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Ryan Hall's Advice on Motivation, Training and Preventing Burnout

Posted Nov 01 2011 8:13am
This weekend at the Marine Corps Marathon, I had a chance to interview Ryan Hall as part of Rodale and Nissan's Innovation for Endurance program. Ryan was at the marathon expo and finish line festival signing autographs and sharing tips training and nutrition. He took about 15 minute out of his schedule Sunday morning to chat with me about motivation, training and how to prevent burnout.

Ryan and Sara Hall
With Ryan and Sara Hall back in 2009

This post is set up as a Q&A, but I've paraphrased the questions and answers to keep things brief.

Q: Now that you are self-coached, how to you plan your workouts and stay motivated?

RH: It's been a culmination of what I've learned from other coaches and building off that momentum. You don't want to completely throw out tradition because those things work, but at the same time you want to break new ground and try new things. If my body responds well to a work out, I'll remember that and use it. I take a lot of what I learned with coaches and change it up slightly. The easiest way to stay motivated is to make sure you're having fun and looking forward to your runs. That's the beauty of being self-coached. You can workout when you want and do workouts that sound fun.

Q: What advice to have for average self-coached runners when it comes to selecting workouts?

RH: It depends on your personality. Some people like repeating the same workouts over and over and that works for them. I like to go for it and alternate things. Think about what would be fun and experiment with that. If I only had time to do a few workouts, I'd do a tempo run one day and a long run another with a few days rest in between. Those are the most important. Time on your feet is important too. The longest I'll run is two and a half hours since my marathons take less time than that. For the average runner you might not need to go out and run four and a half hours. It's better to err on the side of going into a race slightly undertrained and fresh than fried and beaten up.

Q: How do you prevent burnout?

RH: A year ago, I started adding one day of complete rest to my schedule. I think, "Today I am not a runner." I don't wear my running watch, I don't do anything physical. It's healthy from a mental standpoint to have that break. Rest works. It keeps me fresh.

Q: What is your pre-race routine? Do you change it up at all based on the weather or the race day conditions?

RH: I follow the same routine. I've run nine marathons and I repeat the same thing. In training, I practice what to eat. I do the exact same warm up that I did in training. It becomes a routine and my body knows what's coming next.

I had such a great time chatting with Ryan. He was extremely personable and friendly and shared some really great advice. To get more great training advice from Ryan, you can check out his videos and training plans on the Innovation for Endurance Facebook page.

A big thanks to Ryan for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to take some time and talk to me and also a huge thanks to Rodale and Nissan for setting this up.
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