CBN.com - Endurance. Webster defines it as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. Few know that better than Olympic athletes.
Ryan Hall represents the United States in this year's summer games in Beijing in the marathon event.
In the words of Ryan Hall:
"My career is basically about pain management. It's how much pain can you handle for how long can you handle it."
Ryan says his desire to run comes from God.
"God kind of grabbed my heart just one day when I was driving around this lake right here and he really just put it on my heart to run around it. It's 15 miles around the lake and I was 14-years-old. It's not something that most 14-year-olds try and do or have a desire to do. He really put it on my heart to give it a shot and it was that day that I decided I wanted to act on this vision that God had given me. That's what hooked me and I've been running ever since."
Click the player to watch the story that aired on CBN's The 700 Club.
Athleticism runs in the Hall family. Ryan's dad, Mickey, played minor league baseball and his younger brother, Chad, won the cross-country national championship his senior year in high school.
Ryan's senior season proved successful as well, as he took home the California state track title in both the two-mile and 1600-meter events. While his performance earned him a scholarship at Stanford, Ryan says the Olympics was always his goal.
"Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an Olympian. What does it take to be an Olympian? I was dreaming about the Olympics. I was dreaming about competing against the best guys in the world. I was just a dreamer. I had big aspirations going into college."
With all the accolades and the bloodline of athletic greatness you might expect an easy path but Ryan's run toward Olympic gold hasn't always been paved with promise. While at Stanford, Ryan suffered leg injuries which hampered his performance.
"I was really frustrated with the way running was going. My identity had kind of been caught up in my running. I remember I'd wake up in the morning and the first thing I'd think about was, 'how's my running going?' I'd be like, 'oh it's not going well,' and the rest of my day wouldn't be very enjoyable. I was really really down, as close to depressed as I've ever been. I remember going out for some runs; trying to do a training run. I would just start it and then just stop and walk, and walk back home. My spirit was just crushed because who I was was collapsing."
Ryan attended a church service that changed his perspective.
"I'm sitting there in church and the guy who is speaking calls me up, tells me to stand up and gives me this Bible verse. It comes from Psalms 20 and it says that He will give you the desires of your heart and that we will sing for joy about your victory and that we will wave our banners high. So he's giving me this prophecy at the very worst moment in my running and my training. It's hard to have the faith to believe that was actually going to happen."
Ryan returned to Stanford and competed well in his junior and senior seasons. This time, he focused on his relationship with God.
"Christ became the center of who I was and where my worth was, and I saw myself as Christ sees me - as a child of God, rather than as a runner whose identity is based on how I'm doing at the time."
Three years later, in 2007, came Ryan's crowning achievement. He set an American trials record at the New York City Olympic time trials. That made him the fastest American-born marathon runner in history. And yes, that qualified him for his first Olympic games.
"What unfolded on November third at the Olympic trials blew my mind away. I just felt amazing during that race. I just felt like I was floating out there. The best way for me to describe it is when David danced before the Lord with all his might - unashamedly. That's kind of what I was doing out there. I was just praising God. It was a very special moment for me; one that I'll always remember. More so because I know what God took me through to get me to that time."
Ryan says winning gold would be great, but he's simply looking forward to running the race.
"I know that I can live without a gold medal, but at the same time it would be very exciting to win the gold medal and my goal is simply to praise God with every step I take. God says my grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness."
"What I've experienced is that He gives me enough strength to get me through each and every race I've competed in and to get me through those tough moments when you're hurting. One of my favorite verses comes from Proverbs. It says, 'though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again.' That describes my journey, just falling and getting back up. It's a big part of marathon running. It's a big part of our spiritual walk. It's a big part of life - just learning to get back up."