Good morning! Two things off the top this week: One, I had a wonderful conversation with my good friend Brad Stulberg for the podcast. Brad, who works as a writer and performance coach, is my first four-time guest and his episodes are some of the most listened to in the six-year history of the show. In this one, the first installment of a new series I’m calling Coach to Coach, Brad and I discuss the craft of coaching and highlight the parallels and through lines that exist between working with athletes and working with executives and entrepreneurs. We also dive into his new book, Master of Change, and talk about how to navigate change: personally, professionally, athletically, and societally. Brad explains the concept of what he calls “rugged flexibility,” he differentiates between responding and reacting to things that happen to us, and a lot more. Brad’s been on a lot of podcasts of late (and they’re all really great!) but I promise you this conversation is very different from the other ones you may have listened to already. Listen for it wherever you get the morning shakeout podcast or at this handy link.
Two, after nearly three years away from the platform, yesterday I brought my personal Instagram account out of hibernation. My relationship with social media has been a tumultuous one at times but the separation has provided me perspective on what more responsible use can look like, and that’s how I intend to approach things moving forward: with caution and intention. Also, the truth is that for what I do professionally, Instagram is one of the most effective places on the internet to reach people, share ideas, find inspiration, and build community. In short: I want to meet people where they are and a lot of you are on Instagram. (Don’t worry, this newsletter isn’t going anywhere!) My plan is to pop in a few times a week to say hello, check things out, share some ideas and/or things that I’ve been working on, respond to messages, and then get out. My goal is to take a level-headed approach to showing people what’s possible through the lens of running: I’ll share insights, stories, strategies, training tips, and other resources that will help you move the ball forward in running and in life. No hype or BS, just the stuff that has been proven to work time and time again. So, if you’re not following me already, you can do so here, and if you’re finding value in my feed, please share any posts that resonate with you.
OK, let’s get right to it.
— It wasn’t the day we planned for at this year’s UTMB, but I’ve never been more proud of Tim Tollefson than I was last week. He closed the loop around Mt. Blanc for the first time since 2017, despite the unexpected issues he encountered along the way, and exemplified what the sport of ultrarunning is all about: enduring and overcoming difficulties. A couple days after the race, Tim’s podcast with Rich Roll dropped and I’d encourage everyone to listen to it wherever you consume audio or right here on YouTube. It’s an important conversation about Tim’s struggles with body dysmorphia and disordered eating that I know will help a lot of people. It’s also a big step in Tim’s own healing journey—for him to be vulnerable in that way, to give voice to what more of us as males experience or have experienced than most will ever admit or feel comfortable talking about (myself included), is a gift that will open doors for others for as long as it’s online.
— Speaking of UTMB, how about Courtney Dauwalter? And Jim Walmsley? And the list goes on but my admittedly biased American perspective will keep the spotlight on those two for our purposes this week. I enjoyed this pre-race profile of Courtney by Rebecca Byerly for The New York Times, as well as this candid post-race interview with Jim by Freetrail’s Dylan Bowman. This is a phrase that gets batted around a lot but these two are deserving champions: Courtney as someone who is dominating the sport on a level few others ever have, or will; and Jim, who not just at UTMB, but other prominent races as well, has shot for the stars, come up short a few times, but recalibrated and returned to shine brighter than anyone could have ever imagined. There’s a lot that I could focus on here but the biggest thing I want to highlight was from the piece on Courtney: Why race three of the highest (and arguably hardest) 100-mile trail races in a span of 10 weeks? Not money. Not fame. Not pride. Not to beat anyone. Or break records. Or inflate her ego. For Dauwalter, it all came down to one thing: curiosity. “I am so curious what will happen and excited to test myself,” she said. Reading this put a big smile on my face because it just really resonates with me at this point of my life. I am nowhere near Courtney’s level in terms of success, or anything competitive really, but at 41 I am enjoying the sport more than I ever have in the two-plus decades I’ve been doing it and a big reason for that was a shift in perspective in recent years. Instead of racing to win, or hit a time, or qualify for this or that (all of which still can happen, for what it’s worth), I race to satisfy my curiosity: Can I do A,B, or C? Is it possible to____? What will happen if I try X, Y, and Z? Until I line up and try, the answer is “I don’t know!” And like Dawaulter, I’ve found that approaching the sport from a standpoint of curiosity leads to the excitement to find out, which, when it comes down to it, is what this should all be about anyway.
— I’d never heard of Zach Bryan until last week but two different friends sent me this new song of his thinking I might like it and well, those friends have got me figured out. The song is called “Spotless” and it’s a collaboration with The Lumineers and it’s really f*cking great. I don’t know if you’d classify Bryan as country, or folk, or Americana, or what, but I’ll just call him a really talented songwriter and artist and continue to enjoy what he puts out into the world.
— Back in April, on Boston Marathon weekend, my friends George Hirsch and Amby Burfoot (both of whom you can listen to me chop it up with on the podcast, here and here, respectively) asked me to meet up with them for coffee. Not one to turn down the opportunity to spend time with two men I respect and admire immensely, I jumped at the chance. We had a great time catching up with one another and at some point of the conversation the topic turned to podcasting: what’s involved, how to do it, etc. It was clear to me that an idea was beginning to brew. Fast-forward to last week, I was delighted to get an email from George that the kettle finally had some steam coming out of it. The show is called Running: The State of the Sport, and the first episode is with Jack Fleming, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association. George, the former publisher of Runner’s World and chairman of the board of New York Road Runners, and Amby, 1968 Boston Marathon champion and former executive editor of Runner’s World, have more combined knowledge, experience, and expertise in the sport and industry than anyone else you could put together (and I don’t think there’s even a close second). Anyway, I enjoyed listening to them talk about the recent action at the world championships, followed by the conversation with Fleming, who has been with the BAA for a long time but is in his first full year leading the organization. If you’re a dork about this stuff like I am, this is one you’ll want to add to your podcast feed.
— I can’t remember where I came across this post from executive coach Mandy Brown on the relationship between energy and time (and the tradeoffs that exist between the two) but it made complete sense to me. “The question to ask with all those things isn’t, ‘how do I make time for this?’” she writes at the end of the post. “The answer to that question always disappoints, because that view of time has it forever speeding away from you. The better question is, how does doing what I need make time for everything else?”
— How cool is this composite photo of the men's 110-meter hurdle semifinal from last month’s world championships in Budapest by Casey Sims? If he offered a poster-sized version I’d buy it in less time than it took Grant Holloway to win this heat.
— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting the newsletter this month (and my work throughout 2023). I’ve been running in the new FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 for about six weeks and right now I feel comfortable calling it my favorite new running shoe of 2023. The overall fit is much more accommodating than its predecessor with a partially detached tongue and lighter, more versatile (and more breathable) upper. The new version feels a little lighter than the v1 without sacrificing cushioning and responsiveness underfoot. It will accommodate a wide variety of foot types, rides really smoothly, and has proven to be a great go-to option for long runs and easy runs alike. (I’ve even ripped some intervals in it but generally prefer a shoe that’s a little lower to the ground for most of my faster workouts.) It’s available now in men’s and women’s sizes at your favorite run specialty retail store or on newbalance.com.
Training Tip: Write it all down!
It’s easier than ever to record our training these days: sync up your GPS watch with an online platform, slap a witty title on it, maybe include a short description in the notes, and get on with your day. Your data uploads instantaneously and you’re provided more charts and analysis tools than you’ll ever know what to do with. What most online platforms lack, however, are effective avenues for meaningful goal-setting and reflection. This is where a hand-written journal comes in handy: it need not be anything fancy—a simple notebook is fine—and it need not take you more than a few minutes a day. Taking the time to write down your goals and/or intentions for a key workout, race, or even season has been shown by research to increase the likelihood that you’ll reach them. Also, carving out a few minutes each day to pen your reflections, lessons, and takeaways requires you to really focus on what you’re trying to do, what’s working, what’s not, and what adjustments you might need to make in the future. A hand-written journal invites you to reflect back on what you wrote the day before. It forces you to be accountable and engaged every day. In short: Writing these things down is a much more effective exercise than simply uploading your run online because, like running itself, it requires you to make an effort.
Workout of the Week: The 3-2-1 Cutdown
My favorite workouts are pretty universal in nature, meaning you can go to them whether you’re focusing on something as short as a 5K or as long as a marathon. The 3-2-1 Mile Cutdown session fits that bill. Here are the details.
The bottom line.
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
—Frida Kahlo, renowned Mexican artist.
Thanks for reading,
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