The partner athletes behind Unilab’s Active Health campaign encourage families to get started on exercise programs—and to keep things fun to stay on them
Race organizer Rio del Rosario
Triathlete Ani de Leon-Brown has been active all her life—until she got pregnant and had to slow down. A 10K used to be an “easy run,” but three months after giving birth, she could hardly run for four minutes straight.
“It was very hard for me to get back to my former speed. My first run was just four minutes, and the next was 10. After three days, I was able to complete 10 minutes, then 15,” she explained. “The thing with running is you have to slug it out for the first two weeks, then it will get better—and you will feel better.”
The new mom is a three-time Philippine National Triathlon champion and the first Filipino woman to join the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She is promoting an active lifestyle not just for women, but for the whole family, reminding everyone that getting active means having energy to do more things.
Ani is one of the partner athletes in Unilab’s Active Health campaign. She and husband Dan, runners Rio del Rosario and Jaymie Pizarro, and cyclist Raul Cuevas recently gave a talk on how to start and stay active.
The event, held at Holiday Inn Galleria in Ortigas, Pasig, also introduced Unilab’s lineup of sports activities for the year.
Active Health is the fitness division of Unilab Laboratories, Inc., a 65-year-old pharmaceutical company (among its brands are Enervon, Alaxan, Myra). It has been hosting the Run United, Bike United and Tri United events since 2010.
RUNNER Jaymie Pizarro
The three-leg Run United will be on March 4 (registration closed), June 17, and Sept. 16; the Tri United triathlon will be on April 14-15 in Batangas, June 30-July 1 in Bataan, and Nov. 10-11; and the first-ever Run United Philippine Marathon will be on Oct. 28.
Registration fee is from P350 to P900, and part of the proceeds will go to the Gawad Kalusugan (the health program of Gawad Kalinga) and Hero Foundation. Organizers said joining fee covers logistics cost.
Unilab Active Health head Alex Panlilio said Run United focuses on gathering family members of different fitness levels; that’s why it has a 500-meter dash for kids, and more competitive 5, 10 and 21K distances. “We call it a ‘family run’ because we believe that if someone in the family is into fitness, he can influence the others. And running also provides family bonding time.”
Panlilio recently did his first triathlon. He considers himself a beginner.
“I was into basketball when I was younger, but there came a time when when I let myself go,” he said. “I tried running 5K and I couldn’t even get past a kilometer! That’s when I decided to train.”
Triathlete Ani de Leon-Brown
Since running calls for a lifestyle change, Panlilio said it is also important to surround yourself with people who are into it.
Find a way
You are never too young or too old to get active; it is a matter of getting started and keeping your activities exciting.
Kids can be “programmed” at an early age, said Ani, while it’s more of mental and physical conditioning for adults. “I know it is very hard to get up very in the morning, so it is best to join a group so that you can follow a training time and routine.”
Ani, also a coach and trainer, said you have to set realistic goals, then work on how to sustain it. Her tip: Work around your schedule, find time within your work and family life, identify goal rate, and slowly build up your runs around it. Prioritize. Being too busy is not an excuse, because “if you want it hard enough you will find a way.”
Pizarro, a mother of two and publisher of The Bull Runner Magazine, said running is a convenient way to get fit, especially for multitasking women. “You can squeeze in outdoor runs in the morning. If it’s too hot in the daytime, you can run on the treadmill; at night, you can run with friends. It is very flexible. Make sure running won’t be hassle so that you wouldn’t easily give up.”
And while running complements your life, you should never forget to have fun.
“I can be very competitive,” said Pizarro. “So my weekday runs are fast, while my weekend runs with friends are more relaxed. We don’t worry about time and personal records, just what we’ll be having for breakfast afterwards.”
Pizarro is organizing the Bull Runner Dream Marathon on March 18.
CYCLIST Raul Cuevas
Ready to run? Now keep these in mind to avoid injuries.
Preparation is key, said Dan, a 15-time Ironman finisher and former coach of the Philippine Triathlon team. Follow a progression and build your speed slowly. Don’t overdo it.
Del Rosario said passion is good, but you don’t have to be too aggressive. Start slow. Your initial goal should be to finish a 3K run-walk until you can run the whole length. Do this until you can finish 5K without walking. Also, find out your foot type (flat-footed, high-arch, neutral) and invest in proper running shoes. His RunRio race company organizes all Unilab Active Health events.