Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Chafe and its ugly sister, The Blister..

No one enjoys Chafing or having Blisters, but again, these can be prevented! Hooray!

Why do we Chafe?

Chafing is caused by friction against a part of your body due to fabric or another body part. Usually sweat, seams, loose clothing, dry skin, and cotton are the main instigators of chafing. Often if we gain a little weight, we tend to be prone to chafe more because the body is rubbing against itself. If your underarms chafe, try to wear long sleeves or arm warmers (my Fave!)

1- Clothing - dry fit material is great at absorbing sweat and wicking it away as opposed to cotton. It is called "dry-fit" because similar to a swimsuit, it dries quickly on its own. To care for your clothes - Wash with Cold water, No softeners, and No Dryer. They dry quickly on their own, a dryer is not necessary and it will lose its "dry-fit power".

Also, Not All Dry-fit is created equal. If you happen to chafe with a dry fit shirt, take note of

  • Brands - different brands use different combination of materials to create "dry fit" Some call themselves Dryfit, but they're just 100% polyester. (bleh)
  • Lines - Even within the same brand they have higher and lower quality material, check the tag and feel the fabric. I have Nike shirts that chafe and others that are fine. It's trial and error of what will or will not make your skin chafe. A good indicator, if it is Soft to the touch it is a better material than one that feels rougher.
  • Seams  - more rough surfaces that your body can rub against, less seams = less chance of chafing. 
  • Loose fitting clothing is the same concept. More fabric brushing against your skin = chafe.
2 - Dry skin - If your skin is dry, you'll chafe more. (More friction, and your body can't sweat evenly) Keep your skin moisturized and happy. If you hate putting on lotion, I use Avon Skin So Soft Oil. (After you shower, spray the oil all over your body, then rinse it off. It provides the perfect amount of moisture without leaving you sticky. And 2nds as a bug repellent. 

3 - Water - staying hydrated means you'll sweat regularly and your sweat wont dry on you leaving salt crystals on your body = more friction.

4 - Products -
  • Vaseline, Body glide, and other similar products are great ways to prevent chafing. Apply on the areas you usually chafe, and it really helps.


Similar causes of chafing, cause Blisters with the addition of HEAT. Blisters are notorious for our feet.

1- Shoes - find proper fitting shoes, improper shoes can either not breathe well for your feet, or cause excess friction. Also your feet swell when you run, so you want room for your feet to expand.

2- Socks - Find socks that your feet like. Some people like thin socks, others like thick socks. There is no right or wrong, its whatever works for you. Somehow all those "blister free" socks, give me blisters (the irony). I like thick cottony-dryfit kind of socks. You want one that will absorb sweat, but will keep your feet dry and airy = less heat.
Also Old Socks, are rougher and have less cushion -> friction -> Blisters

3- Products -
  • If you blister in the same areas, you can put vaseline over that area and wrap it with duct tape or Atheltic tape which will prevent the area from friction.
  • Drying powders
  • Moleskin

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Running Rules of Thumb

1. If you see a porta potty with no line, use it. Even if you don't need to.

2. If you have to ask yourself, Does this driver see me? The answer is no.

3. If you have to ask yourself, Are these shorts too short? The answer is yes.

4. 1 glazed doughnut = 2 miles

5. You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip.

6. Not everyone who looks fast really is, and not everyone who looks slow really is.

7. Nobody has ever watched Chariots of Fire from beginning to end. Not even the people who made it.

8. You can never have too many safety pins on your gym bag.

9. Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day.

10. If you care even a little about being called a jogger versus a runner, you're a runner.

taken from

Monday, June 28, 2010

Open Water Swimming Part 1

Its hard finding people insane and masochistic enough to train with you. 

Thankfully there is

I found the group OC Triathlete Ocean Swimming group. Swimming is my main weakness, and I needed experienced people to help me. Its a Free group which is great, because often meetup groups or training groups make you pay $ which sucks. 

I learned how to swim a little less than a year ago. I've only done pool swimming and freestyle. I figured if I can swim a mile in the pool I'll be decent enough to swim 500 meters in the ocean.. WRONG!! 

I'm so thankful for this group. When I first arrived, I was greeted by a group of super friendly people. Some people have the goal to train, others just to swim. For me, it was to swim in Open Water for the FIRST time. 

I met Kate and Bill. I told them this is my first time ever being in Open water and swimming in a tri wet suit. They were super helpful and offered to stay with me through the swim. Kate warned me, 

"The first time always sucks". And she wasn't kidding. 

1- Drag your feet in the sand when you walk in. This prevents you getting stung by a Sting ray. 

As I stepped in, I realized how awesome the suit is at keeping you warm. I didn't feel the cold water at all. After getting into the water and the ground disappeared, we started swimming. I got about 15 strokes in, before I started freaking out. The water is so murky, I couldn't see anything. Waves kept splashing over my face and I drank so much sea water. I paused and Kate asked me if I was ok. 

I didn't lie,"I'm so scared right now" and started to panic. 

I was half way to the buoy, and half way from land.  I couldn't breathe properly and I kept thinking, "I'm not too far to to turn back, go back!" but I really wanted to make it to the buoy else the day would've been pointless. Kate suggested 

2 - to do the breast stroke it helps you breathe and relax you. 

3- Close your eyes when you put your face in the water so the murkiness of water isn't frightening. 

After a few minutes and I stopped panicking, we trekked forward to the buoy. I paused again to rest, I was so tired at this point. Kate suggested, 

4 - Don't fight the water
I was so tense and scared. I was wasting so much energy fighting the water. The wetsuit is amazing at keeping you afloat. 

5 - Don't focus on the distance, just count your strokes. 
It looked like the buoy was really far, but it was probably less than 20 strokes away. So I closed my eyes, and counted. Before I knew it I touched the buoy!! I was so happy.

After that, I wanted to go back to land. Kate and Bill swam back to shore with me. They didn't have to, but they wanted to see me to safety. They were such genuinely kind people and I'm so grateful to have met them. 

I was so exhausted because of my breathing. Also the suit makes it harder for you to breath too. I almost made it to shore before I was too exhausted, Kate let me hold onto her while we made the last few kicks to shore. I couldn't thank them enough.

it was definitely an "interesting" experience. As I swam my brain kept yelling at me, "What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Quit Quit QUIT, return the suit and withdraw the race application!" If I didn't invest all this time and $ into the suit and race entry, I would've quit, and never looked back.  

I know next time won't be as bad. I want to get better, and I know I can. I RSVP'd for next Saturday, so we'll see how that goes. Kate said she was only swimming in open water for 6 weeks. So I hope to be as confident as her in 6 weeks. 

We'll see.. :-D

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who doesn't love Accessories?

Running is supposed to be a 'minimalist' activity - Shoes and go. 

However nowadays we tend to have more and more stuff, water, gu, gels, phone, heart rate monitor, ipod, at least.

Some days I use everything, some days I go minimalist. I wish I could go minimalist all the time, but here are a few of my faves.

1: Water belt - I always have my "Nathan" with me. If you ran with me, and didn't know who 'Nathan' was, he is my water belt. haha 

I hate having to carry water constantly, even when I race, but its a necessity for me. Runners strive to be lean, lighter and faster. Sucks that all lbs lost are just negated by the weight of the belt, water and other stuff.

I was doing 2 mile loops on a semi warm sunny day. I wasn't thirsty, hot or tired, I was actually feeling really great. I paused every 2 miles when the loop ended to drink. By mile 6, I paused to drink then everything turned white and almost fainted. I knew this wasn't good. I laid on the ground until colors returned. It was a very frightening experience especially since I was alone and without a phone. 

This is why people pass out during races. I always thought, if you're tired just stop. Except you Don't "feel" tired, hot, or thirsty at all. Your body is running on fumes and you don't even know it. I've done that route many times and even longer routes without water and was fine, but this experience was enough.

Nathan Elite 1 Mutation is a great water belt. It runs small, I wear a size 27, and a Med barely fits with 1-2 inches give. The size listing on the product site are wrong. *Make sure to get one with a Velcro Strap and not a buckle! 

2: PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts - Whatever you choose to eat on your runs is really up to preference. I like these gummies because they're tasty, and easy to chew. Strawberry Banana and Raspberry are yummy!

3: Water bottles - CamelBak Podium, Regular and Chill Jacket - BPA free, Jet Valve (dont need to mess around with caps)

4: Nike+ : its fun tracking your workouts. Also its a great way to tune out and not focus on the miles. But lately on my short runs (under 10mi) its nice to not listen to anything and to train your mind to tune out. For non-Nike+ shoes you can use these little pockets to hold your sensor.

5: Heart Rate monitor - I have a Nike and a Garmin and now I want a Polar. My advice is get a really LIGHT watch. Both my Nike and Garmin ended up quite heavy and I only use them when cycling. Even though you can't feel the few ounces it weighs, when you're running long distances that tiny weight multiplies 10 fold and you can really feel it in your shoulder or elbow.

6: Polar HRM + Nike+ Nano -  I want to add this Polar HRM to my Nike+ ensemble. And I wouldn't need to wear a watch! Nike really knows how to sucker me in.

7: Swimovate Pool Mate Lap counter - this isn't running related, but cross-training related. This watch counts your strokes and your laps without needing to push any buttons. Its pretty awesome because I always lose count and always forget to push the buttons. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Burn the Belly Fat

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great addition to your workout routine. Usually 20 mins of quick & short burst of energy.

**VERY important to remain well hydrated. If you plan to do a HIIT session, make sure you drink A LOT of water throughout the day, during and after the workout and the night prior. You will be sweating a lot, and your blood will rushing throughout your body, so you want your blood to be as fluid as possible (hence lots of water). I don't want you to have a get lightheaded and faint or worse have a stroke.


1 - Burn that stubborn fat, especially Belly fat
2 - Gain Speed
3 - Improve your heart-rate

This is a great '8' week training program from this site. '8' is in quotes, because based on how you feel, you might have to do week 2 or 3 several times before moving onto week 4, or you might kick ass and start at week 5. Definitely don't force yourself into a dangerous zone. Know your limits and go with how you feel but aim to be at a "push" point. Click on the links to find out more details. I just put the main points below.

Intensity is measured on a scale from 1 to 10.
1 - is pretty much standing still
5 - is a light jog
10- running as if a lion was chasing you for dinner.

Paraphrased from :

5 Min Warm up
6 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
6 Rest Intervals - 90 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout
Tips: As this is your first workout just test yourself out, instead of trying to hit 9's or 10's in intensity. There will be plenty of time for that.

5 Min Warm up
6 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
6 Rest Intervals - 60 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout
Tips: Try pushing yourself fairly hard on the first sprint interval. This will give you an idea of the intensity you need to keep for the sprint intervals.
Be wary of how you feel, you don't want to push yourself over your limits at this point.

Although the graph of the workout says 9 for your intervals, still take it easy and just judge what your body is able to cope with.

5 Min Warm up
6 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
6 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout
Tips: Read the article about training intensity, from this week on you should be increasing your intensity during your intervals. Still pay attention to how your body is feeling.

5 Min Warm up
8 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
8 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout
Tips: Read the article about training intensity, from this week on you should be increasing your intensity during your intervals. Still pay attention to how your body is feeling.

5 Min Warm up
10 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
10 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout

5 Min Warm up
12 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
12 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout

5 Min Warm up
14 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
14 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout

5 Min Warm up
15 Sprint Intervals - 30 Seconds each
15 Rest Intervals - 30 Seconds each
5 Min Warm Down
Do the routine 3 times in the week with a rest day in between each workout
Tips: Try pushing yourself fairly hard on the first sprint interval. This will give you an idea of the intensity you need to keep for the sprint intervals.
Be wary of how you feel, you don't want to push yourself over your limits at this point.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Pretty much everyone, including myself is guilty of not drinking enough water at one point or another. 
I hated water before. I would say, "I hate the taste" and people respond, "but it taste like nothing" 

Now I'm one of 'those' people saying the same thing. Water really does taste like nothing. Here are tips to start drinking more water. Gradually build up to 2 liters daily. 

1: 1 liter bottle - Get a 1 liter bottle, fill it up, and carry it around with you. You will constantly see how much you've drank and how much more you need to go. Also, you tend to drink more when the bottle is sitting in front of your face. 

2: Lemons - Cut up lemon slices into your 1 liter bottle. Lemons cover up any "funky" water taste and the lemons are a great way to detox your kidney and liver. 2 birds with 1 stone!  Make friends with a neighbor who has a lemon tree. Trust me, they can't wait to unload. 

After a few months of drinking Lemon slices +Water, I ended up getting too lazy to cut up the lemons and just started drinking plain 'Water' and its really not that shabby. :)

"HOW" much water should you drink while training? 

A good estimate is to weigh yourself naked before you work out, do 1 hour training, then weigh yourself right after. Usually people lose ~ 1 lbs in sweat. Take what you lost, convert that to ounces, and drink that much in water during your workout. 1lbs = 16 ounces ~ 16 ounces of water. 

To avoid needing to pee in the middle of your workout, take small sips periodically every few minutes. Some people sip every 20 secs. The theory is you replenish just enough for what your body has and will expel so its in constant rejuvenation. If your racing against the clock, a bathroom break ( #1, #2 or #3) is the last thing you need. 

*if  you feel light headed after a workout, its a sign you aren't drinking enough water before and during your workout.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Good, the Bad, the Cramps

Every Athletes bane = Cramps

But the great news is that Cramps are Easily preventable, but first, lets understand 

Why do we get them? 

The main reason of getting cramps is bad circulation, especially of water and nutrients, through the muscles that causes involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. You can get cramps all over you body, but usually the limbs (mostly the Legs) and the Abdomen are what really jab us when we're down. 

How to prevent them

1: Water - If you cramp often, its a sign you are not drinking enough water. Rule of Thumb 2 liters of water daily, and consume about 20 oz of water/hr of activity. (I'll have a future post of how to better gauge how much water you really need during activity)

2: Salt - If you're heavily training / sweating, you lose a lot of sodium through sweat. If you only drink water to replenish, your body is lacking in sodium. This is not the exact chemical definition, but in a nutshell, salt influences how our muscles swell, keeping them from over swelling. Solution = sports drinks. They contain sodium for this purpose. Sip some Gatorade, you'll be in good shape. I carry Gatorade powder, because it last longer and you can store it anywhere. Just add water. 

3: Bananas - A lack of Potassium. In a Nutshell, Potassium helps control the flow of water through the muscles allowing them to function smoothly. 

4: Warm up - A proper warm up and stretching relax the muscles and promotes circulation. Warm-ups gets the nutrients flowing to all right places and prepares the body for the workout. 

Ab Cramps are best prevented by
1- Warm up - really stretch the the abs.
2- Timing of food consuming - if your stomach is fuller, its pressing against other parts of your body causing unnecessary muscle constriction. 
3- What you eat - Some people can cramp eating peanuts, other can cramp with spinach, really no rhyme or reason. Get to know your body and what it likes. 

Got Balls?

I aint gonna lie.. Training hurts..
Here are a few of my favorite items that have been my saving grace from pains and aches. People usually ask me about where to find these items, so I attached links to amazon if you wanted to find more info.

There are a 3 major types of Foam rollers - (life expectancy based on frequent usage before the foam become lumpy and soft - you can still use them just the positive effect is lessened)

1 - regular (last about 6 months)
Altus Athletic 6-Inch by 24-Inch Foam RollerPB Elite Molded Foam Roller 3' Long, 6" Round (Most Popular Size)TriggerPoint GRID - Revolutionary Foam Roller - BLACK

The Miracle Ball Method: Relieve Your Pain, Reshape Your Body, Reduce Your Stress [2 Miracle Balls Included] (Paperback)

These little balls are so great to relieve pain and stress from anywhere in your body. I love using them for my neck, mid and lower back.

These little half balls are amazing to relax your feet. Use them before and after a long run & it makes a huge difference in keeping your feet loose & feeling great = preventing injuries. Your feet are key players in preventing shin spints and hip flexor sprains. So be good to your feet.

A good alternative to the Yamuna balls, step on some golf balls and roll your feet til they feel loose like noodles.

5: Wooden rollers - Many places try to up-sell you on these portable rollers, usually range from $25-$49, but seriously you can get one of these wooden rollers or something similar for $1 at the 99 cent store, or any discount store, they work just as well and way cheaper. Amazon has it for $5.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do you give up or Do you Push?

Ever since I could put one foot in front of the other, my Dad always dragged my sister and I to our local school to run laps, and I HATED IT.

All I wanted to do was to play on the jungle gym or ride my bike, but he made us run.

I never appreciated running until 5th grade, when I was able to run faster than all the other kids. It was pretty sweet earning the title as the fastest 5th grader in class! Then puberty hit in 6th grade and the other kids started getting taller, and I remained short. No longer did I win races anymore, I was defeated and running sucked.

Running became a chore but my failsafe activity to not participate in organized sports, (Always being the last kid to be picked on the team, and I don't blame anyone, I wouldn't even pick myself. I really suck at sports). After I was pretty sure I didn't make the HS tennis team, I took a lonely trek to the locker room, where I met my future CC coach, (Coach Ware) posting up signs to join the Cross Country team. Selling point - No one gets cut! I was really excited to join Cross Country and Track to avoid getting a 'B' in PE and lowering my GPA (Yes I was "That" nerd!)

What originated as my backup plan became the main driving force of my life today.

I love running, the physical and the mental aspect of it. You push your body and your mind to the brink, and you never give up.

After winning the 1 mile, my teammate said to me, "It hurts, but its only 5 minutes of pain, but for the Rest of my life, It's glory!"

Running teaches you so much about life and how to live life. Running is never "easy" but you work hard and you push through and you cross that finish line and you WILL Always reach your goal.

As hard as life may get at times, the pain is only temporary. Life is never easy and things don't always go your way. Do you give up or Do you push?