Running The Trails Of Nuvali

The notion of trails conjures up jaunts in old-growth, secluded forests that goes through wild sceneries of rolling terrain alongside gently flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Except…i was running right smack on the waters of a flowing river, this time! 

Last Sunday, having been invited by Ann Tajonera, Assistant Brand Manager of New Balance, Planet Sports, Inc., i had the pleasure of joining 22 other trail runners try-out a 15km trail in the Nuvali Headlands in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, parts of which will be used during the New Balance- Trail Adventure Run this coming June 20th. It was also an opportunity to practice in its truest form the art of Chi Running (CR) and no less than certified instructor Lit Onrubia was on hand to lead the charges, giving tips during the run and between rest breaks. 

This particular trail was mapped-out by Neville Manaois of Second Wind. The first half of the route featured mostly single track paths and weaves through rolling, open view sceneries. The trails offer excellent footing, a pleasant scenery although it could be hot in the open except that we had perfect weather during the early morning run. 

The second-half of the trail was more scenic, running through light forest, wider tracks but not too technical. However, all that changed when we were led into a deep, sharp descent towards a ridge and a river channel of lush wilderness. The river run was going to be the highlight of this trail. We were only able to run some shallow stretches of water as we were reduced to threading the waters which at some sections were knee deep high. It was slippery on the rocks and one false move, we were down on our knees on the water! For starters, these were some of the pictures taken:

Lit Onrubia giving instructions before the run

Neville Manaois giving a short briefing of the trail

Start of the run at about 5:00am

On one of the course's uphills

Sprinting runners behind me

Lit giving instructions on how to attack the downhills...

...and the uphills

More tips on running form

Our first water break after 3 kms

Off we go again

Running on a single track

Time out for a picture!

The wide, open plains of Nuvali

Past grazing cows on the left

One more briefing before we head for the river

At the 10k mark

Another hole to get through

Ann's all too excited to reach the river

Final assault of the river

Finally reaching the river's embankment

Lit giving tips on river running

Getting our feet wet!

Threading on the slippery rocks. Neville (in red) doing a balancing act

Deep inside the levee. I'm way back still taking shots

A stop at a cascading waterfalls

We were all wet at this point

We all sank ankle high, sometimes knee deep

Poor trail shoe!

A deep ravine on the right side

The group on our way back to Manila

I was just content in threading the river trail very slowly as i ran/walked most of the route shooting away pictures. Runners were passing me but i didn’t mind. I was able to reach a female runner ahead of me and we decided to run the last kilometer together. 

Finally, we saw the finish area as we gently jogged the end of our run. Hallelujah! I learned a tremendous deal on this particular trail run and i thank Lit for the invaluable tips. Foremost among the various techniques Lit imparted are: 

—  Be loose on the “downhills.” Posture your body on a sitting-like position and focus on a faster cadence, keeping your feet soft, light and nimble while keeping shoulders relaxed. Drive down hard if you want. 

—  Focus on maintaining “effort” level and not pace. 

—  Take it easy on single tracks, but go fast on wider lanes. 

—  Let your arms do the work on uphills and lift-up your head. 

—  When running through rivers, attack the shallow parts without minding if your shoes get wet. If tiny stones and sand get the insides of your shoe, don’t hesitate to stop and remove them to avoid blisters. 

—  If racing on trails, shoot corners/bends. It means sprint past the corners when runners behind you can’t see you and you should be able to increase the distance between you and the runners following you. 

Over-all, it was another fun trail run that should be experienced by all trail enthusiasts!

Core Muscles or Leg Muscles?

During the middle part of Lit Onrubia’s talk on Chi Running (CR) last Sunday at Cafe Iana, U.P. wherein he emphasized that a runner’s power comes with using your core muscles more than you use your leg muscles, i heard soft muffled voices and saw some puzzled looks from the runners who were mostly trainees of the Runnex Running Clinic.  

It was a different school of thought from that espoused by regular clinic coach Jojo Macalintal where a strong toe-off comes from the leg muscles. Lit’s was a completely different approach and the way he presented it, it felt effortless and less technical.  

Simply put, CR’s way is getting off the heels, lean forward slightly while engaging the core muscle and let the gravity pull you forward, land at midfoot and take small strides. It’s an alignment of everything, your body, mind and the forward movement.  

Runners i have talked to who have actually trained under Lit’s series of seminars say that it’s harder than it looks and it would take months or even more than a year to master its technique. It would have been more effective had Lit showed the participants a brief demonstration on the way it’s done but given the limited space in front of the cafe, a demo was out of the question.  

An overview of the whole Chi process was discussed and some tips were imparted directly to the newbie runners.  

1. Not to overstride as small steps would settle more balance to the body.  

2. The lower body should not be the dominant force in running, that the upper body should take the other half of the task in exerting energy to create a balance.  

3. Shoes should be tied in a way that it can be easily removed and easily be put-on without re-tying the laces.  

Clearly, there are plus factors that Chi Running brings and its success cannot be doubted. Still, one shouldn’t also dismiss other running approaches which are also successful (like Coach Jojo’s running drills which helped a lot of the trainees finish their first 10k).

Like i suggested in my previous entry (here), the trick for all runners is to find out what works for them, personally. Learn from the experiences of others, read more on forms and techniques, get advices from experienced runners and most importantly, try it yourself. 

Enjoyment and running injury-free should take precedence than anything else. 

Lit discussing the mechanics of Chi Running for the participants of the Runnex Discover Running Clinic at Cafe Iana, U.P.

Triathlete and businessman Cliff Eala welcoming the participants

Runners at the Chi Running discussions

More of the crowd

From left, Danny Villavicencio, Risa Mantaring, Rudy Fernandez, Lit, Cliff and Art Disini

Chi Running: This Sunday at U.P.

Mr. Lit Onrubia

Participants of the Sunday Runnex Discover Running Clinic are in for a treat when the Chi Running Method will be discussed and demonstrated this coming Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 7:45am after the customary group runs.

The topic will be discussed by the only certified Chi Running Instructor in the country, Mr. Lit Onrubia.

There are many positive aspects about Chi Running that all runners can use as i have written it here before (chi-running-with-mr-lit-onrubia) having attended its launching last January, 2010 at the Bonifacio High Street at The Fort.

Chi Running is basically a whole body approach to running form and with the help of self-visualization creates a balance state of mind and body. It utilizes core strength and the proper alignment of arms and legs, achieving a sense of “Chi”. When the balance and alignment is made, you slightly lean forward from your core, up– and let gravitation pull you forward.

Here’s a short demo on Chi Running:

The lecture is open to the public and will be held in front of Abelardo Hall, University of the Philippines.

Chi Running With Mr. Lit Onrubia

Difficult–but doable. Trying to change to a new running style when you had for years developed your own individual running form presents a very difficult challenge.

It is frustrating that some of us old-fart runners feel confronted when we get to grips with a new running style if we are not up to the task to run it the correct way. Worse, it causes more problems than it solves because the demands of the style is high and you can never be sure you are doing it right.

I already forgot (or i may no just be applying it) what Coach Jojo Macalintal taught us during one of the Runnex running clinics a few months back about the Kenyan style of running which is efficient, uses less energy and soft on the knees https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/on-running-form-the-kenyan-method/. Technically, it has many invaluable advantages and if perfected, you can surely reap the benefits. However, it could take months or years to perfect it and you have to have time and patience to adhere to it.

Last Wednesday night, i had the chance to attend the launch of ChiRunning, a running program that combines the inner focus and flow of T’ai Chi with the power and energy of running to create a running form and philosophy that purportedly takes the pounding, pain and most injuries out of the sport of running. The clinic, which was held in front of Runnr Store in BHS was conducted by LIT ONRUBIA, the country’s only certified ChiRunning instructor. He provided a lecture and overview of the benefits of ChiRunning, its forms and techniques.

Lit Onrubia starting the seminar

Newton Running Shoes as partners with Chirunning

From the lecture, Mr. Onrubia talked about balance and the bio-mechanics of a good form. The core muscles play a vital part and with volunteers demonstrating, he showed the importance of core strength and how your shoulders, arms and legs should align with your feet that is facing forward. The core and waist should be tucked in a little (he uses his hand to measure part of core) After the proper balance and alignment is made, you slightly lean forward from your core, up– you let your body fall forward.

Friends to demonstrate the proper "Form"

From my point of view, i think you can incorporate all the varying running methods and apply what works best for you. Of course, these methods are mostly theories and in the final analysis, it will only be meaningful if it shows results in the roads.

Right now, i’m back to my old ways, with a little improvement in form, but still logging those miles with no major injuries (thank God!) Of course, there are new things that you do absorb and apply with these running techniques. Those i easily remember are being upright, relaxing your upper body and landing on your feet just below your body.

If you want to join LIT ONRUBIA’S ChiRunning classes, here is the schedule:

PRACTICAL SESSION 1 (12 runners/ batch)

TOPIC: Practical application of Chi RUNNING posture & biomechanics

Batch 1: Jan 21, Thurs, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Batch 2: Jan 21, Thurs, 8:00 – 9:30 PM
Batch 3: Jan 23, Sat, 6:00 – 7:30 AM
Batch 4: Jan 23, Sat, 8:00 – 9:30 AM

PRACTICAL SESSION 2 (12 runners/batch)

TOPIC: Practical application of Chi Running gears, stride length, knee bends, & running cadence

Batch 1: Jan 26, Tues, 6:00-7:30pm
Batch 2: Jan 26, Tues, 8:00-9:30pm
Batch 3: Jan 27, Wed, 6:00-7:30pm
Batch 4: Jan 27, Wed, 8:00-9:30pm

INTERESTED RUNNERS MAY REGISTER @ RUNNR in B3, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City or call Lit Onrubia: 0917-537-6870 or e-mail: lit.onrubia@gmail.com

Here are some pictures taken that night:

Toby Claudio of Runnr

With the takbo.ph peeps

Julie, Vic, Sam, Mark and Wilnar at the back

With the guys

With Pio(lo) and Ebong

View from the back

Last night's crowd