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Pro Tip: How Marielle Hall Finds the Sweet Spot Between Intensity and Recovery

Olympian Marielle Hall is hoping her grueling training gets her a second crack at the Games.

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All of Marielle Hall’s personal best times have been set in the past two years, which is a promising notion for a 29-year-old woman who’s already made one Olympic team, four world championships, and was an NCAA 5,000-meter champion. But this 10,000-meter specialist isn’t convinced she’s mastered exactly the right formula—the combination of mileage, intensity, and recovery—that will unmask her true potential.

“I’m still figuring out when to do more mileage or less, or which phases of training are going to be most important for me,” Hall says. “And how all of it is going to apply to how I feel on race day. Am I doing too much? Or am I not doing enough? I’m working out that equation.”

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Hall kicked off “take two” of the Olympic year by joining her Bowerman Track Club teammates at a seven-week altitude training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. The group heads to the mountains to prepare for each competitive season—a time to shut out much of the outside world, the stresses of “normal” life, and focus on nothing but training, fueling, and recovery.

As the winter 2021 camp came to a close in February, Hall raced 10,000 meters at a pop-up meet in Southern California, finishing in 31:21. The race was paced by a couple of her BTC teammates, designed to help entrants meet the Olympic standard at the distance (31:25). She got that standard for the second time—Hall had already run 31:05 at the 2019 world championships in Doha. The top three finishers at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials (scheduled to begin June 19 in Eugene, Oregon) who have also achieved the Olympic standard will head to the rescheduled Tokyo Games in July.

Although Hall made the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 10,000 meters, the field has only gotten deeper since then. Her 2019 world championships mark stood at No. 8 on the all-time fastest U.S. women’s list this winter, but the rankings are constantly being rewritten as the country’s growing talent collides with advances in shoe technology, leading to ever-faster performances. She also has the Olympic standard in the 5,000 meters (15:10), with a personal best of 15:02 set in 2019.

“Each year the intensity of my work has been ramped up and that’s been a significant challenge,” Hall says. “But it’s to meet the kind of caliber of athletes and the performances that are being put out right now. It’s fun, but it’s a huge challenge.”

After a year of upheaval caused by the pandemic, Hall prefers to break goals down into smaller chunks instead of overwhelming herself with what might or might not happen in 2021. Like many athletes, she’s learned to focus on what she can control, like doing her physical therapy exercises, keeping up with gym sessions, staying in touch with her parents and her sister, and being present with her teammates.

RELATED: Need Physical Therapy Now? Tele-PT to the Rescue

“Sometimes it’s better to focus on the day-to-day instead of looming countdowns that can be mentally draining,” Hall says. “How can I get the most out of the day? I run the checklist of things each day that I know I need to do to be successful and then if I do those things, it will lead to good competitive experiences.”

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