The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Honolulu Marathoners Share Their Inspiration

Medically reviewed in November 2021

This December, thousands of people will put on their running gear, eat their favorite pre-race breakfast and find their way to the starting line of this year’s Honolulu Marathon. Whether you're participating, watching from the sidelines or plan to run it in the future, here's some inspiration and advice from a few of last year's marathon participants.

Jo-Anna Syverson
What motivates you to run the Honolulu Marathon?

I’ve ran the Honolulu Marathon every year since I moved to Hawaii in 2012. I don’t intend to break that streak. Plus, it’s hard not to sign up for a marathon that has a registration fee of $26.20 and is in my backyard.

What's your best tip for those who plan to run a marathon next year?
Remember to have fun and enjoy the race. I know a lot of runners, myself included, have high expectations when it comes to running races and tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to hit a target time or pace, which is fine—I’m all about achieving goals and personal bests. But at the end of those 26.2 miles, I hope that one can look back on the experience and say that they had a great time. And, of course, that would be a good reason to do it again or to try another marathon.

Levi Hookano
What's your best tip for those who plan to run the marathon next year?

Don't be intimidated by the distance. Breaking it down into smaller parts makes it much more manageable. I just think of the route in sections (Kakaako, Downtown, Ala Moana, Waikiki, Diamond Head, Kahala and so on) and it makes it easier. If you're not out to set any records, just enjoy the day by taking in the sights you don't see while driving, people watching (because there will be interesting characters), listening to music and enjoying being outside. Also, prepare for your recovery afterwards.

Denise Lau
What was your inspiration to run the marathon last year?

A sweet friend forwarded me the announcement in January when registration was only $26 and I thought, why not? I really want better endurance, to improve my cardiovascular health, lose weight and control my prediabetes. And I’m blown away by the seniors that pass me while running races! I seriously start to think, “If that 80-year-old is ahead of me, I can do this!”

What's your best tip for those who plan to run a marathon?
Just do it, it’s untimed, just try it once. I’m super lazy and overweight, but training with others and running races is really a lot of fun and great pressure to attempt to stay fit. If they were free, I’d probably sign up for every race out there!

Adina Wakayama
What was your inspiration to run the marathon last year?

Initially, my motivation was to beat my last marathon time (4 hours, 13 minutes), but after having a baby and major surgery nine months ago, my motivation changed to just getting back in shape.

What are your best tips for those who plan to run a marathon next year?

  • Start early (in May or June) and steadily increase your miles and pace each week. 
  • Be consistent in your training. Don’t skip long runs during weekends. 
  • Listen to your body if you want to prevent major injuries. 
  • Follow a healthy diet. Personally, the lighter I was, the faster I ran. 
  • If you’re not the type to self-motivate, find some running buddies.
  • Do some weight lifting, but don't overdo it.
  • Every person is different, so try to find what works best for you!

If you’re looking to see your favorite runner in action, the Honolulu Marathon organizers have noted the best place may be on Kahala Avenue. No commercial signage is allowed and as far as safety goes, spectators should avoid stepping onto the running path. For more information about the marathon, go to honolulumarathon.org.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii.

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