Good morning! I’m finally sitting down to write this at 8:37 on Monday night after spending this past weekend supporting my wife, Christine, at her Ironman triathlon. The last thing I want to do right now is use my brain and attempt to string together a bunch of words, but a commitment is a commitment and I’m giving myself until no later than 10:30 PM to make good on it. (n.b. Everything from the Training Tip to the end was prepared last week.)
The story of Christine’s race isn’t mine to tell but I’m incredibly inspired by her effort and the example she sets day in and day out. Every morning she’s up between 4:30 and 5:30 to swim, bike, and/or run before work. More often than not there’s a second workout after she closes her laptop for the day. In between and around those commitments she’s an incredible partner and dog mom, an effective team leader at work, a caring friend, sister, and daughter, and a fun hang until 8 PM or so. Lazy she is not. (FWIW, an old lab mate nicknamed her “Christine the Machine.”) Anyway, one of the songs on her pre-race playlist is the New Radicals’ You Get What You Give. She said it was running through her head on repeat during the race on Sunday, which seemed appropriate because she gives an awful lot to the people and pursuits she cares most about. In return, she got three of her best friends and a colleague cheering for her along the course in the pouring rain, her coach, family, and other friends checking in with me for updates throughout the day, and a 40+ minute personal best for the distance despite an uncooperative stomach on the second half of the run. She had the music in her on Sunday, that’s for sure.
OK, this week’s Quick Splits will likely be a little quicker than usual. Let’s get right to ’em.
— We’re in the thick of marathon season right now and when I’m writing workouts for my athletes a good number of them are at some percentage of goal marathon pace (e.g. 90% of MP, 105% of MP, etc.). Up until very recently figuring out those paces was a very manual process for me, one which involved converting minutes per mile to total seconds, doing some multiplication, and then converting a new batch of seconds back to minutes per mile. Now I just use this handy calculator, which was created by John Davis of the excellent Running Writings blog, and it saves me a crap ton of time.
— HOKA NAZ Elite recently named Jack Mullaney as the group’s head coach, a move that left a lot of people in running scratching their heads. The 30-year-old was an assistant coach at the University of Portland and wasn’t well known for his coaching or athletic exploits before the surprise announcement on October 12. Kyle Merber of The Lap Count recently interviewed Mullaney to learn more about him and his philosophy, and I’d recommend checking it out. I’ve never met Mullaney but I discovered his now defunct blog a couple years ago while going down a rabbit hole—even linking to it in this newsletter once or twice—and it's great. I appreciate his perspectives on training and coaching, I enjoy his occasional reading recommendations, and love how he’s able to connect seemingly disparate dots. If you’re looking for a good place to start, I’d go with “Inside-Out Coaching” and dive deeper from there.
— Post Malone covering “Them Bones” by Alice in Chains on the Howard Stern Show isn’t perfect, but it’s a unique version of the song and Post is clearly enjoying the hell out of himself while playing it. Plus, the choir singing background vocals adds a really cool element to the performance. Stick around to the very end when Howard asks them to go through their warmup (and watch Post while they’re doing it). The whole thing is just really beautiful.
— Oliver Burkeman’s The Imperfectionist is one of my favorite newsletters and his latest edition, “Becoming who you are,” was exactly what I needed to read last week. “Writing is a good metaphor for life here, I think, because in writing it’s so easy to see how people get bogged down in trying to become something they’re not,” he writes. “...I still fall prey to this myself sometimes: when I hit a serious writing obstacle, I’ll usually eventually realise it’s because what I was trying to say didn’t feel honest....And the result of that acceptance has been to make it easier and more enjoyable to write things that resonate with those who do share my bit of the Venn diagram of what’s interesting and important.”
— From the archives (Issue 154, 5 years ago this week): Brad Stulberg on why it’s OK to be good enough and not great. “Research shows that sustainable progress, in everything from diet to fitness to creativity, isn’t about being consistently great; it’s about being great at being consistent,” he writes in his latest column for Outside. “It’s about being good enough over and over again.” This one hit home to me. Despite the fact that I tell my athletes all the time that they should approach their training like baseball—i.e., they don’t need to knock every workout “out of the park,” so to speak, they just need to make good contact and consistently get on base—I often need to remind myself of the same principle when it comes to various pursuits in my own life, like this newsletter, where the deep-rooted desire to make every issue great, rather than “good enough” week in and week out, can cause me unnecessary stress and anxiety—not to mention hours of lost sleep.
— A big thank you to Tracksmith for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2023). I’ve been breaking out one version or another of the Brighton Base Layer the last couple weeks because it’s the most versatile running shirt I own. The short sleeve, in particular, is the perfect transition piece from summer to fall. I’ll wear it on its own but also under a light jacket if it's spitting rain. I’ve also got the long sleeve for when it dips into the 40s and I want to keep my arms covered. (Come winter it will serve as a layering piece.) Both versions are made from a merino wool blend, they wick moisture and regulate temperature incredibly well, but best of all: they don’t smell when I sweat in them! If you buy the Brighton Base Layer, or anything on Tracksmith.com for that matter, 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).
Training Tip: Schedule a weekly review!
This is an often overlooked but incredibly important self-assessment exercise every runner should build into their weekly schedule. Here’s how to do it: Carve out 15-20 minutes on Sunday or Monday to review your training log from the previous week, read through your notes, recognize (or remember) your wins, note where you need to make improvements, and set your intentions and objectives for the next 7 days. Pay attention to how the various pieces at play are fitting together (or are falling apart), make adjustments if necessary, and be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re on track to do what you’re trying to do.
Workout of the Week: The Mixed Mag
Variety, it’s said, is the spice of life. It can also be the key to spicing up some of the same old workouts you do week in and week out. Can’t decide between hill repeats, a tempo run, or an interval session? Try rolling them all into one workout! I call this cover-all-your-bases butt-kicker “The Mixed Bag” and it will help to stimulate fitness gains that you didn’t even realize were stuck in stagnation. Here are the details.
The bottom line.
“Living is the art of getting used to what we didn’t expect.”
—Eleanor C. Wood
That's it for Issue 415. Please forward this email to someone who might enjoy it, share the web link far and wide, or reply to me directly at your own risk. (And if you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time and want to receive it for yourself first thing every Tuesday morning, you can subscribe right here.)
Thanks for reading,
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