Make 2017 Your Best Race Year Yet

Coaches in each triathlon discipline share tips on how to hit your goals for this year.

You should, by now, be marking your calendar for upcoming races. Your past year may have been brutal, beautiful, or boring, but 2017 gives you a chance to set new goals.

To make the best use of your time considering your race goals and the fact that life gets in the way of triathlon, we asked these coaches how to build up the right momentum as you train for those races.


Saul Sibayan

Saul Sibayan

  • faculty member of UST’s College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Sports Sciences Department
  • Master of Sports Science through the United States Sports Academy with Mentorship in Exercise Physiology at the University of Alabama strength and conditioning consultant of the UST Taekwondo team
  • founder/head coach of Scientific Endurance Coaching and Training

Facebook: Saul Sibayan | E-mail: saulsibayan@gmail.com | Mobile: 0917-712-5701

A few weeks after Saul Sibayan finished his BS Sports Science degree back in 2009, he cycled with a group of friends and met a guy from Ormoc who asked him to coach him online. That’s how it all started. From then until 2015, he served as strength and conditioning coach for individuals and different teams in different sports and with varying levels of ability (national, semi-pro and collegiate) levels.

He describes his coaching style as a two-way street. “It is based on two things: data and feedback. Data is collected by the devices (power meter, heart rate monitor, GPS devices, etc.) of the athlete. That is where I base my recommendations, analysis and exercise prescription.” Sibayan puts a premium on regular feedback from the client. He calls his training method “minimalist,” a principle he has lived by since college. This has also been the template of the training programs that he formulates for his clients who are usually in the intermediate and professional levels. He has worked with Polo Tri’s Fred Uytengsu for strength and conditioning for the 2013 triathlon season and Lara Parpan’s successful rehab from ACL injury to triathlon back in 2013; Audax Philippines’ Carmela Serina-Pearson’s preparation for 2016 Granfondo La Marmotte, and trained triathlete Vince Corpus who was 5th in his age group at the 2015 Active Health Duathlon. He says that he looks for three things that determine potential for improvement: Passion, Dedication, and Discipline. His non-negotiable rule for his students: Track as much data as possible.

Coaching can be challenging.

It is about letting them trust the process, to have them believe that science is not instant or magic,

he says. Sibayan recommends training for around 10 to 20 hours per week.

The cycling community is growing, but it too has its challenges. “In cycling, there needs to be more application of science-based workout. In general, there’s a need to educate athletes and coaches on the current trends that are being used by international organizations, institutions, and teams.”

His tip for a stellar 2017 performance: “Stick to the plan and be picky with the races.”


Roel Amabao-Ano


  • running coach since 2000
  • running coach of Team Soleus
  • member of Rio Dela Cruz’s corps of trusted coaches
  • former athlete of the Philippine Air Force military
  • organizer: Coach Roel Birthday Run (annual), Wall 2 Shotgun 10-Mile Race 2014, ULTRA 10-Mile Challenge 2015, and Sierra to Ultra 50K Ultramarathon 2016

Mobile: 0929-536-4904 | Facebook: Roel Amabao-Ano

Coach Roel Amabao-Ano hit the ground running, even as a kid in Davao Oriental, where his skills took him to regional and even national competitions. “Where I came from, there was really no training or coaching. Basta tatakbo lang kami. I was exposed to coaching at the Palarong Pambansa levels where we would observe the other teams.”       

“I was among those chosen by Coach Rio to conduct running clinics. May mga grupo na at mga individuals na lumalapit sa akin para magpaturo. Kinuha na din ako na running coach ng Team Soleus.” With big groups like Soleus, he says the challenge is gathering them for practice, and getting them to listen. “I try to motivate them to train and workout, lalo na kasi gamit nila ang singlet ng Soleus sa events.” He wants to push them to improve their running and make them eager for training. This is one of the reasons why he brought in a set of “halimaw” from Davao, to train with the team and help others aspire for bigger goals. “Gusto ko ’yung pumupunta sila sa akin tapos nagtatanong o nag-didiscuss ng performance nila para matulungan ko sila mag-improve.”

An ideal training program for him would be done six times a week, morning and night, for as little as 30 minutes, depending on the race and its distance. “For a sprinter, it can be 30 to 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon.”

His non-negotiable is trust. “If they don’t trust me, it’s useless. Minsan ang turo ko 30 minutes lang  gagawin na one hour. Kapag na-injure ka, di mo makukuha goal mo. Dapat kung ano ang sasabihin ko, yun ang susundin mo.”   

The running community has a glut of events, he observes, and people need to be choosy on what to join. “’Yung iba na-e-enganyo sa dami ng freebies, lahat sinasalihan, tapos magkaka –injury.” His advice:

Mark a certain race and then prepare for it.

Hindi puwede ’yung sasali ka ng wala kang preparation. Kapag nahirapan ka, tapos hindi ka nag-enjoy, titigil ka sa pagtakbo.

“Maganda din kumuha ng tamang coach para marating mo ang goal mo.”


Julian Valencia


  • Turtle Pace Sports Coaching
  • TRAP/ITU Level 1 Community Coach, certified Newton Running Coach
  • former member of UP’s swimming varsity team

E-mail: jay.valencia@gmail.com | Mobile: 0928-504-6675

He believes that “Slow and steady wins the race.” This is why he named his sports coaching company Turtle Pace. Julian Valencia is somewhat an amphibian himself, as he used his background in collegiate swimming competitions as a foundation for joining triathlons back in 1993. “Our training was very crude during those days. We biked, ran, and swam na parang ‘Bahala na.’” When he decided to do triathlon again in the mid-2000’s, there was more method to the madness of training. That’s when he decided to get his certifications for coaching from TRAP/ITU (Triathlon Association of the Philippines/International Triathlon Union) as a Level 1 Community Coach and from Newton for Natural Running.

Valencia prefers coaching beginners. His students are working people and businessmen, people with day jobs. “My coaching style fits them because I get them a quality workout with an hour or an hour and a half every day, which they can do at their convenience. I do individualized and achievable targets based on an assessment of each client,” he says. His coaching times are flexible, but Saturdays are for long workout rides.

His beginners in swimming are the ones who face frustration, he observes, as they cannot see progress in the same way runners or cyclists do. “I tell them that it is about incremental gains. Sometimes they don’t realize that even though they don’t swim as fast, they are in better condition transitioning into the other disciplines of triathlon. Even if you only improve by a minute or 30 seconds, it is a big thing as long as you are in better shape coming out of the water.”         

The coaching challenge he encounters is motivating his busy clients to be consistent with their training. Access to information on the Internet adds difficulty too. “They come to me with something they Googled and ask questions. The difference for me is that I have structured my program based on what I learned and their capability according to my assessment. I have to align their thinking with all the information that is coming in left and right. I think that is a challenge not only for me but also for other coaches,” he says.

When he assesses talent, he looks at the person’s mindset.

If a person has a competitive mindset, he will do everything to excel.

They will devote time to their workouts and do them no matter how tired they are.” His non-negotiable rule, he explains, is “if you don’t do the workout, then don’t expect any improvement.”

His pieces of advice for those who want to get into or improve in triathlon:

Hire a coach. A coach will help prevent you from getting injured and help you buy the right equipment to make it less expensive. A coach can also motivate you, especially when you get tired.

Work with coaches who hold group sessions. It is more fun to work with a group than to train by yourself.

Don’t target big races first. Start small. Once you enjoy it, then you move on to the big races. With small races, you can train in two months. A 70.3 (half-Ironman distance) takes about four months training, while for a full Ironman you have to train at least half a year.


Titus Salazar


  • certified IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation) Level 4 coach
  • founder, Up and Running with Coach Titus Salazar
  • heads the annual Running Clinic for Kids at the Philippine Sports Arena (Ultra) every summer
  • popular in the running community as a physiotherapist with deep tissue massage as one of his skills
  • coach of Team Bald Runner

E-mail: coachtitus2010@yahoo.com | Mobile: 0920-536-7037

He seeks to train the next generation of track stars, with his running clinics for kids. Titus Salazar professes an affinity with kids, because he has four children himself. He first had the idea of training children when his niece asked him to help her daughter become healthier through exercise. “Sakitin yung anak niya noon, sabi niya sa akin i-train ko daw para lumakas. The girl, Alana Julianne Halagueña, 15, is now a force to reckon with on the road. She won 2nd place in the 5-km MTR Hongkong Racewalking 2016 (unlike running, racewalking is a foot race that uses a specific technique to be able to walk very fast while maintaining contact with the ground with at least one foot) and is one of PATAFA’s (Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association) champion athletes. Her constant training companion  Franxine Louisse Regalado, 13, also a student of Salazar’s, recently placed sixth in the 3-km Female 7-12 Age Group category of the 2016 National MILO Marathon (Manila Leg). Salazar makes it easier for other kids to reach those same goals, especially since he started his grassroots summer running program five years ago that trains up to 60 kids from four to 17 years old.

He also coaches adults who get him as their running coach. The main difference between coaching kids and adults is that children have less to unlearn. “Sa malalaki na, mahirap na baguhin yung nakitaan mo ng mali. If you introduce a new system, mahihirapan na siya mag- adapt. Ang ginagawa ko, inuunti-unti ko para hindi siya drastic change. I use my charm and persuasion,” says Salazar, who is also known as a miracle worker with his style of “hilot.” “People come to me before going to the doctor, kasi doon ipapa-MRI ka pa, o kung ano-ano, sa akin, hilot lang.”   

He calls his style “warm-body coaching”, where he works with his students face to face. “I tried coaching sa Internet, iba ang pakiramdam. Yung ibang nagpapa-coach sa akin, pumupunta pa dito galing Cebu.”   

He says that Filipino athletes need more discipline. “I trained in China once, and when the coach knocks on your door, tayo kaagad, bihis, at takbo palabas. Dito, they take their time, tapos hihintayin pa sila ng coach.” Filipinos should also learn to listen. “Lalo na sa long-distance runners, when the coach tells you to run only this far, huwag mo na isagad, wag mo na lagpasan. Kasi injury ang katapat niyan.

Dapat nakikinig ka sa coach. Kaya nga siya andyan para iwasan ang ma-injure ka.”    

For 2017, Salazar advises:

Know the race you will enter and sign up for it. Knowing what it’s all about will help you prepare and focus.

Commit to the proper training time and schedule. “Too-short training times will result in injuries, then lower self-esteem, and lead to thoughts of quitting, kasi masakit.

Find a race and stick to your preparations for it. “When it is done, move on to your next goal.”


Andy Leuterio


  • director/head coach at Alpha Training Systems (offers Functional Threshold and Power Profile Testing, Spin Scan, and Quadrant Analysis)
  • entrepreneur – Maximus Athlete’s Shop Cafe

Email: alpha_tri@yahoo.com | Mobile: 0917-864-1014

It was a mentoring program among his tri teammates that got Andy Leuterio into coaching. “Back in 2002, I would just help out the newer guys in the Fitness First team,” he says. A teammate asked for help with training for a half-Ironman race and later on referred him to another friend. A year later, Leuterio put a system in place and gathered data on training methods influenced by New Zealand runner and athletics coach Arthur Lydriard, elite triathlon coach Joe Friel, triathlon coaches and multiple Ironman Kona-champions Andrew Coggan and Dave Scott, and power training coach Hunter Allen. Leuterio then launched a private training camp for his clients.

His style is a mix of tech gadgets such as power meters and lactate numbers and the old-school value of hard work. “I would be like, ‘Huwag mo itanong kung bakit, you just need to do the load and then recover. It’s a simple formula of work stress and rest. I am also a life coach in that I help them to develop better habits such as sleeping early, eating well, and living a life that’s less toxic. It’s about getting balance into their lives.”   

He is as strict as he can be, but as his coaching is Internet-based, he says, it’s the client’s own lookout on delivering due diligence. “One of my conditions is that I have a face-to-face first, where I discuss the system with them. For those who are out-of-town, we talk on Skype. Here I explain the importance of uploading their data on the system, because that is how I get to track their progress and make adjustments to their program. I can change and scale down or add more load based on their data. Now, if you did the work but did not upload it, I will assume that you did not do the work. If you don’t follow the program, don’t expect results. I can guarantee that if you follow the program, you will succeed.”

His success stories include celebrity couple Drew and Iya Arellano. “Drew was training haphazardly before, I gave him a structured training program, and he started winning his age group. He then asked if I can coach Iya, who has now also started winning in her age group.” 

“I tend to attract the competitive type,” he adds. Leuterio looks for that “killer instinct,” because these are the ones who are willing to make investments towards improving performance. “I don’t work with beginners anymore. They need to be pretty knowledgeable, with at least a year of competing behind them.”       

His concern about coaching is that there are less places to bike in around the city. “You can’t really find a place in the city where you can get a decent bike ride, in terms of less pollution and better safety.”    

Leuterio’s advice:

If you are racing in 2017, you should have started training last November 2016.

There is still time to train for a full Ironman; allot 4 to 5 months preparation.

If you can’t get outdoors, hit the gym.

Build your base strength with weights in the chest, back, and quad areas so that you don’t get easily injured.   


Moi Yamoyam


  • founder and head coach at The Swim Academy PH (with a focus on the Total Immersion Method)
  • former member of Philippine Triathlon Team
  • Under 19 and Under 23 National Triathlon Record holder
  • certified Triathlon Coach under the International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA)

Email: ask@theswimacademyph.com | Mobile: 0917-522-5044

He took swim improvement classes primarily for himself, but he was so hooked on the Total Immersion System while in Singapore that he studied to become one of its coaches. “I was a swim coach even when I was in high school and college. When I graduated, I started working on corporate jobs, but I found that I missed the water. That was when I went back to coaching, but this time armed with my certification from Total Immersion, along with my swim background and my background with triathlon,” says Moi Yamoyam.

As a former National Triathlete turns into a Coach, he’s got his two cents as to how the country can snatch more gold medals: Focus on one stroke.

“We are teaching our swimmers all the different strokes, when they just need to focus on one.

If, for example, a young athlete trains with the 50-meter breaststroke all the way to college, mas malaki ang chances niya makasali sa Olympics in one event,” he says.

His students are in their 20s and upwards, with some who are inexperienced swimmers. “Mas gusto ko yung talagang pagdating sa akin ‘zero’, and I get to try different techniques to see which works the best. It’s a different learning curve.” For competitive, high-performance athletes, he prescribes a minimum of four hours in a week, with three sessions in a week. “To hit their targets and see improvements in the learning curve, it goes back to intensity, frequency, and duration.”    

He says he is more particular with form, not speed. “Speed will come later on. I tell my students, ‘You might not swim as fast as Michael Phelps, but you can swim like Michael Phelps.’” The challenge in coaching is not coaching itself, but those who don’t show up for training and practice.            

To get to your 2017 goals, he advises:

Sign up for a race, set up a plan. If you have a good plan, but no race, it won’t motivate you.

Join one event or two each quarter to keep you in good training shape and race-ready condition.

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