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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 390

Published 12 months ago • 8 min read

Good morning! In the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the myriad parallels between running and life, both of which, in my opinion, can be competitive pursuits for many of us. The idea I’ve spent the most time on is the importance of slowing down. As a coach, it’s rare that I need to kick my athletes in the ass; it’s more the case that I have to encourage them to reign it in a bit, whether that’s slowing down their easy days, dialing it back a bit on their key workouts (or, in some cases, both), getting more sleep, actually taking their recovery days seriously, or scheduling an appropriate amount of down time after a key race. Usually, within a few weeks of buying into this approach, we start to see some improvements: they’ve got more energy for training, they’re hitting workouts more effectively, and/or they’re recovering better between key sessions. Give it a little more time and the real breakthroughs begin to take place: they’re healthier for longer periods of time, training more consistently than ever, enjoying it in a way they haven’t before, and performing at a higher level than they ever thought possible.

The competitive pursuit of life tends to work in much the same way. Most of us, myself included, have been wired to work harder and keep pushing to get where we want to go. And for a while, this is the right approach: you need to hustle hard for a while so that you can get up to speed and build necessary momentum. But eventually you realize that it’s not sustainable, especially as you age. Yes, you still need to go hard, but probably not as hard, or as often, as you think. Over time, usually through screwing it up a few times, you learn to accept that if you want to stay in the game and enjoy what you’re doing that you need to slow down, shut off, and/or step away so that you can really bring it when it matters most. Being “on” all the time, pulling all-nighters, working through every weekend, or never going on vacation aren’t signs that you’re more committed to your craft, they’re indicators that you’re probably overdoing it and not prioritizing things in the right way.

Whether it’s running and/or other areas of our life, the truth is most of us would likely benefit from slowing things down a bit. Zooming out even further, it’s worth remembering that in both running and life we’re trying to play the long game. It takes years to really develop as an athlete, understand what you’re capable of, and realize your potential. The same holds true for cultivating meaningful relationships, building a career, gaining influence, or doing anything else that is truly worthwhile. The good shit takes time—it won’t happen overnight. Don’t let the smoke and mirrors of social media cloud your perspective. I share all of this not because I’m perfect or have it figured out—far from it, in fact. I need the reminder to slow down as much as everyone else. (If you know someone who also needs this reminder, here's a link you can share with them.)

Before we dive into this week’s collection of Quick Splits, I’d like to thank my longtime partner Tracksmith for their support of my work this month and throughout 2023. Tracksmith’s Spring Collection is in full swing and a bunch of new styles and colorways were recently released. The Twilight Tank has long been a staple piece for me and what I raced Boston in just a couple of weeks ago. It’s lightweight with a streamlines fit and understated design that makes it perfect for when you want to get up to speed. If you buy anything on Tracksmith.com this month, use the code MarioGIVE and you can get free shipping on your next order and 5% of your purchase will go to support the Friendly House in Worcester, Massachusetts, an organization that is near and dear to me.

OK, that’s it for the opener this week. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— Take two minutes if you haven't already and listen to/watch this clip of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo frame "failure" and for a reporter that asked him a lazy question. Antetokounmpo’s response is amazing and the composure and poise with which he delivered it is just as admirable.

— I really enjoyed this Runner’s World UK interview with 25-year-old Emile Cairess, who debuted in the marathon two weekends ago with a 2:08:07 sixth-place finish in London. Cairess is talented, no doubt, but he’s also got a refreshing perspective on the sport and an appreciation for running as more than a competitive pursuit. “A lot of people get too tied up in the exact pace of an easy run, a steady run,” he explains, “when all that really matters is that it’s easy or steady. I have my routes and I know how far they are, so I do know my pace in the end, but while I’m running I’ve not really got any idea of the pace. I think it’s good for you mentally to be a bit disengaged sometimes, rather than feeling stressed about things that don’t need to be stressed about.”

This is a great read from two-time podcast guest, coach, and author Steve Magness about our responses to different types of stress and what we can do about them. My biggest takeaway was that our environment influences/affects our actions. (And it’s important to remember that our environment doesn’t necessarily mean a physical place. It can also be digital and encompass everything from the content we consume to the people we interact with.) Magness ends the piece with a few simple “rules” for how to better make our environment work for us.

— Fun fact about me: I’m what they call red-green colorblind. I’ve had this my entire life and have been asked more times than I can count what certain colors look like through my eyes. From now on I’m just going to send this article by Andy Baio for The Verge to people. “As a result, some hues of green and red look like each other, converging on a muddy brown,” he writes. “Other colors, like shades of purple and blue, bright orange and green, or even pink and gray, can look very similar. People with other kinds of colorblindness will confuse different colors.”

— Last week my friend Billy Yang told me about Harry Mack, a ridiculously talented music artist best known for his freestyle raps. Here’s his schtick: Mack will ask strangers on the street if he can freestyle for them. He tells each person to pick a random but challenging word, which he works into the rap. He’ll also notice details in his orbit, like a design on someone’s shirt, or a landmark in the area, and weave those in too. It’s entirely improv, but his delivery is super smooth and the words he strings together always make sense, which is what makes it so impressive. Here are my two favorites (I went deep down the rabbit hole): 1. Mack freestyling with a guy named Dae, who he met on a sidewalk in Arizona. 2. Kendrick Lamar trying to stump Mack by throwing words at him. These will blow your mind.

— Admittedly, the headline of this Outside article about Canadian marathoner Cam Levins is what got me to click on it, but the profile itself, written by Paul Gains, is well done. Gains gives a good look into the career moves Levins made that led to his breakthroughs at last summer’s world championships and this year’s Tokyo Marathon. “Moreover, battling with the leaders into the last mile and winding up fifth in Tokyo’s World Marathon Major field also validated—for the second time in eight months—that he could legitimately call himself a world-class marathoner,” Gains writes, “something he had been working toward for the better part of a decade.”

— A big thank you to Goodr for their continued partnership in 2023. These sunglasses are just the best! I wear them to run, drive, walk the dog, and pretty much anything else I do outside. They don’t bounce, they don’t slip, they’re polarized to protect your eyes, and they come in a nice range of styles and fun colors. They’re also the most affordable performance shades on the planet with most pairs costing only $25 to $35 bucks a piece. If you want to support the morning shakeout and treat yourself to a pair of goodrs, head over to goodr.com/MARIO or enter the code MARIO15 at checkout to get free shipping on your order.

— Last Thursday on @theAMshakeout’s Instagram Live feed I co-hosted the tentatively named “Training Talk Thursday” with Nicole Bush, a former pro runner, national steeplechase champion, fellow coach, and the brains behind all the new stuff we’ve been doing on Instagram the past few months. It was a lot of fun! (You can re-watch it right here.) We discussed last week’s Training Tip and then took a few questions from followers who were tuned in. We’ll do it again this Thursday—I’m not sure what time yet—so make sure you’re following @theAMshakeout on Instagram if you’re not already.

Training Tip: Throw in some short surges!

Running long this weekend? At the end of every mile—or every 7th to 10th minute if you run by time—“surge” for 30 to 60 seconds at half-marathon race effort, then return to your normal training pace (which should be about 90 seconds per mile slower than what you could race a half-marathon at). The idea with the surges is to quite literally keep you on your toes and give you something to think about every few minutes. What should you be thinking about? Pay attention to how you’re moving: Make sure you’re staying tall and maintaining a healthy tension through your torso, consciously quicken up your cadence a bit, and focus on covering ground as smoothly and efficiently as possible. These cues will carry over to the rest of your long run and help you avoid falling into a slow, sloppy slog. You also get the added bonus of sneaking in some quality running without the strain and stress of a hard workout.

Workout of the Week

The Inverted Ladder. I love ladder sessions. It’s a great feeling mentally when you start coming back down the ladder and know the longest intervals are behind you. This workout is not that and that’s exactly the point. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“I’m pretty happy but the job’s never finished.”

—Rocky Hansen, high school senior at the Christ School in Asheville, NC, after breaking 4 minutes in the mile this past weekend for the first time in his life. (You can watch the race in its entirety here.) I love this perspective and think it’s applicable to so many different areas of life: recognize achievement when it happens, SLOW DOWN and take some time to celebrate your wins, but also don’t allow yourself to rest on your laurels.


That’s it for Issue 390. If you enjoyed it and want to support my work, please forward this email to a few friends and/or share the web version far and wide. If you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, you can sign up to receive it for yourself 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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