Erin Hickok is the owner of Oahu Running Company, which is located in Honolulu, HI. Oahu Running Company helps runners locally in Hawaii and all around the globe correct common running issues and enhance their performance sportswide. We sat down for a Q&A with Erin to talk about her business, as well as common challenges that plague runners.
Tell Us A Little Bit About Your Background and Running History?
I was on track, cross country and soccer in high school, and in college, I got into road and trail racing. It was also in college when I did my first marathon. I am a life-long runner. It is my favorite thing to do! I have done 7 marathons, 2 ultra marathons, and over 30 half marathons.
Currently, I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in Human Performance. I got my masters degree in exercise physiology, and when I was doing an internship to finish my school career, I moved to Hawaii. Once I got here, I realized that I wanted to stay and start a business. It has been an experience, to say the least. And a whole lot of trial and error starting a business—and starting a business in one of the most expensive states in America.
Tell Us About Your Coaching Business
We study running mechanics, help with strength and conditioning and the philosophy of leadership, like the psychology of performance and all aspects of health and fitness. What we do is we train everyone from kids to everyday runners to individuals who are looking to begin. We also work with professional career sports players and collegiate athletes. We cater to everyone really. Our company has group training running sessions where we devise a personal training running program. Our organization also has group running sessions, as well as individual running coaching. We meet with our clients and evaluate their performance and mechanics. After we evaluate them, we give them advice on everything from proper hydration to fitness.
We also have a cool program where we analyze different individuals to help with their injuries or help to prevent them by correcting small issues in their form. We do slow-motion video analysis and use a program to measure their stride and things like their heel strike and foot contact.
One of the things we do is make sure that our clients are wearing the right shoes. Often, their shoes could be a problem. And then once we get their shoe issues corrected, we give them strength and conditioning exercises to address what might be causing their running issues. Our goal is not to change how they run, rather help them run more efficiently. We do not want to change their natural running mechanics; we just want to make it more efficient to improve performance and decrease the risk of injury.
Oahu Running Company also does online training. We use an online training platform and coaching system to connect with runners from across the United States. The platform allows us to make a plan and check in. It is possible for someone to send us a video of their running so that we can analyze and suggest what shoes they should use or how to correct their running. If you send us a video of the side of you when you are running or from the back when you are just walking, we can do a quick analysis to evaluate your foot strike and stride length and help to improve your efficiency.
The way that they make shoes nowadays it is hard to find ones that fit. If you have been with the same model for years, and you are a runner, your body and gait change over time, and your favorite shoes might not be the best for you anymore. One other small coaching thing we offer is by the motto, “If it isn’t broken now, then don’t fix it.” So if your running is fine and your shoes work, there is no reason to change things up.
What Question Do You Hear Regularly that You’d Like to Answer for Runners Everywhere?
The main question I hear is, “Which type of running shoe is the best shoe for me?” We go through and we evaluate what type of toe strike they have and determine what category they are in, such as are an underpronator or overpronator. And then, if we aren’t able to meet with them in person, we suggest that they go to their local running store. I don’t recommend big box chain stores, but mom and pop stores that will do a great evaluation or stores like Fleet Feet.
Another question I get a lot is that people don’t feel like they are breathing and want to know how they can catch their breath. We always respond by telling them that they don’t want to take air in through their mouths solely. It is important to use your nose and mouth when you breathe in and to exhale largely out of your mouth. You want to start to control your breathing. If you can control it, you are less likely to become winded. Your lungs are like any other muscle: When you tax your lungs by breathing in and out too quickly, they will get exhausted, too.
What is Your Favorite Race or Most Memorable Race?
I do the Cow Race, which is an ultra marathon in Hawaii that is run at the Kualoa Ranch, where Jurassic Park was filmed. You go through lots of the scenery and the places where the movie was shot. It is the most beautiful place I know of.
What is Your Dream Race?
Believe it or not, I got into my dream race. I get to run the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona this year. I have been looking and looking, and I finally got into the lottery to run it. It is the only race to be run on a Navajo Reservation, and it is held this October. I think they only take about 150 runners, so it is tough to get into.
What Was Your Worst Race Experience Ever?
I ran the Honolulu Marathon in 2016, and I ended up being sick. It was my worst experience. I made it to mile 24 and fell ill. I ended up finishing it, but it was the ugliest thing I ever did. Key lesson to take home: “Listen to your body and don’t push through.”
How Did you Bounce Back?
It was more or less I felt like I had overtrained, and it weakens your immune system. I realized that I needed to find a better training work/balance in my life.
What is One Piece of Advice that you Would Like to Share With Runners?
One of the things that I hear all the time in our industry is, “I am not a runner”. It doesn’t matter the pace that you run or walk. All that matters is that you are out there and doing it. That makes you a runner. If you are doing it, then you ARE a runner. Everyone who runs is a runner, and you don’t have to be up on a podium to be a runner! It takes more heart to be out there for 6 hours to run a marathon than it does to finish in 2 or 3.
If you ever do come to Hawaii, look up places to run and running routes. You will find out there are a ton of amazing places to see when you run. People just run on their treadmill in the hotel when they are here, and they are missing it! Find a place to run by the ocean, get out and explore as a runner. There are a ton of running trails. We want you to get out and explore: You will learn more and meet the amazing people who live here.
If You Weren’t a Runner, What Sport Would You Take Up?
I used to play soccer, but I went with running because you can’t play soccer forever. At this point in my life, I would like to play golf. I am so bad at it! You have to have so much intent and your movements are so intentional. That is why I go out and run. Not everything is intentional.
- If you come to Hawaii and would like to participate in our running tour, mention “Racertrips” to receive a discount.
- Use the code “Racertrips” to participate in our online training for a discounted price.
Connect With Us
Julie is a lifelong runner, as well as a writer, a wife and the mother of six. Throughout the many challenges she has faced, the one thing she could always turn to was running, which is where she finds solace and healing. Ironically, it is when she runs until she can’t run anymore and feels empty, that she finds peace. Julie became a writer more than a decade ago when she wrote an ongoing blog for her first husband, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. She realized that she loved writing as much as she does running, and it became her life.