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

Nike Sportsband 2.0 Out Today!

Saturday, 15 August 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

I have had a love/hate relationship with the Nike+ Sports Kit and Nike+ Sportsband.

Way back in 2007, the Nike+ Sports Kit (used with the ipod Nano) was my first foray into the world of high-tech running gear. It got me hooked into tracking my distance, pace, time, and calories to help improve my performance. Shortly after, I got my Garmin Forerunner 305 and enjoyed the accuracy of GPS-based information, so the Nike+ Sports Kit was shelved.

In 2008, the Nike+ Sportsband was launched shortly before the Nike Human Race. I was impressed with the new sleeker look, however the product fell below standards due to problems with the screen and water-resistance. I went through three Nike+ Sportbands before I gave up on it completely.

Last June, I was one of the few who got my hands on the new and improved Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 even before it was released in the global market. Honestly, I was quite apprehensive about giving it another try. But, I’m glad I did.

– Gray/Pink Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 –

– Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 now comes in other colors –

Since I got the Nike+ Sportsband 2.0, I used two watches in my succeeding runs whenever possible: I wore the Garmin on the left wrist and the Sportsband on the right. Hence, I was able to compare the data retrieved from both.

Initially, I had problems calibrating the product. Below are results from Garmin Forerunner 305 and an uncalibrated Nike+ Sportsband:

1:12:45 min | 10.7km | 6:50 min/km | 635 calories

1:12:20 min | 15.97km | 4:31 min/km | 885 calories

Last I checked, I wasn’t elite level status, so the 4:31min/km is definitely wrong. The variance of over 5 km in distance is disappointing. However, when I finally got to calibrate the Sportsband, it produced more credible results for the Run for Home race:

2:11:19 | 21:24km | 6:11 min/km

2:11:09 | 22.45km | 5:50 min/km

– This is how my Run for Home stats looked on the Nikeplus site. Splits for every kilometer are recorded –

And for a long, slow training run with friends:

2:09 | 18.5km | 6:58 min/km

2:09 | 19.29km | 6:41 min/km

For both long distances, there’s a variance of +/- 1km in distance—not negligible, but not that bad either.

Since my Garmin died a couple of weeks ago, I have been relying solely on the Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 for tracking my runs. Needless to say, road testing this product for over two months—comparing it with another watch and using it solo—has allowed me to give you an honest and comprehensive review of the product.


  1. Sleek and simple. The new Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 looks the same as its predecessor: a sleek sportsband that’s as light as a feather.
  2. Variety of colors. While the old Sportsband came only in black with an interior dark orange, this new sportsband comes in different color combinations: grey with an interior pink band, anthracite (dark grey) with a yellow interior band, and black with a red interior band.
  3. Brighter screen. The screen has a white background so it’s easier to read stats while running.
  4. User-friendly. Plug and play, folks. Just charge it, put the sensor into your shoe, and use it for a run.
  5. Faster connection with the sensor. It connects with the sensor faster than you can say “Nike”.  No more long waits like the Sportskit.
  6. More accurate. I was extremely disappointed with distance readings in the sportskit and first sportsband. That explains why I shelved it before. While the Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 is still not the most accurate sportswatch around, it still gives you a fair reading of the distance.
  7. Long battery life. Battery could last over 10 days without recharging via USB.
  8. Water resistant. I ran over a handful of times with this under the rain. It survived! I just don’t think you’d want to try dipping it in water.
  9. Affordable. Good value for money with a cost of P3,295.  Price is reasonable compared to double digit spending for other running watches.
  10. Online community. As in previous Nike+ products, the Nike plus community where you can upload your runs, view your goals and achievements, and challenge others online is a big plus.
  11. Small and convenient sensor.  The sensor hasn’t changed, and that’s a good thing.  

– Sensor fits into a slot in Nike+ ready shoes underneath the insoles –

– Sensor can also be attached to a non-Nike+ shoe using readily available gadgets sold in the market. In this photo, I’m using the SwitchEasy –


  1. Not the most accurate pace. My pace readings were off the charts. Based on effort, there were times I felt like I was running 5:45 min/km while pace would read 6:15 then jump to 3:40 without me changing pace!
  2. Color smudges. I got the gray/pink band. After a few uses, the pink smudged over the gray area probably due to sweat or rain.
  3. Single data per screen. Coming from a Garmin which shows you up to 4 data screens, seeing just one (either time, distance, calories, or pace) onscreen was frustrating.
  4. No current time while running. Time of day can only be read when the Sportsband isn’t being used to track a walk/run.  Maybe they’ll address this with the 3.0?

Overall, the Nike+ Sportsband 2.0 is an improved version of its predecessors. Nike successfully addressed major concerns such as accuracy, screen visibility, and water-resistance. While I still wouldn’t place this in the same league as the Garmin or Polar, this watch is a fairly good entry-level watch for beginners.

Released in the market: August 15, 2009 (Today!)
Available at Nike stores
Price: P3,295

TRX Suspension Trainer for Strength Training

Thursday, 13 August 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

How important is strength training? The debate goes on whether runners need to sweat it out with weights in order to improve their performance in running.

Personally, I’m a big believer in strength training. I workout at the gym thrice a week with machines and free weights. My personal trainer also included stability and core exercises in my program (which I always whine about yet never manage to escape!) All of these exercises have one goal in mind: to make me a stronger, injury-free runner. The result? Full recovery from a six-month battle with various leg injuries.

There’s just one huge problem: TIME! For the past month, I’m lucky if I get to step inside a gym once a week. Finding two full hours for gym time in my schedule nowadays is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Solution: TRX Suspension Trainer. I got the TRX two weeks ago at Chris Sports. It’s a couple of nylon straps that can be suspended from the ceiling or a door, which allows you to perform various exercises using your own body weight or gravity. It promises to give you a good complete body workout in less than 30 minutes.


– TRX Suspension Trainer –


– TRX Door & Anchor –


– TRX All Body Express Workout Guide –

Initially, when I heard about it, it sounded like those disposable exercise machines they sell at Home TV channels. When I saw the product, it didn’t really impress me. I wondered how these straps, which looked slightly thicker than my luggage’s shoulder straps, could give me a good workout. But, I had heard a lot of good things about it—that triathletes in the U.S. currently use it to train and that Men’s Health recognized it as the “Best New Fitness Gear.” So, I took it home with me and gave it a try. With one 30 minute workout, I was floored—literally and figuratively. I worked out in my own bedroom floor and, after following the video that came with the product, I was completely exhausted and drenched in sweat. I was sold.


– Screenshot of TRX Website –

Funny thing is, I’m not the only one sold on the TRX. When I told my personal trainer about it, he yelled out in jealousy “You have the TRX? I want one too!” Word is, it is slowly finding it’s way to local gyms (I heard Fitness First may have classes using TRX.) A week after, I saw it suspended from my gym’s ceiling and I watched a man panting, his sweat dripping down to the ground, as he did his exercises. I told my PT “I’m getting tired just watching him!” but, ironically, I wanted to go home and use mine.

With the TRX at home, my PT reduced my gym visits and allowed me to use TRX once or twice a week. In time, I hope to learn more running-specific exercises to cut my gym visits altogether and leave me more time to run or cross train.

Overall, I highly recommend the TRX Suspension Trainer. Here are some pros and cons I took note of:


Great full body workout. The program includes 4 lower body, 5 upper body, and 3 core exercises for a complete body workout. It’s not one of those namby-pamby workouts, this one really leaves you feeling spent.

Quick. All I needed was 30 minutes to sweat as if I had ran a 10k. Unbelievable.

Versatile. A beginner can choose to follow the program provided, but if you wish to progress, you can learn new exercises from its website or purchase sport-specific videos.

Clear directions. The product comes with a video and illustrated workout guide which guides you from set up to workout. I use the video at home. But, I can see myself or my husband bringing this along for a trip using the portable guide.

Time-based. I’m used to counting reps at the gym, but the training here is based on time. You are allowed to go at your own pace as long as you do an exercise for the specified time.

Fits in a bag. The entire product fits neatly into a small bag (included in the box). So portable!

Durable. The straps are strong and durable. You won’t worry about dropping to the floor even as you hang suspended upside down from it.


No running-specific workout program. I was hoping they offered a DVD for runners, but there were only DVDs for golf, tennis, and team sports. I’m concerned that some of the basic exercises in the DVD may not be advisable for runners.

No trainer to check your form. While the DVD gives clear directions, you still run the risk of performing an exercise the wrong way without proper guidance from a trainer. One must practice caution and make sure that the exercises may not aggravate an existing running injury or lead to one.

Requires self-motivation. You don’t have a personal trainer at home to push you to workout. The TRX requires discipline and motivation to get you to pull it out of the bag, turn on the DVD, and get started. Ooh baby, that can be a struggle on lazy days.

Pricey: P7,949 for TRX Suspension Trainer and P1,329 for TRX Door and Anchor (optional). But, if you think of it, for an initial investment of roughly 3 to 4-month’s worth of gym fees, you get a lifetime workout-in-a-bag.