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Ryan Hall, Olympic Runner, Claims God As His Coach

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Ryan Hall as he crosses the finish line at the U.S. Olympic Men's Marathon Team Trials on November 3, 2007 in New York City.
Ryan Hall as he crosses the finish line at the U.S. Olympic Men's Marathon Team Trials on November 3, 2007 in New York City.

An American runner competing for the gold in the London Olympics claims his only coach is God.

Ryan Hall, 29, listed God as his coach on a standard drug test he gave after coming in second at the U.S. half-marathon championships. When asked by a testing official to name a real person, Hall responded, "He is a real person."

According to The Christian Post, Hall left his previous coach, Terrence Mahon, after the coach questioned Hall's commitment to win in 2010 when Hall was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.

"Once I knew he kind of lost faith in me a little bit, that was a real shifting point," said Hall, according to The New York Times. "My coach has to believe in me. That's the most important thing, probably."

Today, Hall insists he doesn't have a coach outside of God and the inspiration of the words in the Bible.

"I was sick of saying I'm a Christian but not having a desperation for God in my life," Hall told USA Today. "I wanted to need God. I wanted to make my faith more active in my life."

Turning to the Bible allows Ryan Hall's spirituality to help his training according to his wife, Sarah Hall:

"The Bible is not going to tell you how to be a good runner, just like it's not going to tell you how to build a computer. I don't think Ryan is looking at the Bible for a formula, necessarily. There are certain things that God highlights for him that he applies to his training."

Hall's "faith based" training methods include taking a day off every week as a 'Sabbath' from running, improvising training sessions to be more flexible, rubbing anointing oil on his legs at night, and even spacing out his most challenging workouts 3 days apart, a number with great significance in Biblical literature. Hall told The New York Times he simply had to realign himself with what was most important.

“I was a runner who happened to be a Christian. I needed to become a Christian who happened to be a runner.”

It seems these tactics are working in his favor. According to USA Today, last year Hall became the fastest U.S. runner with a time of 2:04:58 at the Boston Marathon.

"One step by itself doesn't mean anything, but you put all those steps together and it's absolutely miraculous what your body can do," Hall told USA Today. "So sometimes I don't even like to think about how fast I run ... because it just seems totally impossible, but it's just a testimony to the amazing bodies that God has given us."

Hall and his wife are members of the Bethel Church in Redding, California and founders of The Hall Steps Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of fighting global poverty.

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