Sure you can train for and finish a triathlon on your own, but, it definitely makes life easier when you learn basic techniques and skills from experts who are not only experienced in their field, but are also well-equipped to train athletes like you.
It took quite a number of supportive people in the running and triathlon community—yes, as huge as a village—to guide me through my Ironman 70.3 Cebu journey.
Here’s a list of the coaches I worked with, even if there were many more friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who gave their much appreciated advice on how to do well for my first Ironman 70.3:
1) COACH ANDY LEUTERIO
When I was choosing a coach for triathlon, Coach Andy came to mind. I asked a friend about him and here’s how the conversation went:
Me: How’s Andy as a coach?
Friend: Andy will work you to death. Then, he’ll spit on you. Then, he’ll work you to death even more.
Me thinking: Oooh, I like him already.
With that, I signed up with Coach Andy as my primary coach for triathlon, with more focus on cycling. Andy also works with Specialized, the guys that set me up with the Shiv, so he basically played two roles: the guy who trained me to reach my target time and, umm, the guy who set that specific target time for me to win the Shiv!
Andy set my training program composed of 9 workouts for 6 days of training per week. He emailed this to me every Monday while I filled it in with what I had accomplished and sent it back to him every Sunday. With this info, he could adjust each week’s program according to my schedule (e.g., travel, heavy workload, or kids’ exam week) and my progress.
Particularly in cycling, Coach Andy monitored my improvement through a Power Meter test and provided me with a comprehensive assessment of how I could train and race efficiently using my heart rate. He also accompanied me to Edmund Mangaser’s bike shop, All Terra, for bike fitting.
– 6 weeks before Ironman 70.3 Cebu. Power meter test at All Terra with Coach Andy. I remember asking Andy: “Coach, is it okay to do a Power Meter test after my swim training?” hoping he’d postpone it because I’d be tired. He replied: “Oh, that’s perfect. Bring running shoes too so you can run after.” Gasp. I didn’t call him the King of Suffering for nothing. –
Coach Andy is perfect for competitive athletes who want to improve their performance and constantly want to push their bodies to the limits. He regularly holds swim, bike, and run group sessions with his students, but, in my case, we were one-on-one or I’d do my homework on my own. He has an e-group to communicate with all students. He’s also a prolific writer so he occasionally sends out an inspiring letter or a technical article via this e-group.
– with Coach Andy after finishing Ironman 70.3 Cebu. Photo: Andy Leuterio –
Andy practices “tough love;” he won’t pamper you nor will he mince words to tell you exactly how hard you have to train for race day. He will prepare you for a race by killing you in training so that when race day arrives, it will be a walk in the park…or at least one with less suffering.
Area: Alabang, Pasig
2) PATRICK JOSON
Coach Patrick Joson trained me for a few weeks on my roadie when I started biking in February 2012. He taught me proper mounting and dismounting, how to spin properly, and—the greatest fear of most newbie cyclists including myself— how to ride with cleats! He was incredibly patient with me and gave me the assurance that he wouldn’t let me crash. I pitied him when he had to chase me all around the parking lot as I attempted my first ride with cleats.
Coach Patrick is great for beginners and serious athletes, especially those who enjoy training in groups. He enjoys dishing out new learnings in the world of running, cycling, nutrition, and triathlon, especially from the Maffetone and Pose Methods which he espouses. He trains runners and cyclists in Alabang.
3) NORMAN PASCUAL
I joined Coach Norman Pascual for 3 to 4 sessions of bike skills at SM Mall of Asia when I got the Shiv. Shifting from a roadie to a TT bike in April, just 5 months before Ironman 70.3 Cebu, caused much anxiety as I felt like I had to learn how to ride again.
Coach Norman taught me specific bike skills: bike handling, balance, riding on aero, drinking while riding, and proper mounting and dismounting. He even taught me how to refill my Speedfill as I was biking! These sessions were a key factor in building my confidence on the bike.
I was a witness also to how he helped other friends go from zero to finishing the Ironman 70.3 Cebu. I heard how he helped cyclists atop the Marcelo Fernan bridge and witnessed him pace one student in the run with complete disregard for his own performance. Coach Norman is one coach who will go all out to care for each of his students.
Coach Norman is a great coach for beginners, especially those who want to get into triathlon, as well as serious athletes who want to become more competitive. He coaches in groups and teaches you everything from swim, bike, run, and everything in between like transitions, drinking at stations, and other the little details that you don’t really find in books.
Area: QC, Bonifacio Global City
4) ANI DE LEON
Coach Ani is a friend and my teammate at Unilab Active Health. She offered to guide me in training for Cebu and would regularly email me a program as well. We didn’t get to train together regularly due to conflicts in schedule, but it was her training camp, The Next Step Tri Camp, last year that planted the seed in my mind that I could actually finish a medium distance triathlon. Oh, this Iron mommy’s words of encouragement during smaller triathlons: “Go Jaymie!” as she gunned for first place certainly gave me that extra push to make it to the finish!
5) MARTIN CARANDANG
I started training with Coach Martin in the summer of 2011. When injuries prevented me from running, I got into swimming as an alternative means to maintain my fitness and provide me with another goal while waiting to recover. True enough, my progress in swimming kept me happily distracted. From panting and pausing at every lap, I could swim 1.5k with, um, a lot less breaks during the summer of 2011.
When it was time to train seriously for Cebu this 2012, I had grasped the basic techniques and had a mileage base that Coach Martin said we could build on. Coach Martin started adding speed a month or two before Cebu. He got me swimming 2k at Tri United 2 with confidence and more speed, such a big improvement from my past triathlons. His practical tips before Tri United races and Ironman 70.3 Cebu also kept me calm and focused.
6) NONOY BASA
Nonoy Basa didn’t train me for Ironman 70.3, but I had to include him in this list because it was my knowledge from my sessions 4 years ago that gave me the foundation for the swim. Nonoy is a Total Immersion swimming coach and I turned to him when I needed help for my mini-sprint triathlon way back in 2008. I highly recommend Total Immersion for anyone who wishes to learn how to swim more efficiently.
7) LIT ONRUBIA
Lit is one of the friends that I run with regularly especially for long runs. Luckily, he is also the first certified Chi Running coach in the country.
– 2009 Chi Running Session with my classmates and instructor, Lit Onrubia, on the far right –
While I can be stubborn when it comes to my running (no one can really tell me what I should do anymore or how slow or fast I should go!), I still get nuggets of running information from Lit every now and then.
During the run at Ironman 70.3 Cebu, the last and, undoubtedly the most critical portion of the race for me, I remembered to lean forward, keep my shoulders relaxed, tighten my core, and just let gravity do the work for me.
Training: Chi Running
Phone: For more info on the next Chi Running workshop, call or text 0915-638-5801
Website: Forward Lean Running
To the coaches mentioned above, thank you once again from the bottom of this Bull’s heart. I couldn’t have done it without you! May you continue to spread the love for running and triathlon!