03 February 2009

boxing vs. running

I checked my weight this morning and was deliriously happy to see that I've gone down from 96 pounds to 94. Yes! (two punches in the air)

Before the inevitable food binge last Christmas, I was at 93/94. Then Christmas came, and I totally forgot there was such a thing as exercise. I started snacking on a lot of chocolate every day during the break. Well, the chocolate didn't mercifully disappear, and instead, decidedly announced its presence through a weight gain of 2 pounds.

I should be grateful. Other people put in more pounds than that during the holiday season. But after two 5K races and Pilates now and then, those crummy 2 pounds simply didn't want to go away, damnit.

But after a dry spell in running for the past few weeks, I decided to put my energy into boxing once more--and lost the 2 pounds.


I have this theory. My weight loss isn't as dramatic and effortless as it used to be because for medical, post cyst-removal reasons, I've been advised by my ob gyne to cut down on boxing (and even reduce my 10K running back to 5K). *sob* It must be the scar tissue. I exercised way too soon after the operation, and the scar didn't heal as quickly as it should have.

Anyway, my theory is that running doesn't give me that much-needed weight loss as compared to boxing. Don't get me wrong. I love running, but boxing lets me sweat buckets and lose pounds faster. It's useless to prettify yourself before stepping out into the ring or training floor because you end up looking like a heavily sweating Coke bottle under the noonday sun afterwards. Or like a human condom, to be more exact. Nobody can sweat and still manage to look passably attractive inside a boxing gym that has only one ceiling fan and open windows for ventilation. A person has better chances of hooking up with someone in uber slick, uber air-conditioned Fitness First.

After several rounds of struggling to deliver the dizzying number of punch combinations I am required to make (with my trainer Kuya Mong in angry-face mode, screaming out the combos and throwing a soft punch to my rib now and then as a warning for me to keep up), I am usually made to position myself on a mat to begin the cool-down exercises.

Which is a ridiculous term, really.

There's nothing so 'cool-down' about 100-150 crunches after a hard boxing session. Boxing is so old school: the trainer works you up into a sweat in the ring, and then tells you to get down on the floor and counts matter-of-factly as you deliver--humbly and minion-like--all those crunches. And that's that. None of those extra fancy Pilates movements which Mong dismisses with a snort.

By the time I'm done with my morning boxing workout, I am ready to hit the sack. While I'm allowed to eat anything I like after boxing (Kuya Mong even recommends, in a very businesslike tone, the inclusion of both rice and beans in my post-workout meal), I usually don't have the energy to eat. I just stagger home, grunt a hello to my mom, shower, and collapse onto my bed. When I wake up several hours later, I am happy to have a light-to-medium sized meal and my afternoon cup of coffee.

This twice-a-week exercise routine can certainly explain the loss of 16 pounds and shrinking of my tummy. Boxing really works, and I'd encourage anyone to try it. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial for slimming products, I can pretty much attest that in a few months' time, you'll get the results you want, and you won't gain back easily the weight you worked so hard to lose. I've been boxing for more than a year now, and I have the freedom to eat whatever I want without worrying about gaining 5 or more pounds. Gaining 2 or 3 pounds, in my case (without being smug or boastful), is as extreme as it can get.


While boxing lets you expel energy in, er, spurts, as you punch, running is just one continuous stretch of torture. Which makes it exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I don't box to compete because the vain part of me doesn't want to get all bloody and beaten up (a bruised rib for two weeks was enough to convince me that I had no career as a boxing athlete). But in running, well, one is forced to compete--whether it's against one's last personal record, or PR (your best time at a given distance) or against the rest of the crowd in an organized race.

Personally, running is a pride thing. I certainly don't want to end up last in a race. And the scary possibility of being the last is enough to push me to continue running--lungs bursting and all--and finish decently. I got hooked into running, thanks to my officemate Cecil, just last October and I've joined a couple of fun runs (5K and 10K) since then. I wouldn't consider myself fast because, well, I currently run at a trailblazing speed of 7:26 per km--harhar. Obviously, I'm a beginner at this sport, and I just need to work on improving my pace. If I could attain a sub 7 pace this February, I'd be really, really pleased.

Like boxing, running is a humbling exercise. There is a great pride in finishing the race, certainly, but it's the feeling of humility that's dominant within me during a run. As I go through that agonizing stretch of road and forcing, ALWAYS forcing myself not to stop running--I can really feel how utterly human I am: the pools of sweat rolling down my back and arms, each expelled breath coming out as a measured gasp, the constant physical upper body ache (never the legs, strangely enough), and worst of all, the uncomfortable slight throbbing of my scar in the pelvic area (how very Harry Potter-like but not as glorious).

With nothing but the road before you and the playlist on your iPod to keep you going, you spend a good 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your race distance) keenly undergoing a masochistic immersion into physical pain. But the bad feeling disappears when you see the finish line in sight, and you hear people cheering, and then you suddenly obtain that extra rush of adrenalin that gets you to the end of the race. And it's all natural euphoria after that.

No wonder some people liken running to a love-hate relationship.

There are bad running days sometimes--days when I honestly can't reach the finish line without stopping to walk in some parts (and I curse myself vehemently for stopping). Everyone has days like those. But there are also blissful race days when I just run and run--mentally willing myself to ignore the side stitches, the dry throat, the perennial throbbing of the scar--and keep on running until I cross the finish line. Some people talk to their injured knees or shins while they run; I talk to my scar and ask it to let me finish the race without stopping to walk.

It's an insane sport in that sense, luring stubborn people like me to run even when the doctors advise against it. The scar pain IS troublesome, I admit, and as a means of meeting my ob gyne halfway and appeasing her wrath, I've demoted myself back to 5K. Which I'm perfectly happy to do, because 10K is simply grueling and I honestly think I'm not good enough for that race distance. Yet.

You would think, after my description of the pain and sweat encountered in running, that one 5K race would at least make you lose, like, 5 pounds immediately. Sadly, this isn't the case (unless you have incredible superhuman metabolism), and just like boxing, there are no shortcuts. One has to run regularly to eventually lose pounds and achieve toned muscles.

But in my case, I've noticed that I don't lose as much weight in running as compared to boxing. Oops.

I'm pretty sure it's because of the delicious meal that awaits me after each and every race. You can't help it; you NEED to eat after all that continuous running. I'm not a breakfast person at all, but after every race, that plate of garlic rice with beef tapa and/or fish that the waiter places in front of me is wiped clean in 7 minutes.

So in order to offset all that carbo loading, I gotta run more regularly. If my work schedule would have allowed me, I'd attend proper (and free!) running lessons at Coach Rio's Nike Running Training Clinic in ULTRA every night. Unfortunately, ULTRA's too far and I always do overtime at the office. Sigh. My newfound friend and fellow race runner Lara (who's a runner since high school) is a participant in that clinic though, and the training is totally boosting her running performance these days. I'm sure she'll place in the top three in a 5K run this 2009.

As I have no ambitions in winning a medal for running, recreational running is just fine with me, thank you. It's a great complementary training activity to my boxing and Pilates, and an excellent sport for increasing endurance and mental willpower.

But being the restless creature that I am, I'm not going to stick to just three sports activities. I want to take up--very soon, I hope--spinning. Spinning! Whee! I haven't even started, and I'm excited already.

PS. After reading through what I've just written, I just thought, mehn, this blog entry's long. Hope I didn't bore anyone who happened to chance upon this blog with my lengthy descriptions of pain. Whoever you may be, kind reader, feel free to stop reading whenever you see the words "sweat" or "throbbing scar" in this little blog.


  1. dear, you're already Ulairi-ish skinny. why do you need to lose more weight? what you need to is some good 'ol muscle toning...and a perm. Oh man, THE PERM! you should get one again, even if i have to pay for it!

  2. Ulairi-skinny sounds good! Haha.

    Because I'm at 94 lbs already, I don't need to lose weight na. Just maintain it. You know that I've been toying for the longest time with the idea of building muscle through protein supplements (as recommended by my trainer). But protein supplements make you gain weight--huhuhu. I'm so afraid of gaining more pounds.

    Anyway, am scheduled to visit my ob gyne next week. Will ask her again if I can do weights lifting again. I'm probably her one of her most bullheaded clients. She tells me to cut down on boxing, and I do the opposite. Haha.

    I've thought about it, and yes, I want to get a perm again. I'm bored ulit with my straight hair. Will set a date for my perming and then you can watch them do weird stuff to my hair. =P