Good morning! I’ve got a big bucket of goodness to unload on you this week. Let’s get right to it.
— Kamilah Journét, who I first met on a random car ride in Chamonix several years ago, reconnected with via my podcast in 2020, and am now fortunate enough to coach, recently wrote a piece for REI’s Uncommon Path about what it was like to run without a smartwatch for a month and I recommend giving it a read. “In an effort to turn the frustration of imperfectly measured reps into fun—and put my original hypothesis about finding freedom from technology to the test—I lean into the watch-free zone and let loose on the last one,” she writes. “Racing my husband to the line, I find myself grinning like a kid sprinting across the playground. The time couldn’t have mattered less, though I’m comforted to learn it’s by far my quickest rep.”
— When asked by a reporter how much he needed the grand slam he just hit, Jonathan India of the Cincinnati Reds, who has been in the worst hitting slump of his career, replied, “If you’re results driven, if you care about results, and you’re losing sleep over results, you won’t perform in this game,” he explains. “As long as I play the game the right way, I play the game hard, I don’t give up, I fight every at bat, I stick to my process and execute my plan, there’s nothing more I can do. The results are not in my hands.” I’m filing this one away to replay for myself and my athletes whenever the reminder is needed (which is often). Whether it’s running, work, or something in your personal life, India’s outlook holds true: control what you can control, do things the right way, as best you can, and what will be will be. It may or may not work out as you want. At the end of the day you have little to no say on whether or not you win the race, hit the time, or get the promotion at work, just as India couldn’t try to force a ball over the fence a few weeks ago.
— On the latest episode of the KoopCast, coach Jason Koop speaks with Dr. Harlan Austin, a licensed psychologist with certifications in sport psychology and addiction psychology, about the various intersections of addiction and endurance sports (with an emphasis on ultrarunning). It’s a must-listen for athletes, coaches—heck, it’s just a must-listen. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts (search “KoopCast”) or watch/listen to it here on YouTube. It’s an important conversation that touches on a number of relevant and related topics, from different types of addiction, to why athletes are at higher risk of addiction than the general population, to whether or not some endurance athletes replace one addiction with another, how to help someone who might be suffering, and a lot more.
— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting the newsletter this month (and my work throughout 2023). The new FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 finally arrived over the weekend and I couldn’t slide it on fast enough. As of this writing I’ve run in it twice and here are my initial impressions: The overall fit is much more accommodating than its predecessor with a detached tongue and more versatile (and breathable) upper. The new version feels lighter than the v1 without sacrificing cushioning and responsiveness underfoot. It rides really nice and I can see this becoming a go-to option for easy miles and long runs alike. It’s available in men’s and women’s sizes at your favorite run specialty retail store or on newbalance.com.
— I’ve linked to a couple covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” over the years and I’d like to add this one I recently came across to the pile. It’s by Chris Kläfford, who I was unfamiliar with prior to YouTube serving this up to me, and it’s a slow, somewhat soothing, acoustic rendition of one of The Boss’ most popular tunes. Kläfford’s got an angelic voice and this one makes for some easy listening in the living room or on an afternoon drive down a quiet road. (I’ve personally tested both.)
— Ed Batista is an executive coach whose writing was introduced to me earlier this year. (I went on to cold email Ed to thank him for his work and, much to my delight, he responded and we’ve had some nice exchanges since.) I have a ton of respect for Ed, how he carries himself, and the impact he’s had not only on his clients, but the coaching profession as a whole. This post on “self-care for coaches” is one that has had a profound influence on me in recent months and nudged me to make a couple long overdue changes in regard to how I spend my time and generally live my life. “When wearing my CEO hat I have to be mindful that my small business has two (and only two) assets: my time and my reputation,” he writes. “I'm the sole steward of those assets—if my time is wasted or my reputation suffers, no one pays a price but me. Further, other people may well have very different ideas than I do about how to employ my time or build my reputation. So it's essential for me to manage these assets with great care.”
— If you only click on one link this week, make it this 3-½ minute video of Tommy Rivs talking about why he runs. “I don’t think anything has changed necessarily,” he explains, “except that I’m not able to do it as fast….Nothing has changed in terms of what draws me to this sport. It’s the idea of being able to become better. The process is the same. I wake up and I determine what it is that I need to do that day and I then go out and I do it.” This warmed my heart on a few different levels, primarily because Tommy has an incredible ability to convey a universal experience through his words, but also because he just looks and sounds as healthy, happy, and strong as he’s ever been. You can see it in the way he’s running in the video, and you can hear it in his voice when he’s speaking. (And if you haven’t yet, listen—or re-listen—to the conversation I had with Tommy some 14 months ago, where we touched on this same theme, along with many others.)
— How many Jakob Ingebrigtsen races can I link to in a single-season? At least a few more if he keeps winning races and lowering the world-lead a few ticks of the clock at a time. The 22-year-old Norwegian ran 3:27.14 for 1500m at the Diamond League meet in Silesia on Sunday as his final tuneup before next month’s world championships in Budapest. You can watch the race in its entirety here. I share this one because I was particularly struck by the differences in body language between Ingebrigtsen, his competitors, as well as his three pacemakers, including Stewart McSweyn, a 3:29 runner in his own right, who took the reigning world silver medalist through 1200m in this one. McSweyn is digging so hard the final 200m or so of his assignment (watch his arms and upper body in particular) while Ingebrigtsen looks like he’s out for a tempo run. When the camera zooms wide on the final backstretch, everyone behind Ingebrigtsen appears slightly contorted, grimaces prevalent amongst their faces. These men are not running their own race. There is no doubt who is in charge. Ingebrigtsen has been running like a man possessed this season, fueled by the taste of silver residue in his mouth. Can he hold on to, or even improve upon, this form between now and the world championships? I don’t know, but at this rate it will take a world-record performance to beat him if he does.
— In last week’s issue I mentioned Austin Kleon a couple times as a major influence on me (and this newsletter) and well, here we go again. Kleon, who recently turned 40, wrote about “never wasting your midlife crisis” for his blog and it’s a quick, fun read. The main takeaway is to just do your thing and by doing so you’ll kind of create the environment you need to survive, which resonates with me at this stage of my life and career. He shares a quote by the author John Higgs, who admits, “It’s always on an edge of never working out properly,” which, comfortingly, I also find holds true.
— It’s been a sunny summer so far here on the west coast and I’ve been rocking my Goodr sunglasses around the clock. These shades don’t bounce, they won’t slip, and they’re polarized to protect your eyes. They also come in a nice range of styles and fun colors, including my favorites: the OGs in “A Ginger’s Soul.” Goodr’s are also the most affordable performance sunglasses 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 (or three!) of goodrs, head over to goodr.com/MARIO or enter the code MARIO15 at checkout to get free shipping on your order. Your face will thank you!
Training Tip: Cover up the watch!
Setting out for a tempo run—let’s use 5 miles at half-marathon pace as an example—can be a nerve-wracking proposition: What if my first mile is 10 seconds per mile too slow? What if my average pace ends up being way off? Oftentimes it’s best not to know until you’re done. Before your next key workout, cover up your watch face with a piece of electrical tape for the entirety of the session (while still starting and stopping it accordingly). Pre-plan your route beforehand so you know where you’re starting and stopping points will be, and focus on the effort you’re putting out rather than the pace, or power, or heart rate your watch is spitting back at you. Back to the tempo run: Ask yourself: Does this feel like an effort I can maintain for 13.1 miles? If the answer is yes, stay on it! If the answer is no, back it off a bit. You can use this same trick at the track, too. For example, if you’re running 6 x 800 meters at 5K pace, you can start your watch, run at the appropriate effort and hit the lap button at the end of each rep. You pull up the tape after each one to see if you’re on the right pace or you can go through the data afterward. The important thing is learning to internalize your sense of effort and being able to adjust accordingly on the fly. These skills will come in handy on race day when myriad factors—weather, terrain, etc.—affect the splits you’re trying to hit. And since you’re still wearing your watch—just not looking at it incessantly—you can crunch the numbers and make sense of them afterward.
Workout of the Week: The Broken Tempo Run
Tempo runs are a staple workout for many runners and with good reason: they’re very effective at improving fitness, focus, discipline, and grit. They also tend to cause some of the most confusion. In general, a tempo run is defined as maintaining a steady effort for a prolonged period of time. So how far and how fast should your tempo runs be? It depends on who you ask. For ease of creating a common understanding here, we’re going to say your tempo runs should be 15-45 minutes worth of work at your half-marathon pace, i.e. a “comfortably hard” effort. Tempo runs tend to intimidate a lot of runners because of their stop-free nature, e.g. 3-8 miles at half-marathon pace is a popular prescription and anything but an easy assignment during a heavy training week. The Broken Tempo Run, which simply breaks a a traditional tempo run into smaller chunks—serves as a nice alternative, especially early in a training block when you’re just not that fit. I also find it to be a good option for runners, newbies and veterans alike, who have a hard time wrapping their heads around long workouts—taking a 30-60 second break every 5-15 minutes (n.b. I’m using 5:00 reps here for simplicity’s sake) is usually enough time to mentally regroup without affecting the intention of the session. Here are the details.
The bottom line.
“Fear is forward. No one is afraid of yesterday.”
—Renata Adler, author, journalist, and film critic.
That’s it for Issue 401. If you enjoyed it, please share the hell out of it! Forward this email to a few like-minded friends, plaster the web link all over your corner of the internet, and encourage a few folks to subscribe.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Looking for some late summer fun in the mountains? Put the Mammoth Trail Fest, September 21-24 in Mammoth Lakes, California, on your calendar ASAP! I took part in last year’s inaugural event and am hoping to make it back a little over two months from now for a few days of dirt, donuts, and community. The fields are nearing capacity and the event will likely sell out soon, so secure your spot now! Race director and all-around good guy Tim Tollefson told me last night that there are only 94 spots left in the 50K, about 100 in the hill climb, and plenty in the kids race. The 26K is at capacity but there is a waitlist. Check it out and sign up today at mammothtrailfest.com!
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