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Ryan Hall is arguably one of the fastest and most decorated marathoners in United States distance running history. The two-time Olympian won the olympic trials marathon in 2008, earned the fastest debut marathon time ever run by an American at the 2007 London Marathon, ran the fastest Boston Marathon time ever by an American in 2010 and, in 2007 set an American record for the half marathon of 59:43, which has yet to be broken.
In January 2016, at the age of 33, Hall retired, following years of fighting low testosterone levels and chronic fatigue. Now he’s found his way to the trails. In June 2016 Hall participated in the 140K Asics Beat the Sun race in Chamonix Mont-Blanc. This past fall he ran the XTERRA Trail World Championships in Hawaii.
Trail Runner caught up with Hall to chat about his appearance at last fall’s XTERRA Trail World Championships in Hawaii, how his relationship to running has changed, what he’s doing differently this time around and whether he prefers trail running to road racing.
What have you done to build your heath back since retiring from professional running
I’ve gotten really into weight training, which I think has really built my body back up after 20 years of stripping it down through running. I hit the weights hard for about an hour a day. It’s way more fun than running and my body feels better doing it. If I start to run a lot I notice the fatigue coming back, so I keep my running to 30-60 minutes, all easy.
How has running changed for you since retiring from professional running
It’s completely different now. My body has changed, so trying to run fast isn’t fun. However, doing hill sprints is really fun. I have a lot more power in my body from the weight training.
Now it’s all about enjoying beautiful places alongside great people. Trail running has that in spades. It’s much more beautiful, and the atmosphere is much more low key. There is a greater value in having fun, compared to the roads where time is usually a big goal.
What has been the biggest challenge in taking up trail running
At XTERRA World Championships the downhills were super technical, muddy and hard. I got worked on the downhills. I just had to move off the trail and let other runners fly by me. I was laughing at myself and how arthritic and old I felt running downhill.
How did you train for the XTERRA race
I didn’t really train, and I wasn’t running to compete. I just did 30-60 minutes of easy running per day and 60-90 minutes of hard weight training per day. I wouldn’t recommend my training approach.
Do you think you’ll continue competing in trail races
I would love to keep going to trail running events, but I won’t be trying to run fast anymore. I’ll just enjoy myself and have fun. I think if I limit my running to 30-60 minutes per day and keep it super easy I won’t get fatigued again, as this is a very small fraction of what I used to do when running professionally.