Should We Take Our Playlist When We Run?

To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question. Everyone would agree that music does affect the way we do things. While we have individual genres, whatever that is in our playlist influences our behavior whether we’re up for a long night of school work, crunch numbers at the office, finish a writing deadline, or when we want to get in the zone during a workout.

I have this wired Phillips earphones for about 10 years already.

Whenever we want extra focus we shut the rest of world out and enter our invisible cocoon, we play our favorite song. Others seal themselves completely, almost air tight, thanks to headphones. Introverts know this better.

Back in my younger days I was a fan of earphones or headsets. Yes, those Walkman days and then MP3 players. I don’t know when I stopped but I believe it was when I realized I need to talk to people. When I became mature–let’s say that’s true.

Safety was also an issue which is why I use less of the earphones especially when I’m mobile. When I started running more and read more about this sport, it seems that the number of cons against running while plugged in outnumbers the pros. There are so much road hazards that runners need to be aware of so being able hear a wayward driver coming from behind, for one, is a big advantage.

My opinion against wearing another set of technology in the form of the earphones remained until the day I sought that extra push to hit the steep Baguio terrain. That cold early morning I took my phone, plugged my very old but trusty wired Phillips earphones and ran. That was my first time running with Arnel Pineda, Big Fat Joe, Depeche Mode, and the rest of my Napster tracks (oopps) playing along. It made the trip on the undulating road to Burnham Park and back less tiring and stressful. Music saved the day.

For days since then I was back to wondering if these bone conduction earphones I’ve heard of months ago are worth buying. But this morning I got my answer from an unlikely source. A Facebook friend not so known for being minimalist posted a YouTube video about using technology instead of it using us. For me, the video’s message was clear and it takes me away once more from the urge to run with earphones plugged. For how long though, I don’t know.

***

As a frustrated writer, I also appreciate having music in the background. In my freelance days, I’ve finished countless articles, met writing deadlines with the help of the right music. And alcohol. I have likewise composed better blog post when music sets the mood and motivation.

My bluetooth headset we got in the US.

Few days ago I was contacted for a part-time writing job and so it seems that I would need to once again isolate myself for hours (if) when the job orders start coming in. Maybe that bone conduction earphone I see online is worth having after all.

***

How soon before someone becomes a freelancer? I’d say ten. Last week Marcus got his first feel of his mother’s home-based job when she asked him to encode few numbers from PDF to Excel while she took her break and surprisingly, wifey said he got the numbers right. Maybe, he’ll earn his first dollars soon. Haha.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (900-calorie breakfast after a 5K.)

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I Miss Baguio Weather

Contrary to what I believe that Baguio is no longer cold as before, no thanks to climate change, I was in for a surprise when we stepped out of our rented Foton View Traveller van after a 5-hour trip.

The place still chills almost like California. “It’s like US,” Marcus exclaimed when the early morning air of Camp John Hay hit him. Our initial plan was to travel light and ditch thick clothing but good thing I got the Accuweather app so I packed hoodies and jackets for us before we left Batangas. Brewed coffee from 7-11 wouldn’t have been enough if I didn’t check the forecast.

First morning straight from a long trip.

Temperature was about 16 degrees Celsius and peaked at 26 around noon. Obviously far better than the scorching 32 degrees back home. Home where it’s hot and humid that running has become more challenging. Waking up from a sweaty sleep wasn’t a problem though.

Like this morning I had to make an effort to put on my running gear to do a 5K. I wouldn’t have done it if not for the servings of strawberry–fresh from Baguio–that I turned to milkshake yesterday. I downed 600 plus calories out of that sweet guilty pleasure. (My curiosity of how much calories the shake would make had me use MyFitnessPal’s recipe entry for the first time.)

Tough run.

Baguio weather is perfect for runners although its hilly terrain is a different story. We stayed in a transient house located somewhere in Wakat which has roads so steep that I almost let go of the idea of running the moment I saw the inclined first hundred meters right out of gate. I summoned enough motivation to continue nevertheless.

Aided by Waze I completed a 10K run to Burnham Park and back that Saturday morning. It was a cold run. I had two layers of clothing and bonnet for my shiny bald head. Every now and then I would see breath vapor or steam forming as I run. I now miss that day.

***

Do I want to return to Baguio. Yes and no.

Yes because it’s cold and good for running. That’s it. Why I might not return has more reasons mostly centered on Marcus’ perspective.

While he enjoyed the sights and adventure during the three days and two nights vacation, wheelchair access was a big issue. Sadly, there are just limitations despite our best in trying to help him out.

At the PMA camp. Stuff out of his COD game.
His first henna tattoo from the Wright Park.

Sanitation was also an issue for Marcus. He’s very picky especially when it comes to toilet cleanliness so his portable urinal was our best friend.

I on the other hand despise litter. More so now that I have to push Marcus’ wheelchair around. Burnham Park was a disappointing sight for one. Trash can be found scattered, people ignored the no spitting signs, and vermin fed on residual food dumped carelessly around the park. On the bright side. Marcus was fascinated that the rats seem unafraid of him staring at them. Well, Baguio’s next tourist attraction? Hope not.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Avocado shake next.)

Run Solo

I run solo.

I sign up to nothing but waking up early.

I commit to no one but two people I leave behind sleeping.

I listen to no rhythm but my heart’s.

I earn no no medal but my Garmin e-badge.

I run solo, and today I did 21K.

Yes, I’m not kidding. Cloud 9 Overload bar-powered run.

***

This week’s exciting. I would be Alabang-bound most weekdays. Barely recovering from my first half marathon this morning, I decided to walk to my training’s venue without realizing it’d be quite a distance. Not that I can’t but clueless where and who to look far with 30 minutes to go wasn’t a smart idea. I made it anyway and I’m now killing time at a Starbucks on my lunch time.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hope this Venti Americano does its job.)

Run With Marcus

It’s been my dream to do something physical with Marcus, run with him. But his wheelchair sets some limits among others. Weather and outdoor condition are other factors as he’s had history of allergic reactions.

Yesterday seems to be the perfect condition although it was a bit windy late in the afternoon. We set off anyway, stepped out of the house with my running shoes and Marcus looking forward to see the goats along the way.

I ran and pushed at the first kilometer until the goats appeared. Then it was mostly run-walk from then onwards. I let Marcus cherish the moments to see nature and animals beyond Ultra HD 4K.

We conquered 200 meters. Flaring nostrils not shown.

If only we had this Adaptive Mobility Freedom Push Chairs which I saw first on Facebook page of Athletes in Tandem. This push chair would allow me to run with Marcus better and safer. His current wheelchair rattles and it poses a challenge when going uphill thus the need to take extra care not to over tilt him backwards. The mobility chair’s price is stiff though at $900 excluding shipping since it would come from USA. Maybe soon.

We covered seven kilometers yesterday so this red wheelchair is good enough for now.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Today’s agenda: Learn the floss. (No) thanks to kid’s Fortnite game.)

Callused

The frequency of pull-ups I’ve been doing since I installed the Domyos pull-up bar has its downside. Yes, I now do various routines with it but all the gripping plus the weight my hands have to bear resulted to unsightly calluses.

It was something I despised at first. I was already considering workout gloves until I saw a post from Dan Kavadlo. (Duh!) His hands have far thicker calluses. I was too naive not to expect to see such with the way he does bodyweight workouts. His human flags for one are crazy.

Since then I wear my calluses with pride like my black toenails. I have to ensure though that it does not get any bigger and thicker as my wife and I take turns in giving Marcus a bath. He would always remind me to be gentle when I scrub him because he can feel my calluses and is annoyed by it. This is the reason my cube reeks of Burt’s Bees Hand Cream. Sorry about that folks.

My ugly hands.

***

As it turns out, running isn’t exactly a minimalist sports that we all thought it to be. The farther I run the more I agree with expert advice that it pays to switch to a different pair of shoes every other run.

And I’m a sucker, or let’s say I’ve been assimilated. So yesterday coming from a company event in Tagaytay, while fighting lack of sleep, I dropped by Paseo de Sta. Rosa to look for running sneakers.

I was in luck. The Nike Store has an open box item and although it’s not really a stability shoes I got it anyway. Half the price markdown was convincing enough. Can’t wait to test it soon. Crossing my fingers that my toes don’t get calluses.

This should make me more visible to bad drivers.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Short work week!!)

Decathlon: Sports Supplies Heaven

Getting sports supplies is now a lot easier and better than before. I now have access to whatever I need to support my efforts to stay active and fit, thanks to Decathlon store located inside Festival Mall Alabang. This place is sports heaven for adults as Toy Kingdom or Toys ‘R Us is to kids.

We dropped by yesterday to check out running stuffs on my list and once again Decathlon didn’t disappoint. I got my two-bottle belt (Php800), race bib number belt (Php250), and smartphone armband (Php450). I can now take selfies during my runs. Just kidding. Online stores like Lazada sell similar items, could be even cheaper, but being in a physical store allows me to check the quality and fit so I prefer doing it if I have the time.

Running and cross- training stuffs from Decathlon.

On non-running days, normally weekdays, I do daily cross-training at home before I go to work. Weeks ago I started progression on handstand and I can now do it facing the wall. Then I discovered I could perform the human flag progression without a straight pole–though I might have one fabricated in the guise of the kittens’ scratching post and trail. I also found a way to start front levers. Hint: pull-up prep (using Domyos pull-up bar from Decathlon which I bought November last year).

I find facing the wall trickier than back against the wall.

To improve cross-training I also added one small but helpful item in my shopping list–50-kg band. I already tested it today and it made me achieve pull-ups drop sets. A worthy purchase for only Php480.

My workout supplies hanger is getting crowded.

***

Marcus also loves Decathlon even if he can’t walk. (I just feel guilty seeing him watch kids use the trampoline and test the bikes.) He likes wearing and trying out items on display. Yesterday he donned the boxing headgear and gloves. Then he asked me to demo the parallel bars and pull-up rack. He also played goalie while I kick the football to him. I hope he keeps the positive attitude.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Didn’t run but an hour bodyweight training burned yesterday’s cheeseburger.)

MyFitnessPal: Weight Loss Is Now Fun And Easier

There was once a time when losing weight was quite a struggle. There’s the gym but it requires membership. There’s your friendly liposuction clinic but obviously it’s invasive not to mention expensive. There are also self-help books on counting calories but these have limited recipes and rarely include nutritional info while some of it have ingredients that aren’t available locally. Where do you get kale, collard, cottage cheese, or quinoa? Go figure.

Fast forward to the era when almost everyone has mobile phones and almost everything starts to have its own app. Modern technology now makes losing weight interesting and fun. Weight watchers nowadays have more control, timely feedback, and could take actions fast like passing off on a slice of shortcake because calorie goal has been reached. Freeze it and tomorrow’s another day.

Seven months ago I was looking for a solution to my weight loss plateau. It’s the dreaded point of anyone trying to lose (or even gain) weight. Common knowledge dictates eat less, exercise more but it is easier said than done. Often times this hit or miss leads to under nourishment, sickness, and eventually, failure. I’ve seen people going back to square one and never attempting to cut weight ever again due to disappointment and/or lack of motivation.

This is where the apps come in. There are several apps that help count calories but I use Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal which is among the popular ones, if not the most, under its category. Since I started using it in August I have never turned back, never skipped a day without entry of my meals. The results gradually followed and goal finally reached. Thanks to data-driven weight loss.

MyFitnessPal allows its users to customize their own weight loss plan. Goal could be as aggressive as a 2-lb loss per week or just take it easy at .5 lb per week.

Personalized diet plan.

The app’s weight goal factors in the user’s activity level from Not Very Active to Very Active. Mine should be the former but since I have the leisure to take short breaks when my Garmin says Move! I set mine on Lightly Active. I normally achieve 10 stairs level (up) and 5,000 steps daily.

Activity level menu.

Of course, counting calories means food consumed versus daily calorie goal. This is where MyFitnessPal’s huge food database becomes an advantage. You may now start throwing away those diet self-help books you bought from the thrift shop. If you’re Filipino or Asian or anyone but American most likely those paper books do not include local dishes. So far everything I ate are on MyFitnessPal: sinigang, tulingan, sisig, tuna pasta, pizza, adobo, kamoteng kahoy, kangkong, balut, bulalo, sweet potatoes, bananas, eggs, etc. Whether it’s English or Tagalog food name, this app would have a match for it.

Use the app’s barcode reader if food label has a barcode. Trust me you’ll love this feature.
App shows calorie per food based on servings and it totals everything per meal. Here’s my 600-calorie breakfast.

After all meal entries are in, the app predicts possible weight result. When I started months ago I smirked when it said I would be 145 lbs. Well, it happened, breached it even further and I never doubted the app since then.

The number always motivates.

Interestingly, sooner or later calories wouldn’t be the only thing that matters. Anyone who gets more serious about diet and nutrition would be asking about nutrient details like sodium, cholesterol, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans. Then there’s also the question if where the calories are coming from. Does it come mainly from carbs, fats, or protein? MyFitnessPal got these covered.

Macro shows our diet needs to include fat. Keto guys rejoice!
Want more details, MyFitnessPal has this Nutrients tab for you.

There’s a big caveat to all this. MyFitnessPal computes based on accuracy of the user’s entry so honesty is a big factor here. User details like height, initial weight, activity levels must be all correct. Needless to say, if it’s two slices of apple pie you ate it must be two apple slices that should be entered or else weight predictions would remain a number and not a reality. And your bathroom scale would surely know.

There are also basic tools I use to complement the app. I have a cheap digital kitchen scale my wife got online and on most days I wear a Garmin Vivoactive HR watch that records calories consumed based on my physical activities such as running, walking, intervals, stairs climbed, etc.

The Garmin smart watch pairs with MyFitnessPal app and calorie goals are adjusted accordingly. I found some discrepancies though on how MyFitnessPal adjusts so I would ignore the big numbers whenever I see them.

Garmin Connect app shows a more accurate ‘calorie left’ number.
Better ignore the adjusted 1000 calories unless you workout like Dwayne Johnson.

MyFitnessPal is free but it has a premium package if you want to be more detailed about your diet. Free works for me for now.

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Revision: I won’t sleep tight if I don’t include the barcode reader screenshot and change the boring title.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Cold uphill run to Makiling.)