This is the sixth article in the series from Jeff Benjamin, Countdown to America’s World Champs. This feature is on Sara Hall, who has raced world-class from the mile to the marathon!
Countdown To The Worlds with Sara Hall!
By Jeff Benjamin
1) How’s your training coming along – at this point, is there any tapering taking place?
“Definitely tapering! It’s been a good training block for sure. My body has handled the training better than it ever has from an energy and muscular fatigue standpoint. I’m still dealing with a knee issue from a hard fall I took in February, so that was the one thing that didn’t handle the training that well, but thankfully didn’t slow me down too much either.”
2) You are an American favorite – how do you handle that kind of pressure?
“I don’t really think about it to be honest. I mean, I guess I see it as a positive that people believe in me. But I really got freed up from trying to meet others’ expectations of me in this sport earlier in my career. You learn it’s a losing battle quickly and steals a lot of your peace and enjoyment of the sport. I’m an ambitious person and put a lot of expectations on myself, so I don’t need external pressure. I’m just excited to have the opportunities I have in this sport and be enjoying it the most I ever have while running the fastest I ever have.”
3) On a positive note – you must really be looking forward to running in Eugene!
“Absolutely! I” ve been envisioning the same amazing crowds of Hayward lining the roads. It’s been a while since I’ve put on the USA singlet, so I’m definitely proud and excited to do that. I’ve had a lot of disappointment in Eugene in my track career- never quite being able to make that outdoor team, despite some near misses, so it feels really redemptive to get to run my first one there.”
4) In regards to your training – any so-called “unorthodox” training methods on your part, whether it’s the running or strength/flexibility training components?
“Ryan and I are always experimenting with stuff and pushing the envelope in training. We’ve found my body usually rises to the challenge, so we keep challenging it in different ways and try to think outside the box. But most of the stuff I did is the same things we’ve been doing and just tried to see a little improvement, whether running faster or matching what I’ve run before but in hotter conditions. Thankfully we did see that improvement.”
5) Your career has been a remarkable journey – How motivated are you ready to compete and in a race like the marathon on your home turf do you have to be extra careful to not “unleash the tiger” so soon in the early phases?”
“That’s definitely going to be a temptation, especially if the crowds are as I imagine they will be. There’s some aggressive racers in there, so I can see some really hard moves being made. I love competing and I’m looking forward to being in a marathon that’s purely about that, It’s been a while- back to London 2020. That one went well, so I’m hoping to draw on some of the things that worked for me there.”
6) How great is it to have Ryan as your partner and your Coach, and what kind of psychological strategies have you learned from him?
“I’ve learned the marathon from watching Ryan’s career. Obviously really different athletes, But he’s definitely rubbed off on me over the years and I feel I’ve adopted some of his mental approaches to the marathon. Ryan was never afraid to run with anyone. He wasn’t afraid of blowing up in the marathon- he ran aggressively every time. He also cared a lot about how he did what he did- how he honored other people around him and the spiritual part of him as an athlete. Those are all areas I’ve learned from him on and we’ve really been on a journey together- how to do this sport with integrity, to not sell out in little ways like putting success above everything else and thus not loving people around us- even our competitors- for the sake of that, making it about worshipping God… I feel really blessed to have a true partner in this.”
7) Your secret weapon? Can you tell us who the Hall cheerleading squad will be along the course?
“The 4 Hall girls and my parents will be out there, along with some friends and other family members. Training for a summer marathon has been tough with the kids all home from school and around all the time, but now it will be so fun to all experience the World Champs on home soil together!”