Training Talk: Catching up with Olympian Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall ran the fastest marathon ever run by an American clocking in at 2:04:58 in the 2011 Boston Marathon. He followed it up with a second place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this past January. However, at the Olympics, Hall had to pull out of the race at mile 9 with an injury. Injury is also causing him to miss the ING New York City Marathon on November 4th. But Hall still plans to be in New York on marathon weekend. Thanks to his sponsor, Asics, The Team 7 Blog caught up with him to chat about his recovery, his plans for the future, training and whether he has really read Moby Dick and The Odyssey.
I know you were feeling pretty beat up after the Olympics. How are you feeling now?
I am feeling really good. When I had another injury come up in training for the ING NYC marathon it was obvious that my body needed a big break to recuperate and regenerate for the next 4 years of intense training and racing ahead. I push myself really hard to train effectively for my marathons and sometimes in my enthusiasm to race marathons every spring and fall it can be tough to pass on an opportunity to race but my body obviously needed a big break. So I just finished a nice month break and am now feeling healthy and as hungry as ever to get ready for a spring marathon.
How did you arrive at the decision to pull out of New York?
I knew I was going to have to pull out of NYC when I had a very sharp pain in my quad and after getting an MRI it revealed I had a slight tear in the muscle. After talking with various specialists it was obvious that the quad would need at least a couple of weeks to heal. With 2 weeks of zero training and no ability to cross train because every cross training technique uses the quad, I knew I didn't have time to show up at the line 100%. I only like to race if I am totally ready to go so I decided it would be best to pass on this year’s race.
What are you doing to get healthy? What does your daily routine look like right now?
I first took a good four-week break and no running. I then gradually began to run and do some strengthening exercises. It is important to not just rest until an injury gets better because exercise promotes blood flow and strengthening the muscle allows it to come back stronger. About 2 weeks into my break I began getting message, acupuncture and used other modalities to promote healing. I also developed a yoga routine that takes about 20 minutes that I do every morning and evening. I continue to get a good massage once a week; ART once or twice a week, ultra sound twice and week and then I do my only self-massage on a roller and using a scrapper (FAT tool) daily. I think I work harder when I am injured than when I am totally healthy.
Do you have an upcoming race on the calendar yet?
I don't have any races on the calendar yet. My goal is to get fit and then race when I am ready. Hopefully something in early 2013.
I read recently that you will be training in Kenya. Tell me a little more about that.
Yep, I am planning on
spending at least a month training in Kenya. I have always been inspired by Kenyan
runners and have always wanted to go to Kenya to see how they train. I am
really looking forward to the opportunity. I am sure I will learn a lot
and come back to the states with a new perspective on running.
You just turned 30. Happy Birthday! Is there anything different between running in your 20s and running in your 30s?
Hah, good question. I
don't know. I'm only into my 30s by a couple of days. I would just
say that I enjoy getting older because each day, each year I learn and get
smarter. I believe my best races are still in front of me because I am a
more well rounded athlete now and have gotten a lot smarter in my approach to
training and racing. I am also inspired by guys like Meb, Haile and other
great marathoners that all ran their personal best in their 30s.
So far in your career, of what are you the most proud? What haven’t you accomplished that you still want to achieve?
I would say I am most proud of my 2:04 run in Boston. That was a very special day for me. I was a part of the most historic day in all of marathon running and had my best day ever. However, I do still really want to win a major marathon, which I believe is waiting for me in the future.
You and your wife Sara are both accomplished runners. What is that partnership like?
I love being married to Sara and the fact that we can share the same profession. It’s amazing to get to do what we do together, to get to travel the world together and go after huge goals together. Some of my proudest moments of my career are watching Sara run. For example I will never forget seeing Sara on top of the medal stand at the Pan American Games. I almost cried. I am sure we will look back on our careers with great joy when it’s all said and done.
Let’s talk training. What advice do you have for someone running his or her first marathon?
For someone running their first marathon I would suggest treating the marathon like a surfer treats the ocean, with great respect, but also with the great anticipation of riding the wave of your life. If you respect the marathon, begin your preparations early (I suggest at least 6 months in advance as is my custom), take gradual steps (I build my mileage over those six months starting out with only a few miles a day and by the last month I am running nearly 20 miles a day), believe that anything is possible (when I first start training for a marathon I can't even run 1 mile at marathon pace but six months later I can run 26 in a row without stopping) then you will be in for the ride of your life. Running is beautifully simple. If you have hard days and have adequate rest you will improve. I advise taking off one day a week, as is my custom, to keep a healthy balance in life and let your body absorb all the hard training you are doing.
What are some key workouts you like to do in your marathon training?
The most important workout for the marathoner is the long run. I start out with a long run of around an hour or 9 miles or so and build up to 2 hours and 30 minutes covering the marathon distance. I suggest making your long runs hard and covering 20 miles at least once before you toe the line. My favorite long run is 10 miles at 1 minute per mile slower than marathon pace and then straight into 10 miles at marathon pace.
What is the biggest mistake you see marathon runners make?
The biggest mistake I see marathoners make is trying something new on race day. Practice exactly what you are going to eat the night before your marathon and the morning of the marathon before every long run. Tweak your nutrition till you get it right and then stick to it on race day.
There is a lot of talk about the 2:00:00 marathon barrier. Do you think it can be broken?
Yes, I am sure it will be broke and I am sure I will see it.
In your commercial for AT&T, you are listening to “The Odyssey” and “Moby Dick”. Have you read those books? What do you listen to on your long runs?
Hah. No I have never listened to either of those books or read them for that matter. I think I was supposed to read the Odyssey in college but I think I resorted to the cliff notes on that one. I go through phases. I have listened to the Bible on tape before when I run then sometimes I'll listen to techno or something rowdy to get me pumped up. Often times I won't listen to anything because I am not allowed to listen to music on race day. If I could listen to music in the race I would probably listen to Bethel Live.
Photo courtesy: Asics