Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ryan Hall-elujah!: Boston Marathon Strategy, Newton Hills, Tapering and...Olive Oil

Everyone's obsessing over taper and race strategy. So how do the best athletes deal? We were lucky enough to get a peek inside Ryan's head as he gets ready to tackle the Beantown course. Check out part of a Q&A I did with him below, or click here for the full interview on TOC's site.

Expo news: Last night ASICS announced that it will be selling Ryan Hall–themed tees at the Boston expo. The dark gray perforamance tee with white writing displays a drawing of Hall and the phase “Hall-elujah,” as a nod to his faith. It'll be available for $32 at the ASICS expo booth in the Haynes Convention Center from April 17-19. Another FYI, ASICS has launched a blog with Ryan, detailing his emotions leading up to race day and how he feels after crossing the tape (editorial note: cuz he's going to win it!!!). Here's the link. Photo courtesy of ASICS. Posted by Liz

How are you feeling during the taper? Is this a challenging time, a fun time or what?
Ryan Hall: Tapering can be both challenging and fun. It is tough to not run as much because I love to train hard, but it is fun to feel all the extra energy. I often think to myself when I am tapering, “So this is what it feels like to be a normal person.” During marathon training I am so tired and drained.

Do you do anything special before a race to get psyched up? Listen to a particular song for instance?
It is different every time; before London and the Olympics I watched Passion of the Christ the night before the race. The way I am feeling right now I am thinking I am going to need something to get me not so psyched since I already feel so pumped for it. I always like to listen to worship music the morning of the race because it gets me in the right mind and heart.

What’s your go-to, night-before-the-race meal?
Pasta, olive oil and Cytomax Muscle Milk Protein Shake.

What’s your strategy for those Boston hills–and downhills?
My strategy for the hills in Boston are to run the same effort level whether I am going up, down or flat, which means I will obviously slow down going up the hills and fly down the back of them. I think that energy management is one of the keys to running a good marathon. The better I can keep it locked in at the right effort level, despite the terrain, the better I will run.

In a Runner’s World article last year, you mentioned a mantra that came from your dad–”Head down, butt up.” Do you use those words to keep motivated and focused during a race? Do you have a new mantra you’ve developed during training that you’ll use on April 20?
I don’t really think of the “Head down, butt up” mantra from my childhood too often. I do think about some of the things my dad ingrained in me growing up on the starting line, like “If it is not fun, then it is not worth doing.” I like this mantra because we all get nervous and intimidated at the start of a marathon but this helps me just relax and enjoy the journey. It is important to enjoy each step in the journey–even the tired ones–because as my dad says, “Happy feet make light feet.”



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