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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 387

Published about 1 year ago • 9 min read

Good morning! I’m back from vacation and home for a few days before heading to Boston later this week. Next Monday I’ll compete in the 127th running of the Boston Marathon. It will be my 12th road marathon and sixth Boston. I ran the race for the first time 15 years ago at the ripe old age of 25. It was one of the last races I competed in before my mom died unexpectedly less than three months later at the far-too-young age of 50. I finished 51st overall that day and she was so excited that she wouldn’t shut up about it for several weeks afterward. (Meanwhile I was embarrassed and pissed that I went out way too fast, blew up in a big way, and missed breaking 2:30 by less than a second a mile—thankfully I’m mature enough to laugh about that now, and do so regularly, in fact.) Ten years ago, when the bombs went off near the finish line, I was following the race on Twitter from a Starbucks in San Diego because Christine and I got married two days before. It’s the only Boston Marathon I haven’t attended in some capacity since I watched it up close for the first time in 2003, exactly 20 years ago now. I get rattled any time I think about that. Five years ago was the epic weather year when Yuki took it to everyone from the start and Des finally won the big one. I finished 83rd that day and passed about a thousand people along the way. It was one of the best races I’ve ever run and an experience I’ll never forget.

What will this year’s edition hold? I have no idea but I’m excited to find out. It will be my first marathon as a 40-year-old, which feels significant for some arbitrary reason. I’m not quite as physically fit as I was the first time out 15 years ago but I’ll be taking more experience, a better perspective, and a lot of gratitude with me to the start line on Monday. I didn’t realize the importance of those things back then, especially the last element, and I just feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful to have this opportunity, an able and healthy body to take advantage of it, and the support of so many who’ve helped make it all possible for me.

I’ve got some targets I’m going to try and hit on Monday, no doubt, but I’m most looking forward to having a day out there with a number of people that I care deeply about, from my main training partners Levi, Mikey, and Fernando, who I’ve shared many miles and moments with over the course of this training cycle, to the 12 athletes I coach that are also competing, countless friends, a number of current and former teammates, as well as many of you. (Oh yeah, and that Kipchoge guy too.) It promises to be something special.

If you want to follow along from afar or give me a shout from somewhere along the course I’ll be wearing bib #1595. I’m appreciative of all the interest, support, and notes of encouragement many of you have sent me these past few months. It means a lot, gives me energy, and fills me with excitement. Thank you.

OK, I’ve got a rapid fire list of things to run through this week. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— I’ll be taking part in a couple shakeout runs this weekend and I’d love for you to join me if you’re in town! On Friday the 14th we’ll be rolling from 903 Boylston Street in Boston at 9 AM. The event is co-hosted by Marathon Sports, New Balance, and other vendors. The plan is to run an easy 4 miles or so. There will be shoes and products to demo and free Feetures socks to the first 100 people who show up. I’m told that some members of Mark Coogan’s New Balance Boston squad will also be in attendance! On Saturday, I’ll be at Tracksmith at 285 Newbury Street in Boston. The run starts at 9:15 AM and there will be 3 and 5-mile options. Please RSVP for it here. I’ll have morning shakeout logo stickers on me at both events so please don’t hesitate to ask me for one!

— Chelsea Sodaro is a friend of mine and previous podcast guest. She’s also the reigning Ironman world champion and one of the bravest people I know. The way she opened up recently about the mental health struggles she experienced before and after the biggest win of her athletic career is raw, relatable to many, and worth a read. “As the endurance world figured she would be basking in glory,” Matt Futterman (another previous podcast guest) writes for the New York Times, “she was, in fact, wondering how she would compete again — or even make it through the day.”

— I really enjoyed this candid interview Kyle Merber of The Lap Count did with world championship silver medal sprinter Marvin Bracy. Bracy opened up about the behind-the-scenes business side of track and field in a way I haven’t heard from another top-level athlete and the entire exchange is worth a read over your morning coffee. “Everybody deserves their money. Let me tell you the realest thing I’ve ever heard,” Bracy tells Merber. “This is all because me and Fred [Kerley] were actually working together throughout this whole deal process. We started this at Worlds. We started talking twice or three times a week. It was like: ‘Okay, this is what’s going on with me. What’s going on with you?… Okay. Fred, I can’t do shit until you figure it out. So you keep calling me and asking me but when you decide, we can go.’ If Fred takes a deal with Nike, I’m going to ASICS. If Marcell stays with Nike, I can go to PUMA. We worked this tirelessly along with our agents and we figured it out. He told me, ‘Listen… This sport would be much better if everybody was getting their money.’ And it would be. You have some guys out there running for nothing. If I told you what I was making, you were probably making more money than me in the last three years.”

This is a great profile on South African coach Ans Botha, who is over 80 years old and still at it. Botha has been coaching for 55 years, has guided some incredible athletes (including world record-holder and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk), and also serves as a role model, supporter, and advocate for other female coaches. “We always have to remember that we don't work with robots,” she says. “We work with people. You have to prioritise the human element.”

— My favorite band of the past several months are the Hermanos Gutiérrez. I’ve linked to some of their stuff here before but this Tiny Desk concert captures the two brothers in their element, jamming with one another on their guitars as if no one else is in the room. I often work to their music since there aren’t any lyrics. When I’m out running by myself the rhythms of “El Bueno y El Malo” and “Hermosa Drive” (not included in Tiny Desk set) are usually on repeat in my head and get/keep me in a good groove. (Note: I don’t wear headphones or listen to the actual music when I run, it’s just playing in my mind.)

— I’m excited to share the third installment of the Pillars of Performance podcast series! This week’s episode, which you can listen to wherever you get your podcasts or at this handy link, is with Dr. Justin Ross, an avid endurance athlete and licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in health, wellness, and human performance psychology. In this conversation we bust some myths about sports psychology, unpack what it means to be a mentally tough athlete, discuss how to approach goal-setting and performance standards, and a lot more. I’ve been using Justin’s performance psychology training plan on Final Surge (it’s also on Training Peaks) for the past several weeks and it’s been helping me sharpen some of my mental skills in the leadup to Boston. I really enjoyed this one and took a lot away from it and I am confident that you will too.

— A big thank you to my partner New Balance for supporting the newsletter again this month (and my work throughout 2023). On Monday I’ll be racing Boston in the new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a racing shoe more. While the original and v2 versions of this shoe were both great, the v3 is next level with a reengineered upper and a propulsive carbon fiber plate sandwiched between a couple layers of lightweight, responsive foam. I’ve worn these puppies on multiple long runs and for two half-marathons thus far this spring and they’re super smooth when you get up to speed—pretty much the perfect long-distance road racing shoe. Snatch ’em up for yourself now and be ready to rip come race day. They’re available at your favorite run specialty retail store or on newbalance.com (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

— Lastly, thank you to everyone who wrote me with feedback on last week’s “Going Long” interview with Sarah Gearhart, author of the new book, We Share The Sun, about Patrick Sang, the legendary coach of Eliud Kipchoge and other distance-running superstars, and the inner workings of his training group based in Kaptagat, Kenya. Long story short: I’ll be doing more of this transcribed style of interview in the coming months as a healthy number of you seemed to really enjoy it.

Training Tip:

It happens all the time: We finish up a long run or tough workout and rush straight to the car, head into the house and jump right in the shower, or worse, pull out our phones and start scrolling through our social media feeds to see what we missed while we were out. In this mad dash to get on with our day, we often miss key fueling opportunities, skip the all-important maintenance and self-care, and neglect to properly reflect on our workout. The solution? Take 20 (minutes, that is) after your run and perform a post-workout routine that will set you up for success in your next workout—and beyond. Here’s how to do it: Nail the nutrition in the first 5 minutes. Don’t overthink it. Make yourself a simple snack consisting of a couple hundred high quality calories to consume within the first half hour or so of finishing up. The main goal here is to kickstart the recovery and repair process as soon as possible. For the next 10 minutes, make some time for general maintenance. Use a massage stick, foam roller or therapy ball to get into your tight spots and promote blood flow, and/or perform a set of lunges, hip and spine rotations, and other mobility exercises to help reduce soreness, lessen injury risk, and set yourself up well for the next day’s run. Finally, spend 5 minutes reflecting on how things went. How did your run or workout go? How did you feel? What did you do well? Where can you improve? These are just a few of the myriad questions you should ask yourself, reflect upon, and/or answer in your journal for at least a couple minutes after you finish. Doing so will go a long way to making your training more purposeful and productive.

Workout of the Week:

Mile Repeat Progressions. One-mile repeats are a bread-and-butter session for distance runners prepping to race 5K, the marathon, or anything in between. It’s not uncommon to target a specific intensity and do a bunch of them at the same speed, e.g. 3 x 1 mile at 5K pace with 3 minutes recovery between reps, 5 x 1 mile at 10K pace with 2 minutes recovery between reps, 8 x 1 mile at 1/2 marathon pace with 60-90 seconds recovery between reps—you get the idea. Every once in a while I like to mix up the intensity and recovery a bit to work on both stamina and speed while also keeping my athletes more engaged throughout the workout. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“Steady, steady.”

—Bill Rodgers, 4-time Boston Marathon champion, when I asked him for racing advice in 2021. (This is going to be my mantra on Monday.)


That's it for Issue 387. If you enjoyed it and want to support my work, please forward this email to a few unsuspecting friends and encourage them to subscribe at this link.

Thanks for reading,

Mario

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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

Discover what’s possible through the lens of running with training tips, workouts, and other bits of goodness from coach Mario Fraioli. Every Tuesday morning, Mario shares his unapologetically subjective take on things that interest, inform, inspire, or entertain him in some way.

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