Hitting the Trails with Two-Time Olympian & Health IQ Customer Ryan Hall

Article written by Victoria O’Neil for ATRA corporate member Health IQ. Congratulations to Ryan’s wife Sara who won yesterday’s USATF Marathon Championships in Sacramento, California.

Two-time Olympian Ryan Hall has run thousands of miles over asphalt. But that doesn’t mean he’s a stranger to the joys of hitting the trails. In fact, he’s always been a trail runner and continues to run trails today. In 2016 Ryan completed two legs of ASICS Beat the Sun Race—a grueling 140-kilometer, six-person relay through the Mont Blanc massif in France, Italy and Switzerland. He also ran 1:43:39—placing 18th—at the 2016 XTERRA Trail Run World Championships. He says that he loves the peace that nature provides, and he enjoys sharing the trail running experience with his kids—who are also becoming accomplished runners themselves. Ryan recently paced his oldest daughter, Hana, in the Runner’s World Festival in Bethlehem, PA—where she finished a 5k in an amazing 18:14! Not only that, she ran a half marathon the very next day and finished at 1:36:15. Clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This family commitment to running keeps his travel itinerary full and was integral to his decision to get life insurance from Health IQ. “Now I just have the complete freedom of mind to know that if something happens to me while I’m traveling, I can rest assured that my family will be taken care of,” says Ryan.

Health IQ employee and fellow runner, Victoria O’Neil, sat down with Ryan Hall and asked him about his favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to hitting the trails.

[Victoria O’Neil] What are some differences you have seen in your training for the trails compared to the roads?

[Ryan Hall] I have always done a lot of trail running. I feel like the biggest adjustment for me is not to get wrapped up in pace. It’s very difficult to run paces on trails that I would typically run with ease on the roads—so I have to adjust my mental expectations. Also what I think is hugely important in trail racing is accelerating around turns and over the top of hills, which are things that will slow you down. So after you get over the hill or around a sharp turn, you want to accelerate hard to get back up to speed. I always think ten quick steps after I go around turns and over the top of hills.

[Victoria O’Neil] How does trail running differ from other types of running you have done? Are there nutritional considerations you have to monitor or other training changes you have to make?

[Ryan Hall] It’s not completely different than road running. Most of the principles are the same. Obviously if you are doing some really long trail races, you need to change your fueling strategy to make sure you are taking in enough calories. Another big change is in picking the right shoe. When I was racing on the roads, I would always go for the lightest, smallest shoe I could find. On the trails I like to go with something bigger, heavier and with a lot more support and grip.

[Victoria O’Neil] Do you notice a difference in trail audience vs. road audience at races?

[Ryan Hall] I haven’t done a ton of trail races, but there is certainly a big difference amongst the elites. It seems like most elite trail runners are stronger, sturdier people that won’t get blown away by the wind like elite marathoners. I think the challenges of going up and over mountains require more power and strength in the legs, but the speeds of trail running are much, much slower—so there is a tradeoff there.

[Victoria O’Neil] Having done trail racing, what advice would you give to someone training for her first race?

[Ryan Hall] I would suggest trying to find a local trail that is somewhat similar to what you plan to race on. If that isn’t an option, then get on a treadmill and do some long uphill runs. The biggest problem runners face is when they try and race something that is completely different than what they are used to.

Thanks Ryan for your great trail running tips and for inspiring us all with your commitment to the sport!

About Health IQ:
Health IQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world by celebrating the health conscious through financial rewards. Health IQ delivers better rates and underwriting, and partners with top-rated insurance carriers such as SBLI, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Assurity Life Insurance Company, and reinsurer partner Swiss Re to offer health conscious people between 4 and 33 percent lower rates on life insurance. Founded in 2013 by a team of health conscious entrepreneurs, the company is a licensed life insurance company in all 50 states and has helped tens of thousands of individuals secure a total of $5.3 billion in insurance coverage.

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