Ryan Hall: On Rebuilding Health, How To Be A Wiser and More Intuitive Athlete, His Top 4 Strength Exercises For Runners, and Much More

May 31, 2019


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On this episode we’re joined by Ryan Hall, the American Record holder for the half marathon (59:43) and holder of the fastest marathon time ever run by an American, a 2:04:58 at Boston. Also a two-time Olympian who grew up in Big Bear Lake, CA, Ryan is now a coach, speaker and author who lives in Flagstaff, AZ, with his wife Sara and their four adopted daughters.

Check out Ryan’s new book that recently came out, Run the Mile You’re In: Finding God In Every Step. It’s a great read that all you athletes are sure to enjoy!

Ryan’s Career Timeline:

  • 2007 HM American record 59:43
  • 2007 debut marathon London 2:08
  • 2007 Olympic trials marathon win 2:09
  • 2008 Olympics Beijing 2:12 10th
  • 2011 Boston marathon 2:04:58 (unofficial fastest American record)
  • 2012 Olympic Trials 2nd
  • 2012 Olympics London DNF
  • 2014 Boston 20th
  • 2015 LA DNF
  • 2016 Retires age 33
  • 2017 World marathon challenge- average 3:39 (7 marathons 7 continents 7 days)

Wisdom from Ryan:

  • Small decisions you make (especially as a kid) can change the trajectory of your life. Ryan shares his epic childhood story of running 15 miles around Big Bear Lake when he had no running experience and actually hated running back then!
  • Let love not fear guide you. Ryan sees this attitude as informing his running career as well as his and Sara’s decision to adopt 4 daughters from Ethiopia.
  • If you want to see how far you can go and compete with the very best, you have to dip into the unhealthy range and go all in. Good health and elite performance are mutually exclusive.
  • In retirement, Ryan’s goals are to feel good and that means gaining muscle weight (which increases testosterone). He retired at 5’10” and 127 lbs, which he says was “his worst.” He raced best at 138 lbs. Lower weight isn’t necessarily better for performance or health.
  • John Ball, DC in Tempe, Arizona helped him solve plantar fasciitis.
  • Process of shifting gears in retirement:
    • Went straight into the gym, so it wasn’t such a dramatic lifestyle shift. He was still able to challenge himself and see growth in his new sport.
    • When he quit running, he quit entirely besides a handful of easy 30-minute runs with his wife.
    • Continued eating clean, healthy foods, but ate a lot more. Your body can’t build muscle when it’s not in a caloric surplus.
      • Became a much more intuitive eater.
  • Competing in the World Marathon Challenge
    • His longest run before the challenge was 7 miles. His average weekly volume was less than 20 miles.
    • Ended up getting a stress fracture in his hip in Morocco on day 5, but gutted it out to complete the challenge.
      • He was deadlifting the day after he got back home, because there was no impact. The lack of injury in weightlifting has been his favorite aspect of the sport.
  • Coaching
    • Has his athletes do 4 sets of half squats, hex bar deadlift (best movement a runner can do), toe raises, and step-ups with weights (total time: 30 minutes).
    • Strength training is definitely helpful for runners, but hill sprints are a way around it. We are all an experiment of one, so give strength training a fair try and see if it benefits you.
  • Red Flag Symptoms and Tips for Current Runners
    • Low hormones.
    • If you take 2 weeks off and feel so much better, then monitor your return to sport closely. You might need more rest.
    • Pay attention to your emotions and motivation. If you don’t feel like exercising, take that as a serious sign that your body might be having some issues (rather than you’re “just lazy”).
    • Check the trend of your workouts. In the long term, they should always be trending up.
    • Don’t starve yourself.
    • Surround your intense workouts with carbs.

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