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 (https://www.facebook.com/ryanhall3) 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 (https://mydreamcenter.org/campaign/ryan-hall-faceyourself/c104403