Before the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on practically all sporting events in the country, Coach Enzo Hipol was one of the fastest middle distance runners in the country. With no guarantee yet of any races in the short term, Enzo has pivoted towards offering bike-fitting services to both new and experienced cyclists as well as detailed run analyses for all levels of athletes. Offering a cerebral approach to the biomechanics of running and cycling, and paired with a solid work ethic, Coach Enzo shares how he is dedicated to the run.
Q&A with Coach Enzo Hipol
How do you balance training in your life?
Fortunately for me, running is an easily accessible activity. I get to run in the morning before my day starts since I am now based in arguably the best place to run in Metro Manila: Diliman, Quezon City. As a running coach, I occasionally get to hop in my students' workouts when we meet in-person for a session. There are days when I know ahead that a bike fitting day could take close to 12 hours or more, so I would get up extra early for a run.
I plan out which type of run to do on a particular day, several months or close to a year ahead. I make time for my running routine by planning ahead, especially if there are logistical considerations to address, like hydration and fueling during the run itself.
By planning ahead, this also includes my sleep schedule each night before a run, and the corresponding recovery and refueling that the body requires after a run.
What has kept me consistent especially during these times of a world health crisis is a change in perspective of what running represents to me. Several years back when I stopped joining triathlons and went back to just running, I didn't view my daily runs as training. I treated my daily runs as part of my routine, like how brushing one's teeth. My daily running wasn't simply a means towards an end. While I still have events and goals to look forward to along the way, the process of being in a running routine has a deeper personal value and meaning. Being in a running routine is in itself the achievement, and because of this, I win every day. Whatever achievement resulting from the events I participate in is just the icing on the cake.
For training and some road running,
Coach Enzo wears the Cloud X.
What’s your favorite run workout?
If you asked me ten years ago, I would have responded differently. Nowadays, I just take it easy. I enjoy a light and aerobic run of about an hour to an hour and a half, or 10 to 14 kilometers. This is something I do pretty much daily on the university campus of Diliman. I've been roaming around the campus for close to three decades. I know it so well that I don't take any particular route. I choose whatever streets to turn to next, or which hidden paths to enter on the spot while running.
On the days when I do need to go for a non-easy, structured run, it could be at least ten repetitions of one to three minutes of hard running, the intensity based on a percentage of my critical power / running functional threshold power, with ample recovery repetitions in between, plus a lengthy warm-up and a proper cool down.
What gets you going through a particularly hard run?
Not all runs go according to plan. The mind will always give up before the body is truly unable to continue fighting, so you must train your mind to be resilient in whatever it will face. If the challenge I'm facing during a hard run isn't physical, I would silently repeat a mantra or a physical cue in my head.
It could be something like "RUN TALL, RUN TALL, RUN TALL" or "DRIVE ARMS, DRIVE ARMS, DRIVE ARMS." If this isn’t enough, I go deeper. I look into the motivations that got me into running in the first place, and the reasons that have kept me going. It gives me strength when I reflect about to whom or what I dedicate my running to. I think about my family who has always had my back from the very beginning. I think about the friends and the community who I might be able to inspire. I think about possibilities running has to offer, new locations to travel, new people to meet, new experiences to cherish along the way. I think about everything running has given me so far. My greatest memories and successes so far can be credited to running.
What’s your weekly mileage?
On a major preparation block or in a race season, my weekly run mileage could be anywhere from 80km to 110km more during base heavy periods. On most weeks I run daily, some weeks just five or six times of running, then occasionally up to ten times in a week. If there isn't any particular event I'm preparing for, my maintenance weekly mileage is roughly around 50km, plus or minus 10.
What’s your next race, and how are you preparing for it given the COVID-19 restrictions?
The pandemic has changed everyone's plans. I was aiming to join two or three marathons back in 2020. I finished a virtual marathon on my birthday last February. It was originally scheduled for March 2020 in Clark, Pampanga as an international marathon, but we all know what happened to that.
It was announced late in November last year that it would be held as a virtual run instead of postponing it for a third time, to be completed until the first week of February. I'm lucky to have a treadmill, and I've been relatively free to wander around Diliman for my daily miles so the COVID-19 restrictions don't concern me too much.
I've adjusted my weekly run cycles by shifting the days so that I can avoid the crowd that usually packs in Diliman during the weekends. My long key workouts were usually on weekends, but I've shifted them to the weekdays so I can nail the run in peace. The running masks don't impede my breathing since I've been used to wearing masks on runs or bike rides during near freezing or subzero temperatures. They just make my face feel hot in our tropical country and I find it annoying, but I observe whatever regulations are in place.
My only major race this 2021 is the Berlin Marathon in September (fingers crossed). Along the way, I might participate in some virtual races or virtual challenges, especially if it’s dedicated towards a worthwhile cause. I’ve been to Berlin a few times, but this will be my first time racing it since I've never gotten into any World Major Marathon before.
Berlin is known as the fastest marathon route in the world, with many world records being broken here in the past, the current one set by Eliud Kipchoge in 2018. The weather during that time of the year is ideal for fast running, highs of 18 degrees Celsius and lows of 11 degrees, which I personally favor. I struggle racing with the weather in the Philippines even during our country's coldest months. I intend to make it my best performance yet even if training during a pandemic is full of compromises.
What’s your On Running shoe of choice?
At the moment, the Cloudboom is a fun pair to run with. It offers a rockered profile that encourages a quick turnover or cadence. It’s narrower than most On shoes, which is a good thing for me since I have narrow feet. The upper snuggly wraps around my feet so well.