The Sara Hall Interview with tips4running.com
tips4running.com welcomes Sara Hall for an interview. Sara won numerous championships from high school, through college, and in her professional running career. High school highlights include winning the 2001 Millrose Games mile title at Madison Square Garden, The National Scholastic Indoor mile and two-mile champion, and in cross country, the 2000 Footlocker National Cross Country championship. She ran for Stanford in college and was an All American in both track and cross country multiple times. Some of the highlights of her professional running career include winning the 2006 USA 5K road champion, and the 2006 champion at the Continental Fifth Avenue Mile. Recently she placed 2nd at the 2009 USA Track and Field Indoor 3k running a personal best of 8:53.72
David Tiefenthaler – Hello Sara. Thanks for your time. Before we jump into how training and racing are going right now, I like to find out how and why you got into the sport of running? I started running because I had an older brother who ran track and cross country. Were your parents runners, or did anyone else in your family run?
Sara Hall – My sister did cross country in junior high, so I knew about it through her. My dad was a baseball player in college, and had great leg speed at stealing bases, but never ran.
DT – Did you enjoy running right away?
SH – I did! I was a soccer player at the time, but decided to train for cross country over the summer before my 7th grade year. I loved exploring the trails across the street from my house at Annadel State Park, and fell in love with running.
DT – You had an unbelievable career in high school. Did you train hard right away, and what was your favorite part about running in high school?
SH – I was pretty driven in high school, but definitely enjoyed the process. Though I was serious about training, occasionally I would stop to pick blackberries on a run with teammates or plan costume days. I loved the team dynamic in high school. My team decided to go after the State title my senior year, even though we didn’t even make it to State the year before. We all took our training up a notch and achieved our goal, which I will never forget!
DT – I imagine a lot of colleges wanted you to run for them. Why did you choose to run for Stanford?
SH – I chose Stanford because it was the place that felt most like home to me, so much so that I was never homesick while I was there! I loved the team, I felt like it was the perfect environment of high-achieving individuals who also valued having balanced lives socially and academically.
DT – What was the most memorable moment of your collegiate running experience?
SH – Probably the 2003 NCAA XC Championships. It was a breakthrough race for both Ryan and I, and our teams won the title, so it was an incredible rush!
DT – After college you started running professionally. I am interested in how you transition from college to getting a sponsorship to run. Do sponsors approach you, and how do you get a coach as a pro?
SH – Fortunately I had some teammates who had gone before me in the process, and my coach Dena Evans had also learned through them, so she guided me in talking to agents my senior year. It happened fast because I had planned on coming back for an additional year of cross-country. I felt comfortable with Ray as an agent and he negotiated with the sponsors on my behalf after my last race as a collegiate. I found Terrence as a coach through some teammates of mine who had also decided to train up in Mammoth with (then) Team Running USA.
DT – Does your sponsor or coach decide where or what you run, or is it more up to you?
SH – There are a few races that Asics requires me to be at, but largely they leave it up to my coach and I to decide what is the best fit.
DT – You are married to a professional runner, Ryan Hall, who was also a runner at Stanford. How long were you together before you were married in 2005.
SH – We started dating the first week of freshman year of college, dated all through college, and got married the fall after graduation.
DT – I am also married to a runner. I met my wife when we both coached at the same high school. I have a theory that because running is a challenging activity, the people who participate are very kind and overall just good people. Do you buy into this theory?
SH – I could see that. Runners know how to sacrifice for something they love, which can be taken to an extreme and affect their relationships with people at the expense of their career. But largely, yes, I think runners are good people.
DT – Do you have to train or go to different races or events often? Is this tough to do?
SH – We have tried different seasons of training and racing apart, and have found that we both do best when we’re together. This requires sacrifice at times, but Ryan and I are a team and have the same goals for our running, so in the end it all works out.
DT – You have had some great races, and also some setbacks this track season. How do you feel your season went?
SH – Yes, the track season didn’t end as I had hoped this year. I’m trying to learn from what went wrong, while also trying to move on and focus on the opportunities I have in front of me. I was encouraged by my last weekend of racing in Falmouth, and am looking forward to my fall races ahead.
DT – Do you have a race you would like to focus on going forward. You seem very versatile, but is there any one race you would like to specialize on?
SH – I’m keeping my options open as far as race distance, and trying to thrive in whatever environment or race I decide to do.
DT – The Olympics are three years away. Do you have any long term goals going towards 2012?
SH – Yes, that is the long term goal. It’s so far away, that it’s best for me to focus on the race in front of me, and building the skills I’ll need so that when the time comes, I’ll be ready.
DT – My wife and I just had our third (and final) child in four years. I know, were a bit crazy. She hasn’t been running for a while, but plans on getting back into it soon. Do you ever plan on putting your running career on hold to start a family? Just a word of warning before you answer. My four year old son and two year old daughter are a lot like their parents. They never stop running around! I’m sure my four month old son will be the same way soon.
SH – We are waiting on the Lord for that, neither of us have the desire to right now but one day I’m sure we’ll have little runners!
DT – When I was looking for more information about you on the internet, I found you are raising money for World Vision. Can you explain what you are raising money for and why?
SH – World Vision does aid and development work all over the world, and we got to see their work in Zambia first hand last fall. We are huge fans of their model for working and really believe in the organization. Also, Ryan and I are starting a foundation that we’ll be launching in a few months, so stay tuned for that!
DT – Thank you so much for your time Sara. I wish you the best of luck in the future.
***Below is a 1500 meter race that Sara Hall won at the Mt. Sac Relays in 2008.***