Monthly Archives:

January 2016


An Incredible Ride: Thanks Ry

January 18, 2016

By, Sara Hall

This week, Ryan made the decision to step away from competitive running (You can read his blog below this on reasons for doing so if you haven’t yet). It was a bittersweet day for me when he made the final decision, and yet I knew in my spirit it was the right one. On one hand there was relief. Few saw and experienced the struggle he went through like I did. Constantly trying to encourage him and doing what I can to help him physically and emotionally has not been easy. The hardest part for me is that it hasn’t all been struggle, he has had stretches of really good and hopeful training that have us entering races and believing for better days. And yet right before a race would sink into a pit of fatigue, much to the frustration of both of us and much harder than if things were linearly dismal. 

It has also been sweet because he has been genuinely joyful and at peace ever since the decision. It was clear to him, and there were no second thoughts. The plan was never to hold onto the career “’til the bitter end” but until he had fulfilled what he felt God’s call on his life was for this season. Seasons change and this felt like a new fresh one. He has lots of incredible gifts, including as a father, and it has been fun to see him already leaning into them more.


Beijing 2008

Nonetheless, I was surprised by my emotions when the article was released on Friday. I sat there in the plane to Houston reading the article and tears started falling and wouldn’t stop (just a tad embarrassing! No wailing though fortunately).  It was such a fun ride, and I was going to miss those times together.  Bumming around Europe on the track circuit, sharing many miles just us two (and maybe the pups), seeing him grab the lead from the gun in the Boston Marathon… I think my favorite and one that rarely makes the highlight real is when he ran his first marathon at the London Marathon. Most people are just trying to run conservatively and not blow up in their first marathon, but Ryan went out and took the lead over world record holders and Olympic champions. He became the 2nd fastest American of all time in his first race by choosing to run absolutely fearless and with passion. There are many other races that you all know well where his similar approach led to breakthroughs. 


A big reason why he is able to run so fearlessly is having his identity so secure in who God says that he is, apart from his performance. We are all created by God in His image and have value regardless of what we achieve. We are loved fully and unconditionally. When we fully grasp that we can run free, not worrying that failure will disconnect us from what we really want- love, approval, a sense of worth. Having this mindset is something we have been going after and at times feel like we are pioneering together, and I will miss sharing the process with him. But I have already learned so much from him in that area and was so inspired by how he was just as concerned about internal breakthrough as he was external breakthrough.


Ryan is the most authentic person I know. He bears his soul for the world to see because he couldn’t care less about criticism. He hopes that in doing so maybe he could help a few people that might be going through what he’s going through. Often people keep their training a secret, but he published his entire marathon buildup in his book, along with his personal journal, with hopes that others can learn from his mistakes and successes. When your identity is secure, you are not competitive and withholding but you are encouraging of others learning from and surpassing you. I am not fully there yet personally and continually inspired by his authenticity and lack of weight criticism holds in his life.


So here I am sitting on this plane to Houston with tears flowing, and as I was praying about it I felt God reminding me that those fun adventures of races together weren’t ending if I didn’t want them to- because I was continuing to race, and just starting my marathon career. I don’t consider it likely that I will reach the same heights Ryan did, but regardless I hope to make some new memories together on the same streets while reliving the treasured memories from his career. This has already begun with my race last weekend at Houston half marathon, where I couldn’t help but be thinking about that moment in 2007 where his career first took off. It felt very fitting to be back there, where it all began for him on the roads and was now ending. He wasn’t lighting them up with an American record this time but instead popping around the course on a bike cheering me on and coaching me to a new PR. I hope this race was just the beginning of a new season of adventures together!


Our Running Times cover in 2006. Who let these little kids get married a year before?


My Running Dream

January 16, 2016

By Ryan Hall


It all started in a day dream, looking out over the waters of Big Bear Lake on a car ride to a middle school basketball game.  I was 13 years old and was hit with a vision that I should attempt a 15-mile run around the lake, despite the fact that the only running I was doing at the time was chasing a ball.  The next Saturday I laced up my running shoes and took the first steps that would change the trajectory of my life forever.

It took more than three hours later my Dad and I finished the long, painful, mind-numbing run.  It wasn’t pretty, but I made it – and then I walked straight to the couch and collapsed in exhaustion.  Anyone looking at me in that state would have thought I had just run both my first and last official run, but in that moment something happened. I was inspired. I felt in my spirit that God was communicating to me that I would one day run with the best runners in the world.


After that day my previous hatred of running gave way to a relentless, dedicated pursuit of my vision.  I dropped baseball, basketball and football and poured all of my energy into running, not letting any distractions get in my way.  It was in those early days, training through the snow, running up the ski resort’s double black diamond runs, and flying through the windy single-track mountain trails, that the foundation was laid for everything that followed.


And what followed was exactly what I had seen in my mind’s eye that day as a 13-year-old: running with the best guys in the world. Becoming the first American to break an hour in the half marathon, competing in two Olympic Games, finishing in the top five of many of the biggest marathons in the world, and even helping to create arguably the most historic marathon of all-time – leading much of the 2011 Boston Marathon, in which two athletes ran significantly faster than any other marathon had ever been run, and personally finishing in a time that I never thought would be possible to become the fastest American of all-time.  I reflect on these achievements not with pride, but with humility, for I know that I was only faithful to the gift I had been given.


Now it’s time to start a new chapter of my life.  Running with the best guys in the world was never meant to last forever – it was an amazing season of my life but it always had to have an end.  I have demanded a lot from my body and it gave me everything it could for 20 years, but at this time I am convinced there is nothing left for it to give.  Which is why I have decided to stop running at a competitive level and begin the process of giving back to my body rather than demanding more from it.  This decision was not made in haste, but rather has been a gradual process as I have felt my body change.  Nagging injuries such as the hamstring tendentious I developed in the 2012 Olympic Marathon continue to bother me and throw off my mechanics to this day.  It has been made very clear to me that while my heart and mind still want to perform at my best, my body is no longer able to.  I am proud of my best days, but even prouder of the many, many very bad days that I had to pick myself up from.  Perhaps one of the biggest gifts running has given me is the ability to be resilient.


I am so thankful for the amazing people I have met through running.  The running community is truly a special and powerful group of people and it has changed my life.  If it weren’t for running, I would never have met my wife, Sara, my kids, or many of my closest friends.  I am grateful for the places running has taken me.  Growing up in a big family, I hardly left California before I started running, but now I’ve traveled the world, raced in some of the most beautiful places in the world, and experienced many different cultures.  Running has taught me so many life lessons and helped shape me as a person.  These are the biggest rewards that will transcend my running career and serve me well for the rest of my life.  I am also thankful for my sponsors who have allowed me to pursue my sport to the highest level possible and provided the best product in the world to help me strive for my goals.  Without the support of my sponsors, family and friends, I wouldn’t be where I am today.


Running will always be a part of my life and now I look forward to helping others to reach their running goals, starting with my wife, who I am coaching for the upcoming Olympic Trials.  It has been fun for me to recently be beside her on the bike, encouraging her, seeing her grow, and even getting the same chills for her that I used to get when I was having a really good day out on the road.  I also hope that my running career has and will continue to lead to other peoples’ breakthroughs, both out on the road and in their hearts through participation in our Steps Foundation, running clinics, books, videos and just being a part of the amazing running community.


I will always look back at my running career with a smile on my face and thankfulness in my heart.  Many, many thanks to everyone who has cheered for me, encouraged me, and supported me on my journey.  I was never alone out on the race course.