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Running is the love of Rio dela Cruz’s life. From his early beginnings as a track team member of the University of the Philippines, to his present success as a top trainer and race organizer with his RunRio group, Coach Rio has certainly made the most of his number one passion.
In the very first issue of the Philippine edition of Runner’s World, Coach Rio shares that he has overcome much adversity in life, both for and as a result of running. Born into an impoverished family, this dedicated athlete first moved out of his father’s and then his mother’s houses, later taking up residence with foster father Boy Ramos, in order to be closer to school and the training grounds. Then, surprisingly, after shattering UAAP records by winning the 10,000-, 5,000-, and 1,500-meter races in his junior year and getting offers from the national team, Coach Rio made the difficult decision to put aside training in order to complete his studies—something no one in his family had ever accomplished.
After graduation, Coach Rio began to focus on organizing races and training other runners—and the busy schedules and constant demands of a growing runner’s business forced him to stop competing in his own field. But this hasn’t quelled the desire to run. In fact, participating in the upcoming Boston and New York marathons is all a part of Coach Rio’s new training plan—he wants qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His outlook? “Positive pa rin lagi,” he shares. “Nakakalungkot lang na sa dami ng taon na ‘yun ang ginagawa ko biglang tumigil. But now I’m coming back [to competitive running].”
A runner yourself? You may not exactly be aiming for the Olympics, but Coach Rio’s running advice should give you a leg up on training like a pro. Here are five tips he shared with Runner’s World.
GO FOR FUNCTIONAL TRAINING.
Coach Rio believes that running drills and strength training are key to improving your speed. This is why it’s important to train yourself through functional exercises that work on the muscles you use to run. “Focus on exercises similar to what you do when running, like lunges and step-ups,” says the coach.
MAKE LONG-TERM GOALS.
Don’t expect your time and your skill—not to mention your weight—to improve in a flash. Coach Rio knows that seeing the bigger picture is crucial to developing yourself as a runner, and that long-term goals are more crucial than short-term ones. Set a goal time and goal weight for the end of six months or a year, rather than a week or two.
BE PREPARED TO ADJUST.
Only professional athletes have the luxury of training all day, everyday—regular folks like us still need to go to work and take care of our families and homes. So don’t beat yourself up about missing a slot on your running schedule; instead, learn to be flexible. “If I can’t run in the morning, I’ll run later in the day… if I miss a run on a weekday, I run on Sunday,” says Coach Rio.
LEAVE NO ROOM FOR STRESS BEFORE THE RACE.
Condition your mind and body to relax right before competing. “As much as possible, before you go to a race, stress-free ka,” advises Coach Rio. Prepare all your race gear ahead of time, double-check the schedule and venue to avoid getting lost, and even take a nice long bath like Coach Rio does the night before so that your body remains free of tension.
WAKE YOUR MUSCLES UP.
As in every sport, it’s important to warm up. You can figure out which way works best for you, but Coach Rio’s personal loosening-up routine has to do with hitting himself! “Hinahampas ko ang muscles ko sa hita at arms,” he admits.
(Photos by Dix Perez. Read more about Coach Rio in the first Philippine issue of Runner’s World, out now.)