Dr. Vic Verallo Speaks: Why I Run

“I always loved running,” said Jesse Owens, the four-time Olympic gold medalist. “It was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

I know one man who’ll nod his head in agreement, make the thumbs-up sign, smile and say, “Yes! That’s why I run!” Dr. Vicente Verallo. One of Cebu’s top dermatologists, he’s a busy man. Visit his Chong Hua clinic and you’ll notice the long hours he works. At home, he is happily married to top Cebu cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Susan Verallo. They have eight children. At work, at home—life is hectic. Still, the one thing Dr. Vic never fails to schedule?

Running. For the past 12 years and running, Dr. Verallo’s been running. He’s finished the 42K Pasig Marathon, run a very respectable 53-minute 10K, and is one of the pioneers of the Cebu Executive Runners Club. In an exchange of e-mails, Dr. Verallo reveals why he pounds the asphalt…

Why run? “I love experiencing the runners’ high. It’s nice to come home and start the day with your sense of humor just when everybody is crawling out of their beds, feeling grouchy. I also like to be able to tuck my shirt in without any beer belly protruding out. It enhances the self esteem. I look forward to the camaraderie with my friends. Running is very efficient. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to get the energy expenditure you want to shed out. In an hour, you spend so many calories enough to trim you down and exercise your heart.”

Other advantages of running? “Running is inexpensive. You only have to buy running shoes which last from six months to several years. It’s also very convenient. When I go out of the country, I only need to bring my running shoes and I can still go on with my regular exercise. I love to run in a new environment. I especially love running in Paris, being able to look at the Arc de Triomphe from a runner’s view. The last time I was there, I was able to run around the vicinity of the Louvre and Notre Dame. It was one of the most memorable and exciting runs I’ve had. At one time I ran from the Arc de Triomphe to the Grande Arche in La Defense and back.”

Dr. Verallo (left) with this writer after the Run For Your Heart 10K race last May 6

How did you start? “I was introduced to running by a classmate, Jojo Mancao, way back in college during the ‘70s. Back then, there were no running shoes, just plain rubber shoes. It was more of a novelty thing which easily gave way to another interest: girls. I was re-introduced to running in the early ‘80s. This time it was the health issue. Like my first tryst with running, though, it gave way to another passion: road-biking. I found biking more enjoyable since you can go to places you couldn’t reach with running. My affair with biking, however, ended when I went to Manila for my dermatology training. When I came back in 1988, I wanted to bike again but feared the congested streets of Cebu.”

Then? “In 1994, the inevitable happened. With the return of my wife Susan from her residency training in plastic surgery, I gained weight. It’s difficult to maintain weight if you’re well-fed! I looked at running again and found it to have several advantages over biking: less expensive and a lot safer. Since then, I have run more or less regularly. But just like the RP economy, my running has its ups and downs. I have always put my running in the proper perspective. That it is supposed to be fun and it improves my health. I am not obsessed with records and as a result, I don’t run during inclement weather as some runners do. The means to improve my health should not be the cause of my death.”

What do you think about during a run? “When I started, I was a solitary runner. During those times, I think of a lot of things: family, medical practice. It is a wonderful time to contemplate on a lot of things. I usually pray a lot also while running – for my family and friends. Lately, I’ve been running with some close friends. It’s fun. We talk a lot from business to politics. Just recently, a group of us ran up to Busay and three-fourths of the way, we were telling jokes.”

Your schedule? “I’d like to run three to four times a week. Unfortunately, at times, the spirit is willing but the body is not. With my current group, our schedule is every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. At the very least, I run for an hour. Personally, I find running in the oval track boring. I usually run in the streets. The route depends on the length of time I want to run. I usually follow the route of the 10k runs like Nike’s and Adidas’ before they folded up.”

Any advise you can share? “My best tip is to buy a good pair of running shoes. They help prevent knee damage. I’ve been running for 12 years and I have not encountered knee problems. I guess having a light weight also helps. In anything that I do, consistency has been important. I might not have won a single race but I have managed to do something for 12 years. That’s something I’m very proud of because few runners have achieved that. I hope to continue running even when I’m old and gray. The secret for consistency? Always look and do things for the fun of it! Life is too short. Maintain a good sense of humor!”

2 thoughts on “Dr. Vic Verallo Speaks: Why I Run

  1. hahaha estrikto man kaayo ni si doc verallo oe.. ana siya nga “Maintain a good sense of humor!” ”

    hahaha good one. he’s got a funny way of showing it. 😛

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