RT caught up with USA’s 2:22:16 marathoner, Sarah Hall for the Q & A below. Sara talks about coronavirus’s impact, her next marathon, top sessions and locations, Asics shoes on rotation plus some tips for up and coming runners. Enjoy!

PHOTO: Sara Hall of Redding, Calif., wins the 2017 USA Marathon Championships women’s title at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif., in 2:28:10 (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Q) How are you handling the Coronavirus situation and how much is it affecting your life/training situation?

The coronavirus has definitely affected my life and training, but not to the point that I’m not enjoying both very much.  The hardest part is not having any races right now. I’m doing my best workouts I’ve ever done, and you want that work to be manifested in a race.  I’m used to racing a lot and traveling a lot, so I definitely feel a bit out of my rhythm, but thankfully I love where I live in Flagstaff, Arizona. Not being able to get on a track has been a bummer as I’m hoping to continue to get the rhythm of that after not racing on the track for 4 years, to prepare for the US Olympic track trials next year.  And of course, having the kids home for months and months has its own challenges.

Q) What’s your injury report looking like?

I haven’t missed a day of injury since mid December.

Q) This week you’ve just started training for a marathon, not actually knowing which one this may be. Do you have a race/s you’d hope you can make your next marathon/s?

I do have a race that I hope will be where I run my next marathon, I’m just pretty sure it’s not going to take place at this point so I’m already thinking of a plan B.  I really thrive in race atmospheres, I draw a lot of energy from the crowd when I’m running, so doing a solo time trial or something just isn’t the same. But if that is the only option available to me, I’ll definitely do something like that to culminate my marathon buildup.

Q) In peak training time and being as injury-free as you could be, what does a weekly schedule look like in the midst of a marathon build-up?

We’ve made small tweaks to my training depending on the course and what I’m training for, but my schedule typically looks like a 7 day cycle with 3 very hard sessions in those 7 days, and peaking out in the 130s for mileage.  My body could handle more mileage, but with the amount of intensity I’m doing, I don’t think it’s really necessary.  We do a lot of the usual intervals, long tempo runs, hard long runs with sometimes fartlek or other components to them. Then we have some “secret sauce” training stuff we’ve come up with that’s kind of outside the box.

Q) How has adopting, teaching and being a mother to your four daughters improved you as a person and a runner?

I don’t know if it’s improved me, it’s definitely challenged me. It’s probably been the greatest challenge of my life, which I knew it would be going into it. Ryan and I felt like in some ways, being endurance athletes would make us more qualified because we know how to stick with hard things and persevere day in and day out.  My girls have definitely made me confront my own self-centeredness which is kind of your default as a professional athlete. My life isn’t really my own any more, they require a lot of me. But it’s rewarding to see them thriving in many different ways and almost 5 years later, we’ve definitely become a family. They support my running 100% and always encourage me to keep competing, and even try to get Ryan to come out of retirement! Through my running journey there’s so many things I get to model to them through them just watching me go through disappointments and pick myself back up, etc.

Q) What are a few of your favourite/key sessions?

I really love the long tempo runs, I go up to 15-16 miles. I also love long runs at sea level where I can just rip it from the beginning and ride the red line the whole time.

Q) What are some of the methods/thought processes you use to overcome hardship in life and as a runner?

The biggest has been getting rid of the fear of failure. My faith has played a big role in that, experiencing God’s love that doesn’t change if I win or fail, unlike most other people.  After having a lot of success in the sport at a young age, and building an identity around being successful, when I started struggling it really threatened my identity and how I saw myself. I wasn’t enjoying competing as much and felt like I was disappointing people who had invested in me. But I had some encounters with God that changed all that, and now I feel free to take risks, to race a ton even when I’m not prepared, and I’m more resilient if I do fail.

Q) What Asics shoe models are you cycling through currently?

I have a lot of neutral trainers I rotate depending on how fast I want to go, the terrain, and how my legs are feeling. I rotate the DS-Trainer, Gel-Cumulus, DynaFlyte, Evoride, and Novablast.

 

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The wait is over: the #GELKAYANO 27 shoe is here. Link in bio.

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Q) Are you a vegan or vegetarian and what are some of the staples of your diet?

I’m not, I eat a lot of carbs and a lot of healthy proteins like grass fed beef and salmon. I also love nut butters and healthy fats. I eat a large chocolate protein pancake that tastes like a brownie every morning with dark chocolate melting on top.

Q) What’s the most inspiring movie you’ve ever watched?

Rudy.

Q) Ultimate running goal?

Set an American Record, and become an Olympian.

Q) What are your 3 favourite training locations?

St. Mortiz Switzerland, Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Q) It’s many years away, but what do you see yourself doing after professional running?

I plan to do work helping people living in extreme poverty, likely in Ethiopia, through our charity The Hall Steps Foundation.

Q) What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I didn’t dream of being a professional athlete and actually didn’t think I would the year I became a pro. I wanted to help poor communities doing international development work. But now over 15 years later, I’m still running pro!

Q) And finally if you could offer any advice to a young up and coming high school and or college runner, what would it be?

Don’t fall into the trap of being at an unhealthy weight to get short term success in running. It may keep you from being able to enjoy running the rest of your life, and will definitely keep you from being able to compete at a high level for years to come. If you take good care of your body now, you can keep improving for many years and enjoy running the rest of your life.

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