mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 426

Published 5 months ago • 8 min read

Good morning! As it usually does, the first full week of the year kicked my ass in every which direction and I’m still trying to figure out which way is up. After a few down weeks in the training department—including recovering from a mild case of Covid just before Christmas—I started turning the dial a bit to the right again last week. My plan for the next 6-8 weeks is to rebuild the base with a good amount of steady aerobic running, short hill sprints once a week, and track strides (in my racing spikes, ideally) once a week. No intervals until late February at the earliest. I’ve also committed myself to strength training for 1-½ to 2 hours in total each week during this time, which is about double what I usually do. All of it is on Strava and you can follow along if you’re so inclined. The plan is to put together a full outdoor track season for the first time in 20 years, focusing on the 1500m/mile, culminating at the Masters national championships in Sacramento in late July. I’ll sprinkle a few road races in there as well, likely the BAA 5K in mid-April and the Masters National 1-Mile Road Championships in mid-May. My goal is to compete for a national title. It won’t ruin my day if I don’t win but I’m curious and excited to see what I can do and how fast I can go.

Anyway, enough about me. What follows here is a fairly exhaustive collection of web-related things I’ve read, watched, or listened to the past couple of weeks. Let’s dive right in.

Quick Splits

— Josh Kerr is the reigning world champion in the 1500m. He also has an Olympic bronze medal in the same event from the year before. In 2024, all roads lead to Paris and the Scottish middle-distance runner is once again leaving no stone unturned. I have a huge amount of respect for Kerr and the approach he and coach Danny Mackey of the Brooks Beasts are taking into this year—one I think runners at all levels of the sport can stand to try and emulate. “I was like: ‘Well, I can try and train more or harder’ but I think that’s just a very uneducated approach and I think Danny takes very good care and puts us in a really good position,” he told Athletics Weekly. “So I just work on unlocking that fitness and allowing myself to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the call room, enjoy the start line, enjoy the cameras and the pressure that comes with being locked in for five or six days across all the rounds.”

— Take 5 minutes sometime today and watch this short film that Craft Sportswear recently released about Tommy Rivs and his return to the New York City Marathon last fall. It’s the third straight year Rivs has run NYC and watching this film made me think of the conversation he and I had after the 2022 Boston Marathon, when he told me that races are nothing more than a “marker in place in time,” i.e. I was here, and now I am here. This past November Rivs ran NYC in 4:41:57, about two hours ahead of where he finished in 2022, and over 4-1/2 hours ahead of where he was in 2021. A little over a minute into this one he talks about how hard it is to see progress on a daily or even a weekly basis, and how you just have to trust that it’s all adding up to something, but the real goal is to put in as much consistent, honest work as you can, and nothing has ever felt more true.

— Laura Muir is one of my favorite athletes in the world to watch race. It’s hard to explain, but observing her in action you can just tell that she trusts herself and the moves she’s making along the way, even if they don’t always pan out (which is rare). It doesn’t matter who’s in the race, Muir competes with confidence and, as she explains in this Athletics Weekly profile, doesn’t put limitations on herself, while also not expecting (or assuming, really) anything of those around her. “Just knowing what I’m capable of, some of the things that I’ve done in training this year, I’ve never had the opportunity to do before and I’ve really shocked myself like: ‘Wow, I can do that,’” she says. “So I think it’s just having that confidence in myself that I am successful because of the athlete that I am. That’s been a big, big thing, just self-confidence really, and not having to rely on somebody else.”

— Amory Rowe, whose work I’ve linked to in this newsletter before, recently posted this transcript of an interview she did with the writer (and runner!) Kathryn Schulz (who I’ll forever remember for this Pulitzer Prize winning piece, “The Really Big One,” an incredible piece of feature writing that scared the ever-living sh*t out of me) that first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Tracksmith’s METER magazine. It’s a great read in which they discuss two of this newsletter’s favorite topics—running and writing—and also where and how they interact and intersect for Schulz in her life. “I'm guessing that among writers, many of them are seeking what I'm seeking [when they run],” Schulz says, “which is that beautiful kind of blankness in the mind into which sentences sometimes float, ideas sometimes float, problems solve themselves.”

— I loved everything about this Guardian piece shining a light on older ultrarunners who are still going “fast” in their 70s and 80s even though I personally have zero desire to follow in their footsteps (at least in terms of covering that much distance 30 or 40 years from now). “There’s something about seeing it, runners at ages we equate with our grandparents, that has us grasping for life hacks,” writes Jared Beasley. “And maybe, that’s where we miss the point. Maybe what they are showing us is how to be more in the moment. For Wally Hesseltine the moment is another chance to go long – deep into the extreme where legs burn and lungs pray for air – into parts of himself that beg him to stop. And maybe that’s what we’re all so scared to death of. Stopping.”

— I honestly have no idea if this is a new post or not—I feel like these may have been posted elsewhere before—but Kilian Jornet’s training principles should be required reading for any athlete, regardless of discipline, experience level, and/or competitive goals. They’re simple, straightforward, and have been proven to hold true over and over and over again. My favorite is “KISS,” i.e. Keep It Simple Stupid, which he says he stole from the speed skater Nils van der Poel. “We find more fancy to focus on that highlighted 1% that it’s told to us that makes the difference,” Kilian writes. “That’s bullshit. The 99% vs the 1%. Focus on building a great methodology that you find sustainable to do every day, week, month, year.” Now, as far as I know, the originator of the KISS philosophy was legendary Villanova track coach Jumbo Elliott, who popularized it in the 1950s and 60s. But either way, it’s stood the test of time and reminds me of one of my own training principles (which I borrowed from filmmaker Morgan Spurlock): Once you get fancy, fancy gets broken.

+ If you missed it the first time around a few years ago, listen to Kilian and I talk training and other topics on Episode 129 of the podcast back in fall of 2020.

— It’s the time of year when goal-setting is top of mind for, well, most of us. In this article for Trail Runner, coach Cliff Pittman does a great job explaining how to think about different types of goals, breaks down the differences between thinking short versus long-term, and outlines the SMART framework to help you “transform vague aspirations into well-defined and achievable objectives.” Along these lines, another aspect of goal-setting I encourage people to think about—that I learned from Dr. Justin Ross—is setting “performance standards” for yourself, i.e. how you're going to show up during your toughest workouts, and in races, especially when it's not going well, and/or you see the goal slipping away, and the strategies will you put in place to meet those self-imposed standards when the chips are down.

— For reasons I’m not going to get into right now, I went down a deep Everlast rabbit hole last week and discovered this acoustic version he put out a few years ago of one of the most honestly written songs of all-time, “What It’s Like.” I must have listened to it a few dozen times over the course of two days. (The extended guitar intro is what puts it over the top for me.) The song itself is over 25 years old now but its vignettes and the empathetic truths that emanate from those three scenes and the interludes between them are timeless.

— I’d like to thank my longtime partner New Balance for their continued support of my work in 2024. I’m super proud of this partnership, one which is built around our shared values of quality, consistency, and performance. This Boston-based brand has been making incredible products for well over 100 years and I’ve personally been running in their shoes for over 20 now. We half-joke in our house that the Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is the “unofficial official” shoe of the morning shakeout—it’s the trainer I wear for 75% of my training runs and it’s been the workhorse of my stable for four years now. It’s the most comfortable AND reliable shoe I’ve ever run in and holds up to the miles week in and week out. It’s lightweight but sturdily built, plush enough underfoot to provide plenty of protection as the miles add up but responsive enough that you can wear it at a wide range of speeds. The Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is available at your favorite run specialty retail store or on (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

Workout of the Week: The In-n-Out Tempo Run

Let’s face it: Training for a marathon or half-marathon can get monotonous. Both programs involve lots of sustained running at or around goal race pace. This is part of the deal, of course, and an important component for developing fitness, dialing in pacing, practicing fueling, and more. That said, it gets repetitive, if not boring, and a lot of people tend to lock in to a set pace and then zone out until it’s time to stop. Racing, however, requires you to pay attention, listen to your body, and make adjustments on the fly, which is why I love to assign the In-n-Out Tempo Run from time to time. Not to mention, it’s much more interesting than its classically constructed cousin! Here are the details.

The bottom line.

“I can teach you how to set a course. I can teach you how to build a tent. I can teach you how to put up a structure. What I cannot teach you is if you walk past a piece of trash on the ground, you pick it up and throw it away. Or to snip the end of a zip-tie. Or slow down enough to chat with some of the participants or volunteers. That is the care. I can teach you a lot but I can’t teach you to care. And that’s the big divider between just doing your job—or JE, ‘just enough’—and that little bit more. The slow down and check-in goes a long way. And that’s [what I mean when I say that you] ‘can’t teach care.’”

— Ted Metellus, race director of the New York City Marathon, telling it like it is on Episode 193 of the morning shakeout podcast.

That's it for Issue 426. If you’re enjoying the newsletter, please forward this email to someone who might also enjoy it and/or share the web link far and wide. (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.)

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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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