Monday, November 15, 2010

Ryan Hall's New Coach is God

Not that ESPN or the mainstream sporting news would ever report it, but elite American marathoner Ryan Hall recently parted ways with his longtime coach and also left the legendary Mammoth Track Club. He's now going it alone in his training and will allow his Christian faith to lead him down this new path in his storied career.

Hall winning the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008.
As Ryan writes on his blog:
I will be using some different sources to shape my training. Over the past 14 years of running I have developed a keen body awareness, which I will use on a daily basis, as well as advice from various experts, and prayer to ultimately shape my training. I believe that operating in this manner will allow me to run with a new level of faith and excitement.
In another blog post, he says:
Running has always been deeply spiritual for me. My desire is to have my training be more biblically designed, which has some very tangible applications and some not-so-tangible applications. Some of the more tangible applications come from verses like: Proverbs 24:6, “For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory” and Exodus 34:21, “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.” Obviously, there are no training plans in the Bible, so designing a program is a combination of my knowledge of training that I have developed over the past 14 years of competitive running, advice from others, but mainly through getting on my knees every morning and asking God what I should do. In the past I have found it very difficult for me to make deviations from my training plan once I have one written, so now I don’t have a plan in ink, making it easier for me to hear and obey God. With that said, God has a plan and sometimes He shows me one day, sometimes, a week, and sometimes the type of running I need to be doing in my current season.
Wow! Does that mean Ryan's not running at all on Sundays? It's hard to imagine an elite marathon training program that allows a day off every week. But, I do believe rest is very under-rated in achieving peak conditioning. If in fact Sunday will be a day off, Ryan may just pioneer a new training philosophy.

Prior to these recent revelations, Ryan was training for October's Chicago Marathon and ultimately pulled out before the race because he felt physically not quite up to an all-out effort in the Windy Cindy. Ryan writes quite a bit about his Chicago decision, these challenging past few months and the role of faith in his life on his excellent blog at

Not surprisingly, Ryan's taken quite a beating from many over his decision. Some of what I've read is presumptuous garbage that draws a line between faith and success. Happily, other commentaries have been more balanced. Then you get into message boards, which are mostly rife with nasty diatribes written by people who don't even known Ryan Hall, what was going on with his coach and club, and what's deep in his heart. It's hard being open about your Christian faith in today's world because when you let people know that God is the ultimate director of your life, as Ryan's done, there are those who will accuse you of "losing your mind," being stupid and committing other offenses.

Ryan's an incredibly experienced, talented runner, and an argument could be made that he hasn't quite lived up to expectations even as he's accomplished so much as a runner and--I would argue--as a man in the first 27 years of his life. I wish Ryan all the best and I know many will be cheering hard for him in the spring when he toes the line for his next marathon. Go Ryan!


Congratulations to Highlands Ranch, Colorado, resident Scott Jaime on his awesome win at the Mountain Masochist Trail Run, a 50-miler in Virginia. In the spring I met Scott for a run in Deer Creek Canyon and he's quite a talent. Scott's race report can be found here. With his MMTR win, Scott now has an automatic entry into the 2011 Western States 100.


Last Sunday Anne and I watched the New York Marathon. I enjoyed every minute of it except for when Haile Gebrselassie, 37, the world record holder for the marathon (2:03:59), dropped with a knee injury...only to retire after the race. I'm so glad Haile has reconsidered his decision and will race again in the spring.

For whatever reason, this reminds me.... The Olympics should institute a 100-kilometer road race. I think people would watch in amazement and would honestly be freaked out by the site of guys and gals running 62 miles--hard--on the road. Why the 100K hasn't been instituted by now is a mystery to me.


My foot continues to heal nicely. This past week I ran just under 30 miles, taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off per doctor's orders. My strategy for the rest of November is to keep the mileage quite low, especially since we'll be preoccupied with moving into our new house on 11/22 and getting unpacked. In December, if my foot is in good shape, I'll start ratcheting up the mileage again, but the key goal for the rest of 2010 is to get healthy.


Over the weekend I watched the film "W," by Oliver Stone. Not surprisingly, this film took a lot of heat from conservatives. But almost all Oliver Stone films take heat, some justifiably so. His 1991 "JFK," while a good film just on the basis of acting, was full of lies, innuendos and distortions that conflict with solid evidence and known facts. "W" is also quite controversial and takes creative license in many areas. The elder Bushes are certainly cast in quite a negative light. But the fact of the matter is that "W," however much you hate Stone, is a damn-good film and I actually think it's sympathetic to Bush especially within the context of his parents. My take on "W" is this: Even if you love George W. Bush, watch the film because you might just like it. (I have to admit that I think Elizabeth Banks, who played Laura Bush, is very pretty, which is a polite way of saying she's hot.) And if you think the film is a hit-job on Bush, maybe this clip will compel you to rethink that position:

Here's the extended trailer:

In fairness to "W" and because I'm a trained historian, I'm planning to read Decision Points and may just embark on a quest to read every single presidential memoir.


  1. Thanks for the kind words Wyatt. Let's hit Deer Creek again soon. Also been thinking about HFCS more, I'm thinking about eliminating from my diet for 2011 to see how hard it would be.

    Talk soon

  2. Wow. That stuff about Ryan Hall is fascinating and I give him props. Its hard though, for him is this a move toward greater obedience or isolation? I guess we will have to see. Thanks for posting this Wyatt.