An Elite Marathoner’s Running Tips

This Sunday, about 30,500 marathoners are expected to hit the streets of Oahu for the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon. Among the elite is Nate Carlson, the first Hawaii resident to finish last year’s race with a time of two hours and 45 minutes.

A government physical therapist at Tripler, Carlson has been running competitively for the past 22 years, but last year’s marathon was his first. His wife, Polina Carlson, also runs competitively and was just steps behind, finishing a minute later.


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Hip rotator stretch: ‘The piriformis muscle is usually really tight in runners,' says Carlson. ‘It goes right next to the sciatic nerve, which goes and activates all the muscles down the back of the leg all the way to the foot, so it's really good to keep that muscle loose. It's important for running because it's one of those deep muscles that moves and works every time you run. ‘Lie on your back and put one foot on the knee in a figure 4 position. Pull your knee toward you while pushing your other leg out, using your elbow.'

Carlson, who ran track and cross country at St. Martin’s University in Washington state, runs five to six days a week totaling about 50 to 70 miles. He also volunteers his time and knowledge by coaching a group of runners every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park. He does it for free, and anyone is welcome to join. Simply show up.

Known as Dr. Nate’s Champion Running Group, they meet behind the tennis courts (mauka side) in the park. The group is taking a break for the next couple of weeks, but will start up again in January.

“It’s a way for me to help and inspire other people, and use something God gave me that I’m gifted at,” says Carlson, 33. “Running is my relaxing time. If I’m by myself, I pray a lot.”

Here, Carlson shows us some of his favorite post-run stretches. “Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds, and do a couple sets of each stretch after workouts and throughout the day if you’re really tight,” he notes.

As for good running form, he says the key is to increase your cadence to 180 steps per minute, which will help avoid overstriding and help facilitate efficient foot-strike.

For more tips from Carlson or information on his running group, visit his Google running group blog at or on Facebook at Dr. Nate’s Champion Running Group.