Part 2: Jonathan Lyau’s coaching, calories and journey to 100k miles

(Part 2 resumes the story of Jonathan Lyau, the former 3,200-meter state champion from McKinley who recorded his 100,000th mile on Wednesday.)

Lyau and wife Kelli are raising a family. Kelli is a teacher and Lyau runs the family business that began with his grandfather (Ah Chung Lyau) a century ago.

It’s where Lyau gets his sweet tooth. A.C. Lyau Co. has been in the candy business all this time, mostly shipping from the mainland. All that work, starting with a retail space, transformed into wholesaling full time with his father, Calvin. Lyau sees his parents practically every day. Calvin, 90, is retired, and Margaret, 85, get out of the house to bring leftovers to the office. Sometimes, they just hang out and help with filing.

“He likes to talk. He’s like an ambassador,” Lyau said. “If I have things to mail, he’ll weigh it and put stamps on it. They don’t like to stay at home.”

Motivating kids, coaching adults

Lyau spent a decade at Kamehameha, and now is an assistant girls cross country coach at ‘Iolani with Kelli. He also works out with adults on weekdays at Ala Moana Park.

“Adults, right off the bat, tell you what their plan is and why they want to run and be coached. To them, it’s their goals. They already have a motivation. A lot of kids, they just join the sport. For a lot of them, it’s social and maybe for the P.E. credit, so I just start them off where it will be do-able,” Lyau said. “Teach them habits where it’s a routine, not be overly aggressive and scare them away. With the kids, you need to be more patient. Teach them the proper pacing and a lot of them will bloom. It’s OK to run slower. It’s not a race, all those things, otherwise, they end up hating running.”

Unlike Lyau, most high school runners aren’t interested in journaling every mile.

“The hardest thing is, a very small percentage of them are self-motivated. In the summer, most of them don’t have the motivation to do it without anyone around them,” he said.

Coaching is an important part of his life, but it’s still just one piece of the pie. The routine has always included miles on the pavement and grass.

Time management

6 a.m. — “Prior to the pandemic, I was getting up at 4:30, sometimes before the alarm.”

After coffee and a quick breakfast, Lyau is on his bicycle down the road to the office in Kakaako.

6:45 a.m. — The day begins early and doesn’t stop until 1 p.m.

“Back in the days, my grandfather, when he started, his big line was Philadelphia chewing gum. Magic Colors was the candy cigarette. Swell gum. They had those bubble gum cigars,” Lyau said. “Now, we distribute to the stores. We’ve got mostly American (candy), but other things, too, like Tomoe rice candy. The items you see at 7-Eleven, local convenience stores.”

1 p.m. — Lyau’s work day ends by 1, technically. It used to end at 3 p.m., but the candy business is still intact.

“It’s more recession-proof than others,” he said. “I don’t really have a break. I eat lunch while I’m working. I do a lot of internal paperwork (in the afternoon), finish my emails. I can concentrate and do my stuff. There’s customers coming in. Employees might need help. Phone calls. That’s the time where I can concentrate on the time-consuming paperwork. Write up my orders.”

4 p.m. — “I go straight home and get ready to go running. During the pandemic, it’s been every day because the gyms are closed.”

‘Iolani’s cross country season was postponed due to the lockdown, but there are Zoom meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Exercises and strength work. I’m there (on Zoom) until they’re finished,” Lyau said.

5:30 p.m. — “I’m out the door and running. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, I run with my son (Spencer). He’s 14 and just starting to run regularly,” he said.

6:45 p.m. — Back home. Lyau gets to bed between 10 and 11 p.m.

Some days, he, Kelli and Spencer begin to run together, but most of the time, they break off into their favorite routes. Kelli often runs in the morning with friends.

Calories and health

Lyau, 56, has a resting pulse of 40. He checks it each morning after arising.

“My wife does most of the cooking. She cooks fairly healthy. Always got vegetables. My downfall is my snacking. They’re always teasing me at home. I can’t believe I’m running more and my weight is staying the same,” he said. “I’ll snack on anything that’s around, some candy or ice cream.”

Spencer Lyau confirmed his father’s indulgence.

“He always eats so much. He eats his dinner, and just a few days ago, he ate ice cream, chips, a chocolate bar, and then he ate a leftover piece of cake. Right after dinner,” he said.

He has come to grips with Father Time to an extent. Since recovering from injuries in the past decade, he has been running shorter races. He constantly craves sugar and salt.

“Right now, I’m kind of retired from racing. That’s why I eat stuff. Back when I raced a lot, I would eat and snack a lot. If I was training for a race, I’d cut back on high-fat stuff and stuff that makes you sluggish. Sugar and junk food. I noticed if I ate sugary food in the afternoon, it would make me sluggish for my runs. I would feel terrible and couldn’t get the workout done,” said Lyau, who is only 16 to 17 pounds heavier than his high school weight of 100 pounds.

He is probably a chocoholic, especially with his heavy workout years behind him.

“There’s a lot of candy in the office. I like my chocolate bars, no specific favorite ones. I still don’t drink much soda, but I eat way more chips than I used to. Cheetos. When you look at Cheetos Puffs versus the Cheetos Crunchies, there’s so much more fat in the Crunchies. I saw that and I said, ‘I can eat two bags (of Puffs) now.”

In part 3, Lyau shares his injury history and how cross-training sparked his return from a host of leg injuries.


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