You would never know how much effort it takes to run by watching Sara Hall’s graceful movements. She glides through a race making it look easy, even though it’s far from it. The foundation behind Hall’s approach is rooted in astonishing work ethic, a supportive family and driven mindset that has kept her at the top of her game.
Hall’s accomplishments have ranged from the 2012 U.S. National Cross Country Champion as a Gold Medalist at the Pan-American Games to representing the U.S. at three World Indoor Track and Field Championships and a World Cross Country Championship.
Now she’s making the transition from track athlete to running marathons, preparing for the ASICS LA Marathon on March 15th, which is also billed as the U.S. Marathon Championships. Hall views the marathon as the purest event in track and field because of its unique history.
The course starts at Dodger Stadium outside downtown L.A., runs through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and ends in Santa Monica at the ocean. The course showcases the beauty and significance of Los Angeles, passing through many of the city’s historical landmarks.
[daily_cut]As Hall reaches the end of her preparation, she has one man to thank for support along the way—none other than her husband Ryan Hall, a two-time marathon Gold Medalist. The lightening fast couple does an amazing job of helping one another. Ryan has been there with Sara in working with her coach, Steve Magness to provide the structure for her training. Her mileage has been around 100-115 miles a week during 2015, and recently, she has been doing some 24-mile and tempo runs up to 16 miles.
“Those would have sounded like crazy numbers to me a year ago, but they really haven't been as challenging as I expected,” says Hall. “I think we did a good job looking ahead last year and increasing my long runs and having me run some half marathons, tempo training where I had to push myself for a long period of time, and that prepared me well for when I actually started the marathon training.”
For recovery, Hall makes sure to take 1-2 rest days between workouts each week, and always takes at least one day off before big runs like 16-mile tempos. It’s all part of the process to prepare herself for the variable L.A. course she’s going to face.
“There are some very steep hills in the course, which I ran when I was there,” says Hall. “So I am definitely preparing for that as well as the large amount of downhill, which can take its toll on your legs if you aren't calloused to running downhill a lot on pavement.”
This isn’t Hall’s first foray into marathon running as she planned on running last year, but her appendix burst so she was unable to compete. “I am thankful to have come back stronger and ready to go,” says Hall. “When I started back, I ran a few PR’s in the 10K and half marathon. It set me up well for increasing mileage to the marathon.”
If Hall isn’t feeling totally motivated to train, she’ll play an upbeat music playlist that gets her fired up. “I sometimes feel sluggish in the afternoon, so it helps to have something inspiring or uplifting to listen to. If my husband is not running, I need an extra push.”
Hall is also inspired by Ryan’s career and thrives on his enthusiasm and expertise. The two run together for warm-ups and cool-downs, and recovery days. “Some days one of us wants to go faster while the other one needs to taper. We give each other the freedom to go ahead or fall back and not take it personally. We are not competitive.”
In the morning, the two will usually whip up Muscle Milk pancakes, which they’ll enjoy with a cup of bulletproof coffee. “It’s an ideal combination of protein, fat and carbs that fuel us for our runs.” After their run, they have amino powder to speed recovery and build lean muscle. About an hour later they will have a full meal that usually includes sweet potato, meat and vegetables.
The power couple has done a great job of balancing their careers and personal lives. And it helps that they’re on the same schedule. They always make sure to get at least nine hours of sleep, cook meals together and enjoy their downtime.