A Beginner’s Guide to Surviving the Honolulu Marathon

The Honolulu Marathon is Dec. 10 this year—18 weeks away. Here’s how to plan now so you’ll be prepared.
Honolulu Marathon


Is the Honolulu Marathon on your bucket list? Do you sign up each year at the discounted kama‘āina rate, then forget to train? Good news: You still have time. Most beginner marathon programs are 18 weeks long—count back from the Honolulu Marathon date of Dec. 10 this year and that puts you at, well, now. Here are 10 things you need to get started.


1. Start with a training plan

Hal Higdon’s online programs are where many marathoners start. They’re five-days-a-week, traditional builds to a marathon, with beginner, intermediate and advanced options, depending on your starting point. Want to run fewer days? Try a FIRST program that gets you from zero to marathon in just three days per week.


2. There’s strength in numbers

Hate running alone? Brian Clark, Boca Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Triathlon Center all offer three-days-a-week training clinics that offer the coaching and camaraderie you need to make the journey fun and keep you going. Or join runners with the Honolulu Marathon Clinic every Sunday at 7:30 a.m., a weekly meeting that trains nearly year-round, for free.


3. Get out the door

There’s a reason you see so many runners on the road on those rare mornings you’re up before dawn—motivation is highest first thing in the day. Set your alarm, have the coffee already set up so it’s waiting for you and step right into your running shoes. If you miss a workout in the morning, do it in the evening. If you miss a day, do it the next day. Just keep going.


4. Gear up

Your marathon is a great excuse to shop. Use the training time to find the most comfortable shorts and top. If something rubs a little on a 5-mile run, it’ll make you bleed on a 26-mile run. We’re light on sporting-goods stores in Honolulu, but Running Room and Lululemon have great options for men and women.


5. Shoes matter

You may be able to find them cheaper online, but the first time, go to a real running store to get fit. Experts will tell you if you need stability or can run in a neutral shoe. Be sure to tell them of any previous injuries so they can best help you.


6. Fuel up

We don’t store enough glycogen to get through 26 miles without calories. If you don’t practice eating in your training, you won’t know what does and doesn’t work for you, and a bad stomach can stop you in your tracks. Gels are the traditional fuel of marathoners, but many don’t like the consistency. However, now there are shot blocks, not unlike gummy candy, or waffles that are similar to cookies. Try them all in training and make sure you can run on them.


7. Drink, drink, drink

Up your water intake on days you run, but don’t go crazy. Drink some extra water immediately after a run, then drink to thirst for the rest of the day.


8. Recover

When your plan says rest, rest. Not recovering leads to injury. Eat—and quickly. Get something in your belly within 45 minutes of a long workout. Shoot for a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Some people like chocolate milk, but a green smoothie from Lanikai Juice with a protein boost is a bit more fun and you can get some good fruit and vegetables in, too.


9. Relax

When race day comes, go to bed early. When you wake up, take a deep breath and revel in those pre-race jitters.


10. Enjoy

You’re doing this for fun. You’re ready—it’s a long, scenic, catered run with 27,000 friends on a beautiful island in the sea. There will be aid stations offering you water, Gatorade, oranges and bananas, helpful volunteers, bathrooms and plenty of cheering fans.


Important Dates for the Honolulu Marathon:

  • Nov. 1–25: These are your long runs, plan your weekend activities accordingly.

  • Nov. 26: Let your two-week taper begin!

  • Dec. 3: Last day to register online—entry fees go up by $95 the next day.

  • Dec. 10: Race day


Read more stories by Rachel Ross Bradley