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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 394

Published 11 months ago • 8 min read

Good morning! We’re coming off a holiday weekend here in the U.S. and I kept my work hours to a minimum yesterday. (Christine and I did go for a late-morning run in Pt. Reyes, one of my favorite places on the planet, and I shared a few photos to Strava if you want to check them out.) Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— A big thank you to my longtime partner Tracksmith for supporting the newsletter this month (and my work throughout 2023). The brand’s Spring Collection features a colorful refresh of some of my favorite training staples, including the Twilight Tank, which is my go-to for racing and when I want to run fast. It’s incredibly lightweight, subtly designed, and super breathable. I’ve worn a version of it for years and will be rocking it this summer at aptly named Tracksmith's Twilight 5000 in San Francisco and/or Oakland. (Not sure if I’m racing or pacing yet but I’ll definitely be at both events!) Whether you're stepping down in distance from a spring marathon, focusing on lowering your 5K personal best this summer, or trying to improve your speed before a fall marathon cycle, these races bring out the best of the running community: competition, camaraderie, and fast times under the lights, no matter how fast you’re trying to go. You can find the full 18-city schedule here. Also, if you buy anything on Tracksmith.com, and you’re doing so for the first time, use the code MarioNEW to save $15 on your order of $75 or more. If you’re already a Tracksmith customer, 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).

— I recently sat down with my good friend and three-time podcast guest Simon Freeman, the co-founder, editor, and publisher of my favorite running magazine, Like The Wind, for the second installment of our yet-to-be named quarterly conversation, which you can listen to wherever you get the morning shakeout podcast or at this handy link. An excerpt of this exchange can be found in Issue #36 of LtW, which comes out later this week. In this one, Simon and I talk all about coaching: our experiences with being coached and what we got out of them, the different forms that coaching takes, the impact a coach can have on an athlete, and a lot more. Please let me and Simon know what you think by replying to this email directly or hitting us up on Instagram: @theAMshakeout and @simonbfreeman.

This profile on Canadian Cam Levins, the fastest North American marathoner in history, is a great read that provides deep insight into how he and coach Jim Finlayson rebuilt their approach from scratch following a disappointing 72nd-place finish at the Tokyo (Sapporo) Games in 2021. Post-Sapporo, Levins has shone, finishing fourth at last summer’s world championships in Eugene, and running 2:05:36 to finish fifth at the Tokyo Marathon earlier this year. So how’s he done it? Here’s the CliffsNotes version: a greater emphasis on strength-training, a return to running high volume, not as much marathon pace work as he’d been doing previously, and spending a decent amount of time in a simulated home altitude environment. Surely someone will read this article and think, “That’s what I’m missing too, so that’s what I’ll do!” But it’s important to remember that Levins is an experiment of one, just like the rest of us.

— The main question leading into the men’s 1500m at Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat (which you can watch in its entirety here) was whether or not American Yared Nuguse, riding an 8-week win streak into the race, could take down reigning Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway. The short answer: not yet. Nuguse raced well in his DL debut, closing strong over the final 100 meters to nab second in a new PB of 3:33.02, but Ingebrigtsen was once again too good for everyone else. The 22-year-old Norwegian, who has been racing at a world-class level for what seems like forever at this point, ran with his customary confidence from the front. When the final pacemaker stepped off the track at 1000m, it didn’t seem as if anyone else in the field was willing to challenge Ingebrigtsen, who had everyone right where he wanted them: in the rearview. Over the final circuit he did just enough to keep himself in front of everyone else, and with a little less than a 100m to go, he tightened the final screw with an authoritative surge and that was the end of that. Even a hard-charging Nuguse, who went by his On Athletics Club teammate Ollie Hoare with 20 meters or so to go, couldn’t close the gap as Ingebrigtsen cruised to the win. And while Ingebrigtsen looked unbeatable yet again in this one, I think the 23-year-old Nuguse came away with some newfound respect from the Norwegian, not to mention the confidence that he can close with anyone in the world if he’s there with 100 meters to go. Both of these guys are still super young and I, for one, hope this is the start of a rivalry that lasts for years to come.

— I haven’t read Kara Goucher’s memoir, The Longest Race, yet, but this recent Runner’s World article from Sarah Lorge Butler highlights some of the details of Goucher’s earnings throughout her career, which she discloses in the book. Goucher, who signed NDAs for all of those contracts, told Lorge Butler that she decided to include the numbers as a way to help improve transparency and fairness on the professional side of the sport. “I just felt like it was very important to have those numbers in there,” she said. “How do you know what to ask for if you have no idea what anyone else is getting paid?” I’m not sure if Goucher will get in trouble or not for breaking her NDAs but kudos to her for putting all the dirty details out there for everyone to see, showing just how hard it is to make a living as a professional athlete in the sport if you’re not a world-beater. A lot’s changed since Goucher first went pro in the early 2000s, sure, but the secrecy, discrepancies, and straight-up injustices around many contracts hasn’t evolved all that much. It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, these revelations help move the needle.

Here’s an excellent post from my good friend and three-time podcast guest Brad Stulberg about moving beyond the illusion of work-life balance and more toward a framework of integration and separation, i.e. when to let work and the rest of life flow together versus when to draw the line and set boundaries. “Turning it off” has long been a struggle for me and I’ve found this approach to be useful in helping me prioritize my pursuits, accept that I can’t do it all, and generally allowing me to maintain my sanity. “It can be hard to prioritize, no doubt,” writes Stulberg. “But it’s a wonderful feeling when you give yourself permission to go all-in on what matters to you most, even if that means leaving some other stuff behind. What matters to you most will change over time. Your job is to evaluate these shifting priorities and adjust as necessary.”

— A friend introduced me to the band Darlingside last week and I went deep down the rabbit hole listening to studio tracks, live shows, and whatever else I could find on YouTube and Apple Music. I appreciate the simplicity of their instrumental and lyrical approach, as well as the fact that all four guys play and sing together around a single mic whenever they perform. It’s just beautiful music that’s enjoyable to listen to. The description of their NPR Tiny Desk performance from 2018 says, “This is the perfect introduction to Darlingside, right here” and I couldn’t agree more. So, here you go. (Here’s one more: Acoustic version of “Hold Your Head High” from the Paste Studios, also in 2018.)

Training Tip: Do something different!

As runners, many of us are creatures of habit. We have our favorite distances and disciplines and tend to follow a familiar schedule year in and year out. Many marathoners do just that: they run 1-3 marathons a year—oftentimes the same one(s)—and might “tune up” with a half marathon a few weeks out from race day. While some of this might be comforting and convenient, it’s a sure path to a plateau. If you identify mostly as a marathoner, spend a chunk of the year working on your speed and racing 5Ks and 10Ks. This will help you to improve upon your weaknesses and develop more range as a runner. On the flipside, if you tend to stick to shorter events, try training for a half marathon—or even a marathon—and work on increasing volume and building better endurance, which will help improve your ability to maintain faster speeds for longer periods of time. Or, just get off the roads completely for a little while! Training and racing on the trails can give you a welcome respite from the watch, challenge you in new ways, and help you become a stronger, more well-rounded athlete. Lastly, if you enjoy reveling in the woods and tackling trail races of increasing distance because the thought of searing your lungs with speedwork and putting your ass on the (start) line scares the shit out of you, hit the track every once in a whole and/or add a road race or two to your spring or summer schedule. Doing so will supercharge your fitness, improve your speed and efficiency, help you become better at pacing, and teach you to push past what you thought was previously possible.

Workout of the Week

Sit-n-Kick Ks. One-kilometer repeats are a pretty standard workout for many runners training for the mile all the way up to the marathon, and no matter how you slice ’em, they tend to make for a tough session. You can do a handful of them at a really hard effort with a generous amount of recovery between intervals to blow out the tubes or rack up a lot of reps on short rest to build specific strength for longer distances. Either way, a kilometer is long enough to demand your full focus and it’s hard to fake your way through a set, whether you’re doing two reps or twenty. One of my favorite variations of this workout is to run most of the interval at 5K or 10K pace and “kick” the final 200-400 meters to simulate the end of a race. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“I feel that especially when it’s chores I don’t want to do, like taking out the garbage or doing my laundry. It‘s in the act of having to do things that you don‘t want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.”

— bell hooks, in a 1995 conversation with John Perry Barlow for Lion’s Roar, talking about why she doesn’t have an assistant


That’s it for Issue 394. If you enjoyed it and want to support my work, the easiest way to do so is by forwarding this email to a few friends who might also like it and/or snapping a screenshot and sharing it on social media. If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time and want to receive it for yourself first thing every Tuesday morning, subscribe at this link.

Thanks for reading,

Mario

P.S. Thanks to Nicole Bush, who has been helping me out with social media content strategy and creation, @theAMshakeout Instagram page is a lot more active these days. Be sure to give it a follow if you’re not already! (Also, tune in to Training Talk Thursday, live on Thursdays at 6 PM PST, where we discuss that week’s Training Tip and take questions from anyone who has them.)

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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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