All Posts By

Ryan Hall


Pro Recovery Tips!

April 13, 2016

There is no doubt that after a hard race your body can feel completely waxed, like you will never run another race in your life. This is how Sara felt coming out of her first marathon. She then had another major event less than two weeks away, so she really had to recoup. Remarkably, she was able to rebound in time for the World Cross Country Championships and be the first American to cross the finish line.

How did she do it? Recovery—something that’s key to racing, and really, any fitness plan. Here’s how Sara and I recover from races so we can prep for the next ones—listed in order of what to do, first.

Step 1: Refuel at the Finish Line

Replace calories and fluids as soon as possible after a race. You just caused serious trauma to your muscles and in order for them to heal, you need to replenish them with adequate hydration and nutrition. Note: It won’t always be easy. Sometimes your stomach won’t cooperate right after a race, and it may feel like you’re force-feeding yourself. But do it: Your body is starving for the building blocks it needs to get stronger. (You can also incorporate liquid calories (like chocolate milk, or a shake), if your stomach is too finicky about hard foods).

Aim to take in 300 calories of carbohydrate (it can vary depending on the length and intensity of your race). Bonus: You can also eat simple sugar to help replace glycogen in your muscles. For Sara and myself, this sometimes means chowing down on gummy bears—the only time we’ll do it.

We also make sure to consume 20 grams (which can be more or less depending on your size and run intensity) of protein, usually in powdered form, for a shake.

Whatever you choose, make sure your recovery nutrition isn’t high in fat, as that could slow digestive absorption.

Step 2: Go For a Walk or Jog

The worst thing you can do is sit for several hours immediately following a race. Instead, it’s important to bring new blood to your muscles, to help flush any toxins that have built up, and speed recovery. Once you finish a race, walk for at least 20 minutes, and if you’re up to it, try some light jogging.

Sara and I typically jog for 20 minutes to cool down, however after a marathon I may just walk and call it good. It depends on how much energy I have left. After I ran 2:06 in the London Marathon, I did jog a couple of miles—but those were probably the slowest miles I’ve ever run in my life.

(Optional) Step 3: Boost Circulation with Ice Bath and/or Massage

Soak your legs in contrast baths—meaning tubs with hot and cold water—within a couple hours post-race to boost blood flow. When we trained at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, we would often spend 5 minutes in a cold bath set to 50-55 degrees, and then go directly into a hot bath for 5 minutes. We would alternate between hot and cold tubs until we had been in each three times.

If you have two bathrooms in your home, you can fill one tub with a few bags of ice and cold water, and fill the second tub with hot water. If that’s not possible (you only have one bathroom), opt for a 10-minute ice bath. Repeat the ice bath after another two or three hours. (Or you could make do with alternating cold and hot showers.)

Sara and I have also spent many moments together soaking our legs in icy creeks and lakes around the world. Finding a beautiful body of water to soak in keeps your mind off the freezing pain until your legs go numb.

If your budget allows, massage is one of the more pleasurable post-race recovery routines, and can be done instead of, or in addition to, your optional ice bath. If you can’t afford a professional massage, you can always recruit your significant other (Sara and I often work on each other) or get a foam roller and a softball and roll your legs out while watching a movie—a regular scene in the Hall house.

Step 4: REST!

Time off is key. I would often take two complete weeks off following marathons. I later decided to jog 30 minutes for two subsequent days after the race before taking my complete break, to help reduce soreness.

Why rest? Your body needs time to regenerate for your next big training phase. I neglected this step after running the London marathon in 2:06 in 2008—I was so excited to train for the Beijing Olympics that I didn’t give my body enough time, and my performance at the Games paid the price. I’m sharing this so you can learn from my mistake.

If you run a shorter race, you may not need two weeks—a few days of rest after a 5K would suffice, for example. Just make sure to only rest—which means no cycling, strength sessions, or other forms of cross training.


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.


My Un-Sexy Training

August 14, 2015

From my experience, I have found that fitness simply takes a lot of hard, smart training spread out over months and months.  Anytime I have amped up my volume or intensity too quickly in a short amount of time in hopes of getting ready for a big race in a few months, it has resulted in either injury, fatigue, or poor race results. Leading up to the LA marathon, I was pushing my body too hard for where I was at in an effort to get where I wanted to be. I would have great workouts some days that gave me hope and excitement for the race ahead, but then some days I would be reduced to trudging through training runs. It showed that my body was not absorbing the training as it should, no matter how hard I was trying to recover well and do all the right things. Having great workouts is only part of the equation, it’s more consistency in training that matters.

It’s not our culture to be patient. Today’s fitness culture grabs everyone’s attention with trendy and “sexy” looking training plans and gadgets.  You know what I am talking about, ‘5 minute six pack,’ ‘run your best 5k in 4 weeks,’ etc.  However, most of these quick tricks to instant abs and fitness are simply ploys to get more clicks, shares, or sell stuff.  It sets people up for disappointments, disillusionment, and perhaps worst of all, believing that there is something wrong with them because they don’t see the promised results.

I’m not following any of these gimmicks, and yet I see within myself the same desire for quick results. I’m tired of making that mistake, so rather than hitting my body as hard as I have in the past (and maybe gotten away with) I am progressing my training in a fashion that is almost unnoticeable to my body. My approach to training has been comparable to watching my hair grow (and yes it’s at an all-time long!).  When I wake up in the morning I don’t notice a difference in the length of my hair.  I don’t notice a difference in a week, and probably not in a month, but if you show me a picture of my hair 2-3 months ago I notice that it has grown a lot.  Sometimes this is how gaining fitness needs to be, at least for me right now as I am “on a short leash” and don’t seem to have much room for error.

So what does this tangibly look like in a training plan?   What I do is get a calendar, identify my goal race, and start working backwards.  I plot out the key workouts I want to be able to hit before my taper for the target race.  Then it’s just common logic from there, I decrease these workouts as gradually as I can with the remaining weeks I have to bring me up to my current fitness.  A key workout for me is a 15-18 mile run at marathon pace.  There are shorter workouts throughout the week which support my marathon pace run, but they are not the main course, just appetizers.  I know if I can run 15-18 miles at marathon pace in practice that I can sustain it for the marathon on race day.

Don’t buy into quick, gimmicky tricks.  The truth is, adaption to training takes time, a lot of it.  Your body can do amazing things, things you never thought possible if you treat it right, give it ample time to respond to training, and most importantly take a “like watching your hair grow” approach to your buildup.