Hill repeats: 30-minute incline treadmill workout


Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


It’s been a while since I last shared my workouts, so here goes.

06177a53c50379c6dc0b3b0f24c7f487The day of the week when I give it my all in terms of fitness is mostly on Saturdays. That has been the pattern since I was still living in Frisco – my long runs (6-mile [9.7km] or more) mostly fall on Saturdays, and in terms of fitness, that hasn’t changed today, except for certain technicalities.

These days, my protocol actually consists of minimizing my weekly mileage while still maintaining the strength and stamina for long-distance runs. Why? Because I’ve learned to better prepare my runs and eliminate junk miles, and pardon my jargons from hereon.

In addition to getting more intentional with my runningthere is such a thing as too much of a good thing (ergo the importance of cross-training, i.e. doing other sports that are not running aren’t your primary sport), particularly when your run feels forced. In spite of all this, running has been my main mode of meditation for the last 6 years, and still, nothing else in the world feels better than to just sprint your way through the anxieties in your head and release all the stress you’ve built up throughout the week. Do that in a secluded area with fresh air, greens, and breeze – tension is gone.



More power, less effort

This morning, I just want to share this effective hill workout that will surely jazz you up by the end it (get your hill workout 101 here and here). It’s a straightforward way to simulate the perfect terrain indoors with the singular goal of improving your lung capacity.

Also, running uphill is actually easier for your joints, and for someone bruising easily around the knee area, it’s an ideal way to build strength without squeezing in too many sprints. I’ve been doing a lot of hill variations for the past few weeks, and they vary depending on my mood. They don’t necessarily make you become faster, but what you’ll get out of it is ultimately rewarding: You’ll breathe easier. This makes you run on a steadier cadence, and with that, you’ll be much more efficient with your energy on level grounds.


Should I try it?

Before I move on to the workout, I want to give a heads up again that this is just my personal routine. In general, it’s unsafe to do any hill workout before you’ve got a good base of long runs before you (and no, the ones where you stop doesn’t count). I shared this 40-minute workout that includes slight elevation a while ago that you can also refer to, but for the most part, please consult with your healthcare provider before attempting to do this.

Alrightey then, let’s get on with it. If you put your mind into it and give it time, and you can certainly do this.


Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 4.40.12 PM


You up for the challenge? Do come back and let me know how those big, sexy lungs are working out for you.


P.S. Yoga and Pilates are fantastic ways to practice breathing on days you’re not running. I’m not particularly disciplined on stretching *guilty*, but here’s 3 everyday ways to amp up your lung power. Have a great one ;)



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On the run: 3 simply powerful mantras to keep you going


Not everybody loves the dreadmills. They’re boring (no winds, no sun), they’re uninspiring, and they make you feel like you’re never going to get anywhere. All you’re really do is running in place.


But don’t get me wrong. Despite the tough relationship I’ve had with the ‘mill, we’ve been going strong together for some time now. What I learned is that if you’re smart about it, you’ll get a workout just as effective as you do outdoors (all depends on your goals). No matter how much I despise it, it’s been about 6 years that I’ve trained consistently on a treadmill, and I still come back to it whenever I need to run my heart out.

Things changed ever since I relocated to Jakarta – I’ve significantly reduced my outdoor routine. Here I’d have to drive to my route just to run, which is just ridiculous, whereas in Frisco I would just get out of the house and run. I didn’t have to think about my phone, my wallet, my car keys and whatnot. There aren’t many green locations around where I live in the Big Durian, at least those that have a more private setting, and it sucks because I know I could last longer on my feet when I’m running close to nature (True story: One time, I broke my PR 10-miler in the rain at the Presidio without rest. And yes, I was that frustrated at that time of my life, and the drizzle just felt super invigorating for my soul).

So what did I do? I developed a system that allows me to draw energy from inward. What do I mean by that? Well, perhaps you’ll get the picture if I say what I’m about to say now applies to everything from running to real life: At some point, external reality will run out of resources to extract for you keep going. So when those inopportune circumstances do happen, it doesn’t mean that the universe is trying keep you from moving forward. You simply can’t move to the next level if you conclude those circumstances as an excuse for you to get lazy and stay put. When you really think about it, they happen because you need to push harder and become stronger, and by stronger, I don’t necessarily mean breaking another PR, finishing a race 30 seconds faster, and/or building a higher mileage in the next 3 weeks.

A huge part of nurturing that internal locus of control, at least, in running and lasting through the treadmill blahs, is positive self-talk. I know this sounds a bit woo-woo, but deep down I believe you and me and the rest of the world already know that logic and reasoning cannot explain how everything works.

The words I choose as my personal mantras may not be the kind sunshine and rainbows you get in self-help books, but they work for me to keep my spirits up till the end of the line for 2 infallible reasons: 1) Each mantra explicitly contains 2 syllables to form a steady 2-stride beat that matches my cadence, and 2) They all help me forget about the self-conscious ‘hows’ and ‘how-tos’ of it all and remind me of why I run in the first place as well as why I must keep running. I can’t promise a faster finish, but I can promise that you won’t stop at that moment when you feel like quitting the most. So go ahead, try chanting these mantras in your heart when the going gets tough:


Be soft.


I have to admit, I stole these words from Kurt Vonnegut. But it’s only recently that I discovered his message makes perfect sense as you run. For instance, normally I’d be pushing myself to injury with self-punishing words bouncing off my head. But wait till you try to instill a much kinder mentality in yourself, such as Vonnegut’s, and you’d be surprised by how easy the miles ahead can get. As I lighten up the weight of my shoulders, I could almost feel every fiber in me dissolving into the fluidity of the run. It’s what running’s supposed to feel like: You’re gentle with yourself and with the world around you. You turn into the organic force of nature that you are, and nothing else feels more at home than that moment you become one with the universe – it’s smooth, it’s intimate, and it’s liberating.


Let go.


Sometimes when I’m running, instead of thinking less about the problems I’m having with my life, I’m thinking more into it. I start to see all the little things that I’ve done, the causes I’ve made, and everything else that’s wrong with me that’s led to those problems. So instead of coming out of the run feeling better, I feel even worse. Holding a grudge is a big burden on your otherwise healthy mentality, even if it’s a grudge you hold about yourself. So just let it go, because you’re not perfect and no human on earth will ever be.


(I can’t). God can.1 


Runners often use the ‘I can’ mantra to get pass their mid-race slog. But for some reason, it’s never worked for me. It may be because I’m too scared to take a chance to be slightly more confident than usual, for fear that if I fail to achieve the particular higher target, I’ll lose trust in myself significantly during the next mile. So here I am to admit: There are a lot of things I cannot do. There are many more things I cannot understand. However, I’m a believer of the God that sacrificed His only son’s life, just for someone as un-able as me. I wish I can do so many things to show passing observers and dedicated readers alike that inexhaustible grace – a great many ambitious things. But the fact that I can’t do it all a time doesn’t stop me from believing and surrendering myself to the Greater Good in the long run.


Run by my side;
Live in my heartbeat;
Give strength to my steps.
As the cold surrounds me,
As the wind pushes me,
I know you surround me.
As the sun warms me,
As the rain cleanses me,
I know you are touching me,
Challenging me,
Loving me.

And so I give you this run.
Thank you for matching my stride.


[Beyond Blessed: Runner’s Prayer]


As you can see, there’s a lot of work going on in the mind. Most would think long-distancers are physical extremists, when clearly, it’s 90% mental work. Given the right fuel and some restful sleep45 minutes on a treadmill would feel like a breeze, and with these mantras taken to heart, you’ll certainly be on your way to reaching your running goals during the next race.

Which one of these mantras are you looking to try? Let me know how it works out for you.


P.S. Learn why mantras are so effective from The Power of a Running Mantra by Doug Hay. It’s 100% FREE.



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  1.  For this mantra, you can change it to ‘love can’, because they practically mean the same thing. []

Loving lately: A running playlist to keep your mojo flowing



I thought it’ll be a great idea to share the stuff I’m overplaying while on the treadmill.

They’re on heavy rotation on my playlist right now, and it’s not just because these jams amp me up on those moments my body’s telling me I can’t go on. I play them even when I’m not running, so you can imagine how persistent the melodies stay in my head as I go about my day.



I think I’ve played Tiësto’s “All of Me” birthday treatment on loop on average for about 10 times a day these days. And yes, these songs are bangin’ only if you’re a fan of EDM. Funny thing is, depending on my mood, I sometimes prefer super slow ballads to keep me going during long runs rather the usual power songs, which tends to go above 130bpm. In those cases I listen to tracks that contain meaningful lyrics just so I can get away from my surroundings and into a more meditative state (something like these girly songs).

Nonetheless, DJ Shah’s “Who Will Find Me” is one of those airy trance classics that I’ll never get bored with, even if it’s been sitting on my favorites list for 6 years. It’s just beautiful.

What songs are you obsessed with lately?



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Build your base: Nice, long, steady treadmill workout with fast finish


Disclaimer: The information below is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Before beginning a new exercise regimen or making any other changes in your lifestyle, always consult with your physician and/or a certified coach.


HIIT is all the craze these days. The ACSM1 was right: You see Paleo devotees running around, sporting their sturdy physiques from all that sweat sesh from CrossFit and P90X.


Truth is, HIIT is nothing new. Experts have been advocating these time-saving workouts that anyone can squeeze in daily in their busy schedules.

While I have nothing against them (I do love a good quick-and-intense burn on most days), I still believe in building a solid foundation of long slow distance before getting myself to that fitness level.

As time goes by, I personally think it’s more important to minimize the chances of getting yourself injured than to get fitter and stronger. I may very well be a timid tortoise, but naturally, the hare that runs around with tremendous energy all day gets higher chances of losing balance, falling down, and breaking a leg.

Trust me, I’ve been there. Instead of reaping HIIT’s benefits, doing it more actually prevents me from building my pace in the long run (poor posture, blisters and bruises, IT band syndrome, anyone?). Matthew Basso, president of Iron Lotus Personal Training, breaks HIIT all down according to your personal goals: If you want to lose weight, build muscles, and gain strength, doing HIIT 1-4 a week is great. If you want to build endurance, it probably won’t help much.

So what exactly is HIIT?

Wikipedia defines high-intensity interval training as “an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 4–30 minutes. These short, intense workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning.”

As much as I love intense exercises, I have a long-term soft spot for long slow distance. I think best during and after logging those miles; something about being still and breathing deep provides the clarity I need with all the stormy waters in my head2.

In that sense, these days I’m treating HIIT as a supplement to my miles instead of doing full-circuits of it (although I still do them whenever I feel sluggish), because squat jumps and burpees do get your heart rate up pretty quickly, which comes in handy when your mind tells you to quit the last mile toward the finishing line.

With that in mind, I want to share the standard long and steady workout (with a final sprint!) I do whenever I’m hopping on the treadmill:


Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 4.06.48 PM

I included hill repeats because they build up your endurance over time. Plus, running on incline is easier on the joints (even though you’ll end up huffing and puffing more). Please feel free to adjust speeds according to your running level.


It’s more about conserving energy and holding yourself back in the first 30 minutes of getting your heart rate up, saving it all for the end, whereas HIIT is about spending it all right now.

I know the steady state can be boring for many, and not everyone has the luxury to spend as much time if their fitness goals are purely aesthetic. But for me, just the motivation you get to beat your last PR is enough to keep me moving on the ‘mill. Plus, it’s more of a mental work than you think.

Nonetheless, I guarantee you’ll come out stronger – in fitness and in life – by the end of this workout. I recommend bringing some good music to get you longer in the zone.



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  1. American College of Sports and Medicine []
  2. Hence the blog is called Stillwater, right? []

50 ways to tell you’re a runner


Thank God for Internet. I stumbled upon this video a while ago, finding myself saying yeap, yeap, yeap and more yeaps as I watch the vid went on. Though some are just exaggerations of the nature, I bet you can call yourself a runner if you agree with more than 20 of these items:



1. You have chafing in strange, unimaginable places
2. All of your socks are either stained or torn
3. You use the phrase “10 mile” and “easy run” in the same breath
4. You can eat your weight in pasta
5. You spend more money on training clothes than school clothes
6. Your Saturday mornings for the rest of your life are RUINED
7. You often foam at the mouth
8. (If you’re a guy) You try to impress girls by saying you’re a faster finisher
9. You consider school/work a break between runs
10. You own spandex in more than one color
Continue reading →

Fitness Journal: Perfectionism is not part of the essential traits of a runner


Total mileage:  12.32 miles
Target mileage of the week:  12.7 miles



Power words through the week:
“Let it go.”




Wednesday, 7 November 2012

4.43 mi run in 30:31 min (pace: 9’17″ / mi)




Thursday, 8 November 2012

4.04 mi run in 39:18 min (pace: 9’44″ / mi)




Saturday, 10 November 2012

Argh! When I stepped on the treadmill to set my target distance and play my power songs, my nano won’t switch on – AT ALL! The Apple logo won’t even appear. That’s when I realized… it ran out of battery, and I’m already at the gym, and I cannot look back… but can only run. I wasn’t impressed with the idea of going home and skipping my workout this morning just because I was so forgetful about little things like these. #WhatMadeMyDay The miracle was that I could run for an hour on the treadmill – sans TV, sans music. Remember, people: Numbers on the treadmill are not to be trusted. Read on to find out why…




A fun run, and the little things in life to be thankful for


October 2012


Here I am to update a bit on yesterday’s 5k run at the 2012 Jakarta RACE.

Well, it’s nothing like I expected it to be – it’s purely for charity, so that explains why there’s no chip timing systems or race results to look forward to after the run.

But it was fun. I’ve never seen downtown Jakarta this clear and empty. It’s usually a dense traffic.

During the 10k race last month, my Nano was pretty accurate on measuring my distance. For this run, however, the Nano read my total running distance as 6.25 km when it’s supposed to be just a 5 km distance.

1.25 km is quite a big number for inaccuracy. But I digress. I won’t complain. I had fun anyways.

I’ll just count it on my weekly progress as just that – 3.1 miles. A machine is a machine – I can’t expect it to be accurate all the time.

So for a 6.25 km distance, I ran it all in 34 minutes and 52 seconds, which translates to 11’15” / mi. Which  is awesome. The last time I did a 5k distance (check out my running page), I was at a pace of 11’02 / mi. It may be slower, but I know I can go faster. Lots of unexpected things happened while on the road. I even almost got hit by a bus!

Thanks to Ninit Yunita, the whole race was thoroughly documented in beautiful pictures. You can view them all, which were posted as an album on the Indo Runners Facebook fan page.



That’s my gray tank top and I along with friends.

From Ninit Yunita.




Great event – it’s a thrill to run just for the sake of running!

Also, I want to make a correction: On this post and this one, I mentioned I’m going to run two races, which will take place on November 4 and 29. Turns out the Standard Chartered run is going to be held on the same day as the Allianz run, which is on the 4th! So we’re choosing to run on the 4th instead, just because it’s nearer and that we won’t have to skimp on sleep and wake up so early.

Stanley’s mother just came back from Hawaii today. She knew I love dark chocolate and nuts and it’s a pleasure to receive these little gifts from her:





As a fellow tea-lover, she grabbed me some teabag sachets of various flavors …





… FYI, here’s how my current tea collection looks like …




I’m glad I have so much in common with her. She’s as crazy about tea just as I am!

As you may already know, I drink about a gallon of water a day. The way I do it is carrying around a water bottle that can fit 1 liter of water at each refill. I left the bottle in Stanley’s car some time ago, and since then it mysteriously disappeared! He asked his driver, his housemaids, his workers, and nobody saw it. At one occasion his sister did saw it left in the car, but then nobody really knew who took it out and where it is now.

Since it’s really, really, really difficult to find a 1 liter water bottle that won’t leak, in the meantime, Stanley made up for the loss with this pleasant surprise:





… Now I have two Stanleys to take care of!!! :p

#WhatMadeMyDay I can take my baby with me to the office from now on, sip a full glass of tea with him, and reduce my daily stress everyday.

Thanks baby!









Fitness Journal: Find your happy pace and feel content in life

4.01 mi run in 39:30 min (pace: 9’51″ / mi)

Music:  A State of Trance Official Podcast Episode 240

Orjan Nilsen – Copperfield

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk6ZEcyoTio]


Fitness Journal: Toward a better you

3.76 mi run in 38:19 min (pace: 10’12″ / mi)

Music:  International Departures with Myon & Shane 54 Episode 150

Markus Schulz feat Seri – Love Rain Down (Myon & Shane 54 Summer Of Love Mix)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT3okDXF874]