If running the Honolulu Marathon is on your bucket list or if you just want to prepare for shorter-distance runs, check out the free Honolulu Marathon Clinic at Kapiolani Park on Sunday mornings.
Dr. Jack Scaff started the clinic in 1974, one year after he helped organize the grueling 26.2-mile marathon that takes place every December. Clinic sessions run from March to December, and runners can join at any time.
Each week, Scaff presents a 10-minute talk prior to workouts, with topics ranging from nutrition to buying the right shoes.
Volunteers lead beginner, intermediate and advanced groups, helping individuals attain the skills needed to successfully complete a marathon. A group of walkers also participates.
I joined the 13-minute-per-mile group, trudging along with Thaddeus Padua, a 19-year-old clinic volunteer who shared his marathon experiences and offered tips as we circled Kapiolani Park. We did two loops — equal to about 3.5 miles — and I walked a portion of the way. Runners and walkers can view tables online to follow a weekly schedule of miles needed to prepare for the race, training on their own in addition to participating in the clinic.
Scaff focuses on the importance of exercising at least three days a week for an hour at a time, as opposed to 30 minutes, six times a week, and Padua reminded me that it’s not about speed, but learning to maintain a comfortable pace.
|HONOLULU MARATHON CLINIC
>> Where: Kapiolani Park, across from Paki Hale
Runs start slow, and the distance covered increases every month, reaching no more than 16 miles by the first week of December, when participants rest their bodies to be in optimal shape for the marathon.
"We try to make the training runs as interesting and fun as possible," said Norman Uyeda, a clinic staffer. "Our groups have even been scolded for making too much noise, laughing and talking in the more upscale districts around Waialae golf course," he said.
Uyeda has been with the clinic since 1992. "My first marathon was a classic crash-and-burn in 1982," he said, noting he "trained hard and ran stupid."
He didn’t run again until he heard about the clinic’s "fun, smart way" to approach a marathon.
Honolulu resident Ginger Mele has participated in the clinics for the past three years even though she doesn’t aspire to run the Honolulu Marathon. She moved from Maui a few years ago.
"I wanted to make friends, see the island and get in shape," she said.
Padua said it’s not uncommon for people to come to the clinics to socialize. "It’s not fun to run alone. People come and make friends," he said.
At the close of the clinic, a volunteer provides snacks such as pretzels, fruit, water and Gatorade. One woman brings her specialty, pancit.
Padua’s parents also take part in the clinic. He said he needs to start training harder to ensure his marathon time beats his dad’s.
The combination of camaraderie and fitness draws about 150 participants to the Honolulu Marathon Clinic each year.
"There isn’t a more satisfying, fulfilling job in the world," Uyeda said. "We help people change their lifestyles. We help people live longer and have fun in the process. Being allowed to be part of the process of transforming a sedentary person into a marathon athlete is very, very rewarding."
“Tryouts” features exercise and wellness classes and other fitness activities. Reach Nancy Arcayna at email@example.com or call 529-4808.