Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookworm: "Running With Joy" by Ryan Hall

On April 18, 2011, Ryan Hall will make his third consecutive trip to Beantown to toe the line at the 115th Boston Marathon. In an interview this week at the Endurance Live Awards Gala, Ryan said "Something about Boston grabs my heart. Runners are rock stars that weekend. I love when I'm standing on the starting line in Hopkinton. I feel like I'm living in a history book and I'm writing history (Video of Interview)." Many of us who treat the Boston Marathon like our personal Olympics feel the same way! "Running with Joy" really embraces Ryan's love of the world's oldest annual marathon and details his training from January 2010 up until the start of the race, where he concludes his first book with a recap of his race to Boston, where he finished 3rd overall in an American Record time (for Boston) of 2:08:41.

"Running with Joy" is a book for runners. Those that feel elite runners are too cryptic in their training methods and never let the public in enough to what they are doing will love "Running with Joy" as Ryan details every training run from January to April 2010 (most days are doubles) and doesn't hold back when something is bothering him. One more fired up moment of his account is when he is discussing the challenging winters in Mammoth Lakes, CA:

"Why do we live here? We could train anywhere in the world-Mexico, Columbia, Kenya-and yet we train here! Why?" I yelled as I slipped for the fifth time in that many minutes running through a blizzard with the team on Mammoth Scenic Loop. I knew I had a bad attitude, but I couldn't hold it in anymore. It was dumping snow, and with every slip I saw my journey to Boston crashing to a halt because of muscle spasms. I was sure I'd tear something before long.

Powerful emotional outbursts like this help show the reader and more than likely, the runner, that even Ryan Hall has some bad days. He goes on to say that his then teammate, American 50k record holder, Josh Cox, helped him get to a better place mentally during that run and by the end of it, his attitude was positive again. This kind of run also possibly led to his departure from the Mammoth Track Club in October 2010 to train in various (and milder) locations like Flagstaff, San Francisco and most recently, Seattle. There is no doubt that Ryan is a free spirit of sorts, which makes him extremely relatable to me and likely to many that will pick up this book.

Another very important thing in Ryan's life is his faith. Many people have found Ryan to be a polarizing figure because of this, but I believe "Running With Joy" will show the reader where he is coming from. That is a good place. Ryan is using the bible to inspire himself and to do unto others. He and his wife Sara have established the Hall Steps Foundation to raise money towards Clean Water (through World Vision), fighting Human Trafficking (through International Justice Mission), and funding a home in a Rescue Center in Kenya through Global Children’s Movement. Hall never comes off as preachy and only quotes scripture to inspire and help him understand his own personal growth, not to condemn others for their particular beliefs. There is an entertaining piece about Sammy Wanjiru in here, as well as former teammate, Deena Kastor, who is Jewish, that will show the reader a deeper side of his faith and values.

No matter what you believe, if you believe in the run, you will take something away from "Running With Joy." This is a book that I will not be passing on to a friend, because there are too many good workouts and ideas for training weeks/months, that will provide an excellent reference as I continue to train for this years Boston Marathon myself. I enjoy reading running books to learn some new tricks. Here's a few I picked up from Ryan:
  • He drinks 20 ounces of water when he wakes up in the morning. 
  • He coats his feet in vaseline before runs (and puts band-aids on his nipples).
  • He does easy runs in the Asics Gel-Cumulus, faster runs in the Asics Gel-DS Trainer, and tempos/races in the Asics Gel-Hyperspeed.
  • He takes his easy runs easy (after hammering in college and losing steam at the end of seasons). Many runs are around 7:00-7:30 pace.
  • He focuses on a healthy diet and eating every few hours to maintain racing weight.
  • He wears the Garmin Forerunner 110 and brings gum to the starting line (in case he "gets parched").
What's next for Ryan? Before heading back to Boston, he'll be tackling the best in the nation this weekend in Houston at the USATF Half Marathon Championship, the place where he set the set the American Record in 2007 (on a slightly different course). Houston is also the place where this 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon will take place a year from now, so that should provide for some extra excitement. You can also find Ryan tweeting here and blogging here (while currently rocking a sweet beard).

Be sure to check out for more information and for a chance to win some of Ryan's favorite things (including copies of "Running With Joy" as well as Oakley and Cytomax products). You can order a copy of "Running With Joy" on here

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