Abby Hall podcast episode

Setting Audacious Goals And Developing Process With Abby Hall

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Developing risk tolerance, vulnerability, and patience
  • The relationship between outcomes and your process
  • Getting through the plateaus in progress
  • Returning to failures
  • Reframing success and failure
  • Abby’s John Muir Trail FKT attempts

Guest Bio:

Abby Hall is a CTS Athlete and professional trail and ultrarunner for the Adidas Terrex team. Abby is also a talented graphic designer who is responsible for the design elements in the 2nd edition of Training Essentials For Ultrarunning. 

Guest Links:

Show Links:


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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Corrine Malcolm (00:07):

My conversation today is with CTS athlete and professional trail and ultra runner for Adidas TES, Abby hall. Abby’s also a talented graphic designer. And if you have the second edition of training essentials for ultra running by Jason co you’ve seen her work because she is her responsible for making it so beautiful. You can find Abby and her husband Cordes running around their home in Flagstaff, Arizona, or exploring the mountains from their van. Abby had a stellar 2021 race season, capping it off with a second place. Finish at the highly competitive UTM B’s CCC. I wanted to have Abby on to talk to her about her relationship with setting big audacious goals, like an unsupported fastest known time attempt on the John mu trail. That’s 223 miles long, and how goals drive process and intention in our day to day life and training. Let’s dive into our conversation and see what we can learn. Abby hall. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Abby Hall (01:00):

Thanks so much, Karen Malcolm,

Corrine Malcolm (01:03):

All the formalities for those who don’t know, I’m actually at the Hall’s house right now, I’m sitting in their dining room, Abby’s back in her office. So we’ve, uh, completely split the house in half for this interview. And I could not be more thrilled.

Abby Hall (01:16):

It’s pretty great. Fortunately, I can’t hear you echoing so far, so good so far

Corrine Malcolm (01:20):

So good. We’ll get Cortis. You’ll probably hear Cortis in the background here in a little bit. We’ll have the hall family on. Um, but for those who are listening, who might not know, you might not know who you are or where you’re from or your history. I’m just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’ve been up to.

Abby Hall (01:40):

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I, um, the trail, an ultra runner for Adidas TerraX, first of all, is maybe the context, uh, in which we’re talking here today. Um, and that’s become a big part of my life, the last, um, you know, five years or so, especially the last few years, um, I’m kinda working backwards, but, um, yeah, my husband Cortis and I recently moved to Flagstaff Arizona prior to that. We were in Boulder, Colorado, which is really where I got into the sport. Um, and prior to that, I grew up running track and cross country and school and, um, really never, never thought I was going to continue to have the sport, um, play the role in my life that it is. So it’s been an interesting journey for me of not a, not a, um, logical or obvious path, um, leading me to where I am now, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Abby Hall (02:31):

Um, we, yeah, when we moved here, um, actually shortly before, um, I had made the decision to kind of go more all in, on my running as my job at the moment. But outside of that, I also do design work. And so that’s, um, been a career of mine that I’ve, you know, done for the last 10 years alongside everything else. But, um, I’m at a place now where I’m kind of picking and choosing what projects I’m taking on in a way that that’s with running and, um, helps me maintain the balance of priorities. That’s right. For me at the moment.

Corrine Malcolm (03:03):

Yeah. So for those of you who own the second edition of training essentials for ultra running by one of our favorites, Jason coop, um, this is the Abbey hall that we’ve both been shouting, shouting her name to the rooftop store because she did all the beautiful graphic design and layout and formatting, um, for that behemoth of a book. So she’s very, very talented. So if you don’t have the book yet, you should probably buy it, maybe not for our writing, but for the beautiful graphics that Abby created for us. So I do

Abby Hall (03:34):

Love how those, those turned out and it was a really fun project to work on. Yeah.

Corrine Malcolm (03:39):

But one of the main, like the main reason I think that you and I wanted to get on and record is that we’ve kind of been tossing this idea back and forth. It actually was spurred via an Instagram story that you posted. Um, I believe of a friend of yours, who’s a school teacher in San Francisco or an acquaintance of yours. Who’s a school teacher who used a project that you did during the em, um, showed a film from it to her students and used it to kind of set up this, this idea of goal setting. And it was really cool. I think we both shed tears over the post that you were PO putting up. And so that, you know, kind of why we wanted to start this conversation. And, um, I think what came out of that was this idea that setting goals can be really, really dumb, daunting. Um, but from your very start in the sport of trail and ultra running, you’ve kind of been trans fixed by a really big goal being the JMT or the new polio, which is 223 miles in the Sierra, um, massive, massive daunting project. How, like, you know, can you walk us through setting your sites on a goal like that because I think that’s hard to conceptualize.

Abby Hall (04:45):

Absolutely. Um, yeah, the John Muir trail goal is truly what got me into the sport. Um, I was living in Los Angeles at the time, went and climbed Mount Whitney and was kind of curious, oh, what’s that trail that ed news on the backside of Whitney and, you know, you’re getting back, you’re kind of intrigued by the trip you just had and you start looking things up of like, what’s the fastest time someone’s done at this and okay, it’s called fastest known time. And, oh my gosh, there’s a whole lot of people who do this, and this is a crazy video or article. And I just started kind of falling down this fascinating, a whole of all things, John Muir trail. Um, and I was at a place in my life where I, you know, running was what I did after work every day, um, in the trails of Los Angeles and around silver lake.

Abby Hall (05:35):

And I didn’t have any community around running at the time. It was a solo thing I would go do at night, um, that I mainly loved because I had done it through college and it was just something I loved that ran in the background. Um, but I was at a place where I was really looking for more of a community around getting outside around the outdoors, around running. And I think that really what’s, what’s interesting about when I first came up with this goal of, oh my gosh, I want to set the fastest known time on the John Muir trail. I think when I really look back at that, I was more curious about becoming the kind of person and that would set the FK T on this. Then I was about actually attaining the time itself. I was at this place where I was just intrigued by, you know, I remember listening to interviews with like Jen Shelton, you know, talking about like her times out there and, you know, just these horror stories and epics.

Abby Hall (06:34):

And like, that was what I want wanted. I just wanted to be thrown into the thrown off the deep end into all things ultra running. And I think it’s, yeah. So looking back at that, it became, you know, a huge, a huge driver in my life pursuing this. I decided to move because of it. I first thought, okay, maybe I’ll move to the Eastern Sierra. I ultimately landed on, I’m gonna move to Boulder, Colorado. And, um, you know, like the drive to find a community around those things, being a big part of choosing Boulder, but, you know, I did what any other, uh, not no, no guidance, no coach first time ultra runner would do, which is signed up for my first ultra in June, my second ultra lie and went for the JMT in September.

Abby Hall (07:23):

So, uh, you know, I was pretty eager. I was really eager and really hungry and it should come across as no surprise to anyone listening to this, that I had a total epic out there. I brought my, um, early boyfriend at the time now has been told him I’d buy his ticket to California. He came with me and, um, helped me make it a supported go. And I, I bailed probably 35 or 40 miles in. So it was extremely short-lived. Um, and I think, you know, looking back largely it was because the plan had no contingencies, it was, it was plan a FK T or bust. The minute I was off pace, I was suddenly not making it to my support in time, not having enough food in time, not having sleeping gear in time. And so it was, you know, it left me a tiny needle to thread and I think was one of the first times that actually, no, not one of the first times, cause this happened plenty of times in high school, in college with running as well.

Abby Hall (08:18):

But one of the many to times that running or a goal just totally broke my heart left me totally blindsided. Oh my gosh. And it left me at this, you know, crossroads of, okay, do I just kind of pretend this never happened and never talk about it and you know, tail between my legs just, you know, continue on quietly or do I like lean into trying to figure out, well, what would it look like if I wanted to still become better at this? So it went from this very emotionally driven goal to becoming a little bit more tactical and, um, left me with this, this curiosity of, of what improving at these things might actually look like and what that path would look like.

Corrine Malcolm (09:02):

Yeah. That truly sounds like trial by fire, right. Just like, or baptism by fire, just all, all in. And it’s this very emotional, like I have, I’m doing this thing, I’m winning this thing. I’m running distance and having a goal that’s so, I mean, it’s a, it’s a solid goal, but it doesn’t seem like it’s supported by process. And so I’m wondering how you, like, through that experience or through, you know, that experience and the culmination of all the experiences before that, how has that shifted your idea of like, okay, I’ve got this gold that I need to establish support for the goal, be it process or values oriented thought processes. Like what has that looked like? How has that been reshaped?

Abby Hall (09:45):

Well, I, so I think goals drive process, and, you know, maybe the, a better way of labeling it is kind of this idea of our personal evolution, right? I mean, and I, I, I say personal evolution because I think, you know, these, these goals have become really intertwined with my own evolution as a human being, whether it’s working through ideas like confidence, you know, feeling like I belong working through fear, um, anxiety being a fierce competitor or fierce cheerleader of others, you know, the are all things that span far beyond running. And I think, you know, I think sometimes we, we being like the, the collective we in our sport have this desire to definitely kind of try and divorce who we are as a person from, you know, our, our athletic accomplishments. But, and I totally understand the idea behind that, but I think for me running has really transformative driver of growth in those personal areas, myself, my relationship with myself, you know, me as a friend, as a partner, my emotional growth.

Abby Hall (10:46):

And so I’m really glad I’ve let it spur on growth in those areas of my life, because, you know, not just limited to when I’m crossing a finish line or meeting a goal or not meeting a goal, because I think that the goal really, really drives process and that best process really, um, happens when we are showing up as our, our truest selves. So like, it’s, it’s becoming far beyond, you know, like I look back at who I was as a, a person when I was going for that goal and the things I’ve improved at, you know, I, I, I, my workout splits, aren’t probably that much better. My volume might be a bit more, but I am a very transformed person in some of those areas. I mentioned, you know, confidence, fear, things like that. And that’s where the growth occurs. And that’s where also like the most true process lives. In my opinion.

Corrine Malcolm (11:37):

Yeah. It seems like a, a chicken or the egg, right? Like, is it process is goals, goals is process and it kind of goes around and around and around. And there’s this idea that I think it’s thrown around a lot. I see it on Instagram. I see it in people’s particularly from like messaging from athletes in general is the idea that, you know, process over outcome. And the idea being that if you’re focusing on the process, I think there’s emotions tied up in that generally speaking, as opposed to like a, a very like rigid goal that you’re more likely to achieve that goal by doing all these little things. And I, I think that’s probably because it’s more holistic in general. And so when it comes to using these goals, like for like the way you look at it, using these goals to establish process, I think sometimes that seems really, and once again, I’m using my favorite word, anyone who’s been listening to this podcast, my favorite word is nebulous establishing process feels really nebulous. Like what does that even look like? What does that even mean? So as your goals are dictating that, like how have you been able to take a step back and be like, okay, to reach these things, this is how I need to orient the process.

Abby Hall (12:40):

Yeah. I mean, I think the way I look at it is probably twofold. It’s like equal parts, um, vision and trust. So there definitely is this, you know, large part of my brain that is always, um, visualizing. And, and I, I mean that truly in a literal sense, like I spend a lot of time on my runs, visualizing not just like a goal, but even like how I want to carry myself, who I wanna be, how I wanna talk about running and in these things like that, that are a part of kind of my personal vision board, if you will, of like what I wanna do in this sport. Um, but that, that is, is nothing without a, like a very, uh, even keeled trust in this overarching process. And a lot of that for me, has involved, you know, people that I trust. So for me, like my coach, Jason coop, but also like, you know, bringing in people like teammates and PTs and, you know, just strength coach and whatever other pieces make you a whole athlete, a whole person, you know, that’s, those are the kind of pieces to me that like, kind of even out this idea of, you know, um, yeah, trusting the process, a process that’s not just led by you and what you think your path there should be, but by some, some chosen experts that you, that you wanna bring around you.

Abby Hall (14:07):

Um, I think, I think that my kind of, you know, original idea though, that I spoke to of this, this first time with the JMT goal of trying to be the kind of person that would set this F K T know, I think over time in this sport, that, that goal, that, that way of phrasing, it started to break down for me because it wasn’t serving me anymore because it made me feel like I needed to be more like someone else, you know? Um, and it, it might have worked, I think, for getting me into the sport and having this very imaginative idea of what it meant to be this like epic ultra runner. But I, you know, I, I, I guess I alluded it to it earlier, but finding a way to be yourself while pursuing your goals. Um, for me, that’s a huge part of just that process being actually embedded in your life, not this external layer.

Abby Hall (14:59):

Um, and, you know, I think a huge piece here too, is how we let the outcome then impact the process. So, you know, after a, whatever you wanna call it, failure, misstep somewhere in between massive success. And you go back to your quote, you know, day to day process, like, how are you able to, to let that let an outcome speak back to your process? So we, I think we always talk about it, you know, of like process leading into outcome, but how does an outcome impact our process and, you know, being vulnerable is a big part of, you know, weaving in that circle of people you trust too.

Corrine Malcolm (15:35):

Yeah. I think it’s, you know, outcome can be, can totally derail you, or it can inspire or ignite something different in you or, or shape, you know, kind of the person that you become or, or lead you to a more authentic version that yourself. And so I think what’s really interesting is that the JMT would of something that you went after very early, right. And you’re running with almost a, you know, a fervor and, uh, maybe, maybe not the clearest of kind of like mind in a way, but then, you know, pandemic happens. All of our racing goes away. We have an opportunity to do some really cool things. All of a sudden JM T’s back on your radar. And it’s this you’re, you know, in a lot of ways, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve evolved as a person and as a runner in between those two attempts, what, what did that look like going into round round two? Like both, both, you know, the good and the bad and getting out there and, and experiencing the whole thing this time around.

Abby Hall (16:33):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, um, I definitely kind of upped the ante by choosing to go unsupported this time. So I thought, okay, well, if I couldn’t complete it last time supported, I know this time I’ll do it unsupported, I’ll try it with a way heavier pack and, uh, try and do it. I by myself and, um, actually I, do you think that that like idea of, about being the Annie was an interesting part of it, like, you know, just psychologically when I think of things that contributed to that second round, but, but anyways, uh, yeah, I, I was able to complete it. I ultimately missed the, um, unsupported fastest known time by a little bit six hours, which sounds like a lot, but over F four, four plus days felt like, you know, little time out there. Um, and, you know, I think for me, I mean, it was obviously finishing that was a huge, a huge milestone and accomplishment for me, um, in, in ways that I would classify primarily as this like emotional confidence, you know, uh, like able to, um, kind of, yeah, just like it was, it was very re reflective of my relationship with self in a way that I have carried forward with me in some, some ways that, you know, since returning to racing, um, has been really helpful for me.

Abby Hall (17:51):

Um, and I, I think also by still, ultimately not achieving that FK T it continued to root this down as something I will continue to be returning to over the years. And it feels a bit like a mirror to me in that way. And I, I think my first attempt was four years before the last I’m like, okay, if I go for it again, and another couple years, it’s just like my college, you know, it’s like every four years I go check in and see where I’m at,

Corrine Malcolm (18:19):

Try to

Abby Hall (18:20):

Graduate. Yeah. Yeah. But, um, but you know, I think for me, what was really interesting about that project is that I did not get the FK T yet it, it resonated with people far more than other F KTS or other accomplishments I’ve done. And I think that it is this idea of pursuing a long term goal that resonates with people and feeling like, you know, that, that idea of returning to something that has previously been a failure, uh, I think is interesting, I think is inspiring. And, um, I’m glad to see it resonated with people, you know, like the, the teacher on Instagram who tagged me that I did not know them, but they, they posted that. And, um, since then I’ve had a couple other teachers messaging me. Oh yeah. I totally use that idea too, and came up with a worksheet for my students. And I think I’m gonna go talk to some of these classes. Cause I think, you know, it’s, it’s, especially like in, in this instance with young people, I think a really interesting thing to see, okay, what does, what does it look like when you miss a goal and you choose to return to it and why does that matter? And I think it, it, it clearly hits a chord with a lot of people. So that’s been really interesting to see.

Corrine Malcolm (19:28):

Yeah, I watched, I watched the film, it was very auspicious timing, I guess. I, uh, I, my own FK T had been derailed over and over again, and I was like, it’s not gonna happen. And then your film came out and I watched it and I was like, we’re gonna make it happen. Even if I miss it, we will go, I just need to go run around this giant circle and see what happens. And so I think, yeah, it did, it resonated with lots of people. And I think one of the cool things coming out of it, as you, as you mentioned, is that you didn’t, you didn’t technically hit this goal of, of breaking the FK T you came very, very close and that, that, you know, as we said, that outcome could derail you or could define you. And instead, I think coming out of that and into a race, what I noticed in, in your confidence in your running was that you kind of what you had to do out there as far as like push yourself and kind of go up against this unknown. I think that’s, you’ve been able to translate that into your running. And I’m wondering if you can speak to that a little bit about like, kind of lessons learned from that experience and how you’ve been able to translate that to more traditional goals. I E getting on a start line and trying to be the first one to the other end of the race.

Abby Hall (20:42):

Absolutely. I think, um, for me, a, a huge driving factor that came out of that and into my season was risk taking. And I think doing something that long by myself, knowing I could continue to take care of myself and put one foot in front of the other, um, I think establishes this baseline of, okay, I know I can do some hard, long things and I can keep putting one foot in one of the other, even when it’s very, very hard. And I, I tested that at the time, my outer, most limit of that. And I think returning to racing has felt, um, you know, like I’m able to take on a lot more risk and that’s actually one thing, you know, coop talks about in his book with, with goal setting of, you know, how much risk are you willing to, to take on, um, you know, when determining kind of the achievability of your goals.

Abby Hall (21:32):

And I think like CCC was a good example of that. Like I took on a lot of risk with how I wanted to race that and, you know, I wanted to be in the top three there and ultimately finish second, but my, my goal was kind of, you know, okay, I wanna arrive of halfway ish through in SHPE lock UN unsure if I can continue to pull this off and have be riding the line that closely. And I don’t know if I would’ve, if I would’ve raced with that kind of tactic prior to taking something on like Newum, POEO J and T. So I think that that’s been, um, you know, a big, a big driving force is just realizing, you know, okay, I can go out, go into a race, take some risk and maybe fall, fall short and, you know, still get across that finish line hopefully, um, or I can risk and maybe it go, maybe it actually, maybe I actually put, blow it off. So that’s been a cool thing to kind of realize, um,

Corrine Malcolm (22:32):

Yeah, I think it’s super inspiring. I I’m, I’m definitely a, well, I’ll just outlast everyone style of racer and it’s, it’s scary to, to lay it out there like that. I think it’s really cool that JMT something so different from that was able to elicit and kind of provoke that, that change in how you see yourself as a, as a runner and as a, as a person. Um, I think goal, goal settings really different, not, not necessarily really different. I think, goal setting for those big projects or, or as, as you said, almost like a lifestyle goal, um, or at least what was a life goal yeah. Is very different than what most of us look at traditionally for a season. And so you’re looking at a, at a pretty traditional season, you know, you’re gonna open it up here in just a couple weeks, um, at trans grand can area, which is super exciting. I’m wondering how you’ve approached this season, both personally and with your coach for, you know, establishing those goals and then establishing the process around which you are going to kind of act in your day to day in order to, you know, hopefully accomplish, you know, another really, you know, really fantastic year of racing.

Abby Hall (23:43):

Yeah. You know, I think my, my race plans are a lot more meticulous than they used to be in terms of pacing and splits. And that was one thing that we tried at CCC that was, was new for me was, um, was, you know, coming up with very specific splits. I was trying to hit during the race. And fortunately for CCC, I had, you know, the luxury being able to be a out there early ahead of time and really establish, okay, what are those splits for me personally? Um, but you know, I think that’s, that’s one style I’m gonna be bringing to like more of my races this year. Um, and I think, you know, I think that partially comes from, you know, like when I think about risk, you know, like alternatively, like last year I, I ran Western states and it didn’t take a lot of risks in that race.

Abby Hall (24:28):

And for me, that was kind of a reminder of that tactic. I, I, you know, that I chose to bring to CCC, I think like say I went into Western states feeling like I was expecting, I was expecting things out of the field. I was expecting big blowups. I was expecting this. And I think, I think it’s becoming, you know, I think the competition density is such now that that’s maybe becoming kind of a, a, a dated way of a race looking people are actually just putting together really aggressive, fantastic races, start to finish and to try and hang with that requires, you know, laying, laying out all the cards early. And, and so I think that that’s definitely affected my personal strategy that there’s, you know, there’s not this waiting on seeing how the field shakes out or waiting where I’m stacking up comparing with others.

Abby Hall (25:17):

It really is coming up with what my personal, very specific race plan is gonna be and holding on tight. Um, so I think, I think I’ll, I’ll be continuing to focus on that this year. Um, and, you know, I think returning to CCC, you know, like similar to returning to new Poya, it’s like, I it’s definitely, it feels like a vulnerable thing to, to return to a place that means a lot to you. And, um, I definitely am someone who is, is like rooted lifelong as a deep perfectionist. And so I think it requires a lot of letting go of my perfectionist tendencies to return to a place that’s, that’s really significant to me and, and, you know, trying some new things, hoping to improve on some things, but knowing I may fall short in certain areas and, um, and being okay with, with the differences from year to year. Um, and that’s like, I think for definitely has been testing my vulnerability and, and things as I think about returning there this year. So that’s something I’m excited to kind of work through, you know, speaking to that like emotional, personal life part of it.

Corrine Malcolm (26:27):

Yeah. That, I mean that I’ve been speaking with a lot of people about this recently on many platforms about this, about comparison, right. I just talked to Neil palace about that as kind of part of this like psychological flexibility thing. That comparison is very prevalent in all of our lives and that is comparison to others, but it’s also comparison to yourself to past, to past self, to future self, to the last set of intervals you did on that same trail to that race that you’ve run before. And I’m wondering how have you been looking at comparison in your life and, and trying to hopeful mitigate comparison when it comes to both, both, you know, the training sessions during your week, but also when it comes to yeah. Returning to a race, like actually returning to transparent can area you’ve, you’ve been there before too. Like, what is like, how, how are you evaluating comparison so that it doesn’t, it doesn’t hinder you? Cause I think comparison can shut us down in a big way.

Abby Hall (27:23):

Yeah, absolutely. I think, um, for me being present and thinking about the idea of presence has been a really, um, really big part of this and approaching, you know, knowing that while I might be returning to the same race, the path there is different, every time is kind of a way I’ve been thinking of it, you know, um, in the same way that when we go run a trail, like the conditions are always different. The, the, the exact footing we take is a little bit different. Like I like thinking of it that way. I’m someone who thinks a lot in metaphor, so this is a helpful visual for me. Um, and, you know, I think, yeah, but I think presence is a really big part of that because I really think that, I don’t know, I think presence has a way of kind of setting this foundation for our future and, you know, um, like how we, how we, how we approach moment to moment really, really sets the tone for what we’re building towards.

Abby Hall (28:18):

And I think believing that has been a way of kind of, um, tethering my mind from not only going too far in the future, but also looking too far behind me as well. Um, and so that’s been something I’ve definitely been placing an emphasis on. So, you know, perfect example of this is, you know, place you and I went yesterday for a workout. Like I had a crappy workout there last week, went back yesterday and had a better workout. And, you know, I’m, I have another crappy one there next week. And it’s, you know, by, by not getting too caught up in, in what’s come before, or what’s still to come, I think, um, allows me to kind of ring the best, my best self out of, out of each moment, but it definitely requires a lot of mind practice to do so. Um, and that’s something I’m very much trying to actively cultivate, um, and kind of reading up on right now. Um, like I’m, I’m reading this book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in anything we’re talking about here, the practice of ground in this by Brad Stolberg. Um, and it’s like kind of one of those books that I can’t get through more than a half dozen pages without like, just like scribbling things and writing notes in my phone, because it’s, um, yeah, just kinda speaking to this very idea of, of how groundedness, you know, impacts our future. Yeah.

Corrine Malcolm (29:37):

I, it’s a book that is on my, my bedside table at home and a book that I’m really enjoying. I like to read like four or five books at a time. I’m, I’m terrible. I never get through things cuz I’m always reading something else, but it is it’s really, really good. And he talks a lot about, um, what I talked with Neil palace about, uh, two weeks ago with that, with that kind of the, a C T the or act therapy, um, kind of with acceptance and commitment and, um, comparison and psychological flexibility. So lots of things to dive into, um, there, if people are interested in that, I think something interesting and this kind of, I think speaks to, um, both, both comparison, but also like I I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with you. I’ve got a lot, I’ve got a lot of insider knowledge on happy hall, but um, not dirt, just insider knowledge. There’s no dirt on the halls. They’re just wonderful. But, um, one thing I’ve admired being in training camps with you being at races with you, um, being in your home here in Flagstaff is that you, the way you approach day to day, both training and life and, um, you know, fueling and yoga, everything is just, it seems that it, it comes with such intentionality. And I’m wondering if this is something that is just inherent to your perfectionism or if it’s something that you’ve, that you’ve actively cultivated over the last, you know, decade.

Abby Hall (30:58):

I think I probably a lot of that might be accidental. Um, but first all thank you. Um, but yeah, I think a lot of that might be, um, partially accidental, uh, partially related to how I think of things in very emotional terms. So I do have a, you know, propensity for being very emotionally attached to my goals for better or worse. Um, and I think a big byproduct of that is, you know, um, like I’m constant. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m constantly visualizing what, you know, like what I want my life to look like, what I want my days to look like, what I, how I wanna feel in certain moments. So it’s not just like visualizing an outcome visualizing, you know, how I wanna be able to carry myself or how I wanna be able to, you know, work through a challenge. Um, and so I think that, that, you know, spending a lot of time visualizing has maybe, uh, yeah, connected my, you know, made my, my day to day feel more intentional, feel that connection to my goals.

Abby Hall (32:04):

Um, but you know, I think like the 10, the tendency there is for it to all sound very future minded. Um, and I think like the, the, the terms, you know, success and failure and goals, don’t like don’t quite capture at all for me. Um, because ultimately, you know, I’ve probably had a couple races or goals where whatever that have been ultimate, total failures and a couple that have been like total successes most of the time, it’s somewhere in between. So learning to approach that, that in between area with, um, a sense of self love and some grace and, um, and also some drive to figure out how I wanna steer things forward from there is kind of, you know, um, I don’t know, just a way of thinking about it that I think has, has added some, some purpose to my day to day, how I choose to like create habits around, you know, navigating that gray area, if that makes sense.

Corrine Malcolm (33:06):

Yeah. I’m kind of, I’ve been talking with lots of athletes and coaches and humans. Um, it seems that like many of our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. Like the things that make you thrive and succeed, um, find success can also be the, your ultimate, like, you know, downfall as well. That can be competitiveness that can be, you know, living in that gray, whatever it is. I’m wondering, how do you, have you noticed that duality in that as far as like, you know, this is my strength, but I need to like be cognizant of how it can be, you know, too much of too much too often.

Abby Hall (33:42):

Totally. I mean, I think a huge example of that, you know, um, coop, one thing coop talks about in, you know, with goal setting is this idea of, I want is not really part of an outcome. And I that’s something I have had to self course correct on so many times because I, I think for so many of us a goal comes about because we want a certain result and just the way it’s ultimately set up, you know, I think creates this result, set, result, mind outlook from, from the get go. And so breaking free from that a little bit and coming up with like a blend of process and outcome goals that, that support a long term vision has been a more, has been a helpful way of me, um, properly channeling my emotional attachments to both goals and outcomes. So, you know, um, I think early on in my desire for results was a lot greater than my ability to be patient and present with where I was actually at as an athlete. Um, and so, yeah, I think a big, uh, a big thing has been kind of, you know, not only properly coming up with, in structuring goals, but also so coming up with a lot of patience in between, because there’s ultimately, you know, it’s ultimately mostly comprised of various plateaus and, and there’s, there’s not these huge leaps that, that we, that we think there will be. It’s, it’s really series of, of small actions and habits and things that build on each other over, you know, long periods of time and consistency. So,

Corrine Malcolm (35:27):

Yeah. Yeah. I feel like I’m my version of that is I lean into like, just the knowledge that I’m checking the boxes like that. That’s how I default I’m like, okay, I’ve got this big goal. Well, the little goal is like just doing the little things, like kind of check, check, check, I’m a list, I’m a list person. I’ve got my list. I’ve got my planner back in a room back there and I check all my little things off. I make lists every day. It’s cute. Yeah. I know it’s adorable. It’s pink. Um, but I’m wondering, what does that look like in practice for you? Cause it, it does feel like this, like yours feels you’re okay, I’m a scientist, you’re an art person, right. You just like bleed creativity. How does, so I, I default to, you know, checking the boxes, my Excel doc, whatever it might be. How, what does that look like in practice for you day to day, as far as being able to, to course correct when you need to or get through what you need to,

Abby Hall (36:21):

Yeah. I, I do a lot of writing just personally kind of journaling. Um, and I think that’s been a huge part of kind of just seeing where my internal state is at. Um, and, and also kind of maybe sharing the, those things too with, you know, like with Cortis or with someone I’m running with, or with coop and kind of, you know, kind of testing these ways, I’m thinking about something and seeing, you know, kind of how that matches up with my, my intention going into something. Um, and I think that for me, like my, my internal state and my emotional state feels like a, a metric that I might read, like my CTL and training peaks, where my, my internal life and, and how I’m arriving at a start line in, in mind and spirit is, is something that I’m, I’m really cognizant of.

Abby Hall (37:14):

And, um, you know, like this year, I, I know kind of certain gaps that I need to work through personally, before I’m arriving at starting lines and it’s things, you know, like, like managing fear of blowing up transparent can area again, or, you know, how I, how I manage in a field of like, amazing, like a deep field of amazing women. Like, you know, how, like, those are things that I’m, I’m constantly thinking of just as much as I am kind of measuring metrics of my workouts and where I might be on a physical performance level. And so thinking of it for me that way has been, um, been freeing. And I, I think I have, I have kind of goals in both departments, so to speak, but they also speak to each other. Yeah,

Corrine Malcolm (37:58):

I like that. I think journaling is a, is a, I know often overlooked form of, of, of list of, you know, just like checking in with yourself. I’ve encouraged a lot of athletes now actually to, we add a note to the end of the week and it’s their week end note and it’s for them and I’ll, I’ll go in there and read it if they want, if they want me to. And it’s, it’s for them to, to kind of just evaluate their week or talk about their week. It’s always there for them. And it gives ’em a place to have it with all their training. And I think that’s been a really effective way to kind of just like check in with themselves. So journaling, yes. More journaling for everyone. I agree. Um, but I guess wanna kind of, one of my final questions, I think is this reflection on the, the pandemic and the reflection on this moment of pause this pause that led to a lot of really cool things for many of us, a lot of big breakthroughs for many of us. And I’m just, I’m wondering, you know, that was a moment to reflect and a lot of people questioned their, why, why do I race? Why do I run, why do I do this? And I’m wondering, kind of reflecting on your career up to this point, your entry into running to, to who you are now, how has that, why changed and grown with you as a person?

Abby Hall (39:10):

I think when I started off in this sport, my why was, um, very much tied to, you know, proving to myself that I could actually do these, these things that I’d wondered my whole life, if I could do, um, and having gritty experiences and, um, big journeys and being part of this cool club of people that I looked up to and read about called ultra or others. Um, and I think over time, that’s, that’s shifted very much to celebrating, um, who the kind of pursuit of these things has, has, and is shaping me into being, um, and this, and then in turn sharing that notion of self-love and with the self, with other people, um, I think that’s been a really freeing thing for me to realize is that, you know, like sports totally break us down and make us totally vulnerable. And, um, what, what it reveals is, is ultimately an already really good thing. You know, we are by, by getting to these start lines and, and being vulnerable enough to try something is, uh, is a beautiful thing and worth celebrating.

Corrine Malcolm (40:28):

I love that. I do think that you wanna get to know someone, you, you wanna know their default setting, it’s you like see them 80 miles deep into something, or 120, 20 miles deep into something, cuz it does it, it makes us vulnerable. It exposes all of those strengths and weaknesses. So I think that our sport is very, very beautiful in that way that we have this opportunity

Abby Hall (40:50):

And that’s what makes our community so cool too. That’s like what the glue of our community is in so many ways. So that community, that first appealed to me, you so much, you know, I think the way we all support one another in our lows is, is what makes that community special and worth trying to be a part of yeah. To be a part of trying we’re

Corrine Malcolm (41:10):

Actively. Yeah. So if you’re, if you’re a cyclist listening to this, cause you are listen to Adam P’s podcast, uh, on the other weeks become an ultra runner. It’s it’s a really good time. It’s a really good time. Um, we’ll let you, we promise. We promise. It’s totally fine. We eat snacks in the woods. It’s very fun. Great. We cry sometimes on the trail. It’s it’s totally normal. Yeah. Um, okay. So I’m gonna ask you kind of some summary questions that I like to ask everyone. Um, I think it’s just kind of, kind of cool to collect this, this thing at the end of every episode. And you’ve already alluded to Brad Spielberg’s, um, book on groundedness, which I think is an excellent re reference for people all link it in the show notes. Um, but what is, is there anything else that you’ve read, watched or listened to recently that you think our audience who have hopefully enjoyed this conversation would find like, would find meaning in,

Abby Hall (42:02):

Um, practice of groundness is definitely a big one and that’s the main book I’m reading right now? Um, I would in addition say, um, we would just watch a nice documentary Netflix called the river runner. Um, and that’s been, that was a really interesting watch about a, um, whitewater kayakers, you know, return to sport, um, after, after some serious health problems and, and seeing how, um, seeing how he navigated things like vulnerability and reframing, um, was something I found really admirable. And, um, I also just love watching other, um, maybe you could use this word niche, other niche, sports, you know, watching someone else’s world of, of epic things. There’s also just some beautiful outdoor shots in it of insane rivers that they’re running. So it’s, it’s a good watch

Corrine Malcolm (42:56):

Of insane, insane, scary rivers. I’m sure. Um, there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in that sport. I think that’s a, they’ve got some interesting, interesting psychology, um, that runs through their sport that we could probably bring in to alter running. Um, this is one of my favorite questions that I get to ask people. And it’s kind of a reflection of, of, of where you are now versus, you know, where you were when you got into the sport. And so I’m wondering if there’s something that, you know, now that you wish that early ultra a or even, even Abby from before 20, 20, JMT no Noma polio like that. You, that you wish that like now, now, you know, this, you wish you could go back and tell that version of Abby like, Hey, this is what you need to know.

Abby Hall (43:39):

I think a big one would be, um, early on in the sport. And, um, and this is still something I’m constantly trying to work through. I think it can be so easy for me to see failures as these parameters of successful. We can be, um, of kind of these bumpers of, okay, I failed, you know, okay. I’ve had a few rough hundred milers, so hundreds aren’t for me. Okay. So that means this is what I’m left with to be good at. And that’s just not how it works. You know, I think, I think that there’s so many people that are capable of wildly successful things often just maybe aren’t vulnerable enough or patient enough to, to stick with something through multiple failures in a row. And, um, that’s something that I always love when I see someone do. And I think it’s, it’s something that’s so rewarding in our sport to watch is knowing when someone struggled with something repeated times and then they, they finally get that finish in or they finally, you know, are able to, to perform to their potential. And so, yeah, I think just not, not seeing those, those missteps or failures as these parameters that they feel like these block aids, they might feel like in the moment, um, is something that I would go shake my younger self shoulders and say, um, you know, yeah. I think that, yeah, just kind of back to the idea of patience, there’s, you know, these big plateaus and just being PLA patient enough to stick with those, those plateaus is such a huge

Corrine Malcolm (45:11):

Part of it. Yeah. Someone recently, maybe this is the episode of Neil as well. Someone will tell me if I’m wrong. Um, was that they’re not plateaus, they’re false summits. Okay. So they’re, you’re gonna be there for a little bit, but it’s a false summit. You’re gonna, you’re gonna get over the top of it eventually. Right. And be so happy.

Abby Hall (45:27):

Right. And like, we might feel like we’re in this plate to, or fall summit in the day to day, many days in a row, but ultimately still can be growing in the big picture, you know, growth isn’t linear. So that’s, that’s something that yeah. Is a freeing beautiful thing to remember as well.

Corrine Malcolm (45:44):

Yeah. Super, super freeing. So if people are super intrigued with what you’re up to with, um, also the film that got put out, where can people find you, if they wanna learn more about you or you’re running or what you’re up to next.

Abby Hall (46:00):

Yeah. Um, you can check out what I’m up to day to day on Instagram. I’m pretty active on there. My handle is Abby dot K dot hall. And then, um, my husband Cortis and I repurposed our old web website into a blog Abby and all spelled out Cortis is C O R D I S. And, um, yeah, we, we post some blog posts in there from time to time, as well as like YouTube videos and things like that, that will sometimes link in there. Um, so there’s a few different mediums we’ve got chosen, but, um, I think if you go to my Instagram, I think I’ve got a link in my bio to, uh, to the new PO, um, video that we’ve talked about a couple times

Corrine Malcolm (46:38):

In this episode. Yeah. And we’ll, we’ll link it in the show notes. It’s beautifully done. It’s you’re gonna be inspired to go chase something huge after watching it. So we’ll get that linked in the show notes. Abby, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a pleasure.

Abby Hall (46:52):

Thank you. I really enjoyed beyond here. Thank you.

Corrine Malcolm (46:55):

Yay. Let’s go run. Yay.

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