When asked about her proudest athletic achievement, Nylah Bautista does not mention doing both Ironman Korea and Taiwan 20 days apart (the golden rule of recovery is eight to 12 weeks), beating her personal record with hip bursitis.
Instead, she says it’s her personal transformation from being sedentary to becoming a multisport athlete: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d get into full distance triathlons. Every race taught me a valuable lesson in life about passion, hard work and commitment.” How has she been training through the pandemic?
“Our choices are pretty simple: lose or gain fitness, get fat or fit,” she said. “I gained extra curves in unwanted places during this pandemic since all my group classes were postponed indefinitely. It pushed us to create our personal pain caves in the comforts of our homes … It’s mentally challenging, but indoor training gets quality work done at your most convenient time.”
Bautista has been a certified International Union Triathlon Coach since 2018, handling 15- to 60-year-olds who want to try multisport. She also mentors seasoned triathletes to get faster and stronger in their swim-bike-run skill set.
Prepandemic, she led group classes on swims, bikes and runs four times a week. The enhanced community quarantine challenges her to be creative in her online programs in bike and run by asking her students to join virtual races and compete with each other online.
“(General community quarantine) was heaven-sent to us, as several facilities opened up for training and we could conduct small group outdoor sessions in swim, bike and run,” she said.“COVID is a game changer and the coaching industry was severely affected. We had to shift gears and switch online with occasional small group sessions depending on quarantine regulations. Group trainings are definitely more enjoyable with the social interaction. Since the setup completely changed, online coaching and students’ compliance require a lot of discipline and self-motivation,” she added.
As a coach, she is proudest every time her students realize their strength and full potential by conquering a challenge, crossing a finish line, and achieving a personal best.
“It’s not all about winning, it’s being part of their journey to become the best version of themselves through sports. It’s pushing the students to enjoy what they are doing to the best of their ability and creating milestones in their lives,” she said.
Bautista is also the coach of the first Adidas Girls Can Run (GCR) program in the Philippines, a worldwide project of Adidas runners in support of women empowerment.
“Each participating country formed a select group of promising women willing to take up running and undergo a structured training program. This created an opportunity for a small group training session to run together, know each other better and share the passion for running,” she explained.
She said the launch of Adidas GCR immediately created a ripple effect as men were encouraged to join, too; hence, TitosandTitasCanRun was born.
“It started as friendly banter among triathlete friends to get back into fitness by running together. After a few days, we decided to meet up weekly to push one another to be in good shape, our balik-alindog program,” she said with a laugh.
The group has a maximum of 10 people and are mindful of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases rules on outdoor sports training, such as wearing of masks, getting fully vaccinated and maintaining social distancing.
Her tips for newbies or elite athletes?
“Pay attention to your mental health. The lockdown restrictions and limited socialization will elicit negative thoughts and dampen your motivation to exercise. But now is the opportune time to give more priority to your fitness. Working out for 20-30 minutes a day may help boost the body’s immune system against severe COVID,” she said.
“If you feel lonely, you’ve got to move, walk, stretch, do indoor workouts to keep your mind and body busy with productive things. Exercise doesn’t replace getting a vaccine, but it certainly does wonders to protect your body not only from COVID but from any other virus out there. If there’s a will to get fit, there’s always a way to exercise at home.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ