Coach Rio Dela Cruz gives pointers for novice runners

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Rio Dela Cruz's pointers for marathon beginners: set a goal, an objective, and a target for yourself; find a convenient training venue; go with a training buddy; wear the proper gear; and practice consistency.


Thinking of joining the next marathon in your area? Coach Rio Dela Cruz gives helpful tips on how to improve your game.

On February 1, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) had a chance to meet Coach Rio at the Powerade Ion 4 launch at Whitespace in Makati City, where he shared with us his training basics for marathon beginners.

"Iyong first, kailangan mo muna ng goal kasi wala 'yan lahat kung wala kang goal, e," he says.

"Siyempre, iyon iyong magda-drive sa 'yo to train every day, gigising ka every day.

"So, once meron ka ng goal, ang isusunod mo naman is iyong objective—objective meaning how you will attain 'yong goal mo."

Rio suggests setting realistic and achievable goals and objectives for beginners.

"For example, starter ka pa lang pero gusto mo na kaagad tumakbo ng 10K [kilometers], e, hindi ka pa nagsisimula, so mali iyon.

"Ang pinaka-best na gawin ay one, i-run mo iyong 3K regardless kung naglakad ka or tinakbo mo or nag-jog. Ang main goal mo is to finish the 3K.

"Iyong next goal mo is to finish 3K without walking, so once ma-finish mo na siya, pupuwede ka nang mag-upgrade sa 5K.

"So, same process: finish 5K nang naglakad ka, walk or jog, and then run ka. And then iyong next goal, i-finish mo siya with a target time."

For a 5K run, Rio suggests setting a 25-minute finish target.

"Kaya siya as long as nagte-train ka every day," he affirms.

Well, it worked for Rio as he was able to finish his first 5K marathon in just 20 minutes when he was in the sixth grade.

LOCATION AND COMPANIONS. The next step is to choose your training location, which is pretty much the easy part, according to Rio.

It doesn't have to be an oval track. Just the neighborhood park or the streets around your village or workplace are good enough.

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To make things more fun, he suggests listening to music while running. This will help keep the mind relaxed and entertained at the same time.

But if you're the type who gets bored doing things alone, Rio recommends you get a running buddy.

"Ang pinaka-mahalaga doon dapat ka-level mo siya ng fitness kasi kung hindi, kung siya mas mabilis siya sa 'yo, e, kung ikaw mas mabagal sa kanya, pag nagsabay kayo hindi ka na comfortable doon sa pace mo. So, I suggest kuha ka ng ka-level mo."

It also wouldn't hurt if you were to hire a personal trainer, especially if you're aiming for the gold medal.

"Kung meron ka namang extrang pambayad, you can hire a trainer or a coach kahit siguro mga one week lang para turuan ka lang niya ng proper training, proper form."

THE PROPER RUNNING FORM. Just like any exercise or sport, running also entails proper execution for it to work effectively.

Rio describes the proper running stance:

"Iyong shoulder kapag running form, dapat relaxed lang siya.

"Iyong elbow dapat at least 90 degrees iyong angle niya.

"Iyong fist dapat hindi siya closed, dapat relaxed lang siya; and pag [swing] mo dapat hindi siya magko-cross sa midline."

The midline is the centermost section of the body. If you try to draw an imaginary line from the tip of your nose going down, it cuts your body in half lengthwise.

"Pag nag-cross sa midline, ibig sabihin iyong movement mo going to your left or right.

"Your goal is to move forward kaya naman dapat relaxed iyong muscles mo."

Muscle relaxation is important for speed and potency in running.

"Kasi once closed iyong fist and contracted iyong shoulder mo, nag-e-extra effort ka just to contract those muscles.

"So ibig sabihin, iyong oxygenated blood na dapat tina-transport mo doon sa lower extremity na muscles mo napupunta pa doon."

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The same principle applies when you eat just minutes before you run.

"Kapag kakain ka din before training, dapat minimum two hours para at least na-digest mo na siya before ka mag-run.

"Kasi kapag puno iyong tiyan mo or bloated ka or kumain ka 30 minutes before [running], same explanation—imbes na mapunta iyong oxygenated blood to your working muscle, mapupunta pa siya sa stomach to metabolize or to digest iyong food na in-intake mo."

GEARING UP. With your body now in proper form, it's time to complement it with the right outfit.

Training gear is also important, not just for the sake of fashion, but for your safety as well.

When Rio was a child, his parents could not afford to buy him proper running shoes, so he would usually train barefoot.

This resulted in his first running-related injury, which happened after his first 5K marathon win in the sixth grade. He had to stay off his feet for six months.

Rio urges all runners to invest in the right kind of shoes.

He suggests going to specialty running stores to have the feet properly classified.

"Kasi meron tayong different types of feet, e, merong flat-footed, high arch, neutral.

"So, kung ikaw ay flat footed, hindi mo puwedeng suotin yung pang-high arch.

"Hindi siya makaka-prevent ng injury, kundi makaka-contribute pa siya sa injuries."

With the Internet now readily available to almost anyone, it is best to research on what brand and model of shoes would suit you best.

"And siyempre, dahil mainit nga dito [sa Pilipinas], kailangan mong pumili ng dri-fit na damit.

"Iyong cotton kasi nag-i-stay iyong ano mo, e, iyong pawis mo, so hindi siya mabilis matuyo. 'Yong mga dri-fit mabilis matuyo and at the same time, mas magaan siya."

Another thing to remember while running is to always stay hydrated.

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Instead of plain water, Rio suggests drinking ionized sports drinks for better recovery.

"Of course importante din iyong recovery kasi kapag hindi ka nag-recover, iyong katawan mo hindi niya mama-maximize iyong potential, e.

"Importante na nagha-hydrate ka kasi kapag during training, mainit; lalo na dito, nagpapawis tayo.

"So, iyong mga pawis na 'to, kailangan mo siyang palitan ng electrolytes."

The four electrolytes that runners need are potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium.

According to Rio, "Iyan iyong mga electrolytes na tumutulong sa performance natin, and at the same time, dine-delay niya iyong muscle cramps.

"Kapag tumatakbo ka, mainit, pinawisan ka, nawalan ka ng electrolytes, so doon nati-trigger iyong cramps.

"So with this [ionized drink], bina-balance niya iyong fluid [content] mo sa body."

CONSISTENCY IS KEY. All in all, Rio says the key to reaching your goal in running is through consistency in training.

"Lalo na sa marathon, kasi may experience ako diyan na tumatakbo ako pero iniba ko iyong normal na ginagawa ko, so nag-suffer. Kasi sa middle nung race, nag-C.R. ako so hindi ko na nahabol.

"E, nandoon pa naman ako sa lead pack, so ayokong mangyari iyon sa runners na gustong mag-start."

He adds, "Kailangan ipa-practice mo siya [consistent routines]. Kunwari training, ginagawa mo iyong mga bagay na iyan, dapat during competition iyon din ang gagawin mo kasi hindi ka puwedeng mag-experiment during competition.

"Even iyong shoes, hindi mo puwedeng suotin iyong bagong shoes tapos iyon na kaagad ang ipang-co-compete mo. Kailangan mo rin siyang i-break-in."


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