Camp Alpha: I Suffered, Survived, and Loved Every Minute!

Thursday, 8 May 2014  |  Running + Triathlon

I joined the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha Advanced Triathlon Camp last weekend, May 3 & 4, at The Village Sports Club.  I had mixed emotions about this camp: I wasn’t too thrilled about all the suffering (past participants jokingly call it “Cramp Alpha”…gulp!), but, at the same time, I looked forward to double or even triple workouts over the weekend and pushing my body hard again.  With Tri United 2 coming up, I felt I needed something to jolt me back into bricks and dual workouts.

Camp Alpha is led by my triathlon coach, Coach Andy Leuterio, and assisted by Keshia Fule for the bike sessions.  The swim coach is Martin Carandang, my swim coach way back in 2012. He basically got me from being a newbie to finishing IM 70.3 Cebu 2012 without drowning.  Needless to say, I was quite familiar with their coaching styles and, more importantly, happy with the way they supervised us throughout the camp.  The coaches provided the right amount of guidance, not too basic nor theoretical, and generously shared more practice tips for triathlon training and racing.

IMG_6048 with Coach Andy. Scary eh?
IMG_6047Good thing Coach Andy smiles one day a year. This was it. Here we are with Keshia and my parrot hair
IMG_6081with Coach Martin for swim

The sessions at Camp Alpha were mostly speed sessions and some aerobic activity with a couple hours of classroom sessions for both days.  It was a good mix so that participants were able to maximize the camp in just two days.

Participants were all advanced and experienced triathletes.  Before the event, Coach Andy divided the participants into two groups, Group A and Group B, and emailed the schedule of activities for the weekend.  It was a great way to manage the different fitness levels of the participants and ensure that each one got adequate attention.

Here are photos of the camp for Day One and Two:


1) Swim with Coach Martin

SWIMPhoto by Coach Andy

2) Run Intervals (my fave!)

IMG_6105 IMG_6106Photos by Coach Andy

3) Practical tips on the bike (flying dismount, flat tire assembly/disassembly, and bottle pick ups)

Bike1 Bike2 IMG_6062

4) Lecture


1) 20k Time Trial in Daang Reyna

IMG_6074 IMG_6075 IMG_6078 IMG_6108Photo by Coach Andy

2) Aerobic Swim

3) Lecture

What a weekend!  I suffered, survived, had quite a bit of fun, made a few new triathlon friends, learned advanced triathlon tips during the lectures, and, best of all, I lost 2 lbs. in the process! If you’re an advanced triathlete looking to improve your performance for an upcoming race or eager to pick up new expert triathlon tips, you may consider joining the next Camp Alpha.

The next leg of the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha will be on June 20-21, 2014. 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 .


Sign up now for the Summer Edition of Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha

Monday, 14 April 2014  |  Running + Triathlon

I wrote about Coach Andy Leuterio’s successful Camp Alpha last month.  Now, he’s opened up the summer edition for all triathletes who wish to suffer even more!  I’ve registered for the May camp on my birthday weekend!  Come and suffer with us!


The next two legs of Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha will be on May 3-4 “Orientation” at The Village Sports Club, BF Homes, Paranaque, and June 21-22 “Selection” at Sandari Batulao, Batangas.

Presented by SPECIALIZED, each leg consists of two days of Swim, Bike, and Run training as preparation for summer’s major races.

The first leg, “Orientation” will cover fundamental aspects of race-specific training, including familiarization with metrics like Heart Rate, Pace, Power, Training Stress Score, and Race File analysis, among others.

The second leg, “Selection”, will be much heavier in volume and intensity in anticipation of the long distance races slated for July and August.

Both legs can be joined as standalone training camps, but for those who wish to “tri out” for limited “Black” slots under the Alpha Training Systems online coaching program, they must join both legs. Invitation to a “Black” slot will be based on several tests from both legs.

Registration Fee is P2,000/leg, or P3,000 for both, inclusive of limited use of camp facilities (pool and lockers), lunch, bike mechanic on standby, SAG Wagon support, handouts, and event shirt. Gatorade is the Official Sports Drink of the Unilab Active Health Camp Alpha.


To register, download and fill up the Registration Form, indicating which Leg(s) you wish to join.  UPDATE: Slots are full.  Registration is closed.

Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis only.

What is Your Fitness Quotient?

Monday, 7 April 2014  |  Running + Triathlon

How fit are you?  How do you determine your fitness level anyway?  Dr. Gar Eufemio of Peak Form had the same question and went a step further by developing a series of tests to determine one’s Fitness Quotient.  He then launched an event called the Peak Form Fitness Challenge to give everyone the opportunity to determine their Fitness Quotient.  Interesting eh?  Read about the Fitness Quotient in Dr. Gar’s own words and see below for more info on participating in their event…

FAQs on the FQ

By Edgar Michael T. Eufemio

We have all heard about the intelligence quotient (IQ) and how test scores can be used as predictors of educational attainment, performance at work and income. Various classifications have been used to categorize individuals. With a median score of 100 implying average, you can be considered a genius (140 and above) all the way down to an idiot (24 and below).

In the late 1960’s, the “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment” started the trend toward the creation of the emotional quotient (EQ). Its first published use was in 1987 (Beasley).

What do these tests have in common? They serve as forecasts into life outcomes; like a crystal ball looking into the future…

Having been involved with orthopedic surgery, sports medicine and the sports sciences for the past twenty years, I have yet to encounter an examination that can prophesy who among our young ‘wannabes’ will be the next Manny Pacquiao, Paeng Nepomuceno, Caloy Loyzaga, “Bata” Reyes or Lydia de Vega.

Initially, I was merely planning to come up with an assessment that determines a person’s fitness level; to label someone as superior, above average, average, below average or poor. Then I got to think, “Why not design a trial that can assess not only one’s current condition, but actually narrow down the list of athletes who may, one day, achieve world class status?” A fitness quotient. FQ!

So, together with my partners, friends and staff, we proceeded to formulate the PEAK FORM FITNESS QUOTIENT TEST.

Where do you begin?

The first thing was to determine which components of fitness we wanted to analyze. We came up with ten:

1) Strength
2) Explosiveness
3) Speed
4) Agility
5) Coordination
6) Balance
7) Flexibility
8) Endurance
9) Recovery
10) Mental

topendsports also describes ten factors – eight are similar to ours; the other two are body composition and motor skills. We replaced body composition with recovery. Think about it, should an individual who is very fast and strong be penalized just because he has a high percentage of body fat? We wanted ALL elements to be measurable and “test”-able, and we feel a player’s ability to recuperate quickly is also important. Motor skills can actually fall under coordination so we substituted it with mental – the proficiency to plan and strategize, the capability to maintain composure and the knack of information recall under physical duress.

The next task was to come up with the stations. Since we started out with ten aspects, we decided on ten posts, each with a mean score of ten points. A total of 100 will mean a participant is average. One can score more or less than ten, depending on how they perform in each stop.

What are the characteristics of an ideal fitness test?

1) MEASURES THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS – The various body parts as well as the multiple facets of fitness must be evaluated by the diverse situations. (“not just counting how many bicep curls you can do in one minute carrying a ten pound dumbbell”).

2) CAN BE STANDARDIZED – Most fitness assessments put the “testees” under the same conditions, regardless of height and weight. We needed to come up with something wherein the tasks are adjusted to everyone’s physical dimensions – the amount to be lifted and the distance to be covered being a fixed percentage of their mass and stature. This levels the playing field. We came up with six categories for each – from 100 to 220 pounds and from 5 feet to 6 feet 8 inches.

3) HAS A SCORING SYSTEM – Your report card does not simply state that “You are fit” or “You are not fit”; it is not a pass or fail thing. Having a numerical grade enables you to determine if you are better, equal or inferior to someone else. If two or more students are told they are the best in their batch, there must be an objective basis (a digit count) for the tie. The more diverse the criteria and the more elaborate and strict the tallying scheme, the less likely that you will have more than one class valedictorian.

4) IS REPRODUCIBLE – If the same investigation will be conducted at an alternate time or place, the methods of assigning points must remain the same. The equipment and the conduct of the trial must be constant. Every single time.

5) CAN COMPARE RESULTS – At any given moment, scores of different people can be matched up against each other. Furthermore, the same personality may be checked again at another period, and there must be an impartial and objective way of determining if conditioning has improved or deteriorated.

6) USES FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS – Not everybody can do a chin up. Or jump rope. Are we to say somebody in the pink of health who cannot perform these movements is not in shape? Furthermore, if we ask two contestants to do as many chin ups as they can in one minute, the first challenger tries with all his might but is unable to do one repetition while the second is a ‘couch potato’ who does not even bother to attempt, do they both deserve a zero? We limited our parameters to activities that almost anybody can do – pushing, pulling, throwing, walking, running, jumping, bending and twisting.

7) CAN BE DONE IN A SHORT PERIOD – You want your analysis to take less than an hour.

Other tests have been designed to measure overall fitness. There is the SPARQ Rating System, which stands for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness. There also is the Athletic Standard Index and the RealFit Test. Criticisms are that they either have too many stations (23), too few (3) or use arbitrary formulas to calculate the scores. More importantly, all these tests use the same conditions for everybody, whatever the height or weight. In addition, not all components are tested. We took all of these into consideration when we came up with our challenge.

What are the stations of the Peak Form FQ Test?

1) Vertical Rope Pull – pulling a weight which is a percentage of your body weight over a distance that is a percentage of your height

2) Box Jump – jumping on and going down from a box which is a percentage of your height

3) Suspension Cable Push Up – doing push ups at an angle based on the size of your shoe

4) Balance Board – keeping your balance on a board while moving medicine balls that are a percentage of your body weight alternatingly from both sides, from containers that are a percentage of your height

5) Horizontal Rope Pull – pulling a weight which is a percentage of your body weight over a distance that is a percentage of your height

6) Gang Plank – walking on a plank whose length and width are a percentage of your height while carrying kettlebells that are a percentage of your body weight

7) Sand Bag Throw – throwing sand bags that are a percentage of your body weight

8) Cone Run – placing and taking tennis balls from cones (these are positioned at distances that are a percentage of your height)

9) Sit Up Shot – while lying on a plank (elevated to a percentage of your height), you take medicine balls (that are a percentage of your body weight) from racks positioned at a percentage of your wingspan, doing a sit up and then shooting the balls in receptacles

10) Ball Up, Ball Down – taking medicine balls (that are a percentage of your body weight) up and down platforms that are positioned on the floor and at your shoulder level

We designed it to be like a move-system type examination in anatomy class; similar to speed-dating. Our subjects will occupy a place each and will move to the next location until they accomplish all ten. Each of the ten activities takes one minute. Then there will be two minutes in between – for the group to rest and the marshals to prepare the items for the next competitor and calculate the totals. So that is twenty-eight minutes for every ten contenders. We had to draw up each situation to be equally taxing so that it should not matter where one starts.

To make it trickier, the stations are laid out such that they are not beside each other. After being briefed, the participants are given time to walk through the course so they can try them out, attempt to remember the locations and to strategize how to approach the challenge and pace themselves.

What is the basis for the scoring system?

A pre-test was done and the highest and the lowest 25% of scores per station were eliminated. The mean of the remaining 50% was then obtained (we kept tabs of the top and bottom numbers of the surviving 50%). Point equivalents based on the above figures are then added or subtracted for each repetition above or below the mean.

The participant with the highest total score is crowned the fittest athlete, similar to being the valedictorian. The top marks per station AND component will also be noted, like being best in Math or English.

Once all the figures are in, we will be able to classify them into categories ranging from ay-dol (meaning elite), astig (superior), hanep (above average), puwede na (average), pasang awa (below average), lampa (poor) or buhay ka pa? (idiot, oops I mean very poor).

Why do we need to come up with an FQ test?

1) At the very least, individuals may check their fitness levels before and after starting an exercise schedule.

2) Different workout routines can now be pitted head-to-head to settle, once and for all, who can produce the best results.

Since we will be able to identify which components are tested by each station:

3) We can now start asking who scored well in explosiveness, agility, coordination or balance. Certainly, there are sports and events that have positions that need those elements highlighted.

The data can benefit the country’s sports development program. We just have to monitor as many athletes as possible to have significant results. All the high school and college students screened will be followed throughout their athletic careers. Some will reach crème de la crème status. Others will excel at certain aspects of their sport (for example – best rebounder in basketball or hardest hitter in boxing or most accurate kicker in soccer).

4) We can backtrack and find out which stations they excelled in and determine if there are any trends. They can now truly serve as prognosticators for what is yet to come.

5) Grade School and High School students who perform well in this test may now be placed in a training pool where more specialized training will be made available to them.

Too many prospects have slipped through the cracks. We may be grooming the wrong players for a particular sport. We could be missing out on the ‘next-big-thing’…

Peak Form invites everyone to join its Peak Form Fitness Challenge. Peak Form says this is not a marketing event, but a long term project. They intend to come out with a standardized FITNESS QUOTIENT (FQ) that can be used to measure the fitness level of an athlete. If you would like to determine your own FQ, you may want to participate in this:

Date/ Time: 18 May 2014 Sunday, 8am to 10pm
Venue: Atrium, Upper Ground Level, Fisher Mall, Quezon Ave., Quezon City
Who can join: Open to the public!
Registration Fee: P1,500 (includes shirt, water bottle and sling bag and FQ Certificate)
Where to Register: All Chris Sports outlets
Past FQ Events: All past FQ’s were by invitation only. The past three invitationals were all held at Xavier School, Greenhills and attended by celebrity athletes, varsity students of XS, and coaches of XS. This time they are opening the opportunity to the public.

For inquiries regarding the Peak Form Fitness Challenge, please call (+632) 478-9408 or (+63) 916 353-4485. You may also get in touch with Dr. Gar at (+632) 726-1696 or (+63) 917 813-5740.

Facebook Page:
Address: Unit 807, Infinity Bldg., 26th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Telephone +63.2.478.9408

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 .

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013  |  Bullish Insights, Running + Triathlon

Merry Christmas!

– Thanks to TBR Dream Marathoners, the BFRV team of Ricci, Jah, Sheng, Louie, Jet, Paolo and Erick for this awesome gift! Mwah! –

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also the time for us to spread love, kindness, and cheer to our loved ones and the people around us.

For us runners, it is also the time to get out and play! Yipeee!  There’s more time to hit the pavement and train to our heart’s content. (Well, at least for athletes like me who don’t really party much!)  The cool weather in the mornings make it even more delightful!  Aaah, Christmas!

Last Sunday, I joined my good running friends in the South for our Holiday Run set up by our master organizer, Atty. Joey Torres. We came in red or green shirts or Santa hats!

Together, we ran a total of 14km around the village.  Before and after our run, I ran 10k alone to cover a total of 24km as part of my Tokyo Marathon training.

– Water break! Runners posing at the tennis court hah! –

After the run, we enjoyed a mini picnic by the field set up by Joey and Elaine. Long run, good food, and great conversation among running friends. What more can you ask for during the holidays?

Just this morning, I set out to run alone on Christmas eve. With just my iPod and yurbuds, amphipod in hand, and a whole lot of ideas for 2014, I set out to conquer hills on my own. It was a great run to burn calories in preparation for the Noche Buena feast tonight and also, as corny as it sounds, to enjoy the time alone as the year comes to an end.

As we all prepare for Christmas tonight, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas! May you be filled with love and laughter during the holidays!