July 18th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Olympian counts God as coach

By Alicia Tarancon, 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. design

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    July 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm |

    .What are you reclaiming?
    .See how easily I settle out of court!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  3. rob

    very happy to read stories of individuals who are not afraid to share their faith in God. We need more role models like him! Good luck in the races Ryan!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  4. the voice of reason

    And when he loses, it will be "a test of his faith".


    July 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • rob

      actually, if you read the end of the article you will see that he doesn't say that at all.... I copied it here, since you seem to have missed it......

      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.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  5. j

    go god go!

    July 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • LinCA


      You forgot the "away" part.

      July 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      ..So,if he wins,god made it possible.If he loses, god had nothing to do with it.Did I get that right?How mysterious... Do you think maybe he could have thanked his earthly parents,who may have had a little something to do with his success?

      July 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • JPX

      Yes, Ryan, because God has a personal investment in the outcome of your silly race. Does that mean that "God" doesn't care about any of the other runners? You religious people are so silly. Give yourself the credit, Ryan, you did all the hard training, not the magical man in the sky.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  6. Estética

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    July 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  7. dave

    is this CNN..you mean there are not some lines that make this guy look like an imbecile to have a child like faith...
    God bless you Ryan

    July 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • JPX

      Oh don't worry, Dave, Ryan comes off as an imbecile in this article. He's a grown man who believes that God is teaching him to run. It doesn't get much sillier than that.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  8. northern light

    Gee now we all know where the religious god was on Friday.....instead of protecting those in the theatre in Colorado he/she/it was training with Ryan......we all have our priorities I suppose.....the choice of any "rational" deity would have been for the film venue......but hey if Ryan wins an Olympic gold medal he can say that god helped him.....while the parents of the children shot in the theatre get to go to a funeral.

    July 22, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • wrong side of the bed

      I can tell you that god was at neither place,as he was with ME when I achieved my second hole-in-one.OK, maybe in my case, it was merely an angel.

      July 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • JDJ

      God is omnipresent so He can be with a runner, but also in the midst of the shooting. God did not create evil, but He does sometimes allow it to take place. At other times, He will specifically contrain the evil. In general, God takes the good and bad choices humans make and uses them to complete His plan. He must allow such choices to be made in order to respect the free will He gave to each human.

      July 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    Sign up all our friends to OLYMPIC Facebook(GLOBAL STAND AGAINST DISCRIMINATION)!
    This will be an Olympic stand for very special people!
    Get in this group everyone!

    July 22, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  10. sites

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    July 22, 2012 at 4:57 am |

    .Predict your many REJECTIONS WITHOUT God particles! 🙁
    .Predict your many ATTRACTIONS WITH God particles! 🙂

    July 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      The name "God particle" came about because it was so hard to find, physicists were calling it the "God damned" particle.

      July 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  12. theothetruth

    What Ryan has is an childlike faith. I am the same way. I'm a Jesus R Us kid I don't want to grow up. Won't say how old I am but I have a son who is Ryan's age, we'll just leave at that. Be blessed and continue to run with God Ryan.

    July 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  13. PraiseTheLard

    Gee... a 29-year-old with the mental capacity of a 6-year-old... we all know that it takes a great deal of intelligence to become a runner...

    July 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Esther Luna

    You go, Ryan!! And, CNN, I am so impressed with the way you handled him without redicule! Thank you!

    July 21, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • sam stone

      When does CNN "redicule" people's religious beliefs?

      July 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Raymond

    Ryan Hall, I praise God for your faith in Him. God is the greatest coach of them all. Allow your complete self to listen to His Holy Spirit for guidance as you run. Let (allow) the Holy Spirit of God to budget your strength. As you run, when you feel tired, ask the Living God, the Lord Jesus, Son of God, to renew your strength. Concentrate on God as you run. Worship Him and praise Him as you run and thank Him when you finish the race whatever the outcome.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Yes, some of god's great coaching moments through history include ordering people to murder women and children.... Go GOD!

      July 21, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • WillieLove

      You donlt know your bible...understand God and read the bible....Not the catholic bible NIV or Revised version.

      July 23, 2012 at 2:00 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.