Preparing for the Great Aloha Run

On Presidents Day, thousands of Hawaii residents will lace up their sneakers for the 34th Annual Great Aloha Run (GAR). On this 8.15-mile course, participants run from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium, with motivation and entertainment along the way. The race, which benefits many charity organizations, attracts elite runners and casual walkers alike.

Dr. Katsuya “Andy” Iizuka, a family medicine physician at the Straub Medical Center Kailua Family Medicine Clinic, is an avid runner who plans to run this year’s GAR for the first time with his family. He was generous enough to share some running tips for the week leading up to the big day, during, and after the race.

Week of the race
Wondering if you should double down on training? A more intense regimen may be beneficial for competitive athletes, but for not so much for rest of us. Iizuka suggests sticking to a consistent schedule to avoid potential injuries. He also recommends avoiding a high-fat, high-sodium, and low-carb diets and staying hydrated.

Morning of the race
No one wants to stand in line for the restroom on the course, but skipping fluids isn’t a good idea. “Hydration is the most important factor when running a race,” says Iizuka. “Not drinking any fluids will put you at high risk for dehydration, cramping, exhaustion, and heat stroke. Standing in line for the portable restroom is cheaper than a ride in the ambulance or a visit to the ER for IV fluids.”

As for the size of your breakfast, he says it’s a personal preference. “I prefer having a small amount of food, like a snack or light breakfast prior to a morning run. It gives me more energy. However, you have to be careful not to eat too much.”

During the race
Pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you. Iizuka suggests you stop running and seek immediate medical attention if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or blurry vision. He also recommends having a small drink of water at least every 30 minutes.

After the race
After snapping that finish line selfie, Iizuka recommends that you continue to walk around, followed by some static stretching.

Race finishers are often handed beverages and snacks at the finish line. Iizuka says it’s okay to hydrate immediately but he says “Ice-cold water or juice can upset the stomach. Eating depends on how fatigued you are. If you’re not that tired, you can eat within 10-15 minutes of finishing your run. If you’re fatigued, hydrate, rest, and cool down first. Use common sense — the brain will tell you when you’re hungry and ready to eat.”

Are you running the Great Aloha Run? How are you preparing? Share with us in the comments below.