What Sara Hall has learned about (and from) running
Plus: We're running 4 miles today, 6 miles Wednesday + 4 miles Thursday
Good Tuesday morning, my friends! ☀️ I hope you had a great 4-mile run today if you’ve already made it out for yours — and if you haven’t yet (like me!), then you have a great run out there.
So many of you loved the clip of Sara Hall’s second-place, come-from-behind-at-the-final-stretch finish at this month’s London Marathon that I thought I’d dig a little deeper into what makes her such a great runner, with the ability to compete at the highest level at age 37.
First, this wonderful post-race interview:
Next, this insightful article, “The Secrets Behind Sara Hall’s Marathon Success,” shares the thoughts of her husband and coach Ryan on how he worked with her to build the training process that has helped her get to where she is today.
A lot of what’s in the article you’ll find familiar, no doubt — especially if you’ve been reading about how the world’s best runners hone their craft for any length of time.
But what I want to focus our attention on together are the little things from the interview that stand out to me, like these:
With her frequent racing, how does Sara prevent injury?
“She does a lot of the little things right, and she fuels herself well. John Ball at Maximum Mobility in Chandler, Arizona, has been a game-changing part of our team. He has a unique and powerful gift of working on runners and keeping them healthy with a full range of motion.
“Sara spends a lot of time doing self therapy and all those other little things that runners do to stay injury-free and recovered. She is also naturally a quick healer. Since she began the sport, she’s done higher volume and intensity that others at her age, with few injuries. She is naturally durable.
Notice what I emphasized in italics in the quotations above. There are words here, of course, about her natural gifts and work ethic as one of the world’s best runners. Which is to be expected — she’s very close to being the best in the world at what she does.
But what can we take from what Hall says here? To me, it’s the little things — taking care of ourselves, listening to our body, knowing when to slow down and avoid injury. Those are things that, for you and me, spell long-term success and happiness as a runner too.
This part of the interview was revealing too:
“I took all the principles of all the coaches I’ve had the honor of running under, and basically fine-tuned them for Sara. We’ve tried a few out-of-the-box things, but mainly we’ve built on the wisdom of the sages I learned from.
Who are some of those ‘sages’ and what did you learn from them?
My Dad: The importance of long hill reps for building strength.
Irv Ray: Workouts of 10 x 400 meters with 60 seconds rest to develop mile speed.
Vin Lanana: To hold back in training, and leave the workout feeling like you want more.
Andrew Gerard: Keep your running light-hearted and fun, yet go after big goals.
Terence Mahon: Using 15-mile threshold runs and marathon simulations for marathon training.
Matt Dixon: The importance of spacing out workouts and really emphasizing recovery.
Renato Canova: That athletes can train much harder than they think they can, but also that the training plan should follow the athlete, and not the other way around.
Jack Daniels: Training requires a combination of science and art, which he believes even though he is a scientist and great researcher.
God: The heart that you bring to your training is more important than the actual nuts and bolts of different workouts.
All of these contain lots of wisdom, but I really want to call your attention to the ones I’ve italicized above — about fun, about heart, about always leaving a little out there on the road, and not doing too much.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to achieve the heights that Sara or Ryan Hall are. It’s way too late for that for me. But I can have just as much fun and sense of achievement with my own running as they can — just at a (slightly!) lower level.
What about you? Who in the running world inspires you to strive, to reach for something more?
A song to run to today
Listen to our full playlist on Spotify, with 8 hours, 44 minutes of music to run to.
Words to run by
“I get to model, in real-time, the things I want to instill in them. First of all, just having something that makes you come alive — I think it's so important for kids to see their parents doing something that they really love and makes them come alive because that's what you hope for your kids, too.”
— Sara Hall