Saturday, February 19, 2011

In previous posts I wrote about beautiful views trail runners can enjoy outside Jakarta. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll just share a few photos from my trail runs:

Friday, February 18, 2011

My 6 months old Nike Zoom Structure Triax 13+ trail running shoes were already too worn out to continue running in it, so I started to look for a new pair of trail running shoes. I'm really happy with Nike, but just out of curiosity I wanted to check what other brands have to offer. I visited several Adidas stores in Jakarta, but they didn't have a single pair of trail running shoes, which was a major surprise. Well, so I got the idea to check what shoes world class trail/ultra runners use and I end up at Anton Krupicka's blog. He happen to be well known ultra-runner and New Balance's Outdoor Ambassador and I really enjoyed reading his Riding the Wind blog. In one blog post he mentions that he runs in New Balance MT101 and MT10, so I checked New Balance web-site. Beside the MT101 and MT10 mentioned by Anton Krupicka, the NB MT876 also looked interesting, so the next thing to do was to buy these shoes and do some test runs. Well, I've visited more than 10 sport shops in Jakarta that sell New Balance shoes and to my surprise, none of them sold New Balance MT101 nor MT878, which should be available! I could only buy some old New Balance models, so unfortunately it looks like New Balance doesn't seem to be interested in Indonesian market.

How about Nike? I went to the Nike store in Grand Indonesia and as expected they had brand-new Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 14 on stock! This model was released only a few months ago, so it's really great to be able to buy it here. Well, almost, because they did have my size! I visited few other Nike stores with the same result, so I checked 3 sport shops just to be told that usually brand new Nike shoes don't come in my (large) size. Already quite upset about this I visited one more sport store at Plaza Indonesia and to my great surprise, they had Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 14 my size!!! Well, so here it goes, my new pair of trail running shoes:

After few runs I must say I like these even more than the Triax+ 13s. Same great cushioning but somehow they feel more stable and I think they are also lighter than the previous model. The only thing I could complain about is that mud easily sticks to the bottom of these shoes (same as Triax+ 13), but I think it's a side effect of outstanding traction on slippery surfaces. It's quite amazing how easy it is to run in these shoes on wet stones and slippery trails. Anyway, I'm looking forward to Triax+ 14 GTX, which should be released sometime in October 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the previous post I mentioned a Giant wood spider (nephila maculata) I saw on a trail run outside Jakarta. Well, I managed to record a short video (HD) of a female Giant Wood Spider having lunch:

The body is around 10cm in length. If you look closely, you'll also see a tiny red spider. This is a male Nephila maculata and it is so small that female N. maculata would not even notice it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mountain areas near Jakarta offer trail runners some beautiful views. Best trails often feature something exceptional such as unique landscape (e.g. rice terraces, tea plantations), unique forest (e.g. pine tree forests of Gunung Pancar), waterfalls, beautiful rivers and alike. However, what makes some of my favorite trails interesting are not the views, but the fascinating and unique fauna found in Indonesia. Biodiversity of Java can be fascinating, especially to foreigners from none-tropical countries. Throughout my Java trail running adventures, one trail stands out thanks to these creatures:

I have never seen so many scorpions on a trail run, so obviously I’ve named it "The Scorpion Trail" [the photos above are from this trail]. It was also pretty interesting how I’ve discovered it. First, as usually I’ve used Google Earth to find another remote location outside Jakarta good for a 7km trail run. The selected location featured some roads through mountain, which I mapped and transferred to my GPS.

It was already 4:30pm when we arrived at the location, so already bit too late for a 7km mountain run. Problems started when I realized, that trail showed on Google Earth does not exist and my GPS also showed another virtual road. It is quite common and it simply means another no-trail trail run. Like it wasn’t enough, 5 minutes into run and it started to rain like hell. Few minutes later I ran into spider web (I believe all trail runners hate this) which felt more like a strong thread rather than a spider web. Strong spider web usually means large spider, so I looked on my shirt and shorts … no spider. Then I look behind me and 15 cm from my arm I saw the biggest freaking spider I have ever seen. It was huge! Just after the run I checked on Google and found what it was. What I saw was Giant Wood Spider (Nephila pilipes or Nephila maculata) also called Banana Spider:

Luckily it wasn’t sitting on my arm as this spider is venomous. Its venom is potent but fortunately not lethal to humans. It has a neurotoxic effect similar to that of the black widow spider, but not nearly as powerful. Oh, and the thing about the strong web I felt? Well, web of this spiders can apparently be so strong that it could even catch a bird!

Japanese consider spiders to be lucky if seen during the daytime, so how seeing a freaking huge spider helped? Maybe this works only for Japanese, as 5 minutes later I saw a giant scorpion and then another one, and another one. For the next 1 km it was like scorpions everywhere. Just later I found out that scorpions are usually more active when it rains, so probably so many of them crawled out because of the heavy rain.

Despite all the attractions at the beginning of the run, I managed to get to my planned destination. It was on the way back, when I realized that scorpions are nocturnal and come out at night [late evening shots I took at the trail]:

I won’t mention the location as I don't want to see scorpion hunters all over the place. However, if you're crazy enough to want to join one of similar trail runs, drop me an e-mail.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

What lots of people living in Jakarta don't realise is that beautiful green scenery, fresh air, unique wildlife of Java is what you can get just 45 minutes drive South of Jakarta.

If you wish to escape crowded Jakarta and smell smog free air, there are many great places out there to visit, exercise out in a fresh air (no fitness membership required!) or even do some trail running, something I've been passionate about for more than a year. It's so much different from running on a treadmill or in a city. It is highly rewarding experience (great feeling of freedom) but also challenging sport that could result in serious injury. It puts trail runners and their gear to the test. In this post, I'd like share some of my trail running gear experience and hope it will help beginner trail runners.

Running shoes

Most important trail running gear is the right pair of running shoes. It is essential to select running shoes which are specifically designed for trail running. These types of running shoes have soles with treads that give greater stability and can help to prevent shoe from slipping on surfaces such as wet grass, loose soil or wet stones. As I've myself experienced, wrong choice of shoes can quickly lead to running injury such as shin splints. Fortunately, softer surfaces on a trail run makes it comfortable to run longer and more often.

My latest choice of trail running shoes are Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 13, which I favour because of good balance of cushioning, support and stability:

I strongly recommend it to anyone suffering from shin splints. If someone thinks I can get better shoes for trail run, do let me know, so I can test it and compare. I plan to test New Balance MT876 and MT101, but still can't find any shop around that sells it.

Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

Nothing helped to improve my  running performance more than the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). Considering its benefits, I regret that it took me so long to decide which one to buy. Eventually, I've bought Polar RS400sd (~$350), the second best HRM from Polar after RS800CX (~$500+).

I haven't bought the more expensive Polar RS800CX because I don't need the more advanced features it provides e.g. altimeter and barometer, cadence sensor (for cycling), support of GPS sensor and some other features for professional athletes that I wouldn't be able to use anyway. I always run trails with  Garmin high-sensitivity GPS anyway, so I still get GPS tracking and altitude information from each run, with greater level of details compared to Polar's G3 GPS sensor. The RS400sd still comes with foot pod which provides running distance, speed information when I just go for a short run and don't care about tracking or when I can't use GPS e.g. on a treadmill. Both RS400sd and RS800CX also come with fantastic ProTrainer 5 software.

Let me show you what this software can do. Here's recorded easy 9.7km trail run imported from Polar RS400sd HRM into ProTrainer 5 software:

Here's detailed graph from ProTrainer 5:

As you can see, I run only 1 minute in maximum intensity zone, which is fine as it should be less than 5 minutes on a typical run. I also run more than 37 minutes in hard intensity zone, little more than recommended and easy 31 minutes in moderate intensity zone. To make it perfect I should run more in zone 3 and less in zone 4.

Note: You can find more info about Polar sport zones here.

Now, compare the above training with the following 9.4km HHH run on hills around Jakarta:

That's good example of overtraining, with 26% of trail run (21 minutes!) in maximum intensity zone. It was mostly because of hot and humid weather that day and some major hills and simply I didn't wan to slow down. Here's detailed graph for this run:

When my HR reaches maximum intensity zone, my Polar watch beeps, so I know I should slow down.

Overall, Polar's HRM really helps me to make most of my trail run, it allows me to plan runs and track my progress (the running index is especially interesting).

I should also mention that RS400sd is all water resistant (watch, foot pod, transmitter) means you can even swim with it.


I'm quite nuts about logging trail runs to the point that I had recorded my every trail run ever (including number of hash house runs). My Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx GPS makes it all possible. There are so many things I like about this device. First of all it is really sensitive, so I don't lose signal even under dense tree canopy. Seconds, 60CSx is IPX7 waterproof, so it works perfectly fine even if I cross a river (note: it does not float, so have it tied to backpack or pouch around rivers). Another thing I like about it is that it uses regular 2 AA batteries. I use Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries and  keep several backup batteries with me in a sealed plastic bag. I forgot to take backup batteries once and was low-bat, so I simply bought 2 AAs at a gas station on the way to a run site. It also has electronic compass and barometric altimeter and I also like the sun and moon information, so I can check how much time do I still have before it gets dark at the current location. Well, several times this info wouldn't help much, but I managed to get out of palm oil plantation/hills in a complete darkness with help of GPS.

One advice, do not save your tracks on the GPS itself unless you don't mind losing information such as speed, time, course etc. It is better to import active log, which will have all this extra information in the log. With all information, you can reply all run in Google Earth, which looks like this:

To see how this HHH run looks animated in Google Earth, you can download the Google Earth .KML file here.

I also strongly recommend to purchase carrying case, to protect GPS during run.


1 hour trail run in hot and humid tropical weather requires lots of water. Before I used to carry plastic bottles with me, but this was not convenient, so I got CamelBak hydration pack. It's probably the most comfortable way to carry water with you during trail run. The only thing I probably don't like about it is that pouch in front is not water proof (I think it should be), otherwise it's pretty much perfect.

I've also bought some cheap hydration backpack in a hiking store, but water from it would taste rubber eve after a month or so. I don't have such problem with CamelBak.


I use Nike Dri-fit shirt and Adidas ClimaCool shorts. The reason I use Adidas pants is because back pocket comes with zipper. I used Nike shorts and I've lost some stuff that I'd put in pockets without zippers. No such problem with Adidas ClimaCool. The shorts are also longer, so I get less scratches on my legs. I also use knee high NikeFIT Dry socks, so I don't get my legs cut up from bushes. I also keep backup pair of dry socks in hydration backpack.

Other items

The other items I always have with me that I think are pretty much a must on longer trail runs:
  • LED waterproof torch - I'm considering getting headlamp and use LED waterproof torch as a backup, but so far I always do fine with a little waterproof torch;
  • Mobile phone - can be useful to call for help, unfortunately in many locations where I run I don't get any signal. I'm considering getting satellite phone, or satellite pager;
  • Backup batteries
  • Medical stuff - betadine, mosquito repellent;
  • Money - getting dark? Find nearest road on GPS and ask for a ride;
  • Digital camera - something I started to take with me lately. Take picture, tag it on GPS;

In general, whatever electronic running gear you buy, better get a waterproof alternative. Otherwise, put it in a sealed plastic bag.

I'm looking forward to some gear related comments from other trail runners or fellow hashers.

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