Sunday, March 7, 2010

Running is a Mind Sport

The last time I ran was in January 10, 2010. Had I not blogged about it in my other blogspot at, I would not have remembered the date. It seemed so long ago.

Because of the nurses who left the acute dialysis team, we had to spend long, gruelling hours at work spending 16-17 hours a day on the average in the hospital. I worked 4 times a week this time and the remaining 3 days were spent in recuperation. I did not have the energy to do anything else. I felt my body just endured a battering after every work day pulling the heavy dialysis machine and bringing the gallons of bicarbonate and acid with it. The winter weather did not help a bit. Just the feel of the stinging cold air totally dissolved whatever small good intentions I had of running.

However, after dreaming about running last night, I knew I had to get into those running shoes again. I found it amusing that my mind actually had to resort to dreams just to convince my body that it needed to get into running again. So I went to the clubhouse and tried the treadmill for the first time after 7 months of living in this apartment complex.

The place was deserted. The sun shone through the huge windows and I looked at the covered pool across the treadmill. The jacuzzi whirled not so far to my left, outside the glass door. I studied the treadmill and tinkered with it. I started with 2.5 speed then gradually climbed to 4 and stayed there for 50 minutes. I did not bother studying all the other features of the treadmill. I just wanted to get on to my work-out immediately. After 50 minutes and 5 miles, as I stared at the digital screen in front of me, mesmerized by the small rectangles lining up, increasing in number until it formed a loop to indicate a completed cycle, I suddenly switched to brisk walking. I was amazed that I "ran" at the pace of a brisk walk. No wonder I felt so relaxed! I could actually "walk" at this pace. I then pushed for speed 5 and finished my work-out in an hour.

Then I realized that in running, as with any endeavor, it is always the initial part that proves to be very challenging. But as soon as you get through the hurdle and you are able to move past the first stages of learning, you realize that you are capable of so much more. Your baseline moves up and you know that you have improved. Even though I have not ran for more than a month, when I got back to it again, it was just like riding a bike. Your body remembers everything. It does not reset to zero and I'm so happy to realize that. At least it is "forgiving". For someone who has not been very faithful to the sport, the sport did not totally abandon me. And now that I have "broken through" treadmill running in the clubhouse, hopefully, it will not be as difficult to drag my body the second time and the third time. Because I heard that as spring is looming ahead with promises of more sunshine and a fairer weather, rain can still dampen the day and keep you away from the running trail.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hello Readrunner!

It's been 10 months since I last logged on to this blogsite as I got busy with my other blogsite ( on migrating to the US. But visiting it tonight, memories came rushing back. And I am filled with excitement and joy again as I pour words to this blank page. I may have missed 10 months of posting on this blog, but I have not missed on my running.

Having migrated to the US last June, I had to adjust to a lot of changes. It was only after three months that finally, we got our routine and have incorporated running in our schedule. The first agenda was to get rid of my Nike shoes which caused more harm than good. I had to accept the fact that I bought the wrong kind of shoes, much to my husband's chagrin (remember, it was his Christmas gift for me in 2008). It was too narrow which caused the "numbness" on my third toe whenever I ran and the size was too long, causing the back of the shoes to rub against the back of my ankle which led to blisters. I guess I have been in denial for a long time and thought that this shoes only needs breaking in. Well, no amount of breaking in will make this shoes comfortable. I might as well break my feet.

This time, I did not want to waste money on the wrong pair of running shoes so we visited the specialty store Bob Roncker and had my foot "diagnosed". I was a slight pronator, much to my surprise. The guy recommended three different brands and had me walk/run on them. The best fit was a Mizuno Wave Inspire - US9-wide. It felt like I was running barefoot with it. That's how comfortable it was. The best part of the deal was that I could break in the shoes and if I find problems with it, I can bring it back to the store within 30 days to be replaced with a different kind of running shoes.

The next agenda was finding the running spot. We found the perfect running trail, between a private airport and a golf course. It was a 5-mile trail (8-km). The perfect timing was after bringing the two kids to school. As warm-up, my husband and I pray the rosary first while we do briskwalking. After 5 decades and less than a mile covered, we go for a relaxed pace.

It was our quality time together as husband and wife. In the US, it is a luxury to go on a date. Restaurants are expensive. Timing is tricky, with no maids to look after the kids. This is just the perfect, cheap date for me and my husband. Not only will running nurture our spirit, it will also nourish our relationship.

But that was during the season of Fall. It's now Winter time and the ground is covered with snow. I have to motivate myself to run on the treadmill in order to keep on running. It's funny that I was just thinking of making a running program for myself when I read this blogsite and caught sight of the program I made supposedly for January 2009. I never got to adhere to that program because we were taken by surprise by the appointment from the US embassy in January of 2009. Little did we expect that this year would bring a lot of changes in our lives. I got so caught up with the hectic schedule that running was dumped into the backseat.

I was just so thankful that when I got into it again last October, I discovered that it's just like biking. Once you know how to run, it's not too difficult to pick up where you started. I had some awkward start but it did not take long for me to get accustomed to running 8km for my relaxed pace. The year 2009 is ending. I received so much blessings. Having published my first book on running, it's about time to move on, move up and aim for the next goal. Because there is nothing static about running. It is a dynamic endeavor. It only gets better and better. And I look forward to a more fruitful run and a more fruitful year ahead as I welcome 2010 with enthusiasm and delight. Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Running is a Form of Play

I have read too many philosophy books on running that I now look at running as a purely philosophical thing. It is the body's way of challenging the mind to think beyond the mundane stuff. Or perhaps the reason why my mind is not yet occupied with the mundane stuff is because I have not yet gone beyond 12km in my runs. They say that when you go beyond the 21km or 42km, then you will cross the border. Whatever that border is, still remains a mystery to me which I hope to solve in the not-so-distant future.

I like Dr. George Sheehan's way of writing. I am reading his book "Running and Being" in a leisurely fashion. Meaning, I have no intention of finishing it soon. I find it more palatable to pick it up on occasions, leaf through just one or two pages and put it down again. I am also reading Dr. Tim Noakes 3rd edition of "The Lore of Running". Note the emphasis on the edition because he updates his work and even challenges previous concepts of running. But unfortunately, the 3rd edition is not the latest edition. This was written in 1991. I have just found out that there is already a 2002 edition. Most likely, he has discovered newer stuff about running.

I have a particular bias for doctor-authors. Perhaps because it is also a wish of mine to become a known doctor-author someday. I wrote my first book when I was 16 years old. It was a love story written on a folded bond paper, typewritten and stapled at the middle. I did the illlustration for the cover as well. My high school classmates were very fond of exchanging pocketbooks like Sweet Dreams, Mills&Boon, Harlequin Romance and Barbara Cartland. I was even the president of the Booklovers' Club and I set up a project of a cabinet which only contained love story pocketbooks. These were not available in our school library so my little "library" became famous. The members handed over their pocketbooks to be borrowed, but I swear I think I owned 90% of the books inside that cabinet. Anyway, amidst all these pocketbook exchanges, my own "pocketbook" also became a material which circulated in our classroom. It really got into the circulation that I soon lost track of who borrowed the book last. It got lost. I just have no idea whether the reader kept it because she really liked it or she threw it away to keep other people from wasting their time reading my book. My second attempt did not meet its happy ending. I simply lost interest in my characters and abandoned the book after finishing the first three chapters. Now, that love for writing was rekindled when I ventured into running.

I have finished a book on running and wealth. And that same sense of fulfilment is back. It does not matter if this book ever meets a publisher or not. I have it neatly printed again on half-sized bond papers and once more did the illustration myself. Now, I got to appreciate what Dr. George Sheehan meant when he said that running as a form of play brings out the child in you. Yes. It did bring back the child in me, the child who loved to write... the child who loved to draw... the child who forgot to play because she got so immersed in the world where a small mistake can mean the death of a patient. The child is back and running brought back this child. This child will always seek again to play. When the adult imposes her busy schedule, her unending family responsibilities, her stressful medical life, the child will run out to play. And the child, being a child may throw an occasional tantrum when not allowed to play. And the child, being a child will enjoy life simply because she was allowed to play. Running and playing... these are synonymous in the mind of the child.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Love Affair Called Running

What does one do when one fails to stick to his resolution? Fall into despair? Heave out a sigh and accept that it can never be done? Or realize his own weakness, pick up the pieces and try again?

I have shamefully succumbed and gave in to sloth. And because much of what I write comes from the inspiration I get from running, I have also ceased to drop a line on my blogsite. That is how bad my state of affairs has become with my running program. And when I finally got the grace to pick up my running shoes and hit the track, I found myself totally out of form. I was back to square one. Sadly, all the milestones I have achieved these past few months have been buried and needed a lot of unearthing. After my pathetic run after an hour, I ended my work out feeling so tired and drained and regretful that I have allowed myself to fall back this far.

That night my body gave in to fatigue and my immune system gave way to respiratory illness. I have learned an important lesson. The body can be your strongest friend or foe in this love affair called running. You must be consistent in your courtship to maintain the interest, the fervor, the vigor. The moment you falter and distance yourself from the exercise, the body will be very quick in forgetting about all your initial efforts. As a beginner, the period of courtship between running and the body is very fragile. Consistency is imperative. But if you find true love in running, you will go back. Ask for absolution and suffer the consequences and try again. Let the body be wooed once more. It is only in consistency and the assurance of fidelity to the program will the body once again give in. With love rekindled, the beginner will be transformed. He will learn that for this love to end in marriage... in complete union where the body finds utter joy and fulfillment in being able to perform the exercise called running, commitment is needed. This means standing up after every fall. For in every relationship that is good, forgiveness is easily extended. Thus is the love affair of running.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Discipline and Running

My body prevailed. I failed to run today. But it was not because of the friction between my blisters and my new shoes. It was simply because of lack of discipline. I failed to discipline myself to take the needed rest while on training. I did not wake up to the sound of the alarm clock because I did not sleep early. I broke the one rule of training which is adequate sleep and rest. It is a must that as one increases distance or speed of training, one also adjusts the hours of sleep. I still have to find my right formula. With the responsibilities of family and work, it is a great challenge to squeeze in training as well. But I will adhere to my goal of keeping a healthy balance of nourishment for my body by running regularly, my mind by reading regularly and my soul by praying regularly. And I must not forget that my body also need rest, sleep and balanced diet for nourishment. This way I can say that I have been a good steward of me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Neurosis of Running

Running using the podrunner program of 150 bpm made me realize I preferred to switch back to the interval training once again. Somehow, the variety adds more spice to my running. Though I am somewhat of the obsessive-compulsive type, wanting predictability in my run therefore preferring to run in the same route over and over again, another part of me also gets easily bored with routine. That is the kind of neurosis that running has unearthed from me. A lot more is emerging.

Halfway through my one-hour slow run this morning, I began to feel the pain behind my ankles again. My new shoes still needs a lot of breaking in. I got blisters on the same spot just two days before. The other time, I failed to lace one hole at the topmost part and this caused the rubbing of the shoe on my skin. Now, I think I really need to buy the ankle protector until this part of the shoe gets softer.

I struggled with the stinging sensation on my feet and the desire to run. I endured it to the end. I recalled how author-runners relate their own experience of masochistic tendencies which they claim is common to all runners. I guess that's the kind of neurosis that a lot could identify with. Though I sighed a lot of times and missed my old Nike free shoes, I vowed I will not stop running with these new shoes until these bend and mold to the condition that I desire. This tug of war of some sort has become fairly common to me. I had this tug-of-war before with myself, pushing my body to do what it does not want to do. I just do not know if my shoe is as obedient as my body. One hour and 8 km after, I limped my way back to my car. My double band-aid, already half-stripped as well as the skin it used to protect, exposing the nasty fresh wound. No skirts and exposure of ankles for now, I suppose. Even my vanity is suppressed with this exercise. Tomorrow I will try running with a much adherent band-aid. My husband warned me that the skin may darken and thicken from the constant trauma. Should that deter me from running tomorrow? Let's see which part of me will win the battle.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Building Up for Endurance

For me, the holiday is over. I need to get back in shape, not that I have totally lost it. Just a 3-pound gain which I can easily lose. The holidays gave me a lot of excuses to miss running three times a week. But today, I have decided to break in my new shoes... a Christmas gift from my husband. Yeey!

I looked at the sky and smiled. It was casted with thick clouds. Getting back to the stadium gave me a sense of coming home. There were the usual morning runners occupying the tracks. The air was cool and the occasional blowing of the wind brought a refreshing touch to my face. Wearing my new Nike plus zoom with the nike i-pod+ sensor neatly tucked in my left shoe, I began to run and pray.

I have just finished Haruku Murakami's book and a new resolution has evolved. Running has brought me a clearer perspective of my life and where God is leading me and my family. When you run in circles in a track filled with strangers with only your i-pod as your companion and you do that for an hour, you are left with nothing but your thoughts. Most of the time, these thoughts would also desert you, bored with what you are doing and you are left with nothing in your mind. The blankness and the silence is just the perfect environment that awakens the spirit within. Then you hear the Voice that whispers so softly. Then you realize why there are some runners who prefer to do long-distance running.

After an hour of running slowly on the track, I pushed 'work out completed' in my i-pod and shifted to walking. Covering a distance of 7.96km, I have awakened my slackened body to embrace the 2009 training I have set out for it to do. For week 1 of January, I need to cover 26-km broken down as follows, at least 6-km done 3x a week for Build Up and one LSD of 9k for endurance. My ultimate weekly distance target for base training is 33-km per week which I hope to achieve sometime in April.

The basis is the recommended training program for a beginner who wish to run a half-marathon and this is to run a total distance of 20-30 miles per week (32.2 - 48.3 km/ week), with a frequency of 3-4x a week for base training. From my previous weekly distance of 15-20km/week, I am building up my mileage to that of the target. This build up should be done gradually, following the rule of not greater than 2 miles/ week (3.2 km per week) or 10% of current distance whichever is greater. Every forth week, I also incorporated an Easy Week which is equivalent to 75% of the current distance being ran.

This slow build up is done in order to teach my bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons to strengthen and adapt to the distance. This build up is a sense of programming so that normal adaptation occurs and the body does not succumb to injury. Training requires a lot of patience, consistency and discipline. There is no shortcut to my half-marathon. Cramming will not work.

I ended my morning work-out with a prayer: Lord, help me to carry my crosses daily but let it be the cross that you give me and not crosses I make for myself, for Your yoke is easy and Your burden light. May I go about my business doing things Your way because Your ways are not my ways. Your ways are better than mine.

Then I hear His voice ever so faint:

"I have plans for you... plans to prosper and bless you and not harm you. Because I have come so that you may have life and have it abundantly."

My spirit expanded. A new year is ahead of me, filled with hope and so much promise. I went home to a new book waiting for its pages to be devoured... Running and Philosophy - a marathon for the mind, edited by Michael W. Austin. This is a promising companion for my build up to base training. As I discipline my body, so will I discipline my mind and soul and feed it with healthy stuff as well.