Podcast: Episode 123 with Sara Hall

By Mario Fraioli |

“It’s kind of like what you pay attention to grows. What you’re the most aware of—if you’re focused on an area where you’re not measuring up and you’re beating yourself up about that instead of seeing yourself a certain way—Ryan puts it well, where he’s like, ‘The first step in becoming a mentally tough runner is to believe you’re a mentally tough runner.’ It kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy if you think, ‘I’m not tough.’ But the opposite is [that] you start by believing that, then the more you lean into that, and believe in that, it grows.”

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Sara Hall is one of the best and most versatile distance runners in the United States. She’s won numerous national titles from the mile to the marathon and and she’s the sixth-fastest American female marathoner of all time after her 2:22:16, fifth-place finish at Berlin last fall. Sara is the wife of previous podcast guest, two-time Olympian, and American half-marathon record holder Ryan Hall, and the mom of four adopted Ethiopian girls: Hana, Mia, Jasmine, and Lilly.

This conversation covered a lot of ground and I think you’ll really take a lot away from it. Sara told me about growing up in Santa Rosa, California, and getting into running as a 13-year-old, she opened up about dropping out of the Olympic Trials Marathon earlier this year and what it’s been like bouncing back from that disappointment, and how she’s thinking about training and racing right now in the midst of a global pandemic.

We also talked about the biggest lessons the marathon has taught her over the years, her tendency to be hard on herself after bad races and workouts, and what she means when she calls herself a “high maintenance sleeper.” We also discussed how her relationship with her husband Ryan has evolved since he retired from the sport four years ago, how she’s talking to her daughters about the racial injustice issues we’re facing in the U.S., the role faith plays in her life, and a lot more.