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Surviving Cross Training when Injured

January 2, 2019

This was me…

close up portrait of noble sled dog a Chukchi husky breed laying on its doghouse

Ryan and I had the chance to go dog-sledding in Norway, something I greatly anticipated because I knew, as a husky owner and an athlete, I’d appreciate it even more. When we were getting ready to start sledding, the dogs hooked to the sled started barking with excitement and anticipation. But it was the dogs who were about to be left behind, chained to their little wooden box homes, that were actually barking the loudest. I imagine they were protesting not getting to do what they were created to do-run. “I feel you”, I thought to myself. Having just been through an injury, the pain of not getting to do what I love and instead being chained indoors to some machine, was fresh.

My inflamed peroneal tendon started inconspicuously as just a nagging pain, something that felt a bit sharp after performing a routine calf exercise in the weight room and in the days following just seemed a little tighter than usual. I’m usually good at nipping things in the bud but didn’t think much of this, nor did my therapist, until the race was nearly here. It was getting increasingly painful the last few days before the race, but I figured when I got out there and warmed up and had the race endorphins, it would be fine just as it had always been in training.

It was anything but fine. The pain intensified early on in the race, and I knew I was favoring it. But I was still on pace for a big PR, so I resolved in my mind that I could handle whatever pain I faced. But soon after the halfway point, my limp turned to a hobble and my ankle started giving out, causing me to slow.  It was a strange feeling to step off the course, but once I did, I immediately couldn’t put any weight on it-or for the 2 weeks following (it’s amazing the amount of pain we can run through when we set our mind to it).

About 2.5 weeks in, I was able to start some light cross training- both a blessing and a curse. It felt good to get the heart pumping a little again, but most cross training activities are not things I enjoy, and it’s mentally draining to have to motivate yourself every day.

For those of you also in cross-training purgatory, I compiled a few tips that helped me survive it and come out sane and stronger: 

  1. Fill your sports bra with your kids Halloween candy. Eat at 5 minute intervals or as desired.
  2. Music is everything. This is not the time for hipster indie tunes. Fast tempo and as loud as possible is king. I often default to Ryan’s “Together Forward” playlist on Spotify. Blast your favorite dance/house music, and if biking, bust your best arm-only hip hop moves. I do not recommend this on the elliptical (from personal experience). Current favorite to dance to- DJ Snake & Lil Jon “Turn down for what”
  3. Download a lighthearted upbeat chick flick you haven’t seen (*note “download” and not “stream” because when you’re in cross training purgatory, the slightest thing like frequent buffering can push you over the edge.)
  4. Adopt 4 kids and field their constant requests for “how do you spell…” while exercising at home.
  5. If cross training in solitude, you have the benefit that you can sing out loud/yell/grunt/cry/dance. But it sometimes helps to have company, like spin class, others sweating it out around you, people you can pretend to compete with to get those juices flowing.
  6. Book travel. It may be trips you actually take or fantasy vacations, but most flights you can cancel within 24 hours. So hunt away…
  7. Cover the clock. You wouldn’t do a long run staring at your watch the whole time, would you? Watching each second tick by is miserable. Cover it with a towel and tell yourself, “Just make it to the end of the next song…”
  8. Cross train only if it isn’t going to prolong your injury. Work with a therapist to identify what activities to avoid and pay attention to your pain during and after.  I try to get as running-specific as possible. With this injury, I could only tolerate the recumbent bike at first. Then the upright bike, then the elliptical. The more upright you can be, working the same muscles as you do running, the easier your return to running will be. 
  9. Give yourself an off day. I never struggle with motivation running, but I never DON’T struggle with it cross training. It’s emotionally taxing, and every so often you need to cut yourself some slack and go to brunch with friends instead.

Expect your first runs back to be awkward. You may even feel like you forgot how to run. It will come back quicker than you think, though. There will be a day you cry happy tears mid-run because you feel like your old self, and it will be sooner than you think.

Lastly, remind yourself that it will make you stronger. Every time I come back to running, it feels so much easier. It still hurts when I run hard workouts, but it’s a movement I enjoy, so there’s an ease with it. You strengthen muscles that have been neglected in running-only training and have a refreshed and hungry perspective. And like the sled dogs, you are ready to get out and grind with wild-eyed excitement, fully present in doing what you were created to do.

musher dogteam driver and Siberian husky at snow winter competition race in forest

Photo credit: TC Marathon

Keeping Your Peace: Ethiopia

July 19, 2017

By, Sara Hall

A good chunk of 2017 I have been back training in Ethiopia, a place that started to become home while frequently visiting our kids in the orphanage during our adoption process and simultaneously preparing for our races in the same high altitude places as some of the world’s best runners.  There are many fun, beautiful things about training here, but being back after an extended time away has reminded me how nothing about training here is comfortable. At home I log my miles on the perfect surfaces of the uninterrupted bike paths of my hometown in Redding or the endless even dirt roads of Flagstaff. Everything is very predictable, controlled, set up for the optimal conditions to prepare me for my goal race.

Training in Ethiopia on the other hand is wild and unpredictable. The extremely high altitude and uneven surfaces are just the beginning.  Running on the roads for long runs and tempos is never a relaxing experience where you can just focus on your effort and pace. As with most things in Africa, “personal space” is a lot smaller than we are used to in the west, and when it comes to drivers it’s no exception. On top of this, you have to watch out for horse carts, donkeys, stray dogs, meandering villagers, and occasional unruly youth throwing rocks or cracking their whips to scare you.  A large percentage of vehicles envelop you in a cloud of black smog (no smog checks here!) so I debate what’s better, holding my breath at 9,000 ft. where air is scarce or breathing it in.

When I was training with a team here going into Tokyo Marathon, I never quite knew what to expect on any given day. It may be an “easy training” day, but the pace would quickly progress to low 6 minute miles on a rutty grass field at 9,000 ft. (which was not easy for anyone).  Workout times and distances were often lost in translation, and I knew just one thing- that I better bring my A-game and keep going until the group stopped.  I was training with Olympic gold medalist, world record holders, and people that far out-classed me, but I loved the challenge of seeing how long I could keep up.

There are very few foreigners in Ethiopia, so as a white person I am definitely a spectacle, especially in the rural areas.  I can’t run anywhere without everyone staring at me unabashedly.  Quite often the ensuing comments are encouraging, like “Berchi!” and “Aizersh!” which basically mean, “be strong, good job!”.  But almost as often I get someone yelling “CHINA! CHINA! CHINA!!” at me (the few foreigners that are here are usually Chinese, contracted to build roads and other city infrastructure, thus it’s assumed that anyone white is Chinese).  I usually ignore this good-naturedly, but sometimes I can’t help but playfully respond “Habesha!” (which means “Ethiopian!”) to hopefully show them how silly it is to yell someone’s nationality at them (all with a smile of course!)

As much as these challenging aspects can wear on me, I also feel that they have made me a stronger runner mentally and physically.  A friend once told me as I was heading out to a race “No matter what, keep your peace”.  It has really stuck with me and is something that I draw on constantly.  No matter what my external circumstances, it is up to me to keep my peace internally. Rest is not just the absence of work, you can be very busy but be at rest and not stressed internally, something I have to remind myself as a mom.  No one or nothing can take your peace if you don’t let it.

Similar to training here, races are not perfectly controlled environments with someone running exactly the pace you want to run. They are wild, there are unexpected distractions and things threaten to knock you off your game. In the marathon, you go through good patches and bad patches, and you have to stay calm no matter how you are feeling in the moment.  So now when I’m suffering at 9,000 ft. up a hill, trying to keep my pace, and donkeys are cutting me off and people are yelling “CHINA!” at me and a bus wooshes by me from behind, I am practicing keeping my peace.  And then when I head off to race, like recently when I ran the ASICS Gold Coast Half Marathon soon after 3 bouts of bacterial/food illness and traveling 23 hours, I chose to keep my peace, and was rewarded with my 2nd fastest half marathon to date.

My pastor once said “The storm you can sleep in is the storm you have authority over” (Bill Johnson), referring to Jesus asleep in the boat while they were sailing through a storm (Matthew 8:23-27).  The disciples were freaking out and couldn’t understand how he could be sleeping.  But the Prince of Peace knew the end from the beginning, and that he had nothing to fear.  With authority he spoke to the storm and said, “peace, be still”.  And so can we to whatever storms are in our life when we choose to keep our peace.




How Ryan and I Support Each Other’s Goals

February 6, 2017

Ryan and I are in our eleventh year as professional runners, a journey we have been on together from day one. It all started back when we were finishing our senior year at Stanford University. I had just placed 2nd in the NCAA’s 5,000-meter race, and he had sprinted to a narrow victory in the same event. Although our original plan was to follow the same pattern and return the following year for a fifth year of eligibility, in the span of a few weeks we got engaged, signed contracts with ASICS, and headed off to Europe for a summer of racing, all the while planning a wedding that would take place in three months. When we made the decision to “go pro” we decided we wanted to do it together and have been ever since. In the process I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to support your loved ones as they strive to achieve their health and fitness goals. Below are a few of the ways I’ve helped Ryan through the years. I hope my experiences can help you help your significant other make positive changes in their life as well.

How to Be a Supportive Partner

Be a positive distraction.
Supporting Ryan’s running career has always been easy for me; the impulse to help flows out of my love for him and my genuine excitement to see him compete to the best of his ability. When we were in college, that support role meant encouraging him when he was struggling with injuries, poor racing performance, and eventually depression. We both had very successful running careers leading into Stanford, so I kept reminding him that greatness was within him, despite the current circumstances and we relied heavily on our faith in God. When you’re in the midst of an injury or failure, it’s hard to see situations clearly, so having a loved one to offer a clearer perspective is key. I also found that helping Ryan get out and do fun things unrelated to running was therapeutic.

Encourage healthy choices.
Oftentimes, supporting Ryan meant helping him make good choices—especially with food. He put on the classic “freshman 15” at Stanford, which was definitely hampering his performances. I knew a little more about nutrition than he did at the time, so although we had our moments of being kids and pigging out on junk food, we tried to support each other in making better choices and not tempting each other with treats. This is something that we still do to this day. There is a time and place for indulging together, but you can literally fuel a loved one’s goals by making healthy food for them and keeping them accountable to their nutrition plan.

Make sacrifices.
Once out of Stanford—and a bit more knowledgeable about what he needed to do to perform well—Ryan’s professional running career took off. Just a little over a year in Ryan set a new U.S. record in the half marathon and, in his marathon debut, became the fastest American-born marathoner in history. It was an exhilarating time for both of us! My performances were not quite at the same level at the time, but rather than feeling competitive or jealous, I felt the same thrill of his victories since I had invested in the process as a member of his “team.” Making sacrifices—like handling the bills while Ryan took a much-needed nap or training at altitude at a time I would have rather been sprinting on a track at sea level—for his career was not always easy when I knew my own competitions were approaching, but I was excited to see him living his dream and running with the best runners in the world.

Act like a coach.
During this time, one of my favorite ways to support Ryan was riding alongside him in the car during his long runs, blasting music and stopping to give him sport drinks every three miles. After these long runs, I would also rush to make him lunch so that he could eat within the 30-minute refueling window that experts say is key to promoting better recovery.

Expect the same in return.
Despite Ryan’s career being more successful, our relationship during this time was not completely one-sided, which is really important. Once his target race was over and he took a break from training he would head to the Olympic Training Center to help me get ready for the track season. Giving back to your loved one after your goal is met is a great way to thank them for all the love and support they poured into your process. One of the greatest ways Ryan has continued to support me in my career is to act as a sounding board to help me process my training and racing. I love to constantly analyze what I’m doing to maximize my potential and Ryan never grows tired of discussing what workouts or races I should go after and how I can continue to improve.

Stay flexible.
Supporting Ryan looks different now that he’s taken a step back from professional racing, but he continues to set goals for himself athletically. For instance, he recently ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days as part of the World Marathon Challenge. I wasn’t able to be with him during the race, but I made sure to cheer him on from afar. Although it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to top that incredible accomplishment (seriously, 183 miles in seven days? Wow.), I can’t wait to see what other epic adventures the future brings. I’m confident we’ll continue to tackle them side by side.


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 (


Running + Faith

December 20, 2016

By, Sara Hall

One of the themes Ryan and I hear most in messages from other runners, and especially recently, is ‘how does your faith in Christ affect your running?”  As much as we would love to respond to each individually, our life is rather limiting and I thought a blog would be a good opportunity to address the topic. I by no means have this all figured out so please do not see me as being up on a soapbox, but I do love to share the things I have learned so we can learn from each other.

** Warning: This blog is long and there are no fun pictures, so I won’t be offended if you don’t read on! **

My faith in God began at a young age, but just as with any relationship with a person it has grown and evolved in depth.  Thus, how it has affected my approach to running has also evolved.  As a high schooler first entering the sport I had a deep desire to use my running to bring God pleasure, but I didn’t always know how to do that.  I knew part of it had to do with my heart, how I was holding running. It also had to do with who received the credit, or “glory”, for whatever success came.

But 16 years of walking this out with God, through the ups and downs of my career, has evolved my perspective on what it means to follow Christ while having running be such a large part of my life.  I have by no means arrived when it comes to this subject and likely 16 more years from now I will look back on this time with different perspectives, but this is where I am at personally in my journey so far and I hope that God will highlight to you the things that resonate with your spirit!

** Before I go any further, let’s start with the basics: God designed all of us to be his children and live in an intimate relationship with Him, but when the first humans chose to sin and it entered the world, we lost that perfect connection with Him.  So he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life on earth and be the perfect sacrifice for all past and future sins to make things right again between humanity and God.  He showed us how to live a perfect life, which is only possible through His spirit that he left here to help us when we choose to put our faith in Him. Trusting in Jesus means believing He is God, He lived and died and paid the price for all of our sins, and giving him your life. That’s where following Him begins, by speaking to him and listening to His voice, reading the words he speaks in the Bible and following the way he lived, and worshipping Him with your whole life. He made us all unique, with different gifts and passions, including athletics, and He delights so much in seeing us live these out, and ultimately he wants all these things to lead us back to connection with Him.  He wants to live with us forever in Heaven, starting right now on Earth, and through him is the only way to live the life that your heart longs for because He created your heart that way!

Where is your treasure?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21

I absolutely believe that God doesn’t want all of us to just sit around and sing songs to him all day, that part of our worship can be going after things, to have goals and ambitions and pursue things that he puts in our hearts at the highest level.  However, how you hold these in your heart makes all the difference in whether that goal is an idol (something you worship and bow down to), or whether refuse to worship anything but God.  Everything else will fail you at some point, but God is the only prize worth living for that will never fail you.

A good heart check for me came when my pastor Kris Valloton said “an idol is anything that you have to check at the door before following what God tells you to do”.  Following Jesus means giving him all of us, and if He tells us to lay something down for a season of life it can be hard but it is for our best.  I look back on times where I have done this well and many times where I have not.  One that stands out in my mind is my senior year of high school. I felt He was calling me to go on a missions trip to Holland the summer before my senior year, and while there I didn’t get in the preparation I really needed to do for the season and had a very rough start to that year. But I refused to take down the picture of my goals on my wall- becoming the first CA runner to win 4 state cross country titles and to win the Footlocker National Championship.  It looked very unlikely as I was losing my dual races, and lost almost every important race leading up to it, but in the end I did win these two races, the biggest races of the year.  I’m not saying that God helped me win, but I do think He used it to create a milestone in my life of putting him first above everything else.  That doesn’t mean you will have running success as a result, and my career is a great example of that as I have probably failed more than I have succeeded, but having Jesus as our greatest treasure is the only way to experience the satisfying, fulfilling, “abundant life” here on earth (John 10:10).

Working hard, but not Striving

 I’m one of those over-achiever, more-is-better personalities.  I feel my early success in running came not because I was especially talented but because I have always been willing to outwork everyone else.  I would run to practice, do practice, and run home and do hill sprints on the way home, and this is in middle school, a time where most kids just hid in the bushes and picked blackberries during practice.  Needless to say, in my walk with Christ I have always loved to “do things for God”, things that Jesus did and that are good for us.  A lot of Christianity focuses on this, doing good works, but really it reinforces a culture where we are performing for love rather than doing them because of love.  I had to learn how to operate out of rest- that no matter if I never did anything for God the rest of my life, He would still love me the same.  And there is a fine line between working hard and striving.  Striving is where you are trying to force something, instead of working hard with God’s grace enabling you for the task.  There are many moments in my career where I tried to force things in my own effort and got run down, burned out, and the results were the opposite of what I wanted.  It can look the same externally, as obviously to be good at running you have to work hard, but it is really more of an internal state- one of peace, versus one of insecurity and anxiety.  Jesus said his “yoke is easy and burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) (a yoke is the heavy apparatus on the neck of oxen use to plow). So I remind myself sometimes when running feels like a burden, “oops sorry Jesus, I picked up the wrong yoke! Yours is easy. Here you go, you can have this burden and I’ll take the easy one!”

What bears fruit?

Matthew 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

I want my life to be like a healthy tree, with different “branches” representing different aspects and all holding good, ripe fruit. “Bearing fruit” in the Bible represents a sign of health, having impact, and being a blessing to others.  Good fruit comes naturally from a tree being healthy, it doesn’t have to force the fruit to produce, it is a byproduct of life flowing to those branches. Running is one branch of my life, and I want it to always bear fruit, to be something that impacts the world around me in a positive way. God didn’t intend for it just to be something for my own enjoyment and satisfaction.  Creating goals just to have something to chase is empty- it will be like chasing the wind, always needing something else to chase to feel a sense of significance. But when you know that what you are doing is bearing fruit, having impact, and blessing people around you you can go through hard seasons where parts of the branch get pruned off, knowing that it is all part of staying healthy and producing bigger fruit and bigger impact. Often when I am debating whether to keep something in my life, I think about the fruit it is bearing, the positive impact it is having (or lack thereof).  The minute I feel my running is no longer bearing fruit in my own life and the lives of others is the minute it’s time to focus that time and energy on something else.

How do you define success?

Determining the fruit your running is producing is in part possible by defining “what is success?”  When I first started running I pretty much only experienced winning.  My first year in high school I won the League, Section, and State Championships in cross country and won both the 1600 and 3200 in the track State Championships (for all division in all of California).  Without realizing it I had created a very narrow window of success for myself- anything outside of winning was failure. As I continued in college and professionally often coaches would communicate what that window of “success” was, whether a time or place in a certain range was or making a certain team. But over the years, God has showed me that this is not the mindset he intended me to have and though those goals can be helpful objectives, success is faithfulness.  If I take the amount of talent and desire he gives me and work hard and hold it rightly in my heart all the while and then go out and compete to the best of my ability, that is success, no matter what the results sheet says.  In our sport results are so easily quantified and compared, and one of the biggest traps we can fall into is measuring our achievements by comparing ourselves to others.  Don’t get me wrong- I want to make Olympic teams and run records and all that is very quantifiable.  But at the end of the day, whether or not I was successful is less about those results to me as whether I was faithful in the process.  I think of the repercussions, like the doping epidemic, which would be impacted if we adopted Jesus’ view of success.

Who are you running for?

 As I mentioned early on in my high school career I experienced blissfully easy success, but in doing so created some very high expectations for myself, both from myself and others. Those expectations have been something that now, nearly 20 years later, have become a norm in my life, but the inevitable pressure they come with was not always easy to handle. I was already aware of others’ expectations but that pressure felt amplified when somehow one day I stumbled upon some newly formed website message boards where I was surprised to find that I was being picked apart by anonymous people.  All of a sudden I felt afraid that if I failed, I was going to be criticized by these anonymous hordes of people that in my naïve youth seemed to matter so much to me, along with my hometown and the many others I had already been aware of.  It is a natural thing to want to be liked by others, especially as an insecure high schooler, so as I entered races in the back of my mind I was thinking of the criticism I’d receive if I didn’t win.

Whereas competitions used to be a fun, exciting opportunity to win, at times that felt overshadowed by the fear I’d lose and be criticized.  In the years following, God has taught me so much in this area and restored that joy of competing.  The first step was to cut off being exposed to that criticism as much as possible- not reading articles about myself or negative websites all together.  But some things you can’t just cut off, like a coach or person you don’t want to let down who places expectations on you, so avoiding things is only a small part of the remedy.  Getting to the root of this in me took experiencing God’s fully unconditional love, really understanding that he can’t love me any more or any less by how I perform, and His opinion is what matters.  At the end of the day and after the race looking to him for affirmation and feedback.

One of my favorite quotes is by my pastor Bill Johnson, “If you don’t eat from the praises of man, you won’t die by their criticisms”.  I realized that I had become addicted to others praises- I had been getting them since I first started running and had made a steady diet out of them. But if others’ praises carry weight in your life, so will others’ criticisms.  I don’t think I’ve met anyone who does this better than my husband and I am forever grateful in learning from his example in this! Also, my pastor Bill, who gives the analogy that when you receive the praise (for example after a good race), accept it graciously like a rose.  At the end of the day, when you are on your own, offer all the roses in a bouquet up to God and say, “All these belong to you, you deserve all the glory, it is only by your grace that I am even in the position to be doing this and perform well today”.  I love that image and have made a practice of it in my own career.


Giving the bouquet of roses up to God as a symbol of any glory you receive really belonging to Him is the perfect example of one of the most important aspects of living like Jesus: humility.  Pride is a funny thing because it can be so subtle, and one way I have seen it creep into my life is in the area of self-promotion.  My pastor Eric made an astute observation that Jesus never promoted himself.  His life had the greatest impact on world history by far of anyone who has ever lived, and yet he did nothing to pump himself up and garner popularity. He actually said things he knew would offend people and make him less popular.  He was confident, he knew who he was, but he was not prideful.  The need to promote oneself comes out of insecurity really.  For example, one are I feel the temptation to promote myself is social media.

“Building my brand” (I really dislike that term) is often considered part of my job description as a professional athlete, but long ago I stopped feeling comfortable putting out anything I didn’t genuinely feel inspired to share. Even still I ask myself at times as I create a post,“why am I wanting to post this? Is it really because I want the response of others?” Do I get the urge at times to brag about a workout I just crushed on social media or some other achievement, absolutely, but God convicts me that this boils down to pride.  I have thus tried to really reign in any form of self-promotion in my life, whether on social media or interviews or elsewhere.  I trust God to bring opportunities and financial provision my way without me trying to strive to make them happen by “marketing myself”.

Everyone is different in their convictions on how they use social media so I don’t judge anyone on this, but I know for myself, it crosses the line when at the heart of my motivation it is really a need for affirmation from others.  It also doesn’t mean you never share about the successes (as well as failures) as you go along your journey. It just goes back to what is your heart intention in it and who are you running/living for? I love and appreciate so much the people who have followed my running journey and cheer me on, but even if that crowd shrunk to zero I hope that I would have the same zeal to do this sport unto God alone, for His audience only.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

As you can tell, I could probably talk about this forever as it is one of my life’s passions, but I’ll end it there. I would absolutely love to hear from you on how your life with Christ has affected the way you pursue running!

May God bless you richly and meet you wherever you are on this journey!