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Ryan Hall: from beast on the race course to beast in the gym

The American record-holder is proof that even though you're a runner, you can fall in love with strength training

Photo by: Instagram/ryanhall3

Since ending his professional running career in 2016, Ryan Hall has made an incredible physical transformation after diving into weightlifting in retirement. With a personal best of 59:43 in the half-marathon, Hall is the American record-holder at that distance. He also holds the unofficial American marathon record with a time of 2:04:58 from the 2011 Boston Marathon, although since it was run on a point-to-point course, it didn’t count in the record books. Hall has been at it for four years, and in that time, he has packed on a lot of muscle, proving that anyone — yes, even runners, who are notorious for hating the gym — can fall in love with weight and strength training. 

Hall’s weightlifting journey

Hall weighed about 125 pounds when he retired, and he now weighs in at 165. According to a June 26 Instagram post, he was even heavier not too long ago (up to 182 pounds) before he started a two-month weight-loss phase which brought him down to 165, still 40 pounds heavier than his race weight back when he was competing. 

When he first started weightlifting, Hall said he could hardly bench press the 45-pound bar. In a 2019 Instagram video, he benched 20 reps of 205 pounds, which was his marathon PB. He’s also able to deadlift 450 pounds, he goes for hour-long lunge walks while carrying 50-pound weights and he can curl his body weight (although he admittedly did the latter with improper form, as he noted in another Instagram post). 

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Just finished a little 9 week mini-cut. Far right I was at 182 lbs, mid 170s half way through pictured in the middle, then down to 166 lbs by the end. Only did one run during the 9 weeks (zero other cardio besides hitting a punching bag about 4 times per week for 20 minutes), lifted daily in my usual manner, and reduced my calories from mid 4K to about 3k. I love how much our bodies can change in a relatively short amount of time. When I was racing marathons professionally I could rarely run one mile at goal marathon pace when I was six month out from the race, but with a consistent and holistic training plan everything would change by race day. Check out @runfree_training if you are looking for some guidance on your journey. #run #lift

A post shared by Ryan Hall (@ryanhall3) on

“Been lifting for 4.5 years now and loving the journey,” Hall wrote in a recent post. “Still have a ways to go to hit my goals but celebrating progress and every little breakthrough along the way. Transformation is rarely as quick as I’d like, which is why patience is such an important virtue for big dreamers to cultivate.” 

You can do it 

So what can runners learn from Hall’s jump from elite running to gym-junkie? You may hate the gym and strength training, and you may think that you’ll never like it, but just look at him. He fell in love with weightlifting, and although we’re not saying you have to get jacked like him (although you can try if you want), it’s proof that even though you’re a runner, you can find some level of enjoyment in going to the gym and strength training, which is an important part of every athlete’s weekly schedule.