His body “totally exhausted” from running, Ryan Hall turned to weightlifting and found a new life

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“It’s just like you wear a weight vest all the time,” says Hall, which isn’t much of a surprise considering his physical transformation since retiring from the sport there. is five years old.

As a professional runner accumulating 120 to 140 miles per week, Hall weighed 130 flexible pounds; today he weighs 190 pounds and is much more likely to lift weights than do 20 mile runs.

And while he may not be able to come close to his half marathon record of 59:43, nor his best marathon time of 2:04:58, Hall, 39, says that he feels better about it.

“I’m five foot 10, weighed 127 pounds, and my body was totally exhausted and in terrible shape, and I needed to get my body back.

“Weightlifting has become a new way for me to express who I am, which is a guy who likes a physical challenge. I like to be active. I have to train every day, otherwise I am cranky and cranky. “

His current workout routine includes daily 60-90 minute weightlifting sessions, tight around his workout (he trains his wife Sara and 10 other professional athletes) and parental commitments.

Among the benefits of lifting over his running schedule, according to Hall, is an increase in his energy level, which is “10 times better” than when he was running professionally and planning to take naps. two hours in the afternoon each day.

He says his testosterone levels were always “clinically low” as a runner, with natural remedies making no difference.

“It’s just a very hard profession on my body,” Hall adds. “While weightlifting is the complete opposite of that: it’s anabolic in nature, so I build muscle and build strength.

“This is a great way for me to give back to my body after it has given me so much over a 20 year period. Now I have finally given back and I feel great now my testosterone is back to normal. normal level, my energy is better, my motivation is better.

“I’m a better dad, a better coach and a better person because of it.”

The pure thrill of running

During his transition from professional racing to training, Hall’s desire to push his body’s physical limits did not abate.

Rather than testing himself over the 26.2 miles of a marathon, he will face unique challenges combining strength and endurance.

Last month, for example, he took on a challenge of logging and hauling water. This involved splitting a cord of wood and hiking 6.3 miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, then 6.3 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation while carrying a 62-pound jug of water in each hand.

“It kinda reminded me of my pro running days of being at the start line of a marathon and trying to run 4:45 a mile over a marathon distance and just thinking, how am I going to do it. that ?” Hall says of the feat.

“Even if you are trained you are prepared, when you get to that point it’s a scary place.”

He is now considering his next challenge. One goal is to try and complete a 500-pound deadlift and a mile run in under five minutes (he got 5:28 on his first attempt), and another is something that involves ” cover a good distance with a heavy weight “.

However, he hasn’t completely forgotten his love for running marathons. Coaching his wife Sara, who ran the second fastest marathon time ever for an American, reminds us.

“When I’m at Sara’s races and she’s in great shape and warming up for the marathons … I just remember: Oh, how good it feels to tear it up on the roads, to feel like a million dollars floating through it. There’s no feeling like that, “Hall says.

He continues, “I can think back to a whole bunch of times when it was just me in the woods on a single track trail, no one else around, no sound other than the wind blowing through the trees and having exactly the same sensation: to be in flight, to have the impression of floating. “

It’s the sheer thrill of running that Hall tries to convey to the runners he mentors, including his four daughters.

“I’m trying to remind my daughters: Hey, it’s not about the performance, it’s not about where you are. Can you just fall in love with the feel of your body by flight ?” Hall said.

“Because if you can fall in love with that feeling, you will get anything running.

“That’s where the good things are. It’s not about hitting a PR [personal record], it’s not finishing a certain place or going to the Olympics or anything like that. It’s in the beauty of how your body feels in flight. “

Coach as a chef

In addition to the 11 athletes he personally coaches, Hall has also launched Run Free Training, an online training platform of around 150 athletes.

He is, he admits, “a much better trainer than I am an athlete.” While he was “super stiff” with his schedule during his running career, he learned to appreciate the value of constantly making adjustments to an athlete’s training routine.

“I like to see myself almost as a chef,” Hall says.

“When I write the training I have a ‘recipe’, don’t I? But from what I see, from the feedback I get, it’s like tasting it for I cook and then I change the flavors, I put this and that in there, I take this, that, I just make it. “

He takes a similar approach to his own workout in the weight room, making adjustments to his workouts to challenge his body in new ways.

“I have to throw a new stimulus into my body that it’s never seen before, so I’m constantly finding new ways to do it,” says Hall.

“I’ve studied training a lot, I take inspiration from other people’s training, but I also get creative and do things that seem like fun… I try to be really intuitive with my training.”

Hall has also changed his diet in recent years. Like he did when he was a runner, he still eats a meal or snack every three hours, but these days he’s also increased his calorie intake.

“I eat a ton of protein and still eat a ton of carbs,” he says. “Basically I’m eating a lot more calories than before … I’m trying to eat 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day, and if I don’t, it doesn’t matter what I do in the gym. bodybuilding, I don’t see any strength gains. “

Away from their lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Halls supported development projects in Africa, including raising funds to bring clean water to 90,000 people in Zambia and for the construction of a new dispensary in Kenya. .

They also founded the Hall Steps Foundation, a non-profit organization that protects vulnerable women and children living in extreme poverty in Ethiopia.

In 2015, the couple adopted their four daughters from Ethiopia; Hall says the family plans to set up an initiative there in the future.

“We want to do our part to help,” he adds. “Our children are so amazing; they have blessed us more than we have blessed them.”

Until the family can return to Ethiopia, Hall is focused on training and imparting the lessons he has learned throughout his running career; this makes injuries and setbacks all the more precious.

“I am passionate about sharing these things that I learned the hard way,” he says. “I love him because he redeems the failures I made along the way.”


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