my curiosity and given me some sense of hope that my love for running won’t have to hurt me again this way. I will probably get my hands on the book soon. And, should it prove to be as good as it sounds, I just might become a Chi Runner without this Runner’s Knee someday.

More articles on Chi Running:

ChiRunning on Runner’s World

Chi Runners Poised for Softer Landings on NPR

Runner’s Chi on