If there's a celebrity who can be the country's "best" ambassador for running, coach Rio dela Cruz's top pick is Piolo Pascual.
At the RUNRIO Trilogy Awards held in Okada Manila, Pasay City, on February 7, the businessman/marathoner briefly recounts the first time he trained the actor for his first-ever run in 2009.
“When he did his first 10K, ang daming nagulat kasi ang bilis niya, so parang, wow, parang gusto nilang i-beat yung time ni Piolo," which was 47 minutes and 54 seconds.
The running community dubbed the star's feat as "sub-Piolo" target, and made it the benchmark for runners joining the ten-kilometer race.
PIOLO THE ATHLETE. What is it like working with Piolo the athlete?
"I think he’s professional. Parang pag sinabi niyang tatakbuhin niya ito...siyempre, ini-involve niya na ako, e, ‘Coach, tatakbo ako dito sa race na ito, gusto ko sanang mag-train.’
"So baka rin nakikita rin niya yung effort na ibinibigay sa kanya, kaya talagang ginalingan niya rin.
Coach Rio continues, "Ini-squeeze niya yung time niya kahit mga 12:00 midnight na kami tumatakbo before."
For Piolo's first marathon, they trained for five weeks.
Other celebrities who trained with Coach Rio were Dingdong Dantes, Kim Atienza, Karylle, and a number of high-profile CEOs.
These people, he says, had contributed a lot in making the marathons and fun runs popular.
At present, Coach Rio is no longer into individual coaching, as he's the main force behind the University of the Philippines’ running team.
“Mas marami, kasi pag isa-isa, medyo maliit lang yung natuturuan ko.
“Ito kasi 80 athletes, so parang ito talaga yung, 'I want to give back to my school,' so at least mapatapos sila ng college.”
ADVICE TO BEGINNERS. If you want to take running seriously, do it with "proper training."
He says, "Yung experience, muscle pain, mentally, physically, it’s challenging, but if meron kang preparation before you do that, before you finish, mas better kesa sa biglaan.
"For me, very important yung injury prevention..."
Coach Rio adds that it's best to start with five kilometers.
“You have to watch your progression. Slowly but yung durability mas longer.
“From zero, sa 5K okay lang yung run-walk, run-walk.
“Para pagkatapos, next goal mo to run or jog para matapos mo ang 5K."
Then the next goal is finish the same number of kilometers faster.
“Third, meron ka nang target time, like 30 minutes sa 5K.
"Pag comfortable ka na distance na ‘yon, you can move to the next distance.”