Deaths In Running Events


Those “one-liners” below were the supposed titles which I would choose for this post but I ended up with a General Statement of what is really happening in our Running Events. This is again a very long post which will compensate the long period of time that I was not able to post in this blog. So bear with me and hope that my post will somehow prevent “Mr Murphy” from creating a havoc to our well-planned or well-organized running event. Happy reading!

Why Runners Die In Running Events?

Things To Do If You Want To Die In A Running Event

Why Die Running When You Are Supposed To Be Having Fun?

How Can We Prevent Deaths In Running Events?

Phidippedes
Phidippedes (Picture From Google)

If you want to relive the origin and history of the Marathon Race, you are not Phidippedes, who was then a professional runner, messenger and one of the warriors of the Athenian Army before and after The Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. If you don’t know what went through with him, then I have to refresh you with what he did before and after the said battle. Phidippedes was sent by the Athenian Army Generals to ask help and for additional troops from Sparta to repel the impending attack by the Persian Army by running a distance of 140 miles in 36 hours. After getting a negative feedback from the Spartan government, he went back to Athens running the same distance delivering the message of the Spartans. Without the support from Sparta, the Athenians went to battle with the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and the Athenians won with the surviving Persian Army retreating through their ships and tried to make their way nearer to Athens. Phidippedes was sent to Athens to deliver the message that the Athenians won the battle and warned the remaining Greek Army to prepare for the impending attack of the retreating Persians. After delivering the message, Phidippedes died despite running a distance of 26 miles. Thus, this heroic deed of Phidippedes as a runner-messenger gave birth to our sports of Marathon Running. (Note: If you read closely to the history, Phidippedes’ deed also gave birth to Ultra Marathon events!)

Map Showing The Locations Of Athens & Sparta
Map Showing The Locations Of Athens & Sparta (Picture From Google)

In this modern time, you, as a runner is not Phidippedes! You are not a trained warrior or a soldier of an Army who dons a warrior’s armor and spear or sword, running on trails and mountains or hills and through vegetation on sandals or maybe, on barefoot! Organizers of Running Events are already well-equipped and prepared to prevent and respond to any contingencies, more so, on the safety and well-being of every runner-participant. Nobody would like to die in a running event and want himself/herself to be declared a hero! Every runner has the ultimate desire to finish the race and hope that his/her attendance to future running events will give him/her a better performance.

Then why do we have these deaths in Running Events when we should be joining them for fun and healthy reasons?

Who gives a SHIT on this topic when only few people or runners gave such information (death/casualty of the race) on the Social Media and everything stops there? And as in the same with the previous deaths, this incident was not published in any of our traditional media and our BroadShits/Daily Newspapers

Where is the Official Statement of the Race Organizer for us to know the details of the death so that those “experts” would know what to do to prevent this thing being repeated in the future? Remember, the same death occurred five (5) years ago in the same Running Event and the same distance. And other deaths in running events were not officially reported in the past and up to this time, no studies or conclusions were published.

Do you remember this post that I made? https://baldrunner.com/2010/07/14/death/. I guess, this blog right now is a repetition of what I’ve posted 5 years ago.

Is there any note/message/appeal from the family of the victim? Five years ago, the father of a runner came up with this article stating all the facts and his observations he gathered on the death of his son. It would be nice to refresh everybody’s mind on this. https://baldrunner.com/2010/07/16/r-i-p-remus-fuentes/

The father of the dead runner five years ago made a very well-written and well-researched article on the death of his son and asked some questions to be answered. However, his seven (7) questions to the Race Organizer remained to be unanswered up to this day. So far, I have never encountered published answers to these questions by the Race Organizer whether in Social Media/Traditional Media outlets or an information from the father of the victim if his questions were answered.

Whether such questions were answered by “other means”, I really don’t give a SHIT out of it. But the fact remains, there will be more deaths in running events in the future!

As they say, “History repeats itself!”

On the lighter side, I am coming out with a parody on the deaths of runners being organized by BIG Multinational Companies.

I might be senseless and insensitive or maybe, boastful but take these next statements as comical and non-serious in nature. I am just trying to express the possibilities of things to happen in the future on these deaths of runners.

—If you are depressed and wants to commit a suicide, join a running event without any training, run as hard as you can without hydration or food from start to finish. If nothing happens on your first attempt, do it again until you pass out. Hopefully, you will be considered as a hero and your bereaved family’s questions on your death will be answered by “other means” by the Race Organizer. Who knows your death would mean an educational scholarship on your younger brothers or sisters. Or maybe, your parents will have a capital to come up with a good investment or business to remember you!

—Since most of the greater bulk of runners lives below the poverty line, these people could just join any running event so that “others in their family may live”. Make sure they should join BIG Running Events sponsored by BIG Companies! Training & Race Strategy? NONE! Just go with the flow, stupid!

—Come up with a Facebook account, get as many Friends as you can get and fake yourself as a Runner. Develop your “fake identity as a runner” with lots of “selfies on running attire” and “photoshopped” running pictures. When the timing is perfect, join a running event without any training and no hydration. If you pass out and will be able to survive it, you will be more popular. Repeat the process until you die. Who knows, one of your siblings will be able to win the Presidential Race in the next elections!

OK, I will stop this non-sense! Anyway, these are just jokes playing in my mind. Back to being serious again.

Pictures Taken Where The Victim Was Carried To The Ambulance
Pictures Taken Where The Victim Was Carried To The Ambulance (Pictures From Facebook)

What are the things that we should do to prevent these deaths from happening in the future? I think there is no need for a Congressional Investigation on this matter as we know nothing would result in these investigations. Such investigation will put a great SHAME on our law-makers as they are ignorant of what a long distance runner is going through. In the first place, these people do not exercise as you can see in their body forms. They are ONLY good in RUNNING for an Elective Position! Right? Do we need Laws to be obeyed for us to organize and participate in Running Events? Who need Laws when they are not fully implemented and most of us would violate them after all? However, as I said, there are basic things that we should do to prevent these deaths from happening again.

The following are my suggestions:

1. Make it mandatory to state/print a BOLD Footnote in all advertisement of running events that “RUNNING WITHOUT TRAINING & HYDRATION IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH. IT CAN KILL YOU”. Period! It is like buying a pack of cigarette where a word of caution/warning from the General Surgeon is written on the pack stating that “Smoking Can Cause Deaths & Other Forms of Disability” (some sort of that kind of message). This warning footnote should be printed in bold letters in every Registration Form of a Running Event.

2. If the advertisement is on TV, emphasize that “Running Without Proper Training Is Dangerous To One’s Life” with the pictures of dead runners of past events flashed on the screen of the TV.

3. Do not “force” or make the Running Event as “mandatory” to students of High Schools and Colleges/Universities through their Physical Education Departments. More so, making it mandatory to the young pupils in the Elementary Schools. By the way, who gives a SHIT if you have these “thousands or millions” of runners featured as a front page picture of the most popular daily newspaper/broadSHIT of the country? In the first place, such coverage of the event was paid by the Race Organizer from the registration fees of the runners! If you think you are attracting or inspiring more “soon-to-be” runners to join the event, then it is directly proportional that we will have more deaths in future running events. However, if you think you have more profits to rake with a lot of runners, then that is called GREED.

4. FREE Running Clinics should be conducted continuously during the year in order to educate the citizenry on the benefits of running, how to train for it, and the importance of hydration during ones training, and during the running events or races. Make these clinics or lectures in the local dialect so that the simple instructions on training will be absorbed easily in the minds of the runners. Simplicity is the KEY. The goal is to transform a person to an endurance athlete through graduated progression and preparation. This goal brings me to the next item.

5. It is the responsibility of the runner to transform himself to a long distance/endurance runner through graduated or calibrated progression. It is a basic step to start from walking for about 30 minutes and then jogging for 30 minutes after a period of time if one is bored with walking. From there, the 30 minutes jogging becomes one hour and so on. And the worse thing happens, you want some more time to run and you now try to find out how far you can run in one hour. And then the worst thing to happen is when you try to find out where you can register for a 5K race. Through these races, a runner is now addicted to the sports, most specially when he/she learns a lot of mistakes/lessons and be able to correct them as he/she progresses to longer distances, making this runner as a smart, strong, and fast “beast”. Simply said, there are NO shortcuts in training for a running event. “Everybody starts in the Kindergarten!” (Note: Every runner should be able to read and understand the Waiver Of Liability from the Race Organizer/Sponsors before writing his/her signature on the Registration Form)

6. More of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Race Organizer. The safety of the runners is the outmost goal of the Race Organizer in order to make it a successful event. This is the reason why 5K, 10K, 21K and Marathon (42K) races have its routes as closed from vehicular traffic. The runners are the Kings & Queens of the Roads for the duration of the race and that is why they paid so much for their registration fees. There are lots of Aid Stations which offer Water, Electrolyte Drinks and Bite Foods. There are lots of Medical Response Teams along the route ready to act on emergency cases involving the runners. But despite of these planning and preparations, something happens wrong. Mr Murphy is always there to test on how we prepared for such an event and most of the time, it is Mr Murphy the one who is laughing on us. And when Mr Murphy had done his damage on us, we try to look for somebody to blame to, pointing everybody around us, rationalizing that the Race Organizer had provided all the safety nets for the event. Through “other means” of solving the situation, the incident is buried in the memory of every runner until another victim comes along. And the cycle continues and this is very true in many running events around the world.

7. It is easier said than done. There is a need to establish a Race Management Regulatory Board which could be under the National Government (maybe, in the Local Government, too) or on the level or part of the National Sports Federation that would impose fines, penalties, and suspension of licenses to operate as Race Director and/or Race Organizer. This is the body that investigates incidents of deaths or casualties in running events. It also screens Race Organizers and even controls the “sprouting” of Running Coaches in the country. Every coach should have a license from this Regulatory Board in order to do their business. More functions and mission could be on the responsibility of this office/establishment for the benefit of the safety of the runners. Maybe, this is the reason that we should have a Department of Sports Excellence.

8. This is another “out of the box” suggestion. Every runner-participant in these BIG Races should belong to a Running Club or a Running Team which has an established organization, meaning, it has its elected officers with established protocols (training, etiquette, and others) for each member to follow. If there is a death among its members related to running in races, its officers and coaches should be held liable and appropriate criminal charges should be filed against them by the family of the victim or by the government. Having said this, each runner must submit a Certification from the Running Club/Team that he is fit and duly trained by the group as an additional requirement in the registration process. Most of the time, it is the “peer pressure” among Running Team Members that would force a seemingly not prepared and not well-trained runner within the group to join a running event.

9. How about those Medical/Health Practitioners who issue Medical Clearances and Certifications to every Runner, should they be liable also if their names appear in the submitted requirement? Of course, Yes! This should put a pressure on those issuing authorities of Medical Requirements to be thorough in their examination and tests to the runners before giving them the appropriate certificate. This process could be very expensive on the part of the runner but what is ones money’s worth when ones life is at stake in doing this process properly. Staying alive after a running a race is the best prize one could get in joining running events.

10. Just maybe the Government would come into the picture for the youth to be mandatory involved in Boy Scouting & Girl Scouting in Elementary Grades; Preparatory Military Training (PMT) for High Schools; and ROTC in the Colleges and Universities. Or maybe, come up with a Physical Fitness Test for High Schools and College Levels. Such programs would make our youths physically active instead of sitting their asses in front of their Laptops, iPads, or IPhones playing Internet Games or posting their status on Facebook.

11. Lastly, I could be wrong but in my opinion, the Emergency Response Teams are not capable in dealing with heatstroke and more so, if the runner had a heart failure/attack. Please correct me if I am wrong on this assessment to this group. I have only this word for them——Over Acting (OA)! I have the impression that the Emergency Response Team has the primary job to determine if the casualty needs to be transported to the hospital or not. If the personnel of this Team do not know what to do or on a panic mode, their best bet is to simply call for the Ambulance. This leads me to the next issue to ask—if the personnel in the Ambulance that transports the casualty have the capability to make first -aid procedure en route to the hospital.

For whatever is worth in this post, I wish this post would reach to all the runners, soon-to-be runners, Race Organizers, Race Directors, Sponsors, Volunteers, Race Marshals, members of the Race Management Staff, and the family/friends of runners with the hope that we should learn something from these deaths in running events.

Lastly, let me remind again that in endurance sports, always remember to “listen to your body”.

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Cut-Off Times (Part 2)


I made a post about the cut-off times of running events in my post in this blog on May 17, 2011. Until this time, I don’t see any reason why Race Organizers/Directors had to impose cut-off times in their events. For the Marathon Races where most of the city roads are closed from vehicular traffic, six (6) hours is a decent time as a cut-off time in order to relieve the riding public of the inconvenience it would bring if the race is extended up to nine or ten or twelve hours. But on second thought, the cut-off time being imposed is not for the safety of the runners of the event but for the convenience of everybody.

In my post, I made mention of some of the popular ultra races in the world with their prescribed cut-off times.  It is obvious that Road Ultras have a shorter cut-off times than those mountain trail races, except for the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race. UTMB’s 166K has a cut-off time of 46 hours; Hardrock 100 which is dubbed as the hardest mountain trail ultra in the USA has a cut-off time of 48 hours; Barkley Marathon has a cut-off time of 60 hours where each loop of 20 miles has a cut-off time of 12 hours; and the most prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race has a cut-off time of 30 hours.

Each of these ultra races has their reason why the Race Organizer/RD have to impose cut-off times. Moreover, there are intermediate cut-off time in every checkpoint along the route which forces the runner to meet such times, or else, he/she would be disqualified. Such intermediate cut-off times are being strictly enforced as race marshals would strip each runner of their race bib or tag and advised not to be allowed to continue the race.

I would surmise also that such cut-off times are being imposed by the Bureau of Parks and Wildlife which manages or administers safety in these wilderness parks as one of the conditions for the issuance of event permits.

Without any reference on these cut-off times, I would conclude that the Race Directors, who are former ultra runners during their prime age, would be able to “test run” the course by themselves and come up with an arbitrary cut-off time based from their personal capability or finish time results. Or maybe, they invited some of their ultra friends to “test run” the course and get the “mean/average” time of the finishers.

When I thought of organizing the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race, it was a challenge for me to come up with a decent cut-off time for the whole race. After conducting some “50K test runs” with my ultra running friends, I was able to come up with the 18-hour cut-off time, where an average well-trained marathon runner would be able to finish a distance of 50K in 9 hours, which way beyond the 6-hour cut-off time for a marathon (42K) race. This is the reason why one of the qualifications of a BDM 102 participant is a Marathon Finisher.

As for the BDM 160, I just added another 9 hours and another 3 hours for the remaining distance of 58 kilometers where I considered the heat and humidity in the country as the main challenge to finish this event.

When I thought of coming with the first trail ultra marathon race in the country, I would conduct by myself a “test run” on the course by dividing the whole distance of 162 kilometers into two parts. Thus, I came up with 32 hours as the cut-off time for the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Race which was maintained for the past 3 years/editions.

As I ran through roads and trails in the country, I made sure that I would “test run” any course/route that I would like to be transformed into an ultra running event for the runners.

I never changed on how I would come up with the “cut-off” time for my races. I would “test run” the course and whatever time I would register as my finish time, such time will be considered as the official cut-off time for the ultra event. Considering my present age to run through the course, I think it would be fair that my finish time will be the target time for the younger runners.

It should be noted that Intermediate Cut-Off Time is the time that a runner would leave the Checkpoint.

So, what is my message in this post? It simply means that a well-trained ultra runner could easily finish my ultra races within the prescribed cut-off times. These cut-off times (intermediate and whole course) will be one’s measurement or gauge if proper training and preparation had been made prior to the event. If one could not meet such cut-off times, it simply means that one lacks the proper training for the event.

At The Finish Line: "Test Run" For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run
At The Finish Line: “Test Run” For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

Let us stop bragging ourselves to have finished a race even if you have finished way beyond the cut-off time. Let us stop giving any “finisher’s loot” for these kind of finishers. A TRUE & OFFICIAL FINISHER is one who finishes the race within the prescribed cut-off time for the event.

Good luck and see you in my future ultra races.

 

Downhill Running


For an old runner like me and had a history of running-related injury on my knees, I need to be extra careful and very deliberate on my steps when I am faced with a steep downhill part of the course. This contributed much in my ability to run slower in my races. How I wish I would turn back the clock when I did not have any fear and took advantage of those downhill parts of the course to gain more speed and regain the time that I have lost in the ascending parts of the route.

Easy Pace In Downhill Running
Easy Pace In Downhill Running

I could see my elite trail runners and training partners to be “flying” on the air and spreading their gait to the maximum in order to gain more distance in every step they make on the downhill. I could see that they just simply “float”; bend their upper body forward; swing their hands farther and stretch their legs with a wider stance as their feet barely touch the ground.  Only young and fast runners could do this kind of running downhill.

Easy On The Old Knees
Easy On The Old Knees

Downhill running was my “weakness” and one of the main reasons why I did not finish in last year’s TNF 100-Kilometer Trail Run. Aside from the knee injury I had which was not yet fully healed prior to the race, I was surprised to be running within the part of the course which I was not able to recon or practice on it. The  11-12 kilometer distance of the Barangay Alang part of the course is a steep road consisting of paved/cemented road and hard dirt road. The steepness of the road gave some pain on my knees that I was forced to simply hike/walk throughout the distance. Coupled with the heat of the sun that went directly hitting the runners, I was sweating profusely and I was on the verge of being dehydrated. Simply put, this part of the course just simply put the “nails to my coffin”, so to speak, in order for me to be over exhausted and weak. Even if I was able to refuel, rest and re-hydrate myself at the Aid Station on the halfway mark of the course, I was able to spend so much of my time and I was already thinking of ending the race.

2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route
2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route

I tried to continue the race but after hiking for 500 meters, my knees and quads were not cooperating. It was time to preserve the weak body and prepare to recover as I decided to DNF in the race.

Running Form Will Do The Trick!
Running Form Will Do The Trick!

Aside from training for the downhill running along the trails for the past 11 months, I made sure to have a taste of running downhill on a cemented road in my playground, just like the road at Barangay Alang. Eleven months ago when I started training for my ultra trail runs, I discovered this place which is a part of my Playground “Bravo” 50K Trail Run course and I promised myself to train for hill repeats in this place in order for me to be properly prepared for the Alang portion of the TNF 100 course.

I was able to come up with a running technique on this steep cemented road which is appropriate for my old knees. I just have to shorten my strides, bend my legs from the knees, come up with a faster leg turn-over, bend my upper body slightly forward, swing my arms with a faster tempo, relax my shoulders, maintain a midfoot strike on the ground and make sure my eyes are focused at least 3-5 meters on the ground in front of me. I can not suggest this technique to the other runners as this is what I had experimented for my style of running. I was able to manage the pain on my knees and preserve them by following on this technique.

Hopefully, I would be able to reach the halfway point of the TNF 100 Race course without any issues or problems. If I reach the halfway point with some time to spare, I know I would be able to finish the race.

Wish me luck!

Medical Check-Up


I had the chance to meet my orthopedic doctor when I requested a Medical Team and Ambulance for the conduct of the latest Tagaytay To Nasugbu 50K Ultra Run on the first week of December 2013, last month. I asked him to make an schedule of an appointment for medical check-up on my knees after my participation in the 3rd Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run and after taking a break/leave from running during the Holiday Season. The doctor readily told me that I could see him either on the last day of the year (december 31) or on New Year’s Day.

Fast forward. After the TD 100 where I DNFd at Km 110, I have observed that there was swelling on the upper part of my right knee and felt some pain after I did a recovery hike and run for about two hours two days after the TD 100. It was a good reason to really force myself to go on a rest period on the following weeks & days before my appointment to my orthopedic doctor. So, from December 17 to December 31, I had only two “outings” on the trails which are mostly hiking in nature. But the swelling and pain were still there until before I finally met my doctor.

On the afternoon of December 31st, I went to my orthopedic doctor to have my knees for medical check-up. My meeting had also served as my maintenance check on the results of my bi-monthly rehabilitation on my injured knees on the early part of last year (2013). The doctor immediately made an ocular check on swelling part of my right knee and he recommended me to have my knees to be x-rayed.

I could say that one of the most important benefits of being a retired military officer and a Major General at that, is that I have lifetime free medical service from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Philippine Army’s Hospital & Medical Center has all the services and facilities that I need to support my passion in running. With a written slip/order from the doctor, I was brought to the Radiology Department and in 10-15 minutes, my X-Ray was done and the films were developed for the immediate analysis of my orthopedic doctor. Very fast and efficient as there was only ONE soldier-medical technician who did all the works.

The doctor analyzed and read the films as he flashed the films on a lighted monitor. The following are the findings:

Left Knee: It is healthy, normal, and strong with minimal “spurs”.

Right Knee (Swelling One): There are “pointed spurs” which are causing the pain inside my knee and these “spurs” should be flattened immediately.

X-Ray Of My Right Knee
X-Ray Of My Right Knee

The doctor asked me if I have a stationary bike and I said, yes! He advised me to immediately include a stationary bike workout, at least, 30 minutes every day without any force or weight that would make my leg muscles exert any effort. He said that my legs should be made to move on a circular motion in order to maximize the full movement of my knees. It is due to my running, in quick and small strides, that the full motion of knees were restricted. He made a personal guarantee that the “pointed spurs” will be removed, if not, flattened, if I will do my stationary biking regularly.

On the night after I left the hospital, I was able to manage a 20-minute stationary cycling without any force but I have to cut short with my workout due to my butt being in pain as I am no longer used to using my bike.

Stationary Cycling Without Any Force/Weight
Stationary Cycling Without Any Force/Weight

After 4 sessions of 30-minute stationary cycling, I was surprised that the swelling had greatly reduced and I could no longer feel any pain on my right knee.

The doctor’s advise is very good and my orthopedic doctor is the best doctor that I really admire! He deserves to have that wine which I gave him as a present for the Holiday Season.

This is a testimony that any runner, old or young, marathoner or ultra marathoner, needs to have a medical check-up to his/her knees and be able to expose themselves in cross training. As I am getting older and my the full range of motion of my body parts are being shortened and restricted, there is a need to do other forms of exercise which will serve as “cross training” to one’s main sports.

So, lace up, get out of the door and run!

Getting Back My Speed


Interval workout in an oval track or in a measured-loop course is one of the best ways to improve one’s speed in running. Whether you are training for the usual long distance runs from 3K to Marathon or even Ultra Marathon Races, a runner needs to incorporate speed workouts to his training program.

Having been absent in local races for the past months and weeks, I continued to do my LSDs on the roads, trails and mountains as I slowly recovered from my running-related injury. But my LSDs and peak-bagging feats made me a slower runner on the roads but made me a stronger runner on the trails.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve started running again on city roads and I monitored my LSD pace for these runs. I’ve observed that I could run an average of 7.5K per hour speed which I think is an appropriate ultra marathon speed to finish an ultra distance within the prescribed cut-off time. But for a marathon pace, such speed is a “death march” pace to the finish!

I wanted to improve my speed to the range of 8-8.5K per hour and for me to get into that range of speed is to do some interval workout. I started doing my interval workout at the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane. The course is flat, paved and it is approximately 1-kilometer loop (actually it lacks 3-5 meters which is very negligible). This is where I started doing my weekly 1K interval repeats in five (5) repetitions with 400-500 meters as walking breaks in between.

What is different and unique in my interval workouts is that I do it after one hour of snorkling/swimming at the Philippine Army Swimming Pool and it is usually done from 11:30-12:30 noon time. Yes, that’s how crazy I am in my present training. That is the reason why my skin is becoming darker everyday! (Note: One-half of the loop is partially shaded with trees)

My first week interval workout data gave me an average of 5:30 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8K per hour. My second week interval workout gave me an average of 5:20 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8.5K per hour. Lately, my third week interval workout gave me an average of 5:10 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 9.0K per hour. In my rough estimate, it’s within 10:45 minutes/mile range and if I can sustain such pace, I can run a full marathon in 4:42 to 4:45 hours. Not bad for a Senior Citizen!

Even if I immediately wear my running shoes after coming out of the swimming pool and do my jogging to the Parade Ground, I still do my warm-up easy run for 1K; do some basic stretching to my calf muscles, quads, hamstrings, glutes and ITBs; and do some brief speed drills like “knee-high” or “100-ups”, butt kicks, and bouncing lunges! After my interval workout, I have to do also another 1K “cool-down” jog or brisk walk before I end up with my post-stretching exercises, the same ritual before the workout, except for the speed drills.

Since is it very hot at noon time, I see to it that I have to drink water every time I finish one repetition of the workout. It is only after the workout that I ingest food and drink my sports drinks. (Note: There are water fountains along the jogging lane)

If you want to get faster and more consistent in your training and races, don’t forget to include an interval workout in your training program, at least, once a week. There are other ways and means to make you faster but I’ll have to reserve that in my future posts.

Remember, interval workout is the reason why the runner in front of you is faster and stronger! You can do it, too! And ultimately, beat the runner who had been passing you or the guy in front of you!

Mt Samat Mt Miyamit 438

(Note: Don’t be misled why I’ve been swimming a lot. Swimming is a part of my cure/treatment to my injury and I use it as an “extender”/cross-training workout for my ultra running training)

The Doctor Has Spoken


I had a running-related injury during my last long run before my participation to the 2011 MIWOK 100 Trail Run last April 2011. There was pain on my left knee and it did not improve until the race day. Since that time, I was in denial that I am injured and caused my lesser time to do my daily runs and easy long runs. Instead, I opted to take some rests, do some brisk walking and until I thought of joining the last year’s RIZAL DAY Run, 2012 CONDURA Skyway Marathon, and the 1st Mt Ugo Trail Marathon in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. On my way to Mt Ugo for a recon run weeks before the race day, I started an alternative activity which is peak bagging and the rest is history.

You might be wondering why I was able to finish the Rizal Day 32K, Condura Skyway Marathon, Mt Ugo Trail Marathon and Adventure Run along the Circumferential Road of Guimaras Island (110K) and did more peak bagging activities despite my left knee pain and injury. The explanation will be provided  in detail in another blogpost.

Pain management had contributed much in my ability to run and continue on my running in races and peak bagging activities. But there is a need for medical attention as I am no longer young like the other runners out there.

Yearly, I always make it a habit to go to the United States to visit my family, recharge and rest, do some chores in the house, and buy some books about running. But my main reason of going to the US is to have my yearly medical check-up! Last year, I passed all the medical tests to include my uric acid level, prostate test condition, and others but I did not include some tests/exams for my knee pains.

This year, my medical tests included an examination on my two knees through X-Ray. During my initial consultation with our family doctor who happens to be a former marathon runner and also a Pinoy, he said that the symptom on my knee pain is an indication that I should stop running. Like him, he stopped running and joining marathon races after he started feeling some pains on his knees. He warned me that if I force myself to continue running, there will come a time in the near future that I will be walking with the aid of a cane or walking stick and the pain on my knee will be unbearable that I need to take some big dose of pain-killer medications.

I felt like I was going to have a heart attack/stroke when I heard the doctor’s advice! So, I said to myself, this is it, this could be the end of the Bald Runner!

But having that kind of a fighting spirit in me of being a warrior, I mean, an old warrior, I asked the doctor if there are alternative means where I can still be active and maybe, one day I could go back again to serious running. I asked him if I can bike and he said that I could not bike because the knees are the main source of force in such endeavour. I asked the doctor if I can hike and brisk walk and he said yes. Later during the consultation, I asked him again if I can do some swimming and he said yes. Swimming is the best sports that I could do to relieve the pain from my knees.

On that consultation, the doctor took some of my blood for my medical exams to include a test for my prostate and he advised me to have an X-Ray session with my two legs and chest to another clinic. On this consultation meeting with my doctor, I registered 110/70 blood pressure; weight of 145 pounds; and a Heart Rate of 50 BPM. If my computation is correct, I might register a BMI of 21.5.

On the next day, I went to an X-Ray Clinic and I had relaxing moments with the secretary and technician because the Clinic is being manned by Pinoys. After I finished with my chest x-ray, the technician commented that my lungs and heart are very healthy and powerful for my age! Of course, it is a given and not surprised with the comment of the technician. I usually have that same comment when I was still in the active military service. However, the knee X-Ray took so much time as there are 3 positions needed for each knee! In all, six positions! And to top it all, the technician had to repeat my right leg X-Ray shots! So, I did 9 shots for my two knees!

After a week, I got the results. First, the bad news! My cholesterol is High (too much Pork/Chicken Adobo, Bulalo, and Lechon!). My sugar is also High (too much Starbucks Coffee, Krispy Creme donuts, cakes, Magnum, and Coke/Sprite) and I am about to be a candidate for Diabetes. My Knee X-Rays showed that I have Bone Spurs on my both knees! The good news is that the prostate is A-OK and my uric acid is at a manageable level. My immune system is strong and healthy!

I said to myself, what the fuck are bone spurs? The Internet provided me with the answer to my question and I did not want to hear again the advise from our family doctor because I knew I will be hearing the same shit! So, all my activities right now are geared towards the solution to get rid of these bone spurs!

Surgery? No way! I pity a young officer whom I’ve met lately at the Philippine Army Swimming Pool who was having his water exercise therapy after undergoing a surgery due to bone spurs on the bones of his feet. He was walking with a cane and he is in his late 30s or early 40s! I also know of a senior officer (retired already) who had a knee surgery and he is still swearing/complaining up to this date that he made a wrong decision to have undergone such surgery.

Medical injections of steroids or any “thing” that will lessen or temporarily remove the growth of this bone spurs or prevent the rubbing of these spurs to my ligaments and tendons? I have yet to see and find out about this solution and decide to try this treatment. However, I know of some people younger than me who have undergone this kind of treatment and they are still running well.

At this time, I am administering the old-fashion rest, ice and hot treatment, deep-tissue massage, fish oil/Vitamin D & B-Complex supplements, some “voodoo”/organic herbal drinks and cross training regimen. I hope I will not be bored with my home-made solutions to my bone spurs! Patience and Consistency are the factors that are neded for this kind of treatment .

So, if you see me out there hiking, or maybe running, stair climbing, or doing some cross training activities, you know that I am trying my best to get back into my best shape as a consistent runner!

1st BR’s Barefoot 3.2K (2-Mile) Run


I am not a fan and practitioner of Barefoot Running. And I am not a member of any group or asssociation that promotes barefoot running in the country.

I read the book “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall upon its release to the public when I was in the United States almost 3 years ago but it was just a part of my reading activities. I was amused by the dedication and passion of Caballo Blanco to live with the Tarahumara tribe in North Central Mexico’s Copper Canyon Mountains by coming up with a yearly ultra trail race within the community and at the same time being able to help on the welfare of the said tribe.

However, I was surprised that because of this book, it created a “niche” of minimalist shoes production from popular brands and influenced a lot of runners to shift to “minimalist” running or barefoot running. I am not yet into this but I was already using road racing shoes which technically considered as “minimalist” running shoes.

After experiencing injuries which most often occur on my calf muscles/lower leg, I slowly included barefoot running as part of my recovery process with the hope to strengthen my lower legs’ muscles and ligaments, most especially for those ones which are not reached by “cross-friction” manipulations through massage/therapy. After a 25-lap run on an oval track, I usually run/jog/walk on barefoot for four laps as my cool-down workout. In some instances, I would simply walk on the ground for about 15 minutes every day. These simple “after workout/cool-down” barefoot “stuff” could be the reason why my recovery from my lower leg injury was faster than what I’ve expected. But I never tried running barefoot on asphalt or cemented road.

So, what made me think of coming up with this running event called, “1st BR’s Barefoot 3.2K (2-Mile) Run” to the running community of the Philippines? The answer is very simple…Because NOBODY is doing anything about it.

I thought of this event while I was starting to adopt to my new training workout based on my heart rate during the last days of my stay in the US. While waiting for my connecting flight in San Francisco International Airport back to the Manila on July 9, I created an Event Page on my Facebook Wall and turned off my laptop computer. As soon as I arrived in Manila, I was surprised to see a very positive response from the runners as soon as I saw the update on my Event Page and the rest is history!

However, for the past weeks and days, I don’t see any positive response from the so-called “minimalist” shoe brand “corporates” who are promoting this kind of running. I simply asked them for me to meet their “Big Boss” in person! “Big Boss” would mean their CEO, President, or Regional Brand Manager. I don’t need to meet their mid-level/department heads due to unfavorable experiences in the past. (I don’t want to recall and post in this blog how these people would transact some arrangements with me on matters about running)

With or without corporate sponsorship, the event will go on. Fortunately, a group called “Barefoot Running Philippines” came forward to support and help in the conduct of this event. Lt Col Mike Logico of the Philippine Army, one of the Administrators of the Barefoot Running Philippines and a “hardcore” barefoot runner, volunteered to assist me in the administrative and logistics needs as the event will be conducted at the Philippine Army’s Grandstand and Parade Ground on August 6 at 4:00 PM.

The registration is on site until 30 minutes before the start of the 3.2K run. The registration fee is Fifty Pesos Only (P 50.00). Runners will run 3 times along the 1-K loop on the said facility/area which has a mixture of asphalted and cemented road. Top 3 in the Overall (Open) Category and Top 3 in the Ladies Category will receive the BR’s Medallion.

This event will be done on a monthly basis with the next event to be conducted inside Camp Aguinaldo. We hope to come up with a 5K Barefoot Run/Walk.

In making this event as part in the history of running in the Philippines, I would like to thank and express my gratitude to Lt Col Mike Logico; the Philippine Army’s Headquarters & Headquarters Service Group and ASCOM’s Special Service Unit; and to the Barefoot Running Philippines.

See you this coming Saturday afternoon. Have fun! Kick off your running shoes and let us “tickle and burn” our feet on the paved ground! Walking barefoot is allowed, too!

BR's Barefoot 3.2K (2-Mile) Run Route (Courtesy of Lt Col Mike Logico)

Squat Test


Last month, I was able to get a free copy of the Competitor Magazine and one of the featured articles is about Kelly Starrett’s stretching methods and workouts which are featured in his blog at www.mobilitywod.com. In his blog, he promised his readers that he will post stretching exercises on a daily basis which started sometime in August of last year.

What impressed me most is his 10-minute “squat test” which he featured in his first “you tube” post in his blog. And for the past week and days, I’ve been dong this workout on a daily basis. On my first day, I could hardly bend my legs due to the tightness of my left lower quads, calf and knee (due to my injury). I could hardly complete a 2-minute duration of half-squat. I admit I cheated on my first day by trying to tip-toe my feet while bending my legs on half-squat. It was really painful and challenging that I have to sweat it out before finishing a duration of 2 minutes. I was not able to complete the 10-minute squat test on my first day!

Persistence and patience did it and after 10 days, I could already fully squat with my feet flat on the floor but I have to either use the wall as my anchor on my back or hold the legs or edge of a heavy table while keeping myself on a squat position for continuous duration of 10 minutes.

I am happy to say that I got positive results for the past 3 days. My tight quads and calf had loosen and I could no longer feel any pain on my left knee while walking or jogging. I would say that the daily 10-minute squat test is very effective in treating my injury.

As what Kelly Starrett has recommended, I have been strictly following his basic instructions for injured runners/athletes on their lower extremities. Aside from the daily 10-minute squat test, these are his key instructions:

1. Hydrate your body tissues. The formula is to divide your weight in pounds by two and the result is the number of fluid ounces your have to normally drink everyday. If you are involved in running or any endurance sports, you have to drink 16 fluid ounces for every hour of workout. Right now, my weight is 146 pounds, by dividing it to 2, the result is 73. That is 73 fluid ounces of water! If there are 33.8 fluid ounces in one liter, then you can do your math as to how many liters of water you have to drink every day.

2. Take some supplements. He recommends Glucosamine and Omega Oil (Fish Oil) as daily supplements for one’s nutrition needs. He says that these supplements lubricate the joints, reduce inflammation and speed recovery.

3. Follow the Mobility Workout of the Day as featured in his blog.

Desperately wanting to speed up my recovery from my injury, I’ve been a “sucker” to Kelly’s method and instructions. I’ve been following his instructions for the past two weeks (to include the supplements) and I am recovering fast. One more week of “squats” and I would be back again pounding my feet on the ground.

If you are interested to follow the Mobility Workouts of the Day of Kelly Starrett, you can click the MobilityWOD on my blogroll.

The following “you tube” clip was Kelly Starrett’s first blog post on the 10-minute “squat” test.

Bands


I am not referring to Rock Bands.

These are strap bands that are very popular among athletes, most especially to runners.

For the past weeks, I could not run without using these bands. They are simply called PT Bands or Pro-Tec Bands, their brand name.

For the first two weeks, I’ve been using the PT Runner’s Knee Band on my left leg which is the one where I’ve been injured. However, instead of placing the front of the band beneath my knee cap, I place the “hard” part of the band behind my knee in order to relieve a mild pain on it.

Pro-Tec Knee Band

After two weeks, I was able to buy a Pro-Tec IT Band Strap which I use to strap my lower left quads. The said strap was able to relieve the pain on my lower quads whenever I over exert my left leg. This strap had been a good medical aid during my runs.

Pro-Tec IT Band

I’ve been putting some miles again on the road and trails by running and hiking and these two bands (Knee and IT) had been helpful in easing the pain  on my leg.

This is how it looks when they are strapped on my left leg.

My Left Leg With Straps!

I could be hard-headed again with my treatment and recovery but it makes me CRAZY & bored if I can’t run/walk at least once a day no matter what the distance is.

(Note: 1st & 2nd pictures were copied from the Pro-Tec Band’s website)

DNS @ 2011 Miwok 100


DNS…In Running Protocol, it means “Did Not Start”! My running injury from my latest Adventure Run on my lower left quads which turned out later to be an injury on my left knee did not heal even if I rested for so many weeks. After my LSD trail run for more than 6 hours at the Wunderlich State Park in Redwood City, California 4 weeks before Race Day, it gave me an assessment that finishing a 100K ultra trail run with a total ascent of more than 10,000 feet will be an impossible feat to accomplish.

Despite such assessment on my part, I tried my best to remedy the situation by taking all the necessary treatment I could gather from the different running resources in the Internet, running books, magazines and personal journals of famous trail/marathon runners. I even went to the extent of soaking my legs regularly on warm water mixed with Epsom Salt; regular massages; and even taking Alaxan FR capsules. I am glad that my cross-training in the gym kept me busy from the lack of more prolonged time of running on the road. One week before Race Day, I made my decision to DNS the race.

Miwok 100K Guy & Logo

Instead of joining the race, I thought of offering my presence on Race Day as one of the Volunteers of the Race to the Race Director, Tia Bodington. After a brief exchange of e-mails with the RD, I was accepted as a Volunteer at the Starting/Assembly Area and at the Aid Station #1 which happen to be at the same location.

The motivation to do a volunteer work for Miwok 100 was due to the following as stated at the event’s WebsiteEight hours of volunteer work at Miwok fulfills the Western States 100 service requirement. Eight hours of volunteer work at the Miwok 100K also gets you an extra ticket in the following year’s entry lottery. Hopefully, my injury will heal soon so that I will prepare specifically for the next year’s edition of this race.

DNS…Did (A) Nice Spectating…by Volunteering!

As a Volunteer at the Starting Area/Aid Station #1 @ 7.1 Mile, I was able to witness every minute how the Race was managed by the Race Director.

I arrived at the Assembly Area at the same time with the arrival of the RD who was driving a U-Haul Truck at 3:45 AM last Saturday. Tia Bodington was alone. The beach of Marin Headlands was dark, cold and windy on the early morning and I was prepared for the weather. I immediately approached the RD and introduced myself. The two of us started to bring out the necessary things needed for the processing of the runners from the truck and I even shared my flashlight to her as she was trying to locate some traffic/reflectorized vests and other flashlights needed for the volunteers.

The U-Haul Truck was filled with containers filled with water, timing device, foods, and other stuffs needed for the race to include the “loot” for every finisher of the race which trail runners call “schwag”. I was smiling as I recall myself on the shoes of the RD whenever I start the races for the BDM and PAU Races.

After a few minutes, another runner/volunteer arrived with a casted/bandaged right wrist & hand. The guy, Charlie, was supposed to run the race also but he met an accident (slipped while running along rocky trail) on training and opted also as a volunteer for the race. The guy was given a reflectorized vest and a flashlight and he was asked by the RD to act as the Parking Attendant at the Authorized Parking Area for the Runners. In a few minutes, I was asked also by the RD to act as the Checkpoint at a point that is 200 yards from the Parking Area for the Runners. My job was to ask the drivers/passengers of each vehicle approaching the Assembly Area if they are runners or volunteers. If they are runners, I simply advised them to proceed to the “dirt” Parking Area. If they are volunteers or dropping their passengers for the race, I simply advised them to proceed to the paved Parking Area. Just imagine a Police/Military Personnel/Traffic Enforcer stopping your car/vehicle with a flashlight and the other hand signalling you to stop. Yes, that was my job as a volunteer for almost 2 hours!

As the lone personnel at the Checkpoint, I was able to see the faces of the runners! It is unfortunate that I was not able to glimpse on the faces of Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek, and Geoff Roes! They opted to DNS, too!

At 5:30 AM, I was approached by Tia telling me that I was doing my job well and she informed me that my volunteer job was done. However, I asked her that I could still be of help in any of the Aid Stations or at the Finish Line as I wanted to see the Front Runners cross the Finish Line. She accepted my offer and I started to observe how the race would start.

Runners Crossing The Bridge To Rodeo Beach Lagoon
Tia Bodington, RD, Announcing To The Runners On Her Final Instructions
No Arch, No Lights, No Starting Line...Just Runners Who Want To Have Fun & Enjoy The Trails

The processing of runners was very simple. Each runner simply got his/her race bib from one of the volunteers and that’s it! Ten minutes before the scheduled start time at 5:40 AM, all the runners were led to the beach near the Rodeo Lagoon which is about 300 meters from the Assembly Area. There were no intricate START Arch/Tarpaulins; no sound system; no music; no lights; no invocation/prayer; and no singing of the National Anthem. The RD positioned herself on top of a little mound on the beach while the runners lined up before an invisible starting line listening to the final instructions from her. Tia’s final instructions were about RESPECT. If I can recall them right, she said something like—“Respect the trails”; “Respect the Volunteers & Marshals”; “Respect the other Runners”; “Respect the Race & the Distance”; “Respect your Goal”; and “Respect Yourself”. After a few seconds, the RD simply shouted “GO” and the runners started the race along the sands  of Rodeo Lagoon.

The Runners Were Off From The Starting Area

After the race had started, Rick Gaston and I were able to talk while the rest of the volunteers and spectators went back to the Assembly Area. This is where all the volunteers (to include myself) helped in loading the “drop bags” of the runners to be transported to the Finish Line which is about 3 kilometers away. After this job, I was able to engage more conversation with Tia and had a chance to give her a copy of the frontRunner Magazine. It was a good chance for me to have a picture with her.

Rick Gaston in Montrail & BR in TNF Skull Caps
With Tia Bodington, RD of Miwok 100 & Editor-In-Chief of Ultrarunning Magazine
U-Haul Truck & Drop Bags To Be Loaded

While waiting for the lead runners to pass at the Aid Station #1, I was introduced by Rick to Brett Rivers who is also an elite ultrarunner, got to talk to Mark Gilligan of UltraSignUp, and the rest of his ultrarunning friends whom I could not recall their names. Finally, I was able to back-up my e-mail messages to Matt for the possible inclusion of the BDM Races to UltraSignUp through a longer conversation and personal interaction. We had a longer discussion about the matter/issue when we had a chance to meet again at the Starbucks at Mill Valley.

With Mark Gilligan of Ultra SignUp
Shouting The Runner's Race Bib Number to Mark Gilligan

At the Aid Station #1, Rick and I became instant volunteers for Mark Gilligan’s Live Update in his Website by posting each runner’s split time. We were requested by Mark to shout to him the Race Bib Number of each of the runner approaching our place. It was a good chance to stretch my vocal chords! After the last runner had passed our station, I found out from Matt that there were 345 starters out of the 416 accepted/registered runners.

At Mile 7.1, Dave Mackey (Right) & Mike Wolfe (Center)
Nathan Yanko
Look At That Stride!!! Leading Runner Meghan Arbogast
Jean Pommier (Another Ultra Blogger) @ http://www.fartherfaster.blogspot.com
Kristin Moehl at the Middle
Pam Smith (Lady Champion of the Race)
Ian Sharman aka ELVIS, The King!

At the Pantoll Aid Station (Mile #20 & 41)

Rick brought me to Pantoll Aid Station to observe and spectate to the runners passing. The top runners just passed the area when we were looking for a parking space. It was nice to observe the other fast runners on how they re-supply themselves with their hydration packs; how and what they eat at the Aid Station; and how lively the cheerers to the incoming runners.

Don't Try To Imitate This Guy!
The Legendary Ultrarunner Scott Mills @ 59 Years Old (Ranked #49)
Cheering The Runners at The Old Mine Trail

Later, I positioned myself about 30 meters along the trail before runners would reach the Aid Station. The trail is called Old Mine Trail. As the runners would approach my position, I would shout encouraging words while clapping my hands. The words, “Looking Good”; “Good Job”; “You Can Make It” and other positive ones shouted to the approaching runners would boost the runners to jog at a faster pace. As a response, the runners would say, “Thank you for being here” with a smile on their faces!

This is where I was able to meet Geraline Harvey, a Filipina runner from Ontario, Canada who greeted me with the words “Kumusta kayo?” After a few seconds, Carmela Layson and her group approached me as I was cheering them! At last, Carmela and I met in person. Actually, if ever I decided to push through with this race, it was my strategy in this race to stick to her all the way to the finish line. Carmela had been a veteran of Miwok 100! If ever I would have a chance to run in this race in the future, my race strategy would remain the same, I’ll stick on her tail. Carmela had been an active contributor of my Project Donate-A-Shoe! (Congrats, Carmela & Geraline for a successful finish!)

With Carmela and Friends at the Old Mine Trail
With Geraline of Ontario, Canada

Finish Line @ YMCA Point Bonita

From this point, it was time to go to the Finish Area and try to help the other volunteers. I was able to meet Jorge and Rich (with ages in their late 20s) who are also ultra runners planning to earn their entry through the lottery for next year’s edition of the race. There was another lady runner who was supposed to run but due to stress fracture on her legs, she opted also to volunteer. We helped in organizing the different “schwag” for the runners and preparing for the BBQ Party venue after the race for all the finishers. It was worth the fun and time to be working and volunteering with the rest of the other senior and younger ultra runners.

Helping This Lady Runner Who Became One of the Volunteers For The Schwag
Finisher's Shirts & Fleece Vests & Beers in White Boxes
Finisher's Commemorative Plates

At 1:30 PM when the lead runner was a few miles away from the Finish Area, all the schwag were properly organized and packed. The job was done and the next job for me was to watch each of the lead runners cross the Finish Line. The plan was to wait for the arrival of Ian Sharman who was running the whole race as ELVIS before leaving San Francisco in order to catch up with the Pacquiao-Mosley Boxing Fight in Las Vegas!

Champion Dave Mackey Approaching The Finish Line
Hal Koerner At The Last Turn Before The Finish Line
ELVIS Approaching The Finish Line

While waiting for ELVIS to cross the finish line, I was able to talk to the Front Runners/Top Finishers of the Race. It was nice talking to these wonderful guys in ultra trail running which ended with a brief pose with them.

Congratulating & Talking To Dave Mackey & Mike Wolfe
A Pose With The Champion Dave Mackey & Mike Wolfe, 1st Runner-Up
Hal Koerner, Champion of 2009 & 2007 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run
Talking To Dakota Jones, 4th Placer in the 2011 Miwok 100
A Pose With The Kid
Talking With The ELVIS in Ultrarunning
Ian Sharman Finished in 10th Place & Bound For Comrades Ultramarathon This Month

After about 10 hours of volunteer work at the 2011 Miwok 100K Ultra Trail Race, I really enjoyed and had fun for being a part of the race as one of the volunteers. As an spectator, I was able to interact with the top runners in ultra trail running in the United States which I could not have a chance to do such if I finished the race in 15-16 hours. For sure, they are already sleeping in their houses as I cross the Finish Line!

Before I left the Finish Line area, I talked and thanked Tia for being a part of the Volunteer Group for the event and told her about my early departure to catch a flight to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley Fight in Las Vegas. In return, she thanked me also for being a part of the Volunteer Group for the event . She assured me also that I will be coming back to run the 2012 Miwok 100!

The results of the 2011 Miwok 100 are published here.