April 2009 Chad Bonham Ryan Hall Excellence Going the Distance Olympic Marathon

FCA Resource Excerpt: Excellence (Ryan Hall — Olympic Marathon Runner)

The following is an excerpt from FCA's recently published book, Excellence, part four of a four-book series on FCA's four Core Values: Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence.

As Ryan Hall's relationship with Jesus has grown, so has his understanding of excellence. Part of his early struggles as a runner were based on the identity crisis that often takes place for those sports competitors who have highly measurable templates for success.

"The world's definition of excellence is just based on performance," Hall says. "As soon as you're not performing, no one wants to talk to you anymore in the media, and it's easy to get down on yourself. It's all wrapped up in performance. It's like building your house on the sand. It's very changing and fleeting, and eventually it's going to be gone, because no one is always on top of their game.

"But when you find your identity in Christ and in what He's done for you, it's the unchanging, sturdy rock that you can always stand on," he continues. "You can have a much healthier perspective on yourself and in life in general and in where your hope lies. When I'm not performing well, I lose my hope. I lose my joy. I get down. I get depressed. But when you find your identity in Christ, that's unchanging. No matter what you do, you can't mess that up."

"I feel like the thing I've done best is that I've just gotten back up from all of the lickings I've taken, both physically and spiritually."

Another one of Hall's favorite Bible verses is found in the commonly quoted Philippians 4:13: "I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." But instead of resting solely on that promise, he prefers to back it up with Philippians 4:12 — a lesser-known Scripture that adds greater context: "I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content] — whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need."

For Hall, the aspect of contentment is a foundational key to excellence because it opens the door to endurance and a never-give-up attitude.


Ultimately, endurance for Hall — both physically and spiritually speaking — is all about picking himself up. As a kid, he always pondered what it would take to be an Olympian. Now that he has achieved that lofty goal, he remains humbled by the responsibility attached to such a title.

"It's not like I feel like I'm so great or that I've done anything that special to deserve to get to the Olympics," Hall says. "I feel like the thing I've done best is that I've just gotten back up from all of the lickings I've taken, both physically and spiritually. I'm a pretty black-and-white person. I'll try to live the best I can; and then I'll mess up and fall, and I'll get all down and upset with myself. I've learned over the years not to let myself get as emotionally down when I mess up, and I try to pick myself up off the ground quicker after making a mistake."

Throughout the process, Hall has clung to the encouraging message found in Proverbs 24:16: "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin."

"I love that verse," Hall says. "It really inspires me because I feel like it summarizes a lot of my physical and spiritual journeys to this point. I'm definitely not perfect by any stretch."

Hall admits that the quest for godly excellence can seem overwhelming at times. That was certainly the case when he first contemplated competing in marathons. But one thing he has come to understand as truth is the fact that excellence cannot exist without endurance and that endurance can only come through a relationship with Christ.

-- Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence are all available at fcagear.com.

Photos courtesy of ASICS America Corp.