If running is a new thing to you or if you are a walker that has no desire to run you may have never heard the name Ryan Hall. If you have followed running for any time at all you most likely have. Ryan is arguable the greatest American distance runner of all time. Ryan is the fastest American Marathoner (2:04:58) and the 1/2 marathon record holder. His 1/2 marathon is under 1 hour and he is the only American to ever accomplish that.
There are a couple things that stick out to me in the story of Ryan Hall. #1 is that he is retiring from racing at a young age. Over the last few years his body just hasn’t been able to do the things he needs it to do. Ryan has over the years trained harder and faster than almost anyone. He runs hard when he runs. Over the years the impact this has had on his body is causing him to give up something he loves sooner than most. Sure he is still going to be able to run, just not compete at the top level that he expects of himself. He is married to a professional runner and will concentrate his time on coaching her so I doubt he will get bored or lose his passion for running, but I have to wonder if he would have preferred to do things different when he was younger.
If he had trained slightly different maybe his body would still be going today. In reality distance running isn’t like a lot of other sports. Distance runners can perform at high levels way past the age of 30 or even 40. So Ryan’s situation brings this question to mind for me. Is it better to go hard and fast for all the glory or is it better to make sure you are going at a sustainable pace? Maybe at the expense of some reward.
The other thing that intrigues me about Ryan is his life outside of running. Ryan is a deeply religious man. Ryan gives God credit for everything he has. He isn’t just out there living the good life and singing God’s praises though. Ryan is getting down in the trenches and making a difference. Ryan and his wife recently adopted 4 Ethiopian sisters.
Hall has said that they didn’t have a plan to go adopt teenagers, but they started to realize that their goal was to provide a loving home to kids that may not otherwise have one. Older kids are extremely unlikely to be adopted. People want to love on a baby or toddler. Developing relationships with teens that have lived a large portion of their life in an orphanage would be harder. Ryan and his wife aren’t afraid of things that are hard. Running at elite levels is hard. They manage to do that OK.
In general I am a big fan of the idea that you need to have sustainability in whatever you do. Your diet and exercise routine has to be sustainable to make life long changes. Ryan does help me see the other side though. Sometimes even if it is extremely hard and you know you won’t be able to do it forever the rewards are worth it. He is the fastest American Marathoner ever. He is the only person that can say that. He still gets to enjoy running, it will just be at different speeds.
Ryan and his wife are extremely young parents to four teenage girls from a completely different culture. If Ryan was still able to compete at the levels he would like, the travel schedule for his family would make it very difficult for him to adopt those girls and give them the type of family life they deserve. My guess is that God has been preparing Ryan through running to be the dad that he needed him to be for those 4 specific girls.
Ryan’s running career was hard and fast. He accomplished more quicker than anyone one else. Now he has time to create a life that is sustainable for him and his new family. Sometimes the rewards aren’t what you expected them to be.