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AsiaTRI-Philippines Interview: Balancing Life and Training with Age Grouper Jon Sunga

In this month’s age grouper in focus episode, AsiaTRI-Philippines had a chance to chat with Jon Sunga, a Filipino businessman who heads a construction company.  Jon talks about the perennial age grouper dilemma, balancing family life, work and training.
AsiaTRI:  Describe your lifestyle before discovering triathlon? 
Jon:  I totally had no time for any form of exercise.  My day was filled with a great load of work.  I work a lot, and I drink a lot.
 
AsiaTRI: How did you discover triathlon? 
Jon: It was 2013, I was 41, I was gaining weight significantly and my routine blood test results were shooting up way beyond the normal range.  A friend introduced me to running and instantly I fell into it.   Since then, there is no better way to spend a Sunday morning, in fact any morning, than stepping out of the door and just run. Just a few months after I discovered running, my blood chemistry results turned normal.  I joined races and met runners who were actually tri-athletes, and they encouraged me to become one of them.  After almost a year of just running, I got myself an aero road bike and enrolled myself to a “learn how to swim” program.  I could hardly swim then.        
 
AsiaTRI: You tackled your first Ironman last year (October 2016) in Taiwan, your 2nd last April in South Africa, and you’re doing 2 for the rest of the year, how is your body coping with training and recovery? 
Jon: Coping with training and recovery is a serious challenge when doing multiple full distance Ironman in a year, specially that the race day is far easier than the 6-day a week for 4 months training.  The human body is like a car engine that requires fuel to work efficiently and effectively.  Proper nutrition is the key to sustaining training and recovery.  I ask the athletes, I explore other options, and try to find out what works best for me.  I don’t limit my nutrition to the commercially available items, I find time to plan for and prepare my meals.           
 
AsiaTRI: What is your favorite discipline? Least liked? 
Jon: Swim – Bike – Run?  I love running most.  Running became more and more about escape, about leaving the day’s stresses behind by losing myself in the real world.  I like swimming the least.  As I refresh my memory of the swells at the sea of IM South Africa, I still couldn’t believe how I finished the gruelling 3.8km swim.
 
AsiaTRI: Being a busy CEO of a construction company, how do you balance training, work and family life? 
Jon: To be able to give myself ample time to train, EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT is the key.  It’s always SHORT TIME BUT QUALITY TIME.  As my wife says, “You have mastered the art of delegation, follow-up and follow through”.   I involve my family in the events.  Every out of town is a family vacation at the same time.  For every new bike, there is a corresponding gift to my wife! (Hahaha!)  Eventually, my wife learned how to adapt.  She now enjoys duathlon and fun run events with my boys.  
 
On the otherhand, still, there are sacrifices I had to make for the sake of training.  And my drinking sessions has been significantly minimized.   
 
AsiaTRI: What has the sport of triathlon taught you?
Jon: In every full distance Ironman race, no matter how physically prepared you are, most likely, you will quit because of the element of distance and time.  Triathlon humbled me to accept that FAILURES HAPPEN as I had experienced a couple of times.  Triathlon trained me to be MENTALLY TOUGH.  Triathlon directed me to FOCUS ON MY GOAL.  No matter how much pain I felt, I pushed myself to believe the I CAN DO IT.  And I did.  
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See also:  3 Most Important Bike Sessions in Triathlon