mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 423

Published 5 months ago • 10 min read

Good morning! Things are starting to wind down (finally!) and I’m planning to use these next couple of weeks to rest and recharge as we head into 2024. On the work front, this means writing training schedules out through early January and generally leaving my athletes alone for a couple weeks, and for the morning shakeout it means pre-packaging the next two newsletters and releasing a year-end “best of” podcast sometime before the calendar turns on the 31st. On the training side of things, it means not adhering to a structured schedule, bringing the overall training volume down quite a bit, not doing long runs or hard workouts for a few weeks, and mentally disengaging from being in “training mode” until early in the new year.

To expand upon this last one a bit, I believe every athlete should take 2-4 weeks of downtime after a big race or long season/training block. (It’s nice when it falls during the holidays!) What this actually looks like in practice is going to be a little different for everyone but I think it should contain the four key components I mentioned above. For some athletes, this might mean a full week (or longer) off from doing anything resembling exercise, then a gradual reintroduction to running for a week or two, and then bringing some light workouts back into the mix once they’ve re-established some consistency. For others, it might mean taking a few days off running, followed by 1-3 weeks of easy cross-training and/or light running, and then getting back into “training” when they’re feeling physically and mentally feeling up for it. In my case, it’s taking a day or two off here and there when I feel like it (I’m not a streaker, but I usually run 7 days/week when I’m training), logging 50 to 60 percent of my normal volume (30-40 miles/week versus 55-60) for a month, and not doing any long runs or hard workouts during that time. I call it going into maintenance mode. During this time I’m “just running” for the sake of moving my body, clearing my head, connecting with friends, and spending time in nature. There are myriad other ways to do this, I’m aware, but running, even when I’m not training (and there is a difference!) is just what I like to do. Going into maintenance mode allows both my body and mind the opportunity to downshift, recover, and rejuvenate until I’m feeling ready to ramp things back up again. I’ve learned through trial and error over the past 26 years of training and racing at a high level that this is what works best for me. Contrary to whatever dogma you might hear others holding tight to on the internet, there’s no universal right or wrong way to structure your downtime: experiment and find out what works for you. (And remember it might take a few tries to get it right.) The key is that however you decide to do it, make sure you’re coming down enough (and for long enough) during that time so that you’ve actually got somewhere to go when you’re ready to re-engage and ramp your training back up again.

100 Days to Boston Training Program

There are still spots remaining in the 100 Days to Boston Training Program that I announced last week. This unique coaching offering from yours truly includes a 100-day (14-week) Boston-specific training program delivered through Final Surge that will be scaled to match your experience level and current training load. I’ll also be sending out weekly emails featuring the training focus for the week, Boston-specific tips, and other useful bits of information and inspiration. There will be weekly group office hours with me, two guest speakers, and a private online community where you’re connected to other team members and can ask and answer questions, access content, take advantage of partner discounts, and more. Each team member will get two pairs of running shoes from new balance (one trainer, one racer), a morning shakeout branded singlet, and $100 toward Precision Fuel and Hydration products. We’ll also have a race weekend meet-up and shakeout run in Boston on race weekend. The program will be open until all 25 spots are filled or December 31, whichever comes first. Learn more and join the team here!

Quick Splits

This episode of Peter Attia’s The Drive podcast with guest Arthur Brooks is a thought-provoking listen in which they discuss happiness as a direction not a destination, the importance of emotional self-management, and other related topics. My favorite part of the conversation takes place in the final 30 minutes or so when they talk about love not as a feeling, but as a commitment. “To like is to feel,” Brooks says. “To love is to decide.” I found this to be incredibly profound and applicable to so many areas of life: relationships, work, running, and more. It doesn’t matter how you feel on a given day—if you’ve made the decision to love someone or something then you’ve committed to showing up every day. This takes discipline. Because if you gave into how you felt every day, the relationship would fall apart, you’d skip the run, nothing would ever get done, and life would be reactive, fleeting, and unstable. This all leads into a discussion about treating your life as a startup and taking charge of it: you’re the boss and you get to decide where to put your time, attention, and energy. “The CEO doesn’t do what feels good all the time,” Brooks explains. “The CEO does what’s right.”

— A couple weeks ago at CIM, I had an athlete, Chris Maxwell, come really close to qualifying for the Olympic Trials. He ran 2:18:16, a two-plus minute personal best, which, on its own is a huge reason to celebrate, but 17 seconds short of what he needed to hit to line up in Orlando alongside the best marathoners in the country on the first Saturday in February 2024. It was a bittersweet moment: on one hand, he ran the race of his life, on the other, he missed qualifying by less than a second a mile. It was a tricky thing for both of us to reconcile but what we’ve kept coming back to are the facts we know to be true: Chris did everything he could on the day to execute the best race he possibly could, and we did everything we could in training so that he was ready to run the best marathon of his life. There’s some disappointment not to be on the start line in Orlando, for sure, but there’s more excitement—about what he did two Sundays ago, and for what he’ll try to do in the next few years. Chris wasn’t quoted in this Runner’s World article by Sarah Lorge Butler about athletes that came so close to qualifying, but a lot of the experiences that were shared in it resonate, such as this sentiment from Michael Morris of Austin, Texas: “Those times are an arbitrary time standard; they’re not reflective of the time, the work, the emotional input you go through in training for a marathon,” he said. “Whether you hit it or not, it doesn’t change the entire journey you went through. Some days, it just doesn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t do something amazing.”

— Shoutout to my friend Brendan Leonard for pointing me to this 10-minute film about a group of older guys who have been playing basketball together every Monday night for the past 50 years. “Every Monday night one of our members reminds us, ‘We’re so lucky, we played another Monday night,’” one of them remarks. This is hands down one of the best things you can watch on the internet. How it only has a little over 6000 views is beyond me. This is what it’s all about: aging well, connection through competition, showing up for one another week in and week out, and most importantly, friendship that lasts (for a good chunk of) a lifetime.

— In most places right now it’s what many New Englanders call “stick season,” meaning the days are shorter, the air is colder, and the skies are grayer. In short: it’s a time of transition between fall and winter. “Stick Season” is also the name of the song that helped Vermont’s Noah Kahan blow up and this version of it from a live show he performed earlier this year at Red Rocks in Colorado is pretty great. The crowd is so loud in singing along that you can barely hear Noah but that’s what makes it so special—they feel connected to the song, its lyrics, and the person singing it. (Bonus: Here he is playing it with less crowd participation on SNL two weeks ago.)

— From the archives (Issue 110, 6 years ago today): Wright Thompson is my favorite magazine writer today. He isn’t on Twitter and doesn’t have a social media presence in general. But he does go on podcasts every so often and when he does, I make sure to listen. If you want to learn how be a better writer, how to develop confidence in your work, understand why elements like voice, leads, place, and kickers matter in a story, then tune into to this recent episode of The Sunday Long Read Podcast with Thompson and Seth Wickersham, his longtime friend and colleague at ESPN The Magazine. “I think you always write a story that is the absolute best you can do and that propels you to be better,” Thompson explains to host Jacob Feldman. “There were a couple things that afterward I thought, ‘that was the best I could possibly do.’ But I always felt like I could do it. My big struggle was convincing someone else [that I could do it].” (Editor’s note: A little less than two weeks ago while in the security line at SFO I noticed a man that looked like Wright Thompson. He had a thick beard and was wearing a fedora. His suitcase was adorned with stickers, mostly from bookstores. It might have been him, I thought, but I wasn’t so sure and I’m not one to make smalltalk with strangers. So I went and checked out his Instagram to see if I could piece together any clues. The day before he had posted this photo of his suitcase—the one I saw just a few minutes prior was unmistakably his luggage. I started walking toward my gate after getting a coffee and there he was again, eating his breakfast and messing around on his phone. I walked up and interrupted him. “Excuse me sir, you’re Wright Thompson,” I said. “Yes, yes I am,” he replied. So I introduced myself and we had a great 5-minute conversation. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy.)

— A big thank you to Tracksmith for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2023). I’ve been breaking out the Brighton Base Layer more days than not this fall and I don’t see that stopping as we head into the winter months. It’s made from a merino wool blend, it wicks moisture and regulates temperature well, but best of all: it doesn’t smell when I sweat in it! It’s snug but not tight and I’ll wear it on its own or under a jacket when it’s really cold and/or precipitating. If you buy the Brighton Base Layer, or anything on 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: Pull your elbows back!

I’ve always taken a top-down approach to running form, i.e. focusing on what’s happening with your head and upper body first and not getting overly concerned with what’s going on at the ground level. Building off a previous training tip where I encouraged you to “run tall,” pulling your elbows back while running helps you to achieve that end. Doing so will help improve your posture and open up your airways—you may need to do some work to loosen up your chest, shoulders and upper back first—helping make breathing easier while also properly stacking everything else down the chain. Keeping your elbows behind your hips will ensure that your chest is forward and that your arms and hands aren’t crossing in front of your midline.

Workout of the Week: The "2 By" Marathon Long Run

The spring marathon season will soon be upon us and improving your ability to run for longer at goal race effort/pace is probably top of mind. The "2 By" marathon long run is one of my favorite ways to introduce some running at goal race effort/pace into the mix and then extend the amount of time you spend there over the course of a 12-16 week cycle as fitness and confidence both improve. Here are the details.

The bottom line.

”He runs because he has to. Because in being a runner, in moving through pain and fatigue and suffering, in imposing stress upon stress, in eliminating all but the necessities of life, he is fulfilling himself and becoming the person he is.”

— George Sheehan, Running and Being: The Total Experience

That's it for Issue 423. If you dug it, please forward this email to a friend (or five!) and encourage them to subscribe at this link so that it lands under their tree, I mean inbox, next week.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. If you’re looking to get your fueling and hydration dialed in this winter ahead of the spring racing season, my partners at Precision Fuel and Hydration have a ton of awesome resources in their Knowledge Hub that can help you solve some of your problems and/or tie up any loose ends before race day. They’ve also got a free fuel and hydration planner to help you better understand your carb, sodium, and fluid needs. You can also book a free 20-minute video call with a member of their team. These are GREAT resources from good people that will put you on the right path to solving any intake issues you might have. (And if you’re interested in trying Precision Fuel & Hydration products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)

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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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