Olympian and American Marathon Record Holder

Ryan Hall

ryan-hall-catalyst-podcast
Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

Dr. Cooper

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute. And if this is your first time here, welcome. Today’s guest will likely be a name, you know well, Olympian Ryan Hall. Ryan holds the American record for the fastest marathon and half marathon. He has recently been highlighted for going from a rail thin five foot, 10″, 137 pound runner to weightlifting in his retirement. To the extent that he’s garnered the attention of magazines like Men’s Health. Ryan is also a man of faith. Something that drives every decision he makes from adopting four girls to the way in which he trains. I’ve been a big fan of Ryan’s for a long time. And it was a joy having the chance to sit down and chat with him. If you’re a coach and you’re listening to this the week of the release, you might still be able to join us for the virtual coaching retreat and symposium taking place September 19th and 20th, you’ll garner some low cost continued education credits that can be applied either to your 2020 or 2021 requirements. You’ll fill your coaching toolbox, and maybe most importantly, you’ll realize that passion that originally brought you to the incredible profession of coaching. All the details are available under the retreat tab at CatalystCoachingInstitute.com. And as always any topic coaching related, feel free to reach out to us [email protected]tute.com. Now let’s join the journey with Olympian Ryan Hall on the latest episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness, and Performance Coaching Podcast. All right. So Ryan Hall, welcome to the podcast.

Ryan Hall

Yeah, thanks for having me on, I really appreciate it.

Dr. Cooper

I’ve got both of your books right here in front of me, title of your second book, Run the Mile You’re In. I love that statement. A lot of the guests we’ve had recently have been this idea of, of mindfulness and focusing on where you are right now. That, that phrase I’d love to know. Is there some story how you landed on that title? Because my friend, just the title, the book’s excellent, but just the title. If you can remember that run the mile you’re in, whatever you’re doing. That’s huge. Can you, can you kind of give us the backstory on the title?

Ryan Hall

Yeah, definitely. I mean, so it goes way back to when I was training in mammoth lakes, California. I was a part of, one of the best running teams in the country up there. And, both Olympic medalists from, the marathon were both a part of that group. And so early on, before I ran my first marathon, I was just taking notes from those guys, you know, like watching them train, but then also like trying to understand like the mental, mentality that you have to have as like one of the best marathoners in the world. And, I think this first came up in a conversation with Deena when she was just talking about how you’re going to have good moments, you’re going to have bad moments. And when you’re going through those rough patches, like you gotta just kinda water those and like, just get through those. And, she mentioned like, just being like present in what you’re doing, you know, like not thinking too far down the road. And she would actually break the race up into, like eight segments. Cause we get eight water bottles out on the race course. Every 5k, we get a special bottle that we had to put out on a table. And so she would break up the, the race that way. But, it just became kind of like a powerful mantra for me as I got into marathoning of just not worrying about the things that are to come. It’s kind of like going to the dentist, you know, I don’t know about you like it’s like, it’s like the dread of going to the dentist is actually worse than being at the dentist.

Ryan Hall

So it’s, it’s the same thing as the marathon you’re on the starting line of this race, that’s going to be, it’s daunting, right? Like it’s a super long, super hard race and it can be a scary place, the starting line. And then it’s scary early on in the race. You’re, you’re in a bunch of pain, six miles into the race. And in my mind, sometimes I’m thinking, how the heck am I going to get through the next 20 miles? So this one was just a way for me to, to bring myself back and being like, you know my dad used to always tell me this as a kid, he’s like, listen, like, God can give you the grace for this moment that you’re in right now. Like if you’re looking for the grace for, you know, tomorrow or a future moment, it will be there waiting for you when you get there. But like, all he gives you is the grace for this moment right here. So let’s just stay present in this moment and get through this moment.

Ryan Hall

And like, and I have. You always find the grace for the moment. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to like find, you know, grow wings in that moment, like transcend your body and transcend yourself. Like, you’re still like very much like in the moment. But you can handle the challenge when you’re displacing the challenge that’s right in front of you. It becomes very difficult to handle those challenges when you’re so overwhelmed by how hard this road is going to be out in front of you. So it just kind of became a huge theme in my life and in my mentality and how I approach big challenges and just became kind of like a fitting title for my book. So yeah, glad we landed on that one.

Dr. Cooper

That’s great. Love it. All right. So at age 37, you have done so much. You’ve seen so much, from American records, Olympics, adopting four girls from Ethiopia, all these twists and turns along the way. What has surprised you most or what are some of the things that have surprised you most about your life’s journey? Up to this point? I have a feeling there’s a lot ahead, but what up to this point? What, what’s surprised you?

Ryan Hall

Yeah,

Dr. Cooper

We can go for four hours if you want.

Ryan Hall

Yeah. There’s been so many surprises, like to start things off, like I thought that when I was getting into the sport of running at the age of 13, I was dead set on being a miler. I wanted to be a world-class miler on the track, you know, like that was my event. And, you know, I wrote about this in the book, I was so fixated on this and so like kinda like prideful about it. And I just thought, like I knew what was best for me. Like that was kind of really what was going on inside of me that I looked back at myself as a kid. I was like, I know what’s best for me. I know what I’m good at. I know what I’m going to do. And, man that is not a fun way to do life, you know, when you think you know what’s best for you. Like, that’s why, like we need, we need coaches. We need, family members. We need parents. We need people outside of us, like giving us feedback and directing in what’s right. Otherwise you start directing yourself, life takes a bad turn, for real. So, you know, I think that was probably the biggest surprise. I never thought I’d run a marathon. And then, you know, here I am now retired from pro running, but you know, the marathon was what I ended up being great at. And I would have never guessed that in a million years, as a 13 year old getting into it. So learned a big, big lesson about pride and about listening to God’s direction. And like I said, like direction from other people as well.

Dr. Cooper

I love that, that, that leads into my next question very nicely. You frequently discuss the importance of doing what God made you to do both in and outside of running. Can you expand on that concept for us a little bit? What it meant to you when you were one of the top runners in the world, but also what it means for you today?

Ryan Hall

Yeah. You know, I, I know like we’re just all created in such amazing ways. Like that’s just something, like a core value of mine that I just walk around thinking that like every single person I see and interact with, I’m like, man, like God made them for such an amazing purpose. And with such an amazing, like yeah, just purpose in mind, you know? And I really am passionate about people finding that and discovering that because I know for myself, like, like kinda like what I was talking about in my previous response was like, I thought I knew what I was created to do. And when you’re doing what you’re not supposed to be doing, like what you weren’t created to do, it’s so frustrating. Life just feels like you’re just beating your head against a wall, right. Or trying to, you know, there’s a million different analogies you can use trying to put a circle peg through a square hole. You know like, that’s how I fell early on in my life. When I really wanted to be a pro baseball player. I was so fixated on that. And like, that’s just not how God, that’s not the body that I have. Like I do not have a pro baseball players body, you know? So like I was trying so hard practicing. It was so hard. Like my dad had experience as a ballplayer, so I had a great coach. Like I had a lot of things, but I just wasn’t built to do that.

Ryan Hall

And then I contrast that to when I found my purpose and I wrote about going on, you know, that first run around the Lake, running 15 miles and like, then when I found it, you know, when I found my purpose, it’s just like, I was all of a sudden, like not swimming against the flow of the stream. Like I was going with the stream. Like for the first time in man, things were just clicking and falling into place. And it was actually the same way when my wife and I adopted our kids from Ethiopia. Like for a long time, they’re like, we felt like here we are number 76 on a waitlist for an infant that like this list isn’t even moving, we’re going to be waiting years and years for our kids and you are just kind of thinking like, what am I doing here? Like, I don’t feel very needed, you know, like part of the reason why we’re adopting is cause we know that there’s kids in the world that need homes. Right? And like, here I am on this long waiting list. It’s not moving. Like I’m not really feeling like, you know, this is fulfilling. The purpose that I set out to do when I started the adoption process and my wife and I started it.

Ryan Hall

And then, you know, eventually we became aware of our four girls in Ethiopia. And, the moment that we changed up our paperwork and changed our social worker, it changed everything so that we could adopt our four girls, things just fell into place and it just, everything just started clicking. And we brought home our girls way before we even thought we’d be able to bring them home. Like when we went to Ethiopia, we were just going there to train. And then when we came back, we had four girls. It’s just crazy, like how amazing things can be when you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. And not to say like, things are gonna always click and everything’s gonna be perfect. Like read my book, like watch this documentary that just came out about me. It’s called the 41st day, it just got released on iTunes and Amazon. And like, you’ll see like, Oh man, talk about a rocky road. Like I’ve had a super, super long rocky road. So, you know, there’s gonna be some, a ton of bumps and a lot of failure along the way. But it’s just like, when you’re doing what you’re created to do, it feels like you’re in the flow and it feels like you’re in the flow with God. And like things are working how they’re supposed to be working. And it just, you know, yield like just amazing, an amazing life experience that, you know, I really want everyone to experience. So I’m super passionate about, you know, kind of helping people find what they’re created to do and watching them on their journey as they move into that.

Dr. Cooper

I love that. Let’s, let’s stay on that for a second because I like the way you said that doesn’t mean it’s not rocky. That doesn’t mean you don’t hit tough times. You don’t go through the, the ringer on some of these things. Can you talk us through a little bit more of that differential between, okay, this is a wall that may indicate God wants you someplace else. And this is it’s just a hiccup or a speed bump. Any thoughts from your experience about the difference between those two, that might feel the same today, but in the end are very different?

Ryan Hall

Yeah. That’s such a good question. I remember listening to a podcast on this about like, when do you know, like, Hey, this is the end of the road. You need to start something else. And when is it something you got to push through and knowing the difference between those is very difficult. I mean, I retired from professional running like a hundred times before I went through, so many of these discouraging moments where I thought like, in my mind, like it’s the end of the road. So something that was super, super helpful for me, that I learned from my pastor, Eric Johnson at Bethel church in Redding, California, something that he said, like don’t ever make a decision, a big life decision in the midst of disappoint. That was so, so helpful for me because I made so many, it’s so tempting, right? It’s like, you have a bad race, you have a bad workout. The adoption’s not going through like this, stuff’s not clicking. It’s so easy in those moments to just be like, well, that’s it, like I’m out, you know. And that is the worst time to make a decision. Right. So, that was super helpful for me in like learning when it was the end of the road, when it was time for me to retire. Like, like I look back at the last four years and I was like, okay, like, how are things trending? How’s my body trending. And I made that decision based off of four years of feedback. And I think that’s probably the most helpful information I could give listeners is like, do not react to disappointment, like react to the peace of God, to like the leading of God, to positive things, to other people, people that you trust in your life, you know, like influencers in your life, whether it be your parents or coach, or, you know, like people who are wise people in your life, like react to that kind of feedback, do not react to disappointment.

Ryan Hall

Like disappointment is just, and we all go through it and I always make terrible decisions when I’m really disappointed. Like do not even think about making a decision when you’re in that state. That’s been super, super helpful for me. But then also learning that, you know, at times like too, I tend to be very like, kind of, for lack of better word, like bipolar in the sense of like, yeah, I’m either in or out, or I’m like doing like making big, I want to make big changes. Right. And I’m learning more and more and still to this day, trying to learn this, like sometimes things you hit bumps in the road and it does really require a pivot. Right. And so it’s not necessarily like, okay, like I’m throwing this whole thing away, this whole journey that I’m on, this whole goal that I’m going after I’m throwing it all away cause now I hit this bump in the road. But more like, okay, well, why did I hit this bump? And it required me to just make a slight adjustment. So I’m trying to get better at just doing that, just making slight adjustments, and just, you know, sticking with things, consistency over a long period of time, you know, when you talk about running and what makes great runners or like just fitness in general, you know, now I’m into weightlifting. Like to me, like consistency is the most important thing in me seeing results is just like, I just need a little bit every single day for years and years and years. And that’s how you get to greatness. That’s how you get to amazing things. I have to be super, super patient because it, results do not come quick when it comes to fitness. But I think it’s like that thing, you know, whether you’re trying to run a business or whatever, like you just have to be super patient. You have to do, you have to make pivots sometimes. But I’m kind of going back to what I said originally. I think the biggest thing is just not letting disappointment lead you, let love lead you, let passion lead you, let wise, um, leadership and people in your life lead you. All those things are good things to follow. Disappointment is not a good life guide.

Dr. Cooper

I’m glad we went down that path, that’s powerful, good stuff. All right. Joy is a big word for you. I’ve got your other book from 2011, Running with Joy. I think I told you in an email, I think you should have a dog named joy with this title. But anyway, as a runner, I couldn’t get enough of the book. I love the way you went through that and your training and what was going through your head and experience all that kind of stuff. But let’s come back to the title. Has joy always been something that you’ve sought out and recognized as you’re reflecting as you go through your life? Or has the lack of joy nudged you in one way or another? Like what, what role besides saying, yeah, I like joy. What role has that played? Cause it sounded to me like it’s played a bigger role than just another emotion.

Ryan Hall

So for example, when I am training or planning my training or planning training for my athletes, I always start with the end goal. And I work backwards from that. And I talk about training as like building bridges, right. And I try to do the same thing with my life and how I look at it. Like it might give me kind of a morbid way to look at it. But I like to think about myself in those last moments, you know, whether I’m on my death bed or however, it’s going to end for me and think about like, what is truly going to be important in those moments. And obviously, you know, it’s about the relationships that you build, but I think something’ thats gonna be super important to me is like, did I savor life? Did I get just enjoy as much as possible, and joy, you know, is so much more than being happy. You know, obviously there’s a lot of talk about the difference between happiness and joy. And, joy is kind of what I’m after. Like I really want to close my eyes for the last time knowing that man, like I, I savored life as much as I could in the good moments and the bad moments, like in every moment, like I was there, savoring it. Like you savor a really good cup of coffee that you get from an expensive coffee place where just every sip you’re like, Oh, this is so good. You know? And you’re trying to like actually taste it and actually feel the sensation of the coffee in your mouth. Like, when I think about like how I want to experience life, like that’s what I think about. And like I want, I want that in every moment. And that is a very lofty goal to have and one that I’m still working on and I’ll never stop working on it.

Ryan Hall

It’s a cultivation process. It’s not like a, Oh, I found joy and now I have it all the time. I wake up in the morning, super joyful and every moment I’m super joyful. Like I am not like that. Definitely not. But I am trying to cultivate that. I am trying to grow that. I am being like intentional in my thoughts about like experiencing that. And I’m trying to get better just like observing. I talked about this in my podcast. I have a podcast Run Free training podcast. It’s all about like the internal side of sports and athletics and how we can like get strong insights so that we can perform well externally. And I talked about that in one of my recent episodes where I was just out on a walk and I was like, let me just like step back from like my spots and from conversation with people for a second. And let me just like really soak in this moment and observe like, I love how Jesus talks about that. He’s like observe the Lily, like it doesn’t toil or spin, and yet it’s clothed. It’s clothed like more grandiose clothing than Solomon, you know? And like, I love how like, Jesus was very observant, you know? And that’s like, you’re saying it’s a big theme kind of in today’s culture I think because, you know, we’re so drawn to our phones and devices. And I know I am like, that’s a huge challenge that I face in my day to day living. But just trying to observe, trying to be more present, you know. Running the mile I’m in, trying to be present in my moments throughout the day is something that I’m working on trying to cultivate. And I think when we do that, that’s when we find the joy, you know, like I think joy is kind of similar to grace, you know, I talked about like how God always gives you the grace for the moment that you’re in and the challenge that you’re facing right now. I think there’s always joy to be found in the moment. And like I said, joy and happiness are two different things, right? So if you’re, if you’re currently in a moment and you’re sick and hurting and in pain, like that is not going to be a happy moment, but, you know, can you find joy in that moment? I think so. Like if you’re willing to dig and like really look deeply into that moment and realize that if you like search for things to be thankful about. And that’s a big part of, for me of being joyful is trying to also cultivate like a really grateful attitude.

Dr. Cooper

So many tips in there. I was trying to grab onto one. So a big part, as you were talking at the end there is asking yourself the question, what is there to be joyful for right now, regardless of what I’m going through, regardless of the outside circumstances. Am I hearing you right? Is that a big part of what you’re doing right now?

Ryan Hall

Yeah. Yeah. Just kind of like, and also to find joy in the monotony of life, in the little things, you know, it’s like, my life is amazing. Like I’ve gotten to do go to some amazing places, have so many amazing experiences. But it’s not like that all the time. You know, sometimes I’m just like doing dishes and taking the trash out, driving the kids around, like I live like a pretty ordinary life in a lot, or most of the time, you know, most of the time I’m not like out exploring the world or doing crazy stuff. So like, I’ve been trying to also like, think about how can I experience God in every moment. How can I see God in every moment? Like, I believe that God is with us all the time. Like Jesus said he was, so I take him at his word, you know, and yet like I miss him most of the time. So I’m trying to do a better job of being like, like this moment has everything that I’m looking for, everything that I need. And like, I don’t need God to show up, like in a miraculous way or, you know, I love it when he does. And I’m not like saying he can’t, but I don’t want to miss that hey, he’s actually like here right now. And same things like joy, grace and everything that we need like this present in this moment right now and trying to dig it up, trying to find that is, is kind of in my mind. It’s the art of living. It’s learning to like have eyes to see and ears to hear like Jesus talks about to, to uncover those things. Cause I really, in the deepest part of me, like I don’t experience it in every moment. Like I’m not that good, but I’m working on it and that’s, I really have that core belief and that’s really what I’m going after.

Dr. Cooper

Beautiful. Beautiful. Alright. With that as our context, you’ve been really open and honest about your struggles with depression throughout your life. Something that so many people and probably a lot listening to this that just resonates like crazy. What have you learned through that part of the journey?

Ryan Hall

Yeah, I mean, to me, like when I look at like the episodes that I dealt with depression in my life, that was all rooted in my performance mentality. Every single time I kind of fell into a depression it’s because I had adopted this like performance mentality that, I had to perform in school or I had to perform on the track or on the road. Like I had to prove to myself that like I was special that I deserve to be alive, that I was a value. And I don’t know if I’m a middle kid I’m in the middle five, you know? So that’s kind of typical for, for a middle child, to go through. But, that’s, I can very easily slip back into that kind thinking. So I have to like I was talking about cultivating things, I have to be very intentional to be able to identify when I’m starting to slip back into that performance mentality. Cause that is just such an unhealthy place for me to be. And even for me to experience athletics and I kind of talked about that in my book, how like you should stop competing and how like competing, cause you know, when you think about competing, it’s all about comparison, right? It’s like, how do you compare to, how’s your team stack-up with the other team? How does your result compare to someone else’s result? And that is such an empty place to live in. And I, from my own experience, like I’ve, I’ve lived there many, many times and every time I go back to that spot, I mean, it’s easy for me to do that to this day with the hobby of weightlifting, just get on Instagram for one second, you see people throwing up big weight and you’re like, Oh man, it’s really easy to just kind of fall back into that. But it’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s so shallow when it’s like that, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Like even the best guys in the world fall into depression, you know? And they have that performance mentality to this never, never enough. And you know, that’s a very trendy thing to say. Everyone’s heard that a million times, but it’s really true. It’s like it will, having a performance mentality will never make you feel good. It’ll never make you feel full and it will ultimately lead you to depression or at least it did for me.

Ryan Hall

So I had to have that shift where what I was doing was no longer about how did I compare it to someone else. It was about how, it was about personal excellence and me getting out of me what God had put inside me in terms of my talent and stewarding my talent well. And one of my favorite passages to share and this is, the book of John at the end of the book of John Jesus is talking to, I believe it’s Peter. And he tells him, you know, how he’s going to die. And then Peter says to, Jesus well like, what about him? Pointing to John, like how is he going to die basically? And Jesus response is like, if I want him to stay to the end, like, what is that to you? Like you follow me. And to me, that was such a beautiful passage on comparison and how easy it is to get distracted of what God has for someone else and how really like, he just wants us. So laser focused on him, that like, we’re not even, you know, we’re, we’re cheering on people around us, we’re excited when people do well. When our peers succeed, like we’re excited for them cause that’s what God has for them. But then we’re, we’re laser focused on Jesus and trying to stay close to him and experience what he has for us. And that’s a very satisfying place to be. That’s a very satisfying way to experience athletics. So, you know, that’s something that I kind of hope I can help pass down to future generations is like, guys, do not go through this performance mentality it’s going to lead to depression. It’s going to just lead to some, not very fun experience of athletics and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dr. Cooper

Excellent. And that actually, you have not seen the questions I jotted down, but it ties right into the next question about the story you share about efforts in the 2014 Boston marathon. How of all the incredible, I mean, you’ve had so many incredible races. One of the ones you highlighted was a day that wasn’t your day, but you found a way to still make a difference. I was actually racing Boston that day. It wasn’t a good day for me either, but the emotion of the crowd, what was happening that year coming off the year before, that was just unreal. Can you relive that day for people that have not heard the story of, of not how you help? Not, not how Meb won because of you, but the role that you played and your mindset and what was happening. And I think it ties in nicely to what you just said about appreciating what other people are able to do.

Ryan Hall

The story goes back to 2013 Meb and I were at Boston and, you know, that was the year of the bombing. And I actually was on an airplane heading back home when the bombings happened, I’d been in Boston doing like events stuff, and Meb was supposed to run that year. I don’t, I think I was supposed to run too, but I got hurt and I pulled out and then Meb also got hurt and had to pull out. And so we were both texting each other after the bombing and we’re like, man, next year, like we’re going to bring it. Like we gotta, we gotta show them like, you know, acts of terror, they inspire us. Like it is not gonna knock us down. Like we’re not going to stay down. Like, it’s an opportunity to show like how we’re going to respond to such, such acts. And so Meb and I were texting each other after that race and we’re like, man, we’re going to bring it. We grew up, he was a big motivator for me. And he was always kind of like an older brother to me. And we were neighbors for awhile. So we were always like close, you know, we weren’t trained in the same area or anything, but we were always, you know, when we would race each other, we’re rooting for each other. We’re helping each other out however we can. And so yeah, fast forward to the race. You know, like I was, I thought I was in really good shape. I’d been in Ethiopia training really hard at 9,000 feet. And I thought, you know, this could be my day that I win Boston and I’d been third and fourth there before. And so like, who knows what’s going to happen? You know, I’d run 2:04 there. So I was, I was hoping it would be my day, but it was clear early on in that race that like Meb was feeling really good.

Ryan Hall

I can always tell when he’s feeling good because he’d go to the front and he’d be pushing. And, I wasn’t feeling good. Like when he would push, I was like, Oh, like, I feel like I’m on my line. You know, like that magical one where if you’d cross it over, you’re gonna, you’re gonna start tanking and start going backwards. And so I had, I couldn’t go with Meb’s move when he moved early on at around 10k of the race, which is super, super early for a marathoner to make a move on the rest of the group. And, and so, you know, Meb made that move and no one responded except for one other American guy. So Meb and another American guy and they were just like, probably like, I don’t know, 30 seconds in front of us. And so it was me in that chase pack, some other American guys and then a whole bunch of Kenyans Ethiopians, like all the big players were in that second group. And you know, I was leading that second group and I was keeping them kind of close to Meb cause you know, I’m still thinking like, Hey, maybe I’ll start feeling better clicking, I’ll catch back up and you know, yeah, right. Like you never want to concede a race, right? Like when you’re in the race, you’re always feeding yourself positive thoughts and trying to, trying to make it happen. But there became a point where I just had this thought in my mind, I was like, what am I doing here? Like, why am I keeping all these other guys close to Meb? Like it’s much easier to follow than to lead in running. So, you know, by me leading, I was making it easier for the rest of the world to stay close to Meb. And I was just thinking about like tour de France, like how they race that like the team strategy, right? And if you get a guy or a guy on your team, if you lead in a break group, like you’re not doing the work in the second group, keeping them close to your guy. Like you try and give him as much room as possible to try and win the race. And so I just got out of the lead and the pace just dramatically slowed down in our chase group. And that gap just started to open more and more and more. And then other American guys were catching our chase group and then they would do what I was doing and go to the front of our group and try and pick up the pace. So I’d just go up to the front and be like, Hey, like we’ve got two American guys up here. Like we need an American, we need an American to win this race.

Ryan Hall

No American had won that race since like 82, which was like the year I was born and, in the wake of the bombing and stuff, like we needed an American to win. And so I was telling him these other American guys, they would catch up and want to push the pace. And like, hey, we’re not doing the work. Like if, if the rest of these Kenyans and Ethiopians and guys want to do the work to stay close to chase Meb down, then like go, they can go for it, but we’re not going to help them out here. Like we’re like kind of running as a team. And I was grateful that the guys in that pack were like willing to listen to me cause they didn’t have to listen to me like, we’re not an official team, they could have just done their thing. And if they wanted to optimize their performance, they should go to the front and push the pace if they’re trying to run fast. But they were, they were on board with what I was saying and they, they would get out of the lead and the pace would slow down even more. So, you know, long story, short Meb’s lead just kept growing, kept getting bigger and bigger. And then eventually, you know, the guys kind of realized, Hey, we’re giving Meb a huge lead here and like, we got, we better start chasing him down. So, you know, eventually they got the work and they started chasing Meb and Meb ended up holding them off and you know, he had run his heart out. So whenever I see this story, I’m always like, I didn’t make Meb win, or let Meb win or, you know, Meb had to do all the running himself. He had to get himself in that kind of shape. Like he’s the one who made the race happen? All I did was, just do what I would want someone to do for me if I was in Meb’s situation and, you know, make the other guys have to work for it.

Ryan Hall

So, I’ll never forget. So, you know, coming up over mile 20 over heartbreak Hill and I was not having a good day, at all, I think I went on to run like 2:18 or something. I don’t even know what my time was, but, by far my slowest marathon, I think I ever ran and my slowest Boston for sure. But I remember coming up over heartbreak and I have no idea what’s going on. I think I asked one of the spectators, you know you’re going slow when you start talking to the spectators on the side of the course. But I asked one of the guys, I was like, Hey, how is Meb doing? When he came past here? And he was like, he was, he was winning when he came past me. And so I just smiled at that point and I was like, Oh Meb’s going to win. If he got up over heartbreak Hill, you know, it’s downhill that last 10K, they’re not going to catch him. And sure enough, he held them off. And you know, I think it’s important to say though, like when I crossed the finish line, I was stoked for Meb, but I was not happy. You know? Like I wasn’t like, yay, woo, like celebrating and hollering and stuff. Like I was bummed out that I didn’t have a good race, you know. Like I got on an airplane right away. I got out of there cause I was bummed out. But you know, I was internally just happy for Meb and so, so happy for him. But I think that’s important to note that like, just because you are celebrating someone else’s victory, that is a choice. I don’t think that’s going to be a natural reaction. It’s going to be one of those things that again, you have to cultivate it, and you have to be like, I’m not going to let my emotions lead me here. I’m gonna, you know, I know that I want to be excited for Meb and I am excited for Meb, but I’m feeling a lot more disappointed because I didn’t have the race I wanted to have, but I’m going to choose to partner with this being happy for Meb. And so I think that’s really important that people realize, Hey, like it’s not gonna, you might not feel like celebrating someone else’s victory, but you can like make that choice to celebrate it. And as you partner with that choice, it will grow and grow and grow inside of you until, you know, like now years later, like I’m super, super excited about what happened that day. I think I was a part of, one of the most historic memorable, important marathon victories in the United States history. So pretty, pretty cool just to get, to be, play a part in that in some way, you know?

Dr. Cooper

Very cool. Very cool. All right. Speaking of choices, we’re unfortunately seeing more and more elite runners caught using performance enhancing drugs. Now with both you and your wife, Sarah living in that world for decades, what were the two of you seeing over the last eight, 10 years?

Ryan Hall

Yeah, it’s crazy to me that this is happening just because my, I wasn’t, I never saw it. You know, like I never had it offered to me, like, I don’t even know how I’d get it, to be honest with you. So you just don’t see it at all, but then you see these results coming back, and people getting busted. And as an athlete, I had to be very, very protective of my mindset. And I had to really truly believe there are some people who just kind of believe that everyone’s dirty. You know, it’s easy when you see guys break through and have big races, just be like, Oh man, they must be on some stuff. And I never ever partnered with that kind of thinking, like my mindset was always like everyone is clean for sure, because I knew that like if I started believing that guys were cheating and doping, that they would have a mental edge over me on the starting line. And I was not willing to concede a mental edge on the starting line. Like if you believe someone’s on some magical stuff, they’re going to have an advantage over you. Right. Like a hundred percent. So, you know, as an athlete, I had to have that perspective, but like I said, I didn’t see it. Wasn’t aware of it. And we did train in Kenya and Ethiopia and they certainly talked about it a lot in Kenya. And like, it seemed like it was like people talked about it a lot. And in the United States that doesn’t get talked about amongst athletes very much aside from like certain people, you know, maybe making, you know, saying other guys are doping because they’re running fast.

Ryan Hall

But it also too, like, it was helpful for me as an athlete to know guys like Meb, for example, guys that I knew super well, and I’m like, these guys are not doing performance enhancing drugs and they’re running super well. They’re winning Boston, they’re winning New York. So, you know, even I know there are other guys out there doing it, they can win these races clean, then I can win these races clean as well. But you know, it’s, it’s certainly sad and distracting to the sport for sure to, you know, and guys do get busted and you do feel like kinda, kinda cheated. But also though, like, that’s the great thing about when you don’t compare yourself to other people is for me, like my career, as I got in the marathon and as I learned that lesson that like comparison and how bad that is, and it became about personal excellence then even like, if you were cheating then yeah, they might’ve beat me at the London marathon. Like there’s people who’ve mentioned, but it still doesn’t take away from like what I did that day. My goal is personal excellence. It wasn’t about what place I was, you know? So having that goal of personal excellence is really helpful in that, you know, you don’t even feel necessarily like people took anything from you aside from, you know, momentarily where you are out like 10 grand, 20 grand, cause you’re one spot down, you know? So yeah. I don’t know. I just try and focus on, well now, like what my athletes are doing and what we can control. And the only thing we can control is how fit we get our athletes and trying to get them to the starting line in the best shape as possible. And like I said, it’s helpful for us just to know that certain athletes are clean and they’re showing that it can be done, that you can be competitive. You know, I don’t think it’s like the tour de France days when Lance was there when, if you’re going to be competitive, like you better be on some stuff. It’s not like that in our sport. So that’s, that’s super helpful too. You know, you don’t have to adopt a mindset of everybody is on it. Everyone’s doing it. And if I’m being competitive, I have to do it.

Dr. Cooper

Right. Right. Okay. Yeah. I appreciate that. I think that’s helpful for those of us that might have that mindset of oh great. We’re right back into cycling with running, that’s good to hear. Alright. So let’s shift directions a little bit for, for folks like yourself, world-class athletes, retirement’s a tough deal. I mean, it’s a hard thing. It’s been four years now, since you retired, can you walk us through some of the struggles as well as some of the things maybe you’ve learned about yourself through that transition?

Ryan Hall

Yeah, definitely. I mean, in general it’s gone much, much smoother than I always thought it would go. You know, I was always really worried about the day I was going to retire just because running was my craft, my passion, you know, I woke up excited to do. Yeah, yeah, and it was even like, it was identity early on, but then as God kind of dealt with me and it became not who I was, but something I was doing, but even as, you know, having it be the driving force of like your goals and what you’re doing and what you’re going after, I wouldn’t say necessarily my identity, but it was like my passion, my craft. Like what I was excited to go after, you know? So I was still like really concerned about when I was going to retire. But, you know, as I mentioned, being able to look back at the last four years of my career and see how my body was doing and being in touch with my body. And it was just so clear that my body says, Hey, I’ve given you everything I could possibly give you. Like, there is nothing left to give. That really helped me to kind of move on knowing that alright, like it’s time to start giving back to my body and I’m making the right decision here. Like I kind of explored every possibility I could think to explore in terms of tweaking my nutrition, my training, just exploring everything I could think to explore, to try and turn the ship around and try and get my body responding well to training and trying to get back to the level of performance that I’d once been in. And my body, just wasn’t having any of it. You know, with that said something I would probably do differently if I could go back and do it all again is not to go from, and again, this kind of goes back to my personality and being like all in or all out. And I went from like all in on this thing to like retired, you know, like some athletes, like how they retire, like they just kind of keep going and slowly getting slower and slower. And that doesn’t look appealing to me. Like, I want to remember running like in a good light and like how it felt when I was running really well. But at the same time, like I think it might’ve been better for me to step back and take an extended break from running. So maybe take like six months off without any running and kind of like create that space of like allowing my body to heal and rejuvenate and then maybe go back to it and see if things are different. That’s really kind of the only thing in hindsight I can look back at and be like, I kind of wish I would’ve done that a little bit differently, but I think some of the things that were helpful for me in the transition, you know, I wrote about like having a queer, like marking of an end of the season. Doing the seven marathons seven days continents. And that was a real nice kind of like bookend closure feeling, to my season of running. That was super healthy, super helpful for me.

Ryan Hall

Another thing that was really helpful for me was just realizing like, what is it about running that draws me in so much? What do I love about it? Why have I been so into this craft as I have? And as I looked at that, the answer was like, I love physical challenge. Like, that’s just who I am. Like, I just love pushing myself. And so I’ve got to have a way to do that in my life if I’m going to be happy person. And I think that’s okay, you know, like that’s like a very real kind of like physical need that I have. That’s how God made me. That’s what I like to do. And we all have things like that. They kind of just make us pick, you know, we wake up excited to do it. I also, I love to see improvement and change. I love that running, like I wouldn’t be able to run one mile at goal marathon pace six months before the race. And then, you know, after six months of dedicated training, I can do 26 miles in a row at that pace. Like I love seeing my body adapt and grow and, it’s, we have such amazing bodies. They’re able to do such amazing things if we’ll give them the proper training, nutrition, and rest. And, and so like, how can I keep those things in my life, even though I’m no longer running? And so for me, like I went straight into weightlifting, which is kind of funny, cause I used to hate to lift. I did lift, but begrudgingly. Like I was just trying to get through the weight room, get my stuff done as quick as I can. And so I have like a means to an end to run faster. And so it was kind of funny that that became my hobby, especially, you know, at five foot 10 and 137 pounds. It’s not like the making of a weightlifter having marathon genetics is not ideal for getting into powerlifting and bodybuilding. But that was part of the fun thing for me is like, well, let’s see, like, you know, I’ve done what I was made to do, I believe. And now I want to try something I’m not good at at all, but that I can see growth in and is a healthy outlet for me to challenge myself and challenge my body. And also to, like I was mentioning, I felt like my body was like, I’ve given you so much over the last 20 years with all of this running and running is such a catabolic activity, right? It just like breaks your body down and it takes, it strips your body of everything it doesn’t need except for, to move forward that fast. And so it’s time for me to give back to my body and weightlifting was a perfect way to do that.

Ryan Hall

Anabolic activity, building muscle, building strength, eating more calories than I needed to because I was trying to diet down to really low body weight. And so I noticed like my energy levels came back. I started feeling much better, being much more energetic throughout the day. I was a better dad, a better husband. Like I was just a better person as I began giving back to my body. And I still like take really good care of my body, still, you know, go to bed at 9:00 PM and get to sleep and eat really well. I’m eating a lot because I’m trying to get as big and strong as I can. It’s been a really fun kind of experiment and just fun for me to see my body adapt and change and grow and fun to have like new, like kind of personal goals I’m going after. And it, and it’s just a hobby, you know, I can go into, I have a little home gym in my garage at home and I give myself 60 to 90 minutes and, you know, go crazy in there for that amount of time. And then the rest of the day, I’m working on other stuff and spending time with my family and supporting them the best I can. So, you know, it’s no longer like my craft, like running was where it’s like alright, let’s see how good at this I can get, but now it’s kind of fitting into a different category of, of just being a healthy hobby, a healthy outlet, but something that has allowed me to transition out of running in a really helpful way. If I didn’t have that, I think I could have very easily kind of slipped back seasons of depression.

Dr. Cooper

All right. So I’m going to jump further into that one because the distance runners in our audience who have seen recent photos of you, they’re going to be mad at me if I don’t at least ask you. Any secrets, any tips you’re, you know, like you said, you’re five, 10, 137, lifelong runner. And now you’re Mr. Buff that men’s health is like, Hey, check out Ryan. Any, any tips for the folks that are out there going, you know what I think I might want to try that. I’m going to, I’m going to follow in his footsteps on this one. Can you throw anything out to us?

Ryan Hall

I could talk for a long time about this one. I think the biggest mistake that runners make is most runners have a really hard time adding muscle. You know, like we’re not predisposed adding muscle if you’re a marathoner and a runner. So the, the hardest part is eating enough. You can work out super hard every day in the gym, go crazy. You know, have the perfect workout routine. If you’re not giving yourself excess calories, like you’re not going to grow. You’re not, I mean, maybe you will in the first six months, if you’re new to lifting, like magical stuff happens. But for myself, my lifting routine is the same. Whether I’m losing weight or gaining weight, the only thing I manipulate is the amount of calories that I’m eating. So it’s so, so important like that you get that nutrition piece. If you’re trying to add muscle and you’re on a low calorie diet, good luck, it’s, it’s going to be really, really difficult. And so kind of what comes with that, right, is you got to, like, I treat my body like, okay, I’m in a building season and when I’m in the building seasons, I’m giving myself excess calories. I’m not, I’m looking a little bit soft and putting on a little bit of body fat and I don’t ever let myself get like way, way fat, but I have to be okay with like getting soft, you know, like that is part of the process of getting big. And then eventually, you know, do little mini cuts for two months or 10 weeks or whatever. And then lean out and remind myself that, you know, I can lean out and take some pictures to see where, and then I go back to the building, you know? So I think that’s, that’s the biggest, that’s like the cost, right. And so it’s like, it’s easy to see, you know, a couple of pictures on Instagram and be like, Oh, Whoa, that’s so crazy. But you don’t realize like the cost of like eating that much food is, is difficult. And you know, there’s even like sometimes I think about I’m like, I don’t know. I feel about like eating all this excess food, like I feel kind of wasteful. And like I said, it’s a hobby, right. And it’s, it’s something that I’m into now and it’s working for me now. And so I look at it as kind of the cost of having a hobby and it’s a lot cheaper than golfing. But the nutrition, nutrition piece, it’s usually important when it comes to running, but it’s even more so in building muscle. And, and also to like, it’s very difficult to do both at the same time, you know, I’ve run five times this year, so you, if you’re running a lot and trying to add muscle, then you’re really going to have to eat like a horse. Like it’s going to have to be pretty insane. So yeah. That’s, that’s my biggest tip.

Dr. Cooper

Cool. Appreciate it. All right. You mentioned your book, you love taking risks. So what’s next for Olympian, husband, dad and man of faith, Ryan Hall?

Ryan Hall

Good question. I don’t know that, you know, like right now I’m just pretty invested in Sarah’s running and trying to see how fast she can get. Like, it’s been amazing to me having to experience my own trajectory with running and how downhill I was going, you know, from 2012, till 2016. You know, here she is 37 and she just keeps getting faster. You know, my, you know, she ran 2:22 last fall which was a PR for half marathon. So, yeah, it’s been super fun for me to just kind of live vicariously through her and try and see how good that she can get, you know, like I’m very much focused on her. You know, in terms of, we have a lot of things we want to do in life, you know, like we actually have a home in Ethiopia and we want to do more kind of development work over there. So, you know, we’re, we’re definitely adventurers and we, we have a big heart to just love people and to help people, however, we can do that. So, you know, right now we’re trying to love and help people in the running space. I just started a run free training. So that’s like a holistic approach to personal, online coaching for runners of every level. And the whole idea behind that is kind of like what I’m talking about with distance or with a weightlifting, right? It’s like, you can be doing the perfect training, but if you’re not addressing the nutrition piece, it doesn’t matter. Like it’s not going to work if your nutrition is just off, right. So that’s, that’s the idea behind run free trainings. Like we address nutrition, we address weight, we address sleep. Like we hit on all those things that you gotta be like, I’ve always said this running is, it’s not, if you’re trying to see how good you can get and you really, or you just want to get good at running, it’s gotta be a lifestyle. You can do at a hobby level, i’s just, your results are going to be compromised. You really have to kind of have the complete package, the whole lifestyle. So that’s what run free is all about. So, you know, we, we have that going and we’re trying to help people on their journey there. So, you know, we’re very much, we just love, we love people. We love God. We love helping people. And, you know, right now we’re doing that in the running space and we’ll continue to do that I’m sure. But I’m also sure, like, you know, our path is going to lead us international at some point. We’re gonna, we’re gonna keep doing some exciting stuff. You know, we have our foundation hall steps foundation. We’ve already been involved in development work all over the world and we wanna kind of continue on with that. So I think our stories will take a unique twist when Sarah, if Sarah ever starts slowing down and, yeah, I’m excited to see where it’s going to go.

Dr. Cooper

Exciting. It’s exciting. My friend has been so much fun. I’ve got one last one for you. Just any final words of wisdom you’d like to share with our audience regarding living out the life we were intended to live? So wide open, take it any direction you want. Again, this is a lot of fun.

Ryan Hall

I’ll give you some words my dad gave me and you know, this is like really simple stuff, but it’s super helpful for me on my journey. He just he’d always remind me of this, he’d say happy feet, make light feet. And I thought about that so much throughout my career. It’s like, if you’re having a good time, you’re going to be consistent because you’re having fun, right. And if you’re consistent, you’re going to get big results. Consistency, like I said, is the key, but the way to be consistent is to enjoy what you’re doing to have fun in the process. So I would remind myself that on the starting line Olympic games, I always tell myself, well, my dad would tell me, you know, this is supposed to be fun. That’s why we’re doing this. You know? So whether it’s running, or life, you know, going back to joy, finding the joy, like trying to remember and bring ourselves back to, like, let’s not forget to smile, to laugh, to have a good time together. And you know, it’s fun to go after big performances and goals and stuff like that, but let’s at the end of the day, like, let’s make sure that we remember, like we get to do this. Like we get to experience life and, it’s a privilege and an honor to even just take our next breath so we can always find so much to be grateful for and to be happy about. Like I said, maybe not always happy, but we can always find something to be joyful about. So, yeah, let’s end with that.

Dr. Cooper

Ryan, a lot of wisdom really appreciate it. This is a lot of fun. What’s the best way for folks to keep up with you? Do you have a Twitter or do you want them to look at your website? What’s the best way to kind of keep track of what Ryan Hall is up to?

Ryan Hall

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. RyanHall3. I have a Facebook fan page, Ryan Hall there, and then, yeah, RyanandSarahHall.com is our website and then run free training. If you guys are interested in the holistic approach to training, like I said, we take on the athletes of every level, so you can check that out as well.

Dr. Cooper

Beautiful. Well, my friend, thank you. Thanks for continuing to make an impact. You’re four years into this retirement thing and you’re still killing it. Really appreciate it. Keep it up.

Ryan Hall

Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Dr. Cooper

We only have four pictures of athletes standing in our basement workout area. And Ryan is one of those four. Now you can see why he made the cut, can’t you? Not only an incredible athlete, but a good man living out his life with purpose. Thank you for tuning into the number one podcast for health and wellness coaching and a special thanks to those of you who’ve written a review or shared it with others. Next week’s episode features a real live coaching session. No strip, no rewind. You’ll hear maybe for some of you the first time in your life, the power of a skilled health and wellness coach at work. It’s raw. It’s real. And it’s one you do not want to miss. Now let’s go get better than yesterday. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper at the Catalyst Coaching Institute, signing off, make it a great rest of your week. And I will speak with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health Wellness and Performance Coaching podcast, or maybe over on the new YouTube coaching