mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 419

Published 7 months ago • 6 min read

Good morning! We’ve got family visiting us this week so most of these next two issues of the newsletter have been prepared a little earlier than usual. Here’s what I’ve got for you in this one: 1. This interview I recently conducted over email with Stephen Lane, author of the new book, Long Run to Glory: The Story of the Greatest Marathon in Olympic History and the Women Who Made It Happen. This book tells the story of American Joan Benoit, Norwegians Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen, and Portugal’s Rosa Mota—four of the greatest marathoners of all time—and the story of how all of them lined up to race each other for the first time at the first women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984. Despite the fact that this race happened nearly 40 years ago, I think it should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the sport, no matter their interests, age, or how they identify. It's that important of an event in the history of women's running and women's sport in general. Add it to your holiday wishlist. I really enjoyed digging into the backstory of the book with Steve—himself a history teacher, track coach, meet director, and husband of my former teammate and training partner, Jess Minty—and I hope you’ll take the time to read our exchange right here. 2. A new Ask Mario Anything episode of the podcast featuring me taking questions from many of you. I sat down with my right-hand man Chris Douglas for this one and answered questions about the Olympic Trials Marathon start-time controversy, things I’ve changed my mind on, the importance of the weekly long run, time versus distance-based training prescriptions, and a lot more. Check it out wherever you subscribe to the morning shakeout podcast or at this handy link. 3. A few timeless “Quick Splits” entries pulled from the archives of yesteryear. 4. A new Training Tip, fresh Workout of the Week, and recently unearthed quote for the bottom line.

OK, let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— From the archives (Issue 263, 3 years ago this week): My friend and two-time podcast guest Peter Bromka published this lengthy essay about his two-year chase for the Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier called, “The Bubble of a Dream.” And even though he’s written and spoken extensively about his sub-2:19 quest, this recollection of a journey that was filled with disappointment and self-doubt but changed him in ways beyond just becoming a faster runner is worth carving out some time for this week. I got a sneak peek of the piece and interviewed him about it. You can read that insightful exchange here. (Editor’s note: This essay was selected for The Year’s Best Sports Writing—2021.)

— From the archives (Issue 158, 5 years ago this week): A primer for impatient people. Patience is a lost art in our society. Cell phones and instant access to everything and everyone are largely to blame. Let’s quit being in such a rush all the time. As my dad likes to remind me whenever I’m getting worked up about something: there are very few things that can’t wait until tomorrow (or at the very least, a couple hours from now).

— From the archives (Issue 54, 7 years ago this week): The always excellent Maria Popova wrote about writer James Baldwin and how the artist’s struggle for integrity sheds light on what it means to be human, sharing snippets from this talk he gave in 1962. I found Baldwin’s words to be incredibly applicable to the current situation we as members of the human race are facing on both a domestic and global level: a collective inability to understand and connect with those who are different from us. At the end of the day, all humans, regardless of age, gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation, are experiencing the same thing: pain, fear and uncertainty. Rather than let these things divide us, we must use them to better understand one another’s struggles in an effort to connect and come together. “And what is crucial here is that if it hurt you, that is not what’s important. Everybody’s hurt,” Baldwin explains 10:30 into the talk. “What is important, what corrals you, what bullwhips you, what drives you, torments you, is that you must find some way of using this to connect you with everyone else alive. This is all you have to do it with.”

— KEXP’s live performances are amongst my favorite things on the internet and this recent four-song in-studio set from Hermanos Gutiérrez did not let me down. I’ve linked to these guys’ stuff before and that’s because I love their music so much. No lyrics, just mesmerizing melodies from guitars that run through my head most of the day.

— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting the newsletter this month (and my work throughout 2023). The 1080 has been the workhorse in my rotation for four years now and the v13 picks up right where its predecessors left off. This updated version feels a little lighter than its predecessor, there seems to be a bit more bounce underfoot, and it fits better than anything else in my lineup. It’s super smooth at a wide range of speeds and continues to be my go-to for most of my weekly mileage. Bottom line: I just really enjoy running in it. The Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is available now at your favorite run specialty retail store and also on (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

Training Tip: Start a little cold!

As we head into the winter months many of us need to rethink our wardrobe choices to combat cold air, biting winds, and incessant precipitation. A lot of runners have a tendency to overdress in these types of conditions, which can lead to overheating, restricted movement, and just generally being uncomfortable. It will take some trial and error to dial in the specifics of what works in which weather scenario, but in general you want to start your runs a little cold—not shivering, of course, but slightly chilled so that once you start moving and get your blood flowing, your body temperature will begin to rise and you’ll literally be producing heat that will help keep you warm. Dress as if it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. The thickness of your head covering, gloves, socks, and/or balaclava will depend on where you live and how well you tolerate the cold, but these are the most important areas to protect. Next is a good base layer that fits close to the skin. It will wick moisture, insulate your core, and go a long way toward keeping you comfortable. You can layer on top of it with a mid-layer and/or a jacket depending on the conditions and keep yourself pretty warm without feeling like you’re in a snowsuit and unable to move. Below the waist, tights are essential—they come in different weights, are insulated to varying degrees, and some even come with wind blocking material if you need it—and will generally keep you warmer than pants without restricting your ability to run smoothly. The last thing you want to be doing in the winter months is shedding layers—if you feel like you need another one before you start running, you’re probably OK!

Workout of the Week: The Fartlek Session

Fartlek, in its purest form, is unstructured speed work. “Speed play” is its literal translation from Swedish. Now, I’m as guilty as anyone else who has ever called a structured interval workout done off the track a “fartlek” session, but if we’re being honest that’s not fartlek: it’s just an interval workout. A fartlek is simply a series of faster pickups with a recovery walk or jog in between. It’s technically an interval workout, yes, but the length and speed of the pickups, as well as the recovery periods in between, are not pre-planned and totally up to you in the moment. This is a great workout any time of year but especially when you’re just getting back into training after a break and ready to start reintroducing some faster workouts into the mix. Here are the details.

The bottom line.

“We have to do better. I’m not comfortable with the men succeeding and not having the same standard for the women’s team.”

—Mike Smith, head coach of Northern Arizona University, shortly after taking over the men’s and women’s cross-country programs in 2017. Both of his squads finished second at the NCAA Championships this past Saturday in Virginia. (Excerpt from Running Up The Mountain: Northern Arizona Altitude, Lumberjack Attitude, and the Building of a Distance Dynasty)

That's it for Issue 419. If you’re enjoying the morning shakeout and want to support my work, please forward this email or share the web link with someone else who might dig it. (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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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

Discover what’s possible through the lens of running with training tips, workouts, and other bits of goodness from coach Mario Fraioli. Every Tuesday morning, Mario shares his unapologetically subjective take on things that interest, inform, inspire, or entertain him in some way.

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