Good morning! This issue marks the 400th straight week that the morning shakeout newsletter has landed in inboxes around the world. I have an every-50th-issue tradition of sharing the “State of the Shakeout,” i.e. a look back at the year that was and peek forward at what the future might hold. I’ll do a little of that in the paragraphs to follow but I first want to reflect a bit and remind myself (as well as those of you reading right now) why I started this thing in the first place. “The morning shakeout is a place where I can provide commentary on a topic or simply share links to things I find interesting, whether they’re running-related or not,” I told Andy Waterman in 2016, a few months after I started publishing it. “I’m excited to see how it evolves!” Nearly 8 years later, it’s evolved in some ways, but largely remains the same, which, ironically enough, is what excites me most. It’s nothing if not consistent. At its core, the morning shakeout is my weekly take on things that interest, inform, entertain, or inspire me in some way. It’s also a place where I can share my journey and insights as an athlete, coach, and creator with the hope that it might help someone else on their own path. It provides me an outlet to follow my curiosity and think out loud alongside anyone who wants to listen and/or offer feedback. Sometimes I have a lot to say and share, other times not as much, which I’ve gotten a little better at understanding and being OK with over the years. Reminding myself of all this at least once a year is important because there was a period in time when I fell into the trap of trying to meet the expectations of what other people wanted it to be, which took a lot of the fun out of putting the newsletter out each week. I haven’t been in that place for nearly two years now and am grateful that I enjoy working on this thing even more than I did when the first issue went out to a little over 200 people in late-2015.
As of this writing, just shy of 11,200 readers are subscribed to the morning shakeout, which is nearly identical to 50 issues ago (and the 50 issues before that, for that matter). The hockey stick growth this newsletter experienced for the first five years of existence has leveled off completely and that’s fine by me. The open rate (68%) and click rate (13%) are as high as they’ve ever been, not to mention several email replies each week, telling me that many of you are still interested and engaged, which is what I care most about.
In terms of the newsletter’s structure, format, and cadence, not much has changed despite switching to a new email service provider in March. Last year I tried re-organizing the “Quick Splits” section into more defined categories with a set number of entries in each one but it felt too forced so I abandoned the idea after a few weeks. I like that it’s kind of all over the place, which is reflective of how I find the stuff that ends up in there anyway. The Workout of the Week and Training Tip are stalwart staples in the lineup at this point and I really enjoy putting those together for each issue. In terms of cadence, the weekly rhythm feels right and will not be slowing down anytime soon.
Turning attention to the podcast, I did some things differently with it this year—specifically, publishing episodes less frequently and also making them more thematic—and it’s been a welcome shift on a number of levels. The Pillars of Performance Series with Mark Coogan, Anh Bui, Justin Ross, and Starla Garcia was well-received, and I’ve had a lot of fun sharing my quarterly conversations with Simon Freeman, co-founder and editor of Like the Wind magazine. Right now the podcast is on hiatus for another month but I’m committed to releasing 9 more episodes between August 12 and December 31. I’m working on another series I’m calling “Coach to Coach,” where I’ll be talking about the craft of coaching with one of my colleagues in the coaching community. Not all of the guests will be distance-running coaches, which is exciting to me, and will hopefully be interesting to listeners too. Beyond that, the quarterly conversations with Simon will continue through the end of the year, I’ll have a couple one-off longform interviews in there as well, and maybe an AMA or two. All of that being said, I’m not sure what the future of the podcast will look like after 2023. I’m incredibly proud of the show, as well as the quality of the conversations I’ve had since I launched it in late 2017, but the truth is I just don’t have the same enthusiasm for it that I once did. I’d like to continue devoting more of my working time, minus the 8-10 hours a week that go into making this newsletter as good as it can be, to doing the best job I can for the athletes I coach. One last note on the podcast: Common Ground, the monthly show I co-hosted with Dinée Dorame of the Grounded podcast, did not return in 2023 after an 11-episode run last year. The only reason for that is both Dinée and I got busy with other things and she took a break from podcasting for a bit. Dinée’s show will be BACK this fall, however, and I couldn’t be more excited for her to have the opportunity to work on it full-time. Be sure to check out Grounded wherever you get your podcasts or at this handy link.
OK, this “State of the Shakeout” is already wordier than I wanted it to be so just a few quick shoutouts before wrapping it up: First, to all of you reading this right now! Whether you subscribed to the newsletter seven days ago or seven years ago, thank you for the continued interest, support, and encouragement. It means everything to me. One of my biggest inspirations for sending out this weekly missive is the writer and artist Austin Kleon. In his book, Show Your Work, he wrote, “Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.” That’s all I’m trying to do with the morning shakeout and I’m incredibly grateful that it’s helped me find my people, i.e. YOU. Next, a big thank you to the small team that helps me keep this thing going week in and week out: my right-hand man Chris Douglas, who manages partner relationships amongst various other duties and helps keep me focused and sane, John Summerford, who has edited and produced every episode of the podcast (and is the person responsible for its music as well as the new intro montage), and Nicole Bush, who makes all the cool posts you see on @theAMshakeout’s Instagram feed and also co-hosts Training Talk Thursday with me on IG Live every Thursday night at 6 PM PST. I couldn’t devote the time I do to the newsletter and podcast without support from my annual brand partners—New Balance, Tracksmith, Precision Fuel & Hydration, and Goodr— all of which have missions I believe in and products that I trust and regularly use myself. (On that note, check out this link for discount codes and special offers available exclusively to readers and listeners of the morning shakeout.) I’m incredibly grateful and fortunate to have these relationships, all of which span three or more years at this point. And last but not least, the biggest thank you goes to my wife Christine. She hasn’t seen me on a Monday night since November 16, 2015 and that’s only partially hyperbole. None of this happens without her love, support, and understanding week in and week out.
I think that covers everything of potential interest. If you have any specific questions, just hit reply to this email and ask away. Thank you for welcoming me into your inbox and letting me be a part of your weekly routine. Here’s to the next 400 issues!
— Last week I wrote about how excited I was to watch Nikki Hiltz race at the U.S. Track & Field Championships over the weekend and they didn’t disappoint. Watch the full replay as Hiltz finds daylight with about 75 meters to go in the women’s 1500m final to win the national title in thrilling fashion. Hiltz crossed the finish line in 4:03.10, just ahead of Athing Mu (2nd, 4:03.44) and Cory McGee (3rd, 4:03.48). While everyone else was starting to fall apart in the final meters, Hiltz was holding form and charging hard through the tape. They were positioned perfectly coming into the home straight and went broke at precisely the moment they no longer needed their coin. (If you got that reference, reply to this email with it and I’ll send you a morning shakeout logo sticker in the mail.)
+ The best part of watching Hiltz win is the look on their face when they broke the tape. That picture is worth every word of this journal entry from June that Hiltz shared on social media after the race. “It feels like 2019 again in that I know I can do it,” Hiltz wrote. “I believe in myself so much. And that’s been the hardest thing to come back since then. Just the pure belief. The crazy part is I believe I can not only make the team but I can win the USA Championships.”
— Tracksmith is one of my annual partners and even though they didn’t ask me to share this short feature on Cravont Charleston, who won the men’s 100 meters at USA’s, it’s too timely not to. Charleston, who surprised many with his victory on Friday night, is part of the brand’s Amateur Support Program. That probably won’t last much longer as he’ll likely sign a major contract with a bigger brand ahead of the world championships, but that’s neither here nor there. The feature, written by Andy Waterman and Sheridan Wilbur just a day or two ahead of the biggest win of his career to date, provides some insight into how he became the “King of Consistency.” “You never know what’s going to happen in this sport, but this year I’ve got more confidence in my race plan,” he says. “If I just focus on doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll be ok.”
— Krissy Gear of Northern Arizona Elite lived up to her last name in the women’s steeplechase final, out-kicking and upsetting 10-time national champion Emma Coburn down the stretch en route to capturing the win and a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in Budapest later this summer. Sarah Lorge Butler of Runner’s World wrote a nice profile of Gear after the race, explaining how she took 11 seconds off her personal best to become the sixth-fastest American steepler of all-time. “I couldn’t believe it,” Gear said of passing Coburn down the final straight. “I definitely had like a hiccup moment where I kind of like, felt really bad and didn’t want to do it. It’s Emma f -- king Coburn. I’m like, I want to see Emma win.”
— This week’s newsletter could just be a roundup of stories and races from USA’s—you can watch many of the replays, or at least highlights, on NBC’s YouTube channel— so I’m only going to mention one more: the men’s 800-meter final, which you can watch in its entirety right here. I loved this one for how physical it was, how tactical it was, how close it was, how dramatic it was, and I’m also happy that when all was said and done no one got disqualified. It’s middle-distance racing at its finest and worth less than 2 minutes of your time. Isaiah Harris, who finished second behind Bryce Hoppel, summed it up best. “That’s the 800, especially a final of this talent,” said Harris, who called the race a “bloodbath.” “Everyone’s fighting for that space that first 200, everyone wants that good position. There’s going to be shoving. I shoved someone, Clayton shoved someone, Bryce probably shoved someone. Everyone shoves someone. So it’s just racing. I was hoping that there were no petty DQs. And we were all talking about that at the end. If someone stepped on the line? Sure, DQ them. But a little bit of shoving, that’s part of the sport.”
— Alex Hutchinson recently took a deep dive into the science of marathon recovery for Outside and, as always, it’s worth a read. Hutchinson analyzes the results of this study that takes a look at the metabolic recovery of marathon runners via a series of blood tests that “measures everything that shows up.” I need to spend some more time digging through this one but my biggest takeaway was this: racing a marathon does a number on your body and we still haven’t even come close to beginning to understand the complexity and interconnectedness of the damage that occurs underneath the hood.
— Juvenile’s recent Tiny Desk concert was awesome. I wouldn’t recommend watching it with the kids around but explicit lyrics aside, the performance itself will put a smile on your face. The man is a master at work. (Also, this is the second time Trombone Shorty has made it into this newsletter in the last three weeks.)
Training Tip: Perform a Dress Rehearsal(s)
Leading up to your goal race, treat a few of your most specific workouts (e.g., the long run for a marathoner or ultrarunner, tempo run for the half-marathon, interval session for athletes racing 10K or below, or a tune-up race at an “off” distance) as dress rehearsals for the event itself so that it’s all second nature when it’s time to perform. What does this look like in practice? Wake up at the same time you plan to on race day and eat your standard pre-race meal. Time your warmup routine and go through the motions exactly as you plan to in the hour or so before you step to the start line. Begin your workout close to the same time the race is going to start. Wear the shoes and race kit you plan to rock on race day. Recruit some other people if possible to make it feel more like a race environment. Do some work at/around race intensity and put yourself in situations you might find yourself in (e.g. running in a pack, running by yourself, boxed in, etc.). Practice your mental game when the going gets tough. If you’re going to make a mistake, do it in the dress rehearsal!
Workout of the Week
Running long later this week/weekend? Those miles are going to be a sizable chunk of your total weekly volume. Don’t waste ’em! Avoid a sloppy slog and help the time pass a little quicker by throwing in a 30-60 second surge at the end of every mile. Here are the details.
The bottom line.
“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done.”
—Austin Kleon in Steal Like an Artist, one of the most influential books I’ve ever read and a major inspiration for starting the morning shakeout
That's it for Issue 400. If you’re enjoying the shakeout and want to support my work, please forward this email to someone who might enjoy reading it, share the web link amongst your digital social circles, and encourage a few folks to subscribe by sending them this link.
Thanks for reading,
Join our community on Patreon and help keep the morning shakeout sustainable! For as little as a buck a week, you'll gain access to occasional exclusive content and other perks that pop up from time to time.