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July 18th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Olympian counts God as coach

By Alicia Tarancon, CNN

(CNN)–
Ryan Hall is the fastest American distance runner competing in the London Olympics and he says he owes it all to his omnipresent coach who has been there with him every step of the way.

“I’ll just be straight forward, my coach is God,” the 29-year-old Hall told CNN.

Last year, after finishing second in the 2011 United States half-marathon Championship, Hall was told to do a routine drug test. The form with the test had a space to fill in the name of the runner's coach.

"I saw the line, it said coach, it was blank, and I said, 'Well you know I have to be honest,' " Hall said, "So I put 'God' down and it turned into a big controversial thing."

"Now whenever I see that line I just leave it blank. I'll just let it slide by," he added.

Hall calls his method of training “faith-based coaching.”  In London, he'll be putting his training to the test in the men's marathon.

Instead of running with a trainer, he runs alone. While he runs, he prays. On some days Hall says he will ask God, “How far do you want me to run today?”

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“I’m still figuring this thing out myself,” Hall told CNN's Kyra Phillips.

Hall counts himself a Christian and attends Bethel Church in Redding, California, a non-denominational evangelical church with roots in the Assemblies of God denomination.

For now Hall's faith based coaching seems to be working. Hall is the No. 1 ranked distance runner in the United States and says he doesn't see the need to add a professional running coach.

“I’m just doing what I feel like God’s telling me to do," he said.

The 2011 Boston Marathon was his personal best with a soaring time of 2 hours 4 minutes and 58 seconds. Hall said with God on his side, he is hoping to to take home the gold in the London Olympics.

He knows with just nine days until the start of the Olympics, he may run into skeptics of his "faith based coaching" on his way to the competition.

“I love the skeptic and God loves the skeptics-– it's OK for people to disagree,” Hall said.

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He doesn’t  pay  much attention to the reactions from his peers. He says he is able to stay focused and motivated on what he’s doing.

For Hall, running is more about the experience of peace and joy he gets from training. At times he says he does feel down and in said in the past he blamed God  for not doing his best in a race, but now he said that has changed.

“I don’t think God causes me to fail in races," he said.

If he doesn’t get the results he hopes in the 2012 Olympics, Hall said he won't blame God this time around.

“Medals are things I would love to achieve, but it's all icing on the cake,” says Hall.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief

soundoff (262 Responses)
  1. UK Dave & my fellow scientists

    .WE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO NEGLECT!
    .What did you neglect?

    July 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • PAUL

      NOTHING!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVtL4r6rOnI&w=640&h=360]

      July 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!'

      July 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • jimibivkoi334

      I prayed and you gave me your bun,g hole in the bed. Amen.

      July 23, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  3. Carol

    For Robert,

    I guess that would be a very difficult way to view God. A lot of people, even churches, prob do. My belief is that my sinful nature , and we all have one, is enough to separate me from God. He sent Jesus who willingly took the hit for my sin so that under His blood covering, I would not have to be separated from God. I can use my free will to accept Jesus or not. I used to think there was some secret Christian handshake I was missing. That if I didn't do things just right scary God wouldn't find me acceptable. That was intimidating and frightening. I now believe that there is no secret handshake or mysterious formula . It's simply a gift I can choose to receive. It doesn't mean my sin nature disappears, it just means it doesn't separate me from God because Jesus bought me at a price. I'm humbled that He did so even knowing that I'd fall on my face often. I'm not a bad person, but I'm not pure. Only God is. His desire is that everyone would come to know Him and His love. I do not have all the answers. Ur that is very much part of what I believe and I'm grateful. You have a right to your own choices, certainly. I'm sorry for the idea of God that has been shown to you. He's so much more than that. Thank you for sharing your views with me. You are very well spoken and sound intelligent. I pray God shows you a different side of Himself than you have seen before now. I wish I had the words to lead you to reconsider.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  4. A theist

    God has always been a great coach to all his people. Atheists chose to be like Kobe.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  5. yeahalright

    As usual, another one who will give god all the credit when he succeeds and none of the blame when he fails.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  6. Kebos

    I'm sure Hall sees dead people too.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  7. Robert

    Robert

    So many people point to our free will and god's right to be wrathful. I ask you this, you are not a god and yet you're loving and compassionate enough to know that murdering your children because they made choices other than those youu desired is a monsterous thing to do. I'm betting that not one of you would sentence your child to burn for all eternity for anything, much less disobedience. And yet you all worship look up to something that would do just that. Forget whether you think he has the right, just consider what kind of monster could ever contemplate the murder of his own children.
    Now ask me why I'm an atheist.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Because you presume our idea of love is comparable to God's?

      July 20, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • sam stone

      Bill: And do you presume to know god's idea of love?

      July 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I would not be that presumptuous. I might make a similar mistake as Robert.

      July 23, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  8. Robert

    When god starts telling you to kill people I hope you'll seek the help you obviously need.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  9. UK Dave & my fellow scientists

    .YOU'VE PLAYED WITH FATE FAR TOO LONG!
    .You're out of chances!
    .You're out of chances!
    .THE GOD PARTICLE WILL PROVE YOU'RE OUT OF CHANCES!

    July 20, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  10. Jesus is the lover of my life

    I love Jesus! I mean really, really love Jesus. I want to get down on my knees and please you baby Jesus! Amen!

    July 20, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  11. Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    “I’m just doing what I feel like God’s telling me to do," he said. Then he let the priest put his privates in his mouth, because that was what god was telling him to do. Amen! Oh yeah, I have a tattoo of Muhammed on my privates too! That's what I felt like god was telling me to do. Praise the heavens!

    July 20, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  12. jesubius

    “I’m just doing what I feel like God’s telling me to do," he said. Then he let the priest put his privates in his mouth, because that was what god was telling him to do. Amen! Oh yeah, I have a tattoo of Muhammed on my privates too! That's what I felt like god was telling me to do. Praise the heavens!

    July 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  13. PAUL

    RUNNING IS NOT THE KEY..ITS THE ONLY WAY!!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7OXdkKZ-0k&w=640&h=360]

    July 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  14. Sam Yaza (the Goddess with many name but only one Image,.. DAMN~ed)

    OK that is the fist one that says I was their couch in the games get a free snake-girl head to use against their opponents,.. not applicable your from any place other then Athens or California

    July 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • PAUL

      THIS IS SO TRUE AND I BELIEVE IN IT ALL THE WAY!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUMfDOLA1G8&w=640&h=360]

      July 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  15. Zaggar

    If he'd been a reggin, there'd be nothing but praise for his "spirituality."

    July 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  16. Cindy

    Finally, a good Olympian role model! Why do you posters have to attack what he believes in? You obviously know nothing about God.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • MZ

      Well, God obviously knows nothing about Ryan Hall because he hasn't won squat.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I know as much about god as you do, the pope does, or any human does....

      July 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Cindy, You must be an American. Only in America could someone not be satisfied with an Olympian as a good role model. You have to be a god-believing Olympian to be a good role model. For the fattest country in the world, anyone who gets off of the couch and turns off American Idol is a good role model.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • sam stone

      And you do, Cindy?

      July 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • yeahalright

      Wow, really? Finally, you say? So there's never been a single admirable olympian role model before now? Wow.

      July 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  17. just sayin

    “I’ll just be straight forward, my coach is God. He talks to me and I can hear him,” the 29-year-old Hall told CNN.

    WOW

    July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • yeahalright

      aka: I'll just be straight forward, my coach is a figment of my imagination.

      I can't wait for the day when saying something like this gets you roundly and appropriately laughed at as opposed to the level of fawning respect that a large segment of society foists upon you for essentially being schizophrenic.

      July 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  18. TEANECK.....

    WOW I LOVE YOUR ZEAL THAT YOU HAVE FOR JESUS......KEEP THAT ZEAL AND LOVE YOU HAVE FOR THE LORD ITS AWSOME..........ITS GREAT TO KNOW THERE ARE CHRITIANS OUT THERE NOT ASHAMED OF JESUS. BE ENCOURGED YOUR DOING A WONDERFUL THING..........

    July 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      When a person knows they believe in imaginary things, they are ashamed. This would explain most christians.

      July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ran

      I'm glad god has time to help runners win fame and fortune but can't help millions of people get clean water to drink. He truly is a loving god.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Cindy

      Great post!

      July 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Ran: I guess he can't be everywhere, so he picks the low hanging fruits, er fruits.

      July 20, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • yeahalright

      I'd be real ashamed if I believed in an imaginary omnipotent friend who chooses to coach runners rather than prevent 3 year olds from getting cancer, suffering, and dying.

      July 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  19. publicidade

    I've been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this kind of house . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i am happy to express that I have an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I such a lot unquestionably will make certain to don?t forget this site and give it a glance on a continuing basis.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      Wipe the hand lotion off your mouth

      July 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  20. tony

    Which loving god parted the red sea and which loving god sent the recent mass slaughtering tsunamis? Ten years on and still NO religious leader has dared to go public with any explanation.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mark

      Well Tony, you are just sooooo profound no one is able to stand before your insight. lol That would be the wrath of God your pointing too not the love of God. The God of love is also a God of Judgment and wrath. Something you will know all to well if you continue in your faithless way without repenting. God, who loved us soooooo much that He sent His own Son to die in our place and take the wrath we deserved because of His great love for us. If you reject such love shall we blame God? I don't think so. To me those who reject such awesome love from God deserve exactly what they get. Many know this love and have repented from their unbelief or their own attempts to try to earn their way to heaven. I thank God for His great love for us and His awesome gift of eternal life through faith in the atonment of Jesus.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Mark – so is god loving, or vengeful? Can't be both. Besides, I thought we had free will. We can do whatever we want, without his interference. Convoluted book you cling to!

      July 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Mark, your post is so lame you would have done better to remain silent.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Carol

      to Edwardo

      You raise a great point! I do believe God gives us free will. We can do a lot of good with it and we can do a lot of bad with it. I am learning that when I exercise my free will and choose to try to seek what His Will for me might be, I get to a place of peace quicker than I used to. I don't have all the answers, but I believe God wants to guide me on things that will work for my good. When I mess up, which is often, I believe He offers forgiveness. I am in a happy place in my life right now, but I've come through some difficult times. I'm grateful for the things He has brought me through and even thankful for the things I cannot see. I trust Him with my mess. And I try not to make ones I can avoid. His direction helps me.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Edwardo

      @Carol – I'm glad you're "in a good place in your life". But, are you telling me... you were beaten into submission. If you don't do "his will", then your life is messy, but if you do "his will" then things are better. So, how are you supposed to know what "his will" is? It's like me putting a blind fold on you, and expecting you to make all the right turns. Makes no sense to me.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Carol

      Edwardo,

      No, I really wasn't beaten into submission. :). What I honestly did do was beat my own head against the walls of bad choices I made–over and over and...you get the picture. And sometimes, I just got hosed by someone else's bad choices. That's life, and I haven't always enjoyed it. I don't always know what His will is. I do try to remember to ask Him when facing a choice. Some stuffs a no brainer. God gives pretty good basic guidelines for right vs wrong. But not everything feels black and white. I do sometimes feel like im walking with a bag on my head. In the dark even. In traffic. Truthfully, I don't hear a big audible voice. I often feel a prompting. Or get confirmation from unexpected places... A friends comment, or a specific passage in the bible that seems to jump out, stuff like that. I believe God grows my faith as I go through diff trials and hard times. I am in a happy place, but it's because of the peace I'm finding that I didn't have b4. I still have the other stuff- problems with bills, struggles in my relationships, same as before. I can't really explain the difference, I just know there is one. Someone else could say it better perhaps, but please know that I am very sincere that God is making a difference in my life in the midst of the chaos and I am happy in the middle of it- most of the time. Song says 'peace like a river'. Ever seen a river? Twists, turns, your butt hits a rock when you're tubing rapids...Ponds are peaceful. Rivers, not so much. I'm telling you truly that I'm getting peace-even over the rocks. If He'll do it for me, He'll sure do it for you. Thanks for your response. You seem like a nice person, and I hope you are in a happy place, too.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Edwardo

      @Carol – For me it's the opposite. Freeing myself from the tyranny of religion, freeing myself from believing some invisible being was stalking me, has made my life real. Knowing this is the only life I get, and to make the most of every minute of it, gives me my daily reason to love who and what I am. Trying to convince myself that there's some mansion on a hill waiting for me, if I can just get thru this life, was maddening. Trying to figure out which religion was the right one, was also maddening. I know there's really no such thing as right and wrong... just consequences, has set me free. Being threatened with eternal death was very frightening, and gave religionists power over me. That power has been stripped from them, and now I have my power back. But, as long as you've found some happiness, I wish you the best.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Carol

      Edwardo,

      Thank you being so polite in the way you present your beliefs. I appreciate that about you. I actually have a healthy dislike for religion, too. Not God, but religion. I think we've all got a built in radar for basic right and wrong. You called it consequences, and I very much agree. It is 'religion' not 'relationship' that has so intimidated and alienated so many people. I do go to church, but haven't always. My church is non denominational, but definitely Christian. People aren't perfect, so you'd find some of the same stuff there as anywhere else in human nature. But I don't feel like I have to sit up straighter just because I'm there. My relationship with God is growing because I'm not getting a bunch of legalism shoved up my nose. In that environment, it's easier to be transparent about who I am and where I've been. I believe God meets us where we are. It's a shame that people expect you to come back once you've cleaned up in so many churches today. They forget who Jesus came for. Anyway, I'm not trying to push that on you, and I sincerely wish you the best, too. If you ever find yourself in a place to want something more than just what the world offers, I pray God will put someone in your path that is as accepting of folks as He is. If not, I pray you'll just speak to Him directly. Without the bag. :). Thanks for the respect you have shown me. I respect you as well. Peace to you.

      July 20, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Robert

      So many people point to our free will and god's right to be wrathful. I ask you this, you are not a god and yet you're loving and compassionate enough to know that murdering your children because they made choices other than those youu desired is a monsterous thing to do. I'm betting that not one of you would sentence your child to burn for all eternity for anything, much less disobedience. And yet you all worship look up to something that would do just that. Forget whether you think he has the right, just consider what kind of monster could ever contemplate the murder of his own children.
      Now ask me why I'm an atheist.

      July 20, 2012 at 7:06 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.