Running is no place to waste time | VailDaily.com

Running is no place to waste time

John Meyer
The Denver Post
Boulder, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colorado ” Ryan Hall went to the mountaintop last weekend and gained unexpected enlightenment from an old stoner hanging out on the summit of Mount Sanitas. In the middle of a run, Hall discovered even an aging hippie can have good advice for a world-class marathoner ” and for those of us who are considerably slower.

America’s best marathoner shared his story with a gathering of 80 to 100 runners Sunday on the eve of the Bolder Boulder.

“I got to the top and there was this guy smoking a joint, he looked like he was homeless ” white hair, white beard ” he looked like an old sage,” Hall said. “He was pointing out all these mountaintops. I was like, before I go, I’ve got to get some wisdom from this guy. I was like, ‘Just give me a few good words.’ He was kind of taken aback ” I don’t think he gets that question very often.”

That cracked up the audience.

“What he said was so awesome: ‘Don’t waste your time,’ ” Hall said. “It kind of pricked my heart. I was just having fun, but I thought, how cool is that? ‘Don’t waste your time.’ “

As often happens, a life lesson served as a running tip, and vice versa.

“What our sport is all about is not wasting time, making the most of every second you’re out there,” Hall said. “I also think about time in the sense of making sure we’re having fun out there, enjoying the process and learning.”

Hall did not run the Bolder Boulder because he is still in recovery mode from the Boston Marathon, where he finished third five weeks ago. He was in town to promote a series of training tips he is doing for Nissan’s “Master the Shift” program (www.mastertheshift.com). The campaign, which includes Chris Carmichael, is designed to help ordinary athletes improve their performance.

“The whole goal is to help everyone improve,” Hall said. “I’m sharing all my training secrets. If people beat me because I’ve shared my secrets, so be it. I want people to run fast. I want them to achieve their personal best.”

Beyond the health, fulfillment and camaraderie that running promotes, the most remarkable thing about it is the connection between the elite and the ordinary. Elite runners inspire ordinary ones, but ordinary runners often inspire and humble the elites too. When elite runners talk about “our sport” in conversation with ordinary runners, they mean it.

“Some of my favorite courses to run are courses that are out and back, where you get to see the rest of the crowd,” Hall said. “For example at Gasparilla 15K (in Tampa, Fla.) this spring, it was so cool. I’ll never forget running back and having all these people cheering for me. Here I am, breathing hard, charging as hard as I can, and I was thinking about these people who are losing their own breath to cheer for me. I was really drawing off their energy.”

In fact, Hall found it unnerving to run the Beijing Olympics marathon with fewer than 100 entrants.

“It was weird in Beijing to have such a small field and not have all the other people around,” said Hall, who finished 10th. “The energy level’s just not the same without all the people.”

Tera Moody ran track and cross country at the University of Colorado, but she found real joy running mass-participation races after leaving CU.

“Runners are so passionate,” said Moody, who ran on the U.S. women’s team in the Bolder Boulder elite race. “It’s that passion people have, that’s what really brings people together, and a road race like the Bolder Boulder epitomizes that. It’s 50,000 people and you’re all sharing the same thing. It’s definitely motivating.”

Hall is taking his relationship with ordinary runners a step further, letting them decide which fall marathon he will run. Want to see Hall in New York or Chicago? Let him know via Twitter (ryanhall3).

“I want to run where people want to watch me run,” Hall said.

How cool is that? “Our sport,” indeed.