Fitbit Ambassadors Ryan & Sara Hall

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Husband and wife Ryan and Sara Hall are two of America’s premier distance runners. Both were California high school superstars and All-Americans at Stanford University (where they met). Ryan has posted the best-ever American times in the Half Marathon and Marathon and has represented the United States in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Sara was the 2012 US National Cross Country Champion and a Gold Medalist at the Pan American Games in the steeplechase. She has represented the US at three World Indoor Track and Field Championships and a World Cross Country Championship.

Here, Ryan and Sara share a little more about themselves, in their own words.

Ryan Hall

How did you get your start?

I was born in Kirkland, WA, but grew up in Big Bear Lake, CA from the age of 5. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved being outside and living an active lifestyle. I grew up loving sports, especially baseball. I always dreamed of playing in the major leagues (I actually did get to throw out a first pitch at a Boston Red Sox Game prior to the Boston Marathon in 2009, so I got a taste of my childhood dream!).

When I was 13 I went on a fifteen-mile run around the lake in Big Bear as my first run. It took forever and I was super tired, blistered, and beaten when I finished, but something about running captured me that day. I went from a kid who played baseball, basketball, and football, and like most kids in the U.S. hated to run, to a kid who loved running. I dropped all the other sports I had previously played, to try to maximize my potential in running.

I went to college at Stanford University where I participated in cross-country and track for four years, before graduating with a BA in Sociology in 2005. While at Stanford, I was on two NCAA Cross-Country Champion Teams, and won an individual NCAA 5,000-meter track title. After graduating, I married my college sweetheart, Sara, and began running professionally with Asics as my primary sponsor.

I have participated in two Olympic Marathons, representing the United States. My highest finish was 10th in Beijing. I’ve run one of the fastest marathons ever, finishing 4th at the 2011 Boston Marathon in a time of 2:04:58. I also hold the American Record for the half marathon in 59:43.

Where have you appeared or been featured?

I’ve been on the cover of Runner’s World three times, and have appeared in an ESPN The Magazine body issue. I was also in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

How do you find your fit?

I find my fit when I am alone, out in the forest running on a beautiful single-track trail, effortlessly gliding along. There is no other place I’d rather be. I feel free, fit, and the world makes sense. These are the moments I live for.

What is your most memorable achievement?

Running under an hour for the half marathon and setting a new American record. It was one of those days when everything was clicking perfectly. The faster I went the better I felt, and when I finished I felt like I could have run several more miles. The other really special aspect of that race was having my wife and parents on the lead vehicle. They were able to watch me during the entire race, and I got to see their eyes as I ran. It was a special race that we got to share together. Without my wife and parents, I would have never achieved what I did that day. My race that day was my way of giving back to them for all they invested in me. Nothing great happens without the support of others.

Why do you love Fitbit?

I love the Fitbit brand because it captures what I have always known to be true about running: running isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle. In some other sports you can be successful despite having a poor diet, poor sleep habits, and not taking care of yourself. But in running, you have to vigilantly take care of yourself in every aspect of life. My Fitbit Surge helps me monitor my running, nutrition, sleep, and recovery via heart rate tracking in a fun and easy way. I love having the Fitbit app on my phone with my data readily available for me to see and share with others. It’s also fun to be able to challenge family and friends to move more.

What do you love most about your sport?

I love trying to maximize my potential in running—it’s an endless pursuit of trial and error. One must approach fitness as both a scientist and an artist, changing variables such as workouts and nutrition while also being in tune with the body and listening to its cravings for workouts, sleep, and healthy food. It’s beautiful when you get it all right and you have one of those days when you feel like you are effortlessly floating along.

What are you most proud of?

Being a part of lasting change. It’s one thing to run fast, set records, and win races. That’s all really fun and feels good, but it’s way more meaningful to change someone’s life forever as a result of running. It took me a long time to learn how I could change someone’s life through my running, but in 2008 my wife and I partnered with World Vision to raise money for clean water projects in Zambia, along with a group of runners using the Chicago Marathon as a fundraising platform. After the race we went to Zambia to visit the communities we helped. I’ll never forget speaking with a villager who explained how the clean water we helped bring had raised the life expectancy in his community by 10 years. How crazy is that? Running had actually added years to people’s lives! Running can not only add years to people’s lives in Africa, but also to American’s who choose to get up everyday and get moving, building stronger, more fit bodies that can better endure the health challenges facing America today.

What’s the best health or fitness advice you’ve ever received?

Have fun. My dad always told me, if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. I think a lot of people hate to exercise because they aren’t having fun doing it. I try to encourage stop doing the activities that feel like a grind, and instead change things up. Try changing your environment by going to a beautiful place for a bike ride, walk, or run. Invite a friend, or consider joining a group to have some company. Switch up your workouts so you don’t get bored with the same old training routine.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve ever learned?

Running isn’t about the destination; it’s about the journey. No matter what you achieve, you will never be completely satisfied. But if you can find joy in small things every day, then you will find the satisfaction you are looking for. I’ve learned to soak in and enjoy small moments, like beautiful sunsets, cool nights out running on the roads, quiet mornings running at the break of dawn. I’ve learned to celebrate small moments every day, rather than constantly dreaming about big moments in the distant future—not that it’s bad to have big dreams for future races, but life is the most precious gift we have, so I try to appreciate every day as much as I can.

Sara Hall

How did you get your start?

I was raised in the wine country of Sonoma County, CA. I played soccer and basketball at a young age, but I fell in love with running when I was 13 while exploring the trails in a massive state park across the street from my home. I won my first race in 7th grade in a sprint finish, and after that I was hooked! I loved that it was an individual sport, and that the more I put into it the more successful I could become.

I graduated from Stanford University where I studied Human Biology and have been running professionally ever since! Additionally, Ryan and I founded The Hall Steps Foundation in 2009 to engage the running community in bringing better health to those in extreme poverty.

Where have you appeared or been featured?

New York City Billboards!

How do you find your fit?

After being a serious athlete almost my whole life, fitness is now a lifestyle and no longer a sacrifice. I crave healthy foods because what you feed yourself you crave. I definitely enjoy sugary indulgences and occasional breaks from running, but they usually leave me craving my disciplined routine.

What is your most memorable achievement?

Winning the US National Cross Country Championships in a dive to the finish in 2012, and the High School National Cross Country Championship in 2000.

Why do you love Fitbit?

I love that my Fitbit Surge is an all-day device, giving me a full picture of my training, recovery, and over-all fitness. Plus, it looks good!

What do you love most about your sport?

I never dread going to work; every day I am excited to get out the door and run. That is such a blessing, to make what you are passionate about into a career. It never stops challenging me or demanding the best of me, which keeps me hungry and enjoying the journey.

What are you most proud of?

My husband and family—they are God’s greatest gifts in my life!

What’s the best health or fitness advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be greedy. There’s a fine line between training aggressively and being gratuitous, which usually leads to burnout and injury.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve ever learned?

Enjoy the journey. Achieving your goal is never worth it if you didn’t enjoy all the time it took to get you there. Similarly, even if you don’t reach the goal you set, the journey builds character and creates memories.

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