There’s a reason actor Piolo Pascual is often seen mounted on his bike these days. He enjoys working out his lower body more than, say, sculpting his biceps or pecs. And so it was a natural progression for him to shift from running to biking.
Since his initiation into outdoor sports four years ago, diving into a five-week running crash course for 10k in 1999 with coach Rio dela Cruz and setting a record now known as the “sub-Piolo,” the actor has been busy entertaining the idea of doing the whole nine yards someday—run, bike and swim for a full triathlon distance.
But that, of course, is still way into the future. Pascual has yet to run his first full marathon—unfinished projects in Manila foiled his plan to join the Berlin Marathon last year. He had been training for a sub-four record then, a doable goal for a guy whose 21k personal record is a sub-two.
“That was very traumatic for me. I had already made arrangements six months prior to the race. And I didn’t get any refund,” he said during a phone interview with the Inquirer.
For now, the 5’11” Pascual is content to be on the Timex relay team, where he is set to do the 90-km bike event during the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines on Aug. 4 in Cebu. Kicking off with a 1.9-km swim off the white sands of Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, the two-loop 90-km bike course will race toward the main island of Cebu, covering the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay.
Pascual, however, is a little anxious about the race. He hasn’t been training as hard as he used to. He is currently juggling many projects at the same time, and squeezing in time for training, no matter the dedication, has proven very challenging on most days. He trains mostly in Clark these days, enjoying the crisp, clean provincial air.
Strength and stamina
“Devoting an hour or two whenever I can into training is not enough. I have only trained a distance of no more than 60 km. And I need the strength and stamina to finish 90 km,” he said.
Come race day, he hopes not to encounter major hiccups along the way—such as a flat tire that could ruin not only his time, but his team’s overall ranking, as well.
“The important thing is to not give up and finish the race. I just hope to finish the race straight, without going over my maximum heart rate,” he said, laughing.
Between running, biking and swimming—yes, he does swim, but not competitively yet—Pascual finds biking the easiest part. Both running and biking demand strength from the lower body, but that’s probably the only thing both sports have in common.
Running requires you to have strong calves; biking, strong thighs. Cycling is riding a machine that propels you forward, he said, cruising and gliding occasionally, unlike the weight-bearing running where you stop the forward motion the second you stop moving. Regardless of the similarities and differences, though, Pascual said it is important to feel passionate about which one you do.
“I really feel the passion for being able to do a triathlon someday. That’s on my bucket list. So I always find time to get the feeling of being fulfilled physically—how much faster I can go, how much longer I can last. I like being able to push myself further each time,” Pascual said.
Swimming is his waterloo. Right now he is swimming as part of his fitness program, and he’s not quite warming up to the sport yet. When the time is right—when he has the time to devote to training, that is—we will see Pascual swimming competitively.
“I’d like to be able to do a triathlon before I turn 40,” the 36-year-old actor said.
The silver-screen heartthrob now feels he’s getting, well, old, even if he has strength and endurance that can put the regular 20-year-old kid to shame. The only thing getting in the way of his dreams is time.
Unless he is willing to work less in order to devote hours to training, he won’t be able to do even a Half Ironman. At present, he said, he is married to his job.
“I respect the people who are able to allot time to training. People who have jobs, careers, a life, and yet they are able to train. I think you need to find a balance in life. Right now I find a way to train, no excuses. I set my heart on it. When it’s time to train, I train,” he said.
One of the benefits, he said, of constantly training and exercising is being able to eat whatever you want. Pascual said he doesn’t restrict any food group in his diet because he burns anywhere from 1,000-2,000 calories during training. He also makes sure he takes his daily vitamins and honey, and gets to sleep six to eight hours a day.
“You have to commit to a certain lifestyle—clean living, healthier choices. And always, always find time to exercise,” he said.