Good morning! I’m mentally and emotionally tapped out and just don’t have it in me today to think through things here quite like I usually do. I’m otherwise fine and will be back next week with a recharged battery and more to share/say. Let’s get right to it.
— A big thank you to my longtime partner Tracksmith for supporting both the newsletter and podcast this month (and my work throughout 2023). I recently bought myself the new Strata singlet and cannot believe how light this thing is—I wore it for a workout last week and it’s the most comfortable singlet I’ve ever put on. The design is understated and timeless but every little detail is dialed in tight. I’ll be racing in this thing for years to come. Speaking of races, Tracksmith's Twilight 5000 is underway! 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. I’ll be at the upcoming events in San Francisco and Oakland and you can find the full 18-city schedule here to see if there’s an option near you. 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).
— Courtney Dauwalter stole the show at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run on Saturday, shattering the women’s course record by an eye-popping 77 minutes. Courtney broke the tape in 15 hours, 29 minutes, and 33 seconds en route to a 6th-place overall finish. It was, for my money, the greatest ultra-trail performance of all-time. Not only is Courtney the baddest ass of all-time, she’s a humble champion as well, as evidenced in this post-race interview with the fine folks at iRunFar.
— This episode of the Rich Roll Podcast with basketball legend Chris Paul is one of the best conversations I’ve listened to in a long time. There was so much I loved about this one, from how CP3 opened the show by asking Rich about ultra-endurance sports and the training/commitment involved, to the special relationship he shared with his grandfather throughout his life, to taking ownership and responsibility for your actions, to the importance of work ethic, and a lot more. I was super impressed by Chris’ curiosity, honesty, and vulnerability. There are a number of great takeaways from this episode but I’ll leave you with this one: “When I think about change, I just think about stacking days,” he says. “Just keep stacking days. As long as you keep stacking days I promise you will see the change. One my coaches used to always say, ‘Everything you want is on the other side of hard.’ He had another one, which I think I said in the book, ‘Reps remove doubt.’”
— Another podcast I enjoyed this week was this one from Citius Mag with Patrick Sang, coach to Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon, and a whole bunch of other heavy hitters. Sang is a sage, he’s stoic in his approach, and he’s helped his athletes realize incredible success in athletics and in life. “We think of ourselves as people on a journey,” he explains. “So when you get to your first station, that's not the end of the journey. We still have to walk some more distance. That is their mindset and it's my mindset because if I dwell on the past, then we'll end up in that station. We still have many to cover, and I’m happy that they still trust me to cover their distance and be with them.”
— Mumford and Sons singing “House of the Rising Sun” live at the New Orleans Jazz Fest with Celisse and Trombone Shorty a little over a month ago is worth eight minutes of your time today. I don’t have many words this week as it is but this is a performance that’s hard to describe anyway, so just listen to/watch it for yourself. Stunning rendition of a popular folk song that had me smiling the entire time.
— Andy Cochrane recently profiled me for Trail Runner magazine (calling this newsletter “a cult classic for running nerds,” which I appreciated) and you can read it right here.
Training Tip: Fuel on your fast days!
Discussions around fueling and hydration strategies often happen in the context of the marathon, both for the race itself and during the key long runs leading up to it. These conversations are important, no doubt, since dialing in your fueling strategy and ensuring that you get in enough calories, carbohydrate, fluids, and electrolytes can make or break your race. What many runners don’t talk about, however, or even practice much, is fueling before and during challenging workouts that aren’t long runs and don’t have anything to do with the marathon. Before your next interval session, hill workout, or tempo run, aim to get in a couple hundred easily digestible calories and carbohydrates that will provide you usable energy during the workout. Sipping on a sports drink and/or taking a gel in the 30 minutes prior to starting your session can go a long way. During the workout itself, plan to take a gel or two (between intervals or in the middle of a tempo run is good from a timing standpoint), or sip from a carbohydrate and/or electrolyte laden sports drink a few times throughout the workout. Not only will this help you maximize performance during the workout (and maintain hydration levels), but by feeding working muscle, it will help kickstart the recovery process coming out of it.
+ When it comes to these training tips, I practice what I preach: My go-to fuel before and during workouts comes from my partners at Precision Fuel & Hydration. In the hour or so before I start running, I sip on PF60 drink mix, which gets me 120 calories and 30g of carbohydrate (and it’s easy on the stomach). During intervals or a tempo run, I’ll sometimes pop a PF30 gel mid-workout and/or sip on more of the drink mix if I’m at the track and can have my bottle close by. Here’s an article from Andy Blow at PF&H on why, how, and what to eat before exercise. Olympic Trials marathoner and registered dietician Starla Garcia also talked about the importance of pre-workout fueling on the podcast back in April and offered some great advice for how to do this efficiently and effectively if you don’t have a lot of time before workouts and/or have a sensitive stomach. (And if you’re interested in trying Precision Fuel & Hydration products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)
Workout of the Week: Crazy 8s
It’s hard to go wrong with 800m repeats. Do them fast enough and you’ll stay pretty sharp; do enough of them and the strength gains will take you a long way. An example of a pretty standard session many coaches will assign their athletes consists of six reps at 5K pace with 2 to 2-1/2 minutes recovery in between, or maybe 10 reps at 10K pace with two minutes recovery between the two-lap intervals—you get the idea. These workouts will help you build the specific strength you need for race day, practice getting your pacing down, and improve your overall efficiency. Every once in a while, however, I like to throw my athletes a curveball and have them switch gears halfway through, running the final 400m 4-5 seconds faster than the first. Learn why (and how) right here.
The bottom line.
“In truth, programming is a hypothesis. You build out a program, run it, monitor it, and then formulate a new hypothesis based on evidence gained. It is a major error to tilt the table towards weaknesses. We like to polish strengths always and often, while slowly filling in the gaps in deficiencies and voids.”
— Dan Pfaff, legendary track coach, on his approach to programming training for athletes
That's it for Issue 398. If you’re enjoying this newsletter and want to support my work, please forward this email to a few friends, share the web link far and wide, and/or nudge someone to subscribe.
Thanks for reading,
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