Catching Up With Olympians Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Ryan Hall in Boston

By Jonathan Gault
April 15, 2016

BOSTON — The 2016 Boston Marathon takes place on Monday and elite athlete sponsor John Hancock rolled out the red carpet to some of America’s top marathoners, past and present. 2016 Olympians Meb KeflezighiShalane FlanaganAmy Cragg and Desi Linden were all in attendance, as was 2008/2012 Olympian Ryan Hall, whose 2:04:58 is the fastest time ever by an American in Boston (or any marathon, for that matter).

We caught up with Linden, Cragg and Hall on Monday morning. Cragg spoke about checking out the Olympic marathon course in Rio, Linden discussed the differences between her Trials and Olympic buildups and Hall talked about what life is like with four young girls in the house and coaching his wife Sara as she prepares to run the London Marathon next week.

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Ryan Hall says he has much more energy now that he’s retired from professional running

Hall said that retirement hasn’t felt too much different as he’s still been at training sessions every day overseeing wife Sara, whom he has been coaching in preparation for next week’s London Marathon (Ryan has taken over her training during this buildup but will hand the reins back to Steve Magness once Sara transitions back to the track this summer).

The one big difference is that Hall has far more energy than he did during his professional career, which allows him to do things such as bounce on the trampoline or play soccer with his daughters. Hall has also begun coaching middle schoolers. When Hall told them he was a 59-minute half marathoner, few of the kids were impressed, but once he mentioned he was a two-time Olympian, he got everyone’s attention.

Racing competitively is certainly something Hall would still like to do — his nine-year-old daughter in particular wants to watch him race — but he has no regrets about his decision to retire in January.

“I tried everything I could try over the past four years to get my body back to where it should be, but nothing was working,” Hall said. “It was all just leading back to this extreme fatigue. It was the right decision but I am sad that my girls never got to see me really fly.”

He said that Sara has shown his daughters some of his best races on YouTube, but never with Ryan, who prefers to teach them about things like dinosaurs and the solar system — stuff they may not have been exposed to growing up in Ethiopia.

Desi Linden will race the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in two weeks

Linden said she took three weeks completely off after making the Olympic team, which provided a much-needed mental and physical break. By the time she came back, she was excited and ready to get into training again and said that she’s planning on running the U.S. Half Marathon Champs on April 30 in Columbus. After that, she’ll take another short break before getting into the meat of her Rio buildup.

Linden said that she expects to do more higher mileage weeks in her Rio buildup at a faster pace. She peaked at 125 in her Trials buildup, and while she expects that number to be the same, it will be preceded by bigger weeks — around 110 mpw vs. 80-90 prior to the Trials.

Linden will also throw out the pitch at tomorrow’s Red Sox game, though she’s been careful not to practice for it — last time she tried it at a Detroit Tigers game, her arm wound up becoming sore from practicing.

Post-Trials, Amy Cragg felt the best she ever has coming off a marathon

Cragg looked great in claiming the U.S. Marathon Trials title two months ago and it’s not a surprise that she felt the best coming off that race than any of her previous marathons. Though she said the first week back was a little iffy — she felt great for the first 20 minutes of one of her runs before cramping up on the way back — by the end of that week her body was back to normal.

Cragg just got back from previewing the Olympic marathon course in Rio and said that it’s pretty simple — flat and beautiful (much of it runs by the water). There are a couple turns at the end, but other than that there’s nothing too technical for runners to navigate.

Now it’s a waiting game until Cragg begins the buildup for the most important marathon of her life in earnest. She’s running and doing workouts right now, but knows she can’t really get after it and risk peaking too early.

“It’s hard because it’s really tiring but it’s nothing exciting,” Cragg said. “I don’t like it. I’m ready to go all-in, work hard again.”

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