All Posts By

Ryan Hall

ryan hall

Continuing the Journey

April 13, 2018

When I retired from professional running 2 1/2 years ago I thought that was the end of my journey of pursuing big, dreamer-size goals in running. There were a lot of dreams I had for my running, some of which I was able to experience and some of which I wasn’t, as is the case for all those who dare to dream big. However, recently I’ve come to the realization that my journey is not over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning a comeback, but I am planning to continue on the road of attempting to bring breakthrough to the sport of running.

After being a few years removed I’ve begun to do some coaching, beginning with coaching Sara, my girls, and some online clients. I’ve really enjoyed helping others accomplish personal bests and the process of pursuing their big dreams. Running has been my craft for my 20 year running career and I’ve had the pleasure to run under some of the best coaches in the world, carefully learning from them. I was able to make their ceiling my floor to build from as a result of all they invested in me. I am deeply grateful for how my coaches helped me on my journey. Now, I want to make my ceiling my athletes’ floor so they can learn from the good and bad from my running career and go after big goals.

Recently, Sara and I made the decision to move back to Flagstaff, AZ where she will continue to pursue her goals as a professional runner and where I will be starting a pro training group. My vision for the group is simply to be bold in racing and go all-in on training to go after big dreams. I want to coach my athletes to run far faster than I ever ran at distances from 1500 meters to the marathon.

I have had the privilege of training and living at various high altitude training locations and have found Flagstaff to be the best all-around option. It is already widely used amongst professional runners for this reason. It has everything professional runners need to develop to their full potential.

If you are a big dreamer and are interested in joining a like-minded group you can contact me directly at

(The team is open to athletes who have qualified for a USATF Track Championship, been an All-American in college, or have achieved the Olympic B standard in the marathon and have a way to financially support themselves)


ryan hall

How I Helped a Magazine Editor Train For Her First Marathon

November 17, 2017

I love helping people take on the challenge of tackling their first marathon. This past season, I had the privilege of helping Kim Peiffer, an editor at InStyle magazine, prepare for her first marathon. Kim was already doing some running and living a healthy lifestyle prior to our 12-week training, which made developing her plan for the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon fairly simple.

People often ask me how long it takes to train for a marathon, but that largely depends on your pre-race conditioning. Kicking off a training program in relatively good shape—for example, being able to run 4 to 6 miles fairly easily—is ideal. Hitting this baseline fitness level is what you need to begin tackling the 12-week build-up needed for tackling your first marathon. Some runners may need longer to get marathon ready—even up to 20 weeks—but a good rule of thumb: If you’re interested in tackling your first marathon, goal number one should be to run 4 to 6 miles 5 days a week.

Kim was easily at this point when we began her training in late summer. My main goal in developing her program was to keep her healthy. I also wanted to make sure her training was enjoyable. Lastly, I wanted to make sure she felt mentally and physically prepared to take on all 26.2 miles of running.

Here’s how to create the best training plan for your first marathon.

1. Follow A Basic Template

The basic template I like to follow is doing shorter, faster intervals on Tuesday, doing a run at goal marathon pace on Friday, then going long Saturday. When I began writing Kim’s program, the first week looked like this:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday:  5-mile easy run

Wednesday: 20-minute warm-up; then 10 x 1 minute hard/1 minute easy.  Then a 20-minute cool down.

Thursday: 5-mile easy run

Friday: 20 minute warm-up; then start running at goal marathon pace (for Kim that was a 9:09 per mile pace) for as long as you can sustain, but no longer than 8 miles. Finish with a 20-minute cool down.

Saturday: 5-mile easy run

Sunday: 12-mile progressive long run

The key is to build on this template slowly and adjust based on how your body feels. If you’re new to long distance runs and this first week of training looks intimidating, it’s probably too aggressive. Don’t be afraid to pair it down. I recommend bringing the long run down to 8 to10 miles and capping the Friday marathon-pace run at 4 to 6 miles.

2. Seek Structure (But Stay Flexible)

It’s smart to have a basic training structure that you’re able to adjust and tweak based on how your body is performing. Kim and I would touch base at the end of every week to discuss how the previous week went. Then, I would customize her program accordingly.

Unfortunately, Kim had a few aches and pains along the way, so instead of pounding the pavement we adjusted her plan so she could do quite a bit of her training on either the elliptical or bike. Her biggest challenge was avoiding shin splints, so I recommended some shin-strengthening exercises paired with running on softer surfaces as much as possible. Doing this allowed us to largely keep her shin splints at bay.

3. Embrace The Long Run

Kim’s biggest week of training came three weeks prior to the TCS New York City Marathon. It looked like this:

Monday: 60-minute easy cross-train

Tuesday: 20-minute warm-up; then drills and strides. 4 x 4 minutes at one minute faster per mile than marathon goal pace (about a 8:09 pace). 20-minute cool down.

Wednesday: 60-minute easy cross-train

Thursday: 20-minute warm-up; then 8 miles at goal marathon pace (9:09 pace). 20-minute cool down.

Friday: 60-minute easy cross train

Sat: Rest

Sun: 20-mile easy long run (but no longer than 3 hours)

It was fun to hear about Kim’s longest run. She felt great and was able to easily log several miles faster than her goal marathon pace. Her previous long run didn’t go as well, but I assured her that long run’s never feel good early on in training—they get more and more comfortable as time goes on, really.

Aside from providing a confidence boost, the results from Kim’s long run assured me of two things: She’d be fine to cover the marathon distance and she’d accomplish her goal of finishing in under 4 hours. While the 20-mile run is pretty standard in most marathon training plans, you can get away with a lot less—like 16 to 20 miles— if you’re able to remain confident in your training. Going for 20 mainly provides you with the psychological benefit of knowing you can cover the distance.

4. Beware of  Injury Late In The Game

The biggest challenge in preparing someone for their first marathon is keeping them healthy. I’ve never trained for a marathon without experiencing some ache or pain along the way; it’s to be expected. The key is knowing which pains are OK to run though and which aren’t. My general rule of thumb is that if it’s a sharp pain, a pain that gets worse while running, or a pain that leaves you unable to hop on that one foot, then you shouldn’t run through it.

Despite doing three days a week of cross training to limit the pounding on her body, Kim came down with foot pain about two weeks before the marathon. When something pops up that close to race day, I’m always cautious. At this point all the hard training has been done, so a little extra rest can only help. In this case, I still had Kim run 2 to 3 days a week since the injury wasn’t something she couldn’t train through. The rest of the week she cross trained.

5. Focus On Positive Takeaways

Unfortunately, the pain Kim experienced ended up being beyond what was manageable to start the marathon. We were both bummed that all the training she’d put in wouldn’t be put to the test. And there’s no doubt in my mind that she could have completed the race.

I’ve experienced both the sheer joy that running a marathon can bring and also the heartbreak of having trained for months only to be sidelined by injury or fatigue. As painful as it is not to be able to toe the line, I always found that I could channel that heartbreak to fuel the fire in preparing for my next marathon.

My best marathon (the Boston Marathon in 2011: 2:04:58) came in the wake of not being able to run the Chicago marathon in 2010. Sometimes the best motivation is the heartbreak of injury. I know this minor setback will fuel Kim as she prepares for her next marathon.

Races ryan hall

How I Trained For and Finished the World Marathon Challenge

February 2, 2017

Photo courtesy of World Marathon Challenge.

If you’ve been following me on social media, then you may have heard that I just completed the World Marathon Challenge, which tasks participants with running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Yes, you read that right, 183 miles spread across the globe in one week.

My preparation for the World Marathon Challenge was unlike any previous marathon training I’ve done. Typically, I would run 15 to 20 miles a day with some intense hard-running sessions twice a week and then do a long run (usually about 26 miles) in 2:30. However, to build up to the World Marathon Challenge I did 60 to 90 minutes of intense weight training and an easy 30- to 60-minute jog every day—no hard run sessions and no long runs. In the three months prior to the World Marathon Challenge, the furthest I ran was eight miles.

Why did I choose such an unorthodox buildup?

All too often people sign up for an epic challenge and over-train, leaving them injured or extremely fatigued. My unique buildup was to ensure I came to the start line healthy and fresh, which I definitely did. I knew I could complete the challenge if I trained properly, but I wasn’t sure I could do it on this minimal of training, so that made things interesting. I knew that my biggest challenge was going to be mental, so I trained my mind for battle. For example, I kept telling myself “I can always take one more step” until it was so ingrained in my mind that it became a reality. I also repeated “When things get harder, I get tougher” to convince myself I was created to overcome difficult challenges. And I reminded myself to  “just have fun.” If I’m having fun then I’m usually running well and am happy when I cross the finish line.

My World Marathon Challenge Experience

I’m happy to report that my preparation, though unconventional, paid off. Below are the journal entries I recorded after completing each marathon.


It felt great to kick things off today. After spending the last 4 days in Antarctica, everyone was getting stir crazy in camp. We were actually staying on a glacier with the mountains looming all around us. Snow was everywhere despite the fact it was the peak of their summer.

Ryan Hall in Antarctica for the World Marathon Challenge.Photo courtesy of World Marathon Challenge.

The temperature today was around 0 degrees Fahrenheit with some pesky winds that made our four-loop course a real challenge. The path was covered in snow, but the race organizers groomed it 24 hours prior to the start, so the footing was surprisingly good.

I started my seven-marathon challenge in my typical fashion: fast. In this case too fast. I could see my moment-by-moment pace on my Fitbit Surge, so I knew I was probably running faster than I ought to, but hey, you never know how long you can hold a faster pace until you try.

I ran the first 6.55-mile loop at about a 6:30 pace, the next at a 7-minute pace, the following at an 8-minute pace, then died a slow death on the last lap. If it weren’t for grabbing a large handful of cookies at mile 23 I’m not sure I would have made it.

It felt good to finish a marathon again. My last was Boston in 2014. My legs aren’t too trashed, so I’m curious to see how I’ll feel on number two (set to begin nine hours from now…ouch). Oh, and I set a new personal record for my slowest marathon time. I had never run longer than 2:30 until today. At 3:26, I only missed my personal best marathon time by 1 hour and 22 minutes.

The most challenging part of being in Antarctica is getting used to 24-hour-a-day sunlight. We were staying in camping tents so it was impossible to get darkness. I’m really looking forward to getting a good night’s rest tonight at a hotel in Punta Arenas, Chile—the destination of our next marathon.

Marathon time: 3:26:31

Ryan Hall's Antarctica marathon Fitbit stats from the World Marathon Challenge


Running on firm ground today felt amazing. It’s crazy how big of a difference it makes to not slip when you push off your toes. I was surprised at how good my legs felt, so I decided to go out harder to test the waters a bit. I was running a sub-3-hour pace halfway through the race before the fatigue set in and I started slowing down.

This entire course was concrete, which is brutal on the legs—my calves were absolutely hammered the last 10k. Luckily I have my extra cushy Asics 33-M to help offset the pounding. I would never recommend running a step on concrete. It’s 10 times harder than asphalt.

After the race, my legs actually felt decent until I sat down for breakfast the next morning. When I tried to get up I thought I was going to need a wheelchair; I could hardly move. One thing that has helped me on this trip is hitting the weight room after my marathons. It doesn’t make sense, but moving around a bit and getting a pump in my arms really helps with blood circulation. I usually feel like death when I first hit the gym but feel ready to run another marathon after. Kind of weird, but it’s working for me. Plus, I refuse to lose any muscle on this trip.

Speaking of muscle preservation. I’ve never eaten so much food in my life. I’m constantly eating. Massive steaks after my marathons and tons of candy during the races.

It was nice to get six hours of sleep in the hotel last night. I’m not going to have the luxury of staying in a hotel for two more nights.

Marathon time: 3:06:33

Ryan Hall's Fitbit stats from Chile during the World Marathon Challenge


It was really nice to be greeted by Miami’s local running community. Any support we runners can get right now goes a long way.

Before the start of today’s race, I jogged down to a restroom and got slightly concerned. I was a sight to see, hobbling like a 100-year-old man. Yet somehow when the gun went off I actually felt pretty good and, once again, went out way too fast.

Let me pause here and explain why I’m a fan of going out hard in a marathon. The marathon is going to hurt no matter if you run a 5-minute pace, a 7-minute pace, or a 10-minute pace, so I figure if I run fast than I’ll get done in less time. I also think it’s a lot easier to establish a good tempo early and just try to hold it. Even if you slow down later in the race you will have bagged so much time that you’ll still come in ahead of schedule.

Anyway, back to the race. My calves were extremely tight from the beginning. But on the up side, they couldn’t have possibly gotten any tighter and actually started feeling better after 20 miles.

It was great having a couple of local friends join me for the run. Running with people always makes the time pass quicker and they were massively supportive in grabbing me gels, candy, and even slushies to manage in the warm Miami sun.

I was glad to get to the finish line in 3:16. I figure anything under 3:30 is great for me considering my unorthodox training approach.

My legs felt trashed after the race, but once again, a gym session had me feeling better physically and mentally. Now back on to our chartered plane for a red-eye to Madrid, Spain and our next marathon.

Marathon time: 3:15:36


Getting five hours of sleep prior to a marathon is never a recipe for success, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised that I felt sluggish at the start.

I had a much more conservative race strategy this time and was just trying to run around eight minutes per mile. My calves felt like rocks from mile one so I was only able to maintain that pace through 20 miles before the wheels completely came off and I had to do a couple hundred meters of walking, which was a first for me.

Despite taking in nine donuts and a bunch of candy, no carbohydrates could possibly dig me out of the hole I found myself in. It took every bit of mental and spiritual strength I could muster to not walk it in.

I was lucky to have my good friend Jaap Berg pacing me on a bike the whole way. Without his support I don’t think I would have made it. The worse I feel, the more essential camaraderie becomes. Without the support of others I would never make it.

When I finished my legs immediately locked up;  I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to walk. However, hitting the gym for an hour of weight training helped my body and mind feel better.

It’s hard to picture running another marathon tomorrow, but God will give me the grace I need to get through the day.

Marathon time: 3:41:41


We were lucky enough to get our second and last night in a hotel yesterday. It felt glorious to sleep in a real bed. Unfortunately, we were only able to get in 5 hours of sleep before starting our next marathon.

When I woke up I felt like death and nearly toppled over when I took my first steps. On the starting line I was planning on trying to run as much as I could before doing some walk/running. So when I began I was surprised to find that my previously rock-tight calves felt surprisingly normal. Not only that, but my energy actually felt good and my Surge showed that my heart rate was low. I gradually increased my speed until I was clipping along at a 6:40 pace feeling like a million bucks. Not only did I feel physically changed, but something also happened to my spirit. It was almost as if I was confronted and had to choose: flight or fight. The fighting side of me rose up and it were as if my spirit said: Not today. I may have gotten absolutely destroyed by the marathon yesterday, but not today. Today I fight. It was a very unusual yet powerful experience for me. One I’ll never forget.

Today had to be one of the biggest surprises of my career. I ended up running 3:04 (only an hour off my PR. I was thrilled, mainly because I went from feeling like death to actually feeling like Morocco was good to me. Thus far Marrakesh has been my favorite of the cities we’ve visited. I definitely want to go back when I have more than 22 hours to spend. But for now, off to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates!

Marathon time: 3:04:56

Ryan Hall's Fitbit stats from Morocco during the World Marathon Challenge


Whatever happened to my body yesterday did not last through today. Despite running on a nice, slightly rubber track on out-and-back loops for 10k, my legs were so dead that it was hard to enjoy the beautiful beach we ran along.

I started off running a sub-3-hour pace through 8 miles, which in hindsight was way too fast. I then died a long and slow death over the remaining 18.2 miles.

What concerned me more than my fatigue was the state of my right hip. I could feel a growing dull pain in my hip from the moment we started. The pain intensified to a point then remained my constant, little friend for the last two hours.

This brings me to a quick point. In running you are undoubtedly going to encounter aches and pains, so how do you know which ones you can run through and which ones you should rest? My rule of thumb is that I don’t run through pain that is sharp or that intensifies through the duration of the run. Otherwise, I just clench my teeth and run through it, which is what happened today.

The other challenge of the day was the heat and humidity. We were running in mid-80-degree weather with high humidity, and that’s in winter—imagine the summers! I was drinking fluids and taking gels and candy every 2.62 kilometer, or 1.6 miles. Yet despite all the hydration and calories I still got chills in the last lap, which is a sign of dehydration.

My advice for running in the heat: Drink as much electrolyte-rich fluids as your stomach can handle and drink it before you feel like you need it. Another thing that worked really well for me today was putting crushed ice in my hat to help bring my body temperature down.

It wasn’t pretty, nor fun, but I got through it. Looking forward to better things to come in Sydney tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to such a long flight, but that will be the only sleep we get before the next and last marathon begins.

Tomorrow is going to be a special day, as it will be the last marathon I will ever run. I’ll be wearing the singlet I wore for my first marathon (I never washed it or took the bib off). The marathon has been so good to me. It’s taken me around the world, it’s allowed me to meet many amazing people. But most importantly I’m thankful for what the marathon has taught me: that I can push myself further than I believed, to love challenges, to take risks, and that running a good marathon is done in training, not in the marathon itself. Finally, it’s taught me to draw strength from sources outside myself (God) when I have no strength. For all of this, I will always be thankful to the marathon. I came into this sport with an epic 15-mile run when I was 13. Now, more than 20 years later, I’m going out on another epic running challenge that will allow me to say a proper goodbye to the marathon, something I wasn’t able to do during my professional career.

Marathon time: 3:46:20

Ryan Hall in Dubai for the World Marathon ChallengePhoto courtesy of World Marathon Challenge.


I knew I was in trouble today as soon as I walked off the plane. The subtle pain in my right hip had been getting worse and worse over the course of the last two marathons. I wasn’t able to walk without a limp, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to run without a limp either.

It was a long day, to say the least. I may have set the world record for the biggest time differential between your fastest and slowest marathon as I took over 5 hours to finish today.

I got a massage part way through the race, which helped for a couple of miles, but it was clear today was going to be one of those days you just have to put your head down and find a way to keep moving forward.

Luckily, running along the ocean at Manly Beach made it easy to relax and just enjoy myself. It wasn’t a pretty last marathon, but this challenge is all about finishing. Anyone who finishes seven marathons in seven days on seven continents should be proud regardless of how long it takes.

At the end of the race I ended my last ever marathon the way I always envisioned. I stopped, pulled off my shoes, and left them on the finish line. It was an emotional goodbye as the marathon has meant so much to me throughout the years. But it was time to say goodbye. Now it’s on to new fitness challenges and helping others achieve the same breakthroughs I was able to achieve throughout my career.

Marathon time: 5:15:34

Ryan Hall's sneakers on the finish line of his last marathon

Overall Fitbit Stats

Ryan Hall's World Marathon Challenge Fitbit Stats


Pre-World Marathon Challenge

January 16, 2017

Today I leave for the trip of a lifetime.  7 marathons, 7 days, 7 continents.  Doesn’t get more epic than that, so to say I am excited is a vast understatement.  A week from today I’ll run my first of the seven marathons in Antarctica.  I’ll be posting as the trip unfolds on this blog and on my Twitter (ryanhall3) and Facebook ( social channels so keep an eye out if you want to follow my ventures.

I have gotten a lot of questions about why I am taking on this challenge and how I prepared for the event so I thought I would write a short blog to lay the foundation for the week.  So, first, why?  Why would someone who retired from professional running with fatigue, injuries and a worn-out body sign up to run 7 marathons, on 7 continents, in 7 days.  That’s a legitimate question.  It all started with a text.

Last winter I was in the gym going through my usual weight routine when I got a text from Pastor Mathew Barnett from The Dream Center in Los Angeles saying he had signed up for this crazy challenge.  When Pastor Mathew told me about the World Marathon Challenge (WMC) and why he was doing it (to raise support and awareness for The Dream Center), I was instantly drawn to find out how I might support him and the Dream Center on this challenge.  I couldn’t think of a better way than to join him on the trip and provide whatever support I could lend.

The first time I heard of The Dream Center was through someone in my childhood church that had been through The Dream Center’s program after spending time in prison.  He had completely turned his life around and had become an integral part of our church.  Not only was his hope, love, and joy restored but his family was being restored as well.  Ever since that experience I was always curious how The Dream Center was doing such transformative work.

Years later, through a mutual pastor-runner friend, I was introduced to Pastor Matthew (who was also a marathon runner) and was invited to come speak at The Dream Center, which was an absolute honor.  I had the chance to visit their amazing facility in downtown Los Angeles and hear more stories of people who everyone had given up on, who had lost all hope, and had no dreams, talk of their restored lives, relationships, and their new dreams for their future.  Every story stirred my heart.  God is the Great Redeemer so to see that happening in person after person is incredible.

So why I am I running?  Because I very strongly believe in the work of The Dream Center.  I could go on and on about all the work they are doing (like their daily feeding programs) but what is most important is that never have I been to a church where a great majority of the church is out of the church, feeding the poor, taking care of widows, and redeeming the down and out.  So, it’s The Dream Center that will be driving me on to complete each marathon.

How did I train?  I began training for the event this past summer.  I was upping my mileage and even pacing Sara in some workouts.  I was beginning to think that perhaps my body just needing a long extended break to get through the fatigue issues that lead to my retirement.  Unfortunately, after a couple of months my body began to get fatigued again even though I wasn’t training nearly as hard as I formerly had.  It was actually kind of a good thing, as it confirmed my decision to retire and showed me how much running I could do before my fatigue issues set it.

I dialed my running back drastically and began spending more time in the gym lifting (which had become my new hobby in retirement and a great way to get the physical challenge I still crave without creating fatigue).  I have found that if I run 30-60 minutes per day I feel good, my energy is still high, I don’t get injured, and I still have plenty of time to lift so I have pretty much stuck to that routine over the past 4 months or so.  That adds up to a weekly mileage of around 42 miles which is far less than my 120 mile weeks I was accustomed to putting in as a pro.  My longest run has been 8 miles.  So am I nervous?  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but the way I see it, I am conducting a little experiment on how little can you get away with doing and still cover marathon after marathon.  Notice I said “cover” not “how fast”.  Plus, I already know I can run a marathon if I train properly but what about 7 in a row, on minimal training?  I don’t know if I can do that, but I think it will be fun (and probably a little painful) to find out.  I actually find it much more interesting to follow someone taking on an incredible challenge with an unorthodox training regime.  Not only have I done a “minimalist approach to training for a marathon” but I’ve also added 50 pounds to my frame from 16 months of intense weight training.  Needless to say, running does not feel like it used to.  I used to feel like a deer floating through the forest, now I feel like a bear pounding through the mud.

It’s going to be an epic and interesting week.  I look forward to sharing photos, videos, and words with you guys over the next couple of weeks.   And if you happen to live in Antarctica, Punta Arenas, Miami, Madrid, Marrekesh, Dubai, or Sydney I’d love to see you out on the road!  Lastly, I’d love your support of the Dream Center.  You can be assured that however you support the Dream Center it will result in changed lives (