Inside the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha Triathlon Weekend

Tuesday, 18 March 2014  |  Running + Triathlon

I was so focused on training for Tokyo Marathon early this year that swimming and biking took a backseat. I used to hear from my tri coach, Andy Leuterio, every week. Now, I don’t even know who his new “victims” are LOL.

It was nice to hear about the success of Coach Andy’s Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha Triathlon Weekend went though. Methinks I’ll be joining the next one in preparation for Tri United 2.

Here’s the PRESS RELEASE and photos from the Coach himself…

Celma “Chang” Hitalia didn’t know what to expect coming into the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha training weekend. Presented by SPECIALIZED and organized by Coach Andy Leuterio, who has a reputation for creating some of the most demanding training regimens for Age Group athletes, the camp was part science and part Old School work ethic.

– Day 1 of Orientation –

“We use modern tools like power meters, GPS, and Heart Rate Monitors, among others, and we track athlete’s progression through an online system, but at the end of the day it’s still about doing the work”, says Coach Andy. “You could have the nicest tri toys in your bag, but if you don’t know how to use them, much less have the commitment to do the training day in and day out, then that’s just what they are: toys.”, he explains.

– Coach Andy talks about the science of triathlon –

As for Celma, she had the objective of using the weekend to prepare for Challenge Philippines, a half-Iron distance race that was being touted as the toughest race in the country. “I had ridden the course several times and was very nervous about the descents”, says Chang. “When I first rode with Chang, I noticed she had exceptional strength and grit,” says Coach Andy. “I took her and Vanj Endaya, another client, down a steep hill to test their handling skills. Then I made them time trial back up to get a feel for proper pacing and to figure out their threshold. By the end of the 5-hour ride, both women were exhausted but still smiling. They’re fighters!”, he enthuses.

– Celma Hitalia climbing Punta Fuego –

– Vanj Endaya training for Challenge Philippines –

– Coach Andy and Coach Keshia –
“They had the work ethic already. All they needed was a little help to figure out the science behind everything, not to mention work on their descending skills. You can have all the fitness in the world, but if you can’t speed down a mountain safely, you can still lose. You can’t win if you’re dead”, says Coach Andy.

– Swimming at The Village –

– Running sessions –

– Bike skills course –

Each camp is broken down into two legs: “Orientation”, and “Selection”. The former is held at The Village Sports Club in BF Homes, Paranaque, and focuses more on technique improvement in swimming, biking, and running, as well as the staple workouts a triathlete must do throughout a season. “We spend the morning working out, then several hours after in a classroom-type lecture and Q&A. We discuss training with metrics like Heart Rate, power, Pace, planning the season, and even the mental aspects of being a successful triathlete”, shares Coach Andy. “My goal is to share with them what I’ve learned through the years. Yes, you have to work hard, but you don’t have to give up everything else. It’s about making effective use of your limited training time”, he adds.

Among Coach Andy’s client roster are regular podium finishers like Javy Olives and Andrew Arellano, both of whom also broke the 5-hour barrier at the 2013 Ironman 70.3 Philippines. He is particularly proud of one client from Bacolod, Medy Martinez. “She is a terrific athlete, in the 50-up Age Group category. She only started last year, but did very well at the Ironman 70.3 in Cebu, chopping around an hour and a half of her time from her first, un-coached half. After that race, she did Defy 123 in Bohol and won the 45-up category!”, says Coach Andy.

After the “Orientation” weekend, camp participants move onto “Selection” phase held at Sandari Batulao in Batangas. With spectacular views, hilly terrain, and an exclusive feel, Sandari provides the ideal venue for triathletes who want no distractions during the weekend. Its first big workout was a ride with no less than 8 steep hills over 90 kilometers followed by an hour run under the noontime sun. Afterwards was a hard swim session. The next day had more swimming, riding, and running. By the end of the weekend each participant had done more than enough miles to finish a half Iron-distance race and then some. For the long rides out, Specialized provided invaluable mechanical support. Aside from having a mechanic onboard, the Specialized SAG van adds to the safety of all participants. “Riding on public roads can be dangerous”, says Coach Andy. “Just having a big van trailing the group creates a deterrent for other motorists to be more careful when overtaking. And when they get a flat or have some sort of mechanical problem, the mechanic fixes everything quickly so you can concentrate on the workout. If you get hungry or need a drink, we have food and gallons of Gatorade in the van. That’s not something you can duplicate on a solo ride”, he adds.

“Selection” phase is also a final “big test” for participants who wish to avail of Coach Andy’s “Black” training program. “Apart from the camps, most of my training is done online. For that to work, I need the client to be responsible logging his or her training, and corresponding with me regularly”, he explains.

“All clients start out with a personalized ‘Red’ program, which I review on a monthly basis. But if they want me to review and adjust their programs more frequently, and if they want the most challenging program as well, then they have to apply for the ‘Black’ status”, says Coach Andy. To earn that limited slot, participants must not only attend both “Orientation” and “Selection”, but also post improvements in certain time trials as well as complete several grueling sessions.

“It’s also a reality check for them”, he explains. “If you say you want to break through this year, will you really do the work I say you have to do? Do you have the tenacity to keep going even when setbacks come your way? If you can prove that you do, then great! Let’s give you a ‘Black’ program. If you find that you want something more doable given your situation, but you still want to finish strong, then ‘Red’ will work best for you. It’s still quite challenging! You can always “tri out” for ‘Black’ in the next camp”, says Coach Andy.

Happily, Celma survived the camp and did very well at her first big race of the year. Against a very strong field, and on especially hilly terrain, she ran her way up to the podium for 2nd place in her Age Group.

“It took me almost 5 hours when I did my first Challenge recon ride in December. But come race day, I was able to do it in 4:08:36. I was able to attack those hills with the confidence and skills I learned from the camp! I’m one very happy Camp Alpha alumni here!”, she says. Vanj had a similar benefit from the camp. “Coming into the camp, I expected it would help me perform better, physically and mentally, for my upcoming races. True enough, I posted one of the fastest bike split among Filipina participants”, she says.

The next leg of the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha will be on May 3-4 and June 20-21. Presented by SPECIALIZED and sponsored by Newton Running and RUNNR, the camp is open to all triathletes who would like to make 2014 their breakthrough year. Inquiries can be sent to Coach Andy at .