Interview | Elite 2011 Chicago Marathon runner Ryan Hall

American marathon runner Ryan Hall

American marathon runner Ryan Hall

American running phenom Ryan Hall is the USA’s best hope of capturing the title at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9. After pulling out just days before the race last year, Hall is more ready than ever to tackle Chicago’s flat, fast course. He talked to me about his race prep on the homestretch and his tips for recreational runners who will toe the line with him.

We're in the final countdown to the Chicago Marathon, how are you feeling
I'm feeling great. I’m really coming around fast in my last month of preparations. Things seem to always wait till the last month before I feel really sharp and fit. I’m getting anxious now that I feel my fitness coming around.

Are you listening to any music or reading anything that keeps you positive and psyched up for the race during this final countdown?
Yeah, I am reading Momentum by Eric Johnson and listening to a lot of Jesus Culture.

What key workouts will you fit into your training in the last week before the race?
I'll run my last workout on the Thursday before the race. I will run two miles at marathon pace and then six by 400 meters at 10K pace just to keep the wheels going and to incorporate a bit of speed work. 

What workouts do you do in the final few days before the race?

Two days prior I'll jog 45 minutes easy and do some drills and strides. The day before the race, I’ll run 30 minutes easy and do some more drills and strides. 

I know you've spent time in Chicago in years past, what are your favorite parts about the city?

I love Chicago. I love the food, the people, running on the lakefront and the city lights at night. I did an architectural river tour with a friend and that was amazing to see all the different styles of buildings and the history behind the city. 

Do you feel any extra motivation in running this race, since you had to pull out last year?
It will be a very redemptive race for me but I probably won't think about that during the race. When I get on the start line it’s all about looking to God for strength and doing what I was created to do. Just being immersed in the each moment and savoring it. 

What's your go-to night-before-the-race meal?
Brown rice pasta, olive oil and Muscle Milk.

We're a restaurant-obsessed city, so I have to ask: Any idea where you'll eat out in Chicago while you're in town?

I'll have to find a gluten-free restaurant since I have been on the gluten-free diet for a year and a half. I'll probably do most of my eating out after the race as I don't like to chance catching something from eating out. Before my gluten-free days I had some amazing Chicago [deep dish] pizza. My friends have also taken me to some great ethnic restaurants. There are endless good restaurants in the city. 

You had great success in Boston last April, can we expect a similar race strategy? Or does the flat terrain in Chicago, compared to the hills of Boston, mean you'll tackle this race differently?
Chicago will play out a lot different than Boston. I'm looking forward to not having to lead. It will be nice to just relax behind the pace setters for the first 20 miles. I'll try and stay as relaxed as possible until the pace makers drop out then the real racing will begin. Hopefully, I’ll have more energy as a result of conserving my energy. 

If you could give any race morning advice to the 40,000 or so recreational runners who will toe the line with you on October 9, what would it be?

Don't try anything new that you haven't done over and over again in practice. Talk to people around you in the race to keep yourself loose.  When you are hurting, encourage someone around you and you will be surprised how you will feel better as a result. Take in the energy of the crowd. Pray.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)