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Stephanie Castillo, Contributor
April 07, 2010

Top Running Tips from Coach Rio dela Cruz

Runner’s World Philippines' first cover guy of tells us how to prepare for an amazing race. By Stephanie Castillo
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runners_world_rio_de_la_cruz_main.jpgRunning 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

runners-world-rio-de-la-cruz-mag_1.jpg(Photos by Dix Perez. Read more about Coach Rio in the first Philippine issue of Runner’s World, out now.)

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  • pinkpie Apr 08 2010 @ 02:59am Report Abuse
    Thanks for sharing!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Lourdes Espanol Apr 09 2010 @ 09:40am Report Abuse
    I saw him in the Century Tuna marathon.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Bagel Apr 09 2010 @ 04:25pm Report Abuse
    Whats good about running is that you can socialize with friends while doing the sports/exercise which makes it more exciting.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • marchineness09 Apr 10 2010 @ 12:44pm Report Abuse
    Running is a good exercise and a good survival skill. It's good that everyone is into it these days.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • crazybeauti_ful Jun 23 2010 @ 11:09pm Report Abuse
    i read an article about him in manila bulletin months ago. it's nice to know that there are people like him who works hard (even if he doesn't really have the means then)to help young kids. young generation today really needs him.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Ms. Lee Mar 03 2011 @ 08:00am Report Abuse
    This is the first time I've seen your picture. Wow, I can tell you're a big fan of Scott Jurek! Do you do Ultras?
    Last modified A long time ago
  • samuela mercado Jul 02 2011 @ 03:51pm Report Abuse
    I really admire coach rio... so inspiring!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • marivel alayon Jul 15 2011 @ 09:58am Report Abuse
    Thanks Coach Rio...Your given tips will surely helps me a lot...God bless!!!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Albert - ERT Nov 04 2011 @ 01:02am Report Abuse
    Thanks Rio, keep up the good work...GODBLESS
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Stephanie Castillo
Stephanie Castillo is a freelance writer and fashion stylist. Her column, Stylewise, appears on FN every Friday... Read more...
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