24 August 2015

on the run ... with sara hall

A photo posted by Sara Hall (@sarahall3) on

what's it like being married to one of america's greatest distance runners?

you could ask ryan hall that question.

sara hall is in every way an elite athlete, having won a Pan Am gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase in 2011, twice been a member of both the US world cross-country championships team and world indoor track and field championships team, posted a 4th place finish at the 2015 half-marathon championships and most recently crossed the line as the second place finisher at the 2015 falmouth road race outduelling such notable runners as amy cragg, neely gracey and tara erdmann.  2015 also marked sara's first foray into the marathon distance, competing in the LA marathon along with her husband ryan.

while running is a hallmark (pun intended) of her life and career, sara is also most active in the hall steps foundation, a charitable organization she and ryan founded to help alleviate the impact of global poverty through promotion and provision of better health.

. . . . .

1.  In preparation for the 2015 LA Marathon you spent some time training with Ryan (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmq8uKhq0pc) - what were some of the most notable tips and tricks that you picked up from his marathon preparation/insights?
(a) Easy days easy, hard days hard
(b) Start fast and stay aggressive
(c) Listen to your body
(d) Appendix is good? Good!
(e) Other

SH:   'C' - this is something Ryan always encourages me to do. In this buildup the training felt much easier and I responded to the high volume much better than expected so it allowed me to be more aggressive.  Even though the race was disastrous, I don't see that being a result of my preparation but more the course and day I faced.

2.   The work that you are spearheading through the Hall Steps Foundation makes your life direction much bigger than just your running goals. How are these two facets of your life connected?

(a) Both are an expression of faith and an act of worship
(b) Elite athletes should use whatever platform is available to them to effect positive change in the world
(c) I've gotta have something to keep me busy after my running career winds down!
(d) All of the above
(e) None of the above / Other

SH:   'A' - definitely. I try to have my entire life be ministry and worship unto the Lord.  My compassion for people who live in extreme poverty comes from God's love living in me.  My passion for running is also something He created me with and I believe He delights in seeing me use these gifts He's given me.

3.   You've experienced success in a variety of events, from winning the US National Road Mile Championships, to steeplechasing to taking the 2012 American title at the US Cross Country championships. What's left on the bucket list for Sara Hall?

(a) Ironman, baby!
(b) Taking to the trails in something like the Western States 100
(c) Still have sights set on the US Olympic Marathon Trials
(d) Stepping into a coaching career
(e) Other

SH:  'C' - I'm planning to race a marathon this fall to get a feel for the event since I didn't feel like I really got a sense of it in LA.  After that, I'll decide if the marathon trials will provide a viable option to making a team.  If not, I'll focus on the track trials!

4.  There must be some rather unique dynamics in terms of your training situation - while you don't run with a team, you're married to a world-class competitor (who espouses faith-based coaching) and are being coached by Steve Magness (author of The Science of Running). How do you integrate all of these pieces together?

(a) They just all seem to converge on the same principles
(b) Steve is my guy - although he's distracted by the Nike Oregon Project exposé right now
(c) Ryan's approach inspires me
(d) I pretend to listen, but in my head I'm thinking about what recipes I want to try next
(e) None of the above / Other

SH:  'C' - it's been great to be working with Steve the last 3 years, and now that I'm starting to run marathons, it has been kind of a collaboration between him and Ryan and I, especially when I am in a season of marathon training.   Ryan is the one who creates a framework for my main marathon workouts.  Steve is the constant through the different seasons whereas Ryan takes a more active role when I'm doing marathon work.  And he's the one with me on a day to day basis to really process the training - I'm a verbal processor!  Working from afar it really is up to me to tweak things based on how my body is feeling and communicate what I feel I need.

*** for more on sara and the journeys that she is taking on her own and with ryan, visit their website http://ryanandsarahall.com/. many thanks to sara for taking time from her busy schedule to connect with all of us at The Rendezvoo Point!



  1. Wow Sara Hall. That's very impressive Patrick. Good question and I have to admit that some of her answers surprised me even though it makes perfect sense considering who she works with. Great job.

    1. thanks for reading stan! sara is a great person and has been extremely obliging in participating in this interview. she's definitely one to keep an eye on at february's olympic marathon trials!