When passion for running turns into a lifetime advocacy

Adrianna Mejia

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When passion for running turns into a lifetime advocacy
Three runners talk about life before running, going digital and the unexpected job of inspiring others

MANILA, Philippines – What’s the best way to start a conversation with a runner? Ask what got them started.

You’ll find that they are just like you – they have a regular job, love to socialize, and enjoy lying on the couch watching TV.

But one thing that stands out among runners is their discipline. They are driven by passion.

There is such a thing as a “runner’s high.” It’s the mindset that keeps them going. They are thinking about practically nothing while they run – or at least they have random thoughts that they’ve already forgotten when asked, “What do you think of while you run?”

Running is a relatively simple sport. You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need any special equipment. If you have the right kind of shoes, the time and the desire, you can just go out and run. But is it easy? Not quite.

When running became the “it” sport in the early 2000s, there were fun runs and marathons being organized left and right, and of course, more and more people wanted to get in on it. But for the newbies who wanted to start on their own, they needed all the help they can get. So who do they turn to? Technology, of course!

Run. Rest. Eat. Repeat.

Three guys with very different personalities talk about their passion. Or should we call it, “obsession?” 

Jeff Lo is an entrepreneur, a businessman and the founder of pinoyfitness.com. He claims to be the nerdy type who ironically also enjoyed going out and socializing. During the course of the interview though, he seemed like the guy who was always the life of the party.

RUNNERS AND WRITERS. They have inspired many with their websites and own stories.

For Jeff, running started as a hobby back in 2009. It was a way to strike a healthy balance between his career and personal life. Going to the gym and pumping iron wasn’t enough and he preferred to get fit with friends, in his case, his officemates. “I also used to go surfing but then I started running.” You could say he never looked back after that.

Jinoe Gavan is an engineer by day, a runner by weekend, and a father all throughout. He manages the website takbo.ph. But for him, it wasn’t love at first try. He shares, “I never really loved running before because I thought of it as punishment. If you were noisy in class, if you weren’t disciplined in CAT, you’re asked to do two rounds [around the field],” he quips.

In 2006, running was just something on his bucket list. His sister was already a runner when they were younger. When he changed his perspective, it turned out to be something he would grow to love. “One of the things I love about running is that the challenge is always there. You finish 10km, you move onto 21km. If you finish it in 30 minutes you try to finish it in 20 minutes.”

Then there is the story of the 180-degree, complete lifestyle change. Carlos de Guzman started running in 2007. He is a voice over talent for television shows – such as koreanovelas – and founder of sbr.ph, a webiste that talks anything about swimming, biking nad running.

 “I got hooked.” He admits that prior to that, he was a complete couch potato and no one in his family was athletic at all. “My friend and I had a game on a whim: race to 200 pounds. I had reached a point that I couldn’t gain any more weight. I didn’t like the way I looked and didn’t feel so good about myself and that’s when I decided to get fit.” No one really expected him to do what he does now – [to go] from couch potato to triathlete.

What it takes to be a runner

Sacrifices need to be made when you make running a part of your life. The early call time for races and the need to turn away from late nights with friends seem daunting at first. However, setting goals and breaking personal records can be quite the reward.

DISCIPLINE. Jeff shares he sacrificed his relationships with friends to make more time for running.

Jeff says it’s about discipline and prioritizing what you really want. “Rather than going out on a Saturday, you have to sleep early because you have an early run on Sunday. Instead of going out with your barkada or staying out late, you go home at 10pm so you can rest. That’s probably the most difficult part for me.”

Difficult choices are made for the sake of your passion. The same goes for whatever you want in life. It also boils down to how you manage your time and what you want to prioritize.

PASSION. Carlos says that he decided to change things up by becoming a triathlete.

“I’m just running because I love running. Not to hit a time or finish a certain distance,” shares Carlos. He leaned towards challenging oneself to become better than the last training session. There came a point when he was bored of simply running and had to change it up. Aside from setting personal goals in running, he decided to train for triathlons.

FAMILY MAN. When Jinoe trained for competitions, he was out of the house for 5 to 6 hours.

But when all three were asked what the best part of running is? They all agree that it’s not the personal records or medals earned, it’s the positive influence and inspiration they give to family and friends. If they can do it, so can you.

As a family man, Jinoe had to sacrifice some time with his loved ones as well. He mentioned that his son would sometimes ask him to stay at home instead of going out to run. “You sometimes have to train for five or six hours. Then you also have to sacrifice money because you have to spend for the things that you need. When you run long distances, you need to spend on food as well.”

For the love of running

Aside from running, these three guys also have another thing in common. They each started their own website on their sport.

Starting out by sharing their personal journey, they now talk to a community of passionate runners or running enthusiasts to give them important information on the sport. They also say that sharing inspiring stories has pushed them to continue doing what they do. There are stories on weight loss, first timers who simply share their experiences and those who turned their life around through running. What started out as personal blogs have become their personal advocacies.

Of course, starting a website requires one important thing: a catchy name.

JINOE GAVAN. He boosts his run with the adidas boost.

Jinoe kept it simple. As suggested by a friend, he named his website takbo.ph, as opposed to his first choice “manukan runner” inspired by his roots in Bacolod. What he likes about running his own website? He can do it from home and spend more quality time with this family, and continue to do what he loves which is writing.

Carlos, on the other hand, says the name of his website came to him while he was recovering from dengue in the hospital and thought it would be cool to celebrate the launch of his website of January 1, 2011 or 1.1.11. “I wanted to own a site that talks about swimming, biking and running.” Hence, sbr.ph.

Jeff however was looking for a site where he could find information on different sports. Seeing a need for this, he created pinoyfitness.com. His trainer suggested the name as Jeff was lifting weights in the gym. “When I first started, we only had 85 readers a month.” But clearly that number has grown bigger over the years. 

From one runner to another: boosting your run with the right shoe

JEFF LO. Use the right shoe if you want to avoid injuries.

Other than practicing the right technique or getting enough rest between runs and training sessions, using the right pair of shoes is very important to improve your run.

“Right now I’m wearing adidas Boost and I have no complaints,” says Jinoe. He can run long distances and still feel comfortable. It’s light and gives his run the extra boost because, as he says, he can run for miles and miles with it.

Carlos has also been a loyal user of adidas shoes. “I’ve been wearing adidas for a long time. I’ve had Supernovas, about 3 of those, and my fastest time was done with it.” Now he also uses adidas Boost like his fellow runners Jinoe and Jeff since he prefers the cushion and lightness of the shoe. And so far, he has no injuries and has felt that his running has improved.

“I used to wear badminton shoes for running since it was a popular sport back then and I had no clue about using the proper shoes in running,” Jeff mentions. “Of course I got injuries. So I transitioned to proper training shoes. As Jinoe said, runners prefer lighter shoes but still need support and stability.” That’s when he switched to Boost and noted that he got both comfort and support.

When asked, “What’s your dream?

“Difficult question to answer! But for my site pinoyfitness.com, I hope it can be the center for which Filipinos can find stories, information and motivation to go for what they want and live that lifestyle,” says Jeff.

CARLOS DE GUZMAN. Comfort and lightness will help you run more miles.

“I always wanted to join the Ultra [IronMan]. Personally, I think that’s it in terms of my bucket list. I’m not the fastest runner though,”says Carlos.

What started from different points has arrived at a single passion. They chose to live a healthier and more active life no matter how difficult the shift was from their former lifestyle. “When I joined my last marathon I saw an old man running with a piece of paper stuck on his back and it said, ‘I ran 42.195km 486 times.’ From then on, I really wanted to run 100 marathons in my lifetime. I’m not sure how old I’ll be when I reach that goal but at least it will make me keep on running,” says Jinoe.

These are three regular guys who turned their passion into an advocacy through example and using their websites as a tool to inspire and create a bigger and tighter community of runners. They have become one of the most admired personalities in the running community but they still keep their feet on the ground.

Now what’s your excuse? Get up and run. Talk to us in the comments section below and tell us what you do to #BoostYourRun. – Rappler.com

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