Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not Chicago bound: Ryan Hall

By Joe Battaglia, Universal Sports
CHICAGO -- After pulling out of the Chicago Marathon because of a lack of race fitness, Ryan Hall took some time to answer our questions about what went wrong in his training. Here is what he said:

Can you describe what went wrong with your training?

Something that I am learning about myself is that if I come into a buildup too fit and I'm ready too early then I tend to not do as well. I kind of did the same thing before Beijing, and before the Olympics Trials too, and had to take some days off, regroup, and almost get myself unfit in order to progress through the following eight weeks. I need to learn how to cycle my training better because this is a perpetual thing.

It wasn't like I had one bad workout and decided to call it quits. It was week after week of not being able to finish my tempo runs. I would go out and try to do my usual 15-mile tempo runs and I would make it to 15 miles but not run them well at all. The next time I only made it 12 miles. The next time I only made it nine miles. They were just getting worse and worse over a two week cycle that I usually see a lot of improvement over. After weeks of deteriorating I tried different things like knocking out all of my afternoon runs. That didn't seem to help. I tried taking three days off and that didn't seem to help either.

Before the Philadelphia Half-Marathon, the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted you as saying "I wasn't totally in top-notch shape last year, but I think I'm in better shape this year." If your workouts were so bad, why did you say you were in better shape?

It's funny, but I don't remember saying that. My shorter intervals were good. My tempo runs were not nearly as good. If I did say that, I don't know what I was thinking.

Coming out of the Philly Half, did you know right away that there was no way you were making it here to Chicago?

Yeah. I had rested so much for that race that it made me optimistic. It was like, ‘Yeah, my training hasn't gone well but I've been training a lot. I backed off all my afternoon runs and I'm going to be fresh. I think I can run a solid time.' How I felt in Philly was nowhere near how I normally feel. I've had sub-par buildups in my races before but it was never that far outside the range of normal for me. After that, we trained a little bit more and took three days off hoping to regroup. I tried another workout and didn't feel good. That's when I decided to pull out.

There has been a lot of speculation that all the charity work you have done with your foundation has somehow impacted your training. Do you feel like your training has been distracted?

If anything, I was too focused too early. I didn't have any distractions. I was just up in Mammoth training hard, doing my usual thing. There really wasn't anything different in that way.

What are your thoughts about future racing?

I'm excited to learn from this and move forward. I'm taking a good break right now and won't be racing anytime soon. I'm going to get in a good, long buildup but a smarter buildup - you know, less intensity early, bigger break - and just hope to see nice, gradual progression to a spring marathon.

Will it be Boston again?

Either Boston or London. I love both of those races and have done both numerous times. Those are fun ones. I am actually more optimistic than ever having been through this and looking forward to learning from it and moving on.

When you look at your racing, you haven't done anything on the track for a number of years. Is that something that you see yourself getting back to at all?

If I find a passion and a heart for it. Sometimes when I watch these guys on the track run, I say, ‘Man, that looks so fun.' But still, my heart is with trying to win a major marathon so I am going to keep going after that.

One of the things that I experimented with this year was getting into better 5K/10K shape earlier and that didn't seem to work out too well. I could see it fitting in and working effectively in the Olympic year when I will have bigger gaps between marathons. Trying to fit it in when you only have six months to recover and buildup again is kind of a challenge for me.

Do you see 2011 as being a one major marathon year, or do you see yourself running two before the Trials?

I'm not sure. I haven't thought too much about that yet. We'll have to see how this spring goes first.