High School Interview with Ryan Hall: ON THE RUN With RYAN HALL

by: LetsRun.com
September 2000

This article was originally published in September 2000. If you’d like to see what it looked like then, click here.

The Ryan Hall File:
Height: 6-0
Weight: 142 lbs.
Current Residence: Big Bear, CA.
PRs: 800: 1:51.8 1500m: 3:45.12 3200:8:58.52
Coach: Dad, and Irv Ray

Q and A with Ryan Hall
LETSRUN: How’s the summer training going? Did you take any time off after the summer?

HALL: Yeah I took two weeks of just easy running (after the New Balance Maine Distance Festival on July 1st where Hall ran 3:45.12) and then got back into training. Over the summer, I probably averaged about 75 miles per week, doing a lot of hills and stuff like that.

LETSRUN: Can you be a little more specific? Do you do any doubles, any workouts?

HALL: Five days a week, I run easy in the morning and work out again in the afternoon. Lactate threshold runs, we do those once a week. I work my way up to a 10-mile lactate threshold run by the end of the summer. Hill surges/fartlek, we do those once a week also and then there’s the long run.

LETSRUN: How far is your long run?

HALL: I’ve gone as far as 20 miles.

LETSRUN: We’re curious as to what are your goals for your senior year. You’ve already done it all to a certain extent, winning state titles in cross country, the mile and two mile and thus we’re wondering what you’re shooting for this year?

HALL: Well, I like to set high goals for myself so I’m hoping it’s a huge year for me, but if it’s not (a huge year), I can deal with that also. I can do all the hard training to prepare myself, but in the end, it’s up to God and hopefully he’ll bless me like he did like year. I like to quote (Hicham) El Guerrouj – he says the same thing.

LETSRUN: Do you think you can top last year’s great success?

HALL: Yeah, I feel a lot stronger. I feel like I’m way ahead of where I was last year.

LETSRUN: What about the Footlocker Cross Country Nationals? Will you be shooting for that one? We know you didn’t compete in it last year.

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HALL: Yeah, I’m pointing to that one (in cross country). I’ll definitely be there unless something happens.

LETSRUN: After cross country, will you take a low-key approach for indoors? It’s our view that a lot of runners burn themselves out by running too many indoor meets. It’s hard to stay in top form for three straight seasons.

HALL: Yes, we’re gonna kind of low-key indoors. Hopefully, I’ll run some quick times to show I’m ready for outdoors, but I won’t be in tip-top form.

LETSRUN: In terms of your coaching, your Dad still coaches you, right?

HALL: Yeah, my dad is coaching me. Coach Irv Ray (California Babtist coach- co-author of Run with the Best) is helping out a lot as well.

LETSRUN: We’re wondering what it’s like to be coached by your Dad? We imagine it can be advantageous in the sense that not many other coaches would have had you skip the Footlocker meet in cross country like he did last year because you were a bit tired, but at the same time it could be a little difficult. Do you have to try to separate the running from your life together at home?

HALL: I like being coached by my Dad a lot because he knows me and he knows when I’ve had enough and when I can take more. We have a real good relationship.

We talk a lot about running and stuff at home. Sometimes, we get into disagreements because we both think we’re right but we have a great relationships so it doesn’t effect us except in a positive way.

LETSRUN: Since you’ve had great success at both the mile, two-mile and in cross country, we’re wondering if you consider yourself to be more of a miler or two-miler or do you not label yourself and just consider yourself to be a strong all-around runner?

HALL: I see myself as being very good at all of the distances, but I really like the mile the most. It’s what I’m the most passionate about, but I see myself as a good cross country runner as well. Hopefully, when I go to college I’ll do well in cross country which I think I’m pretty good at. I think I’ll do well at the longer distance (10k in college versus 5k in high school) because I’m doing 10 mile threshold runs now so 10k should seem shorter than that.

LETSRUN: What type of pace are we talking about for these threshold runs?

HALL: It depends on where and when I do them. I did one at 5:20 pace at lower altitude. Up here (in Big Bear), I did 8 miles at 5:26, but I’m getting stronger and stronger every week.

LETSRUN: Tell us what it was like to compete in the New Balance Distance Festival in Maine (where you set your 1500 meter p.r. of 3:45.12) and the other meets in the Can-Am Series. What was it like to compete against collegians and post-collegians in such a prestigious meet? We’re you more nervous than normal?

HALL: Actually when I went there, I was able to relax more than I could all year as no one knew who I was. I don’t know if it was the atmosphere there at the meet or just the fact that I more relaxed. It was great to be pulled along (by the other runners) and not to have to dictate the pace.

LETSRUN: The four-minute mile barrier is still a big deal in America, especially on the high school scene since no one’s broken it since 1967. Do you think a lot about running sub-four for the mile and do you feel a lot of pressure to do it?

HALL: I know it’s gonna happen sometime. I don’t know if it will be this year or the year after, but I want to do it. It can happen when it happens. I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself by saying I’m going to break four at this meet. If the Lord wants me to break four, I’ll break four.

LETSRUN: Big Bear is known by outsiders for being extremely hilly. After all it is a ski resort, do you consider it to be hilly yourself?

HALL: Well, it depends on where I’m running. You can definitely find some hills here. I guess I do think of it as a pretty hilly place. Snow Summit that’ s a big one, and I like to run up it often. We do hill work like once or twice a week. On the easy days, we don’t do hills – I run around the lake (which is the only flat area around here).

LETSRUN: How do you manage things in the winter? We imagine there must be a lot of snow to deal with.

HALL: It actually doesn’t snow that often, once or twice a week. I have to stay on the streets when I run but that’s about it. Most of the time, I just bundle up and run through it.

LETSRUN: Big Bear is at 6700 feet of altitude. How long have you lived there and do you think it’s a huge advantage to grow up at the high altitude like the Kenyans? Not only is Big Bear located at altitude, but it’s one of the two or three places in the US situated that high up where one can get down to much lower elevations with a quick drive (45 minutes). We’re wondering if you ever go down to lower elevations to run your faster workouts?

HALL: I’ve lived here for 12 years. Yeah, I think it’s a really big advantage to live at altitude. I guess I owe my parents a lot for my success. I owe being up at altitude to them.

During track season, when we want to do fast workouts, we have to go down the hill a couple times a week because you can’t do really fast stuff up here.

LETSRUN: We’re amazed with the progression you made during your junior year in running. How fast did you run as a sophomore and how did you improve so much?

HALL: As a sophomore, I ran 4:22 for 1600 (meters) and 9:46 (for 3200 meters). I think I improved because we added mileage over the summer. Plus at the end of my sophomore year, I had a little heal problem so I didn’t run quite as well as I should have. I just got a lot stronger and bigger and faster. The addition of coach Ray during track season also helped a lot.

LETSRUN: What would you tell other highschoolers are the keys to success?

HALL: Consistency, training every day!

LETSRUN: How tall are you?

HALL: That’s a good question. I went to the doctor and they say I’m 6 feet, but I think I’m like 5’10 but I know I weigh 142.

LETSRUN: Considering you just started your final year of high school, we’re wondering if you have you thought about where you want to go to college?

HALL: I’ve thought a lot about it. Wherever the Lord wants me to go.

LETSRUN: We know your high school didn’t really have much of a track or cross country team before you rose to prominence. Tell us what that’s like and we’re wondering if you have anyone to train with?

HALL: At school, we have a cross country team but not a track team – we have a track club. There’s a junior, Art Avitia, who just moved here and runs with me every day. He’s going to be a really good runner, he’s been running with me every day, working really hard. We have 15 guys in all on the cross country team.

LETSRUN: The current crop of high school runners is excellent. Do you think a lot about the other top runners and focus a lot of attention on what they’re doing or do you more worry about yourself?

HALL: I don’t worry too much about them. I like to have good competition as it brings fast times. But I try to run my own race and not worry about how fast everyone else is going.

LETSRUN: Can you tell us how you first got into running? It’s not the most popular of sports, especially for highschoolers.

HALL: I started running at the beginning of 9th grade. My dad was always doing triathlons and stuff but I didn’t like it. I was sitting on the bench a lot in basketball and that made me mad. One day we were driving by the (Big Bear) Lake and I told my dad, “That’s beautiful, I want to run around it.” So a few weeks later, I did (run around it) and it’s 15 miles. I did it in basketball shoes. I was really sore (afterwards).

LETSRUN: Do you pay attention to the elite level of track and field in the US and the rest of the world?

HALL: Yeah, a little bit. I went up and watched the (Olympic) Trials this year. I didn’t see the 1500. I saw the 800 and 5k.

LETSRUN: Do you have a favorite runner at the elite level?

HALL: I like what El Guerrouj has to say. He’s a really great guy and great runner.

LETSRUN: Lastly, Do you known when’s your first meet is going to be this year?

HALL: Sept. 9th in Long Beach.

LETSRUN: Well, best of luck in your opener and throughout your senior year. Stay healthy and run fast. Thanks for your time.

(Editor’s Note: Ryan Hall opened with 2 wins this year. Most recently on September 16)

This article was originally published in September 2000. If you’d like to see what it looked like then, click here.

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