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July 31, 2009

Sara Hall - World Class Runners

Written by Dena Evans

Sara Hall recently sat down with Focus-N-Fly to share a bit about her current training and future plans. A high school cross country national champion and multi-time NCAA All-American at Stanford, Sara has been running professionally for Asics since graduation in 2005.

Since then, she has qualified for multiple US teams, including the World Indoor Championships and World Cross Country Championships squads in 2006. That same year, she won the Continental Fifth Avenue mile and the US Road 5k Championships at the CVS 5k in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2009, she was runner up at the USATF Indoor National Championships in her favorite event, the 3000 meters.

Sara is married to college sweetheart Ryan Hall, the second fastest American marathoner in history, the 10th place finisher at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and the 3rd place finisher at the 2009 Boston Marathon. Ryan is no stranger to new FNF partner, the Chevron Houston Marathon / Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, as he set the current American record in the Half-Marathon while running 59:43 in January of 2007.

1. At this time of the summer, what kind of training are you doing?

At this point in the summer, I am doing a return to strength work after a mini taper for track nationals. Longer tempo runs, high volume… but keeping a bit of speed endurance in there so I can run some upcoming mile and 5k races.

2. What are you preparing for in the next few months?

The Falmouth Mile, the US 5k Road Championships (in Providence, RI), the Continental 5th Avenue Mile, and some other fall road races yet to be decided.

3. Is this your normal schedule?

Normally at this point of the summer, I am racing in Europe, and so not doing as much volume. This year, I am regrouping in Mammoth over the summer and trying a more extended fall season than in years past.

4. Is this in part due to Ryan’s schedule, and how do you guys combine your racing throughout the year?

Ryan does thrive at altitude, and he just spent two months with me in San Diego this spring during track season. One of the things he is looking forward to doing ahead of his next marathon (the 2009 ING New York City Marathon on November 1) is putting a few more races on the schedule, beginning with the NYC Half in August. Being up at altitude now has helped him get started with that plan.

Ryan and I try to balance our schedule depending on his fall and spring marathons, spending the bulk of the time before those marathons up at altitude. After the marathons, we get a chance to go to sea level and some places that I enjoy training a bit more. He is able to support me a lot even though he doesn’t like to travel a lot during his build-ups. I like to go to all of his races, as he doesn’t do that many, and he travels to all of mine during the periods after his marathons.

5. What have you learned from each other through your time running professionally?

We have different personality strengths, which have helped us learn a lot from each other. Ryan is very dedicated in the day-in, day-out routine of training. He just thrives on the process of getting to the marathon, whereas I am a little more spontaneous and easily distracted, wanting to take on a lot of projects. He teaches me to rest and do what I need to physically prepare. We are both sounding boards for each other - with nervousness and processing through things related to running and racing. I think I help him a lot in taking care of a lot of the daily things that need to get done so he can stay very focused, take his two hour nap, etc. Spiritually, there have been different times where God has been speaking to us about keeping running in perspective and we have been able to help each other in that way as well.

6. Do you eventually see yourself moving up to the marathon or longer distances?

I think I will definitely run some longer distances, including the marathon, before I retire from professional running. When that is, I don’t know, because I really enjoy the shorter distances, particularly the 1500 and the 3000. Since I train with marathoners and do abbreviations of their workouts many times, I see the marathon as an attainable goal as I am now familiar with the preparation needed.

7. What are some goals you still have for your professional career?

My overall goal for my running career is to make a positive impact on the world and the people around me. I’d like to leave the sport better than when I started. Part of the way Ryan and I are trying to do that is through the foundation we are starting this fall. I enjoy having the platform to connect with other runners in a positive way. It has been neat to have the team up in Mammoth and to realize that you are sometimes a role model when you don’t even realize it.

Quantitative goals would be trying to make the 2012 Olympic Team, but that is far off. More near term, I would like to represent the US again at the Indoor World championships and World Cross Country Championships next year. I’d also like to win a national (track) title at some point.

8. 15 years from now, where do you see yourself and what will you be doing?

I’ll be 41, and I see myself in a developing country doing work that helps meet physical and spiritual needs. I’m hoping we have adopted a few kids by then, and making strides to be ending world poverty. As far as training goes, I’m hoping to be running around through the bush with kids for training.

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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