So unless you've been living under a rock you probably heard that American, Ryan Hall decided to call it a career at the age of 33. This isn't really a surprise to anyone who follows the sport closely. Since his 2:09 at the Olympic trials in 2012, Ryan has struggled with injuries and most recently been diagnosed with low testosterone. He explained that he had no energy whatsoever and couldn't even run more then 12 miles a week. Personally I think this has to do with the fact that since he was in high school he's been training at a higher level then most of us can even understand. Famed coach Bob Larsen said that he was sent Ryan's training logs from when he was in high school, Bob, after analyzing them said that Ryan was training at a higher level then a 2:13 athlete he was coaching at the time and that as a high schooler he figured Ryan could have run 2:10. So when we think about this, he competed and trained at a world class level from the age of 15-29/30. That's certainly a great chunk of time and as we know not everyone can sustain that kind of training and performance for a long time. Certain guys like Bernard Lagat and Meb seem to be ageless but for most of us, if we ever get to that top level you have about a 5 year window to throw down your best performances. For example look at Geoffrey Mutai, for a while there from 2008-2013 the guy was untouchable, his 2:03:02 at Boston, his even more impressive 2:05 at NYC, the guy was unbeatable, but at a certain point there is a decline, regardless of age. The marathon beats you down, not so much the race but the training. Our bodies can only take so many segments, after a while it tells us it's had enough.
So, just how good was Ryan Hall in the grand scheme of things? Can he look back and call his career a success or are the trolls on letsrun right in saying had he been smarter about his training, stuck with a coach for longer, not always tried to lead, etc....would he have been able to do more?
In my humble opinion Ryan should look back on his career as a huge success and be proud of what he did. I believe he's the type of person that can do that, he won't look back and think what could have been. He seems to be a very level headed spiritual person that doesn't need to solely seek his identity through his running or his accomplishments. I feel like he will move on from here and remember fondly his days running.
As for just how good he was. I mean, I don't even know where to start. Firstly I will say that I think he squeezed every ounce of potential from his talent, some may disagree with me, but he tried to be a miler for a long time in the early part of his career and couldn't run any faster then 3:43 for 1500m. For reference, Reid Coolseat our top marathoner has run 3:40. Ryan did eventually realize he didn't have the leg speed to be a miler so he took to the 5000m during the later years of his collegiate career eventually winning an NCAA tittle and a USATF title at the distance running 13:16 and representing the US at the world champs. He never ran a really fast 10000m but I've got to think when he ran his 59:43 half he had to be in very low 27 minute shape. When Ryan moved up to the marathon it really shook things up for the US as they finally had a guy who didn't just go to a race and run his own pace hoping to run a PR. He was toeing the line trying to win. It was refreshing and eye opening. Looking at his 2:06:17 at the London marathon in 2008, that was one of the deepest fields assembled at the time. It had the likes of Paul Tergat, Sammy Wanjiru, Emmanuel Mutain, Martin Lel and many other legends. To finish 5th in that race, it was just unreal. He would go on to finish top 5 in 6 world marathon majors. He will more then likely most be remembered for his 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon. To see him trying to make a break for it on world record pace running in front of a prime Geoffery Mutai, Moses Mosop and Gebre Gebremariam.....it's not something I will soon forget.
Anyway, I could go on all day about the amazing career Ryan had but I'll stop here. Thank you Ryan for giving us so much to be excited about and for being yourself through it all, never waivering from what you believed in and for leaving the sport in a better place then you found it. I hope we see more of that in the future. I wish you all the happiness in the world and I'm sure whatever you do next will be inspiring.
My week that was in training.
30' jog, first one in 3 weeks (4 miles) - AM
80' elliptical - PM
30' jog (4 miles) - AM
60' pool running - PM
Workout - 10 mile cutdown. I didn't really know what to do, I just wanted to see if I had lost much fitness. I did a 2 mile warm up and then started at 5:45 pace on the treadmill and worked down 15 seconds a mile every 2 miles until I hit 10. The last 2 I ran a 4:45, obviously on the treadmill it's not as hard but based on the conversion charts it's still worth about 4:56 or so. I was pretty pumped to be able to hit it. My lungs didn't feel too bad but my legs felt like they were almost sprinting. I guess it was just because they hadn't done anything fast for a while. Either way when I finished this workout I was super pumped that I hadn't lost any fitness, all that I need to do is get back into doing strides and a few workouts of 200's or 400's at mile race pace or faster to get the legs feeling springy and fast again so 3 minute/km pace starts to feel more relaxed and comfortable. I have a doctors appointment on Monday the 24th and I'm hoping to have clearance to run outside and on the track after I see him.
12 miles - AM (legs felt too banged up for a cool down)
OFF - PM
10 miles easy - AM
60' pool running - PM
Workout - 20' warm up, changed into flats and then did a 40' tempo on the treadmill at 12.4 mph or 4:50 pace. It was worth 5:04 pace with the conversion and I was excited and super happy with it. After 20 minutes I was really hurting and breathing hard so I started playing games with myself saying "get to 25 and then you can stop". I kept doing that until I hit 32:30 and at that point I just told myself not to be a baby and grind it out. I was completely dead afterwards but I mean at least it tells me even after 3 weeks off running and just cross training I'm at least in 31 mid 10km shape. I'm confident I'll get back to sub 31 shape within a month and then start building for some MASSIVE personal bests this spring. I did this at the fieldhouse and took my spikes so I could do some strides on the track to turn the legs over, don't tell my Doctor!
12.1 miles - AM
OFF - PM
10 miles super easy on the treadmill, like 7:30/mile pace - AM
5 miles easy - PM
Long Run - I figured I'd rip a long run to see if the endurance was still there so I put the treadmill on 10.0 or 6 minute mile pace and turned on a David Bowie special on much music. I got through 120 minutes but man was it boring, I had to get off like 3 times to use the bathroom and lost about 10 pounds of sweat as my house was super warm.....either way it was a good stimulus.
20 miles - AM
OFF - PM
That was my week, not glamorous but it's a start, things are going to get down and dirty here starting next week, the 24th, after I get my clearance from the doctor. I'll stick with the treadmill again this week and try to run about 120 miles or so to get the body as callused as one can from a treadmill. I might start wearing some older shoes that are a little beat down so my legs can feel a little better what it'll be like when I get outside again.
On a different note, I talked with Manny Rodriguez, the elite coordinator for Ottawa race weekend today and got everything finalized for May. I'm happy to be racing in the 10km once again this spring. I want to thank Manny and his team for offering to host me once again this year. I look forward to rolling on the streets of Ottawa real soon.
Anyway, thanks ever so much for reading, I promise the training will get ramped back up soon and I'll make sure I get back to posting pictures at the end. So until next time, I wish you all happy training, hopefully the weather where you are is conducive to getting some miles in and that you are looking forward to your spring goals!