“I think what made me me was taking big risks and training really hard. And I think that’s what allowed me to have such high highs but it’s also why I had so many low lows as well. I think if I would have taken the edge off my training I probably would have just been a lot more steady in my results and not so up and down and all over the map. But also, in my mind, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the same place—and for me, I would rather risk everything and see what’s going to happen than play it safe and just get to mediocre for me.”
It was a treat to speak with Ryan Hall for this week’s episode of the podcast. Hall, who retired from professional running in 2016, is still the fastest American male marathoner (2:04:58) and half marathoner (59:43) of all-time. He made two Olympic teams and finished in the top-5 at numerous World Marathon Majors, including a third-place finish in Boston in 2008.
We packed a lot into this 45-minute conversation, including his reflections on retirement and when he realized he couldn’t push himself to the level he wanted to in running. We talked about battling extreme fatigue toward the end of his career and what he might do differently in retrospect, especially as a high school athlete who trained hard from a young age. There was some talk about nature vs. nature as it relates to athletic success, body image issues amongst male runners—including his own struggles—and where his own independent and competitive streaks come from. Finally, we got into his attraction to Ethiopia and what led to he and his wife Sara adopting four daughters from that country, his upcoming new book, Run The Mile You’re In, what that phrase means to him exactly, and a lot more.