the morning shakeout | issue 429


Good morning! It’s a big week here in the U.S. as our Olympic Trials Marathon takes place on Saturday in Orlando, Florida. The top-three finishers in each race make the team (theoretically, anyway; don’t ask me to explain the situation around unlocking the third men’s spot, as I don’t completely understand it) and hundreds of other competitors will be testing their mettle on the country’s most exclusive marathon stage. I don’t have any predictions for you but I do have a few thoughts, comments, and questions that have been circling around in my brain and I thought it’d be fun to share them here with you off the top this week. Here they are, in no particular order:

— Can Abdi Abdirahman make a sixth Olympic team at the age of 47? There are many reasons why he shouldn’t but I don’t think he’d be hammering out 100-plus mile weeks alongside a bunch of 2-oh-low guys in the high altitude environs of Ethiopia if he didn’t think he had at least a little something left in the tank.

— Will Galen Rupp make a fifth team? He hasn’t exactly been dominant since winning the 2020 Trials but the man knows how to make teams. The most accomplished athlete in the field by orders of magnitude, Rupp, now 37, has never not made an Olympic team since qualifying for his first in 2008.

— Is Sara Hall overcooked or will her sixth Trials (n.b., I’m counting track ones here too) be the charm?

— Aliphine Tuliamuk is not only the reigning Trials champion, she’s one of the best pure racers in the field, and not many people seem to be talking about her as one to watch. Why? This strikes me as a mistake.

— Tuliamuk’s Northern Arizona Elite teammate, Kellyn Taylor, has come close a few times and is always one of the fiercest competitors in the field. Could this be the year she latches on to the lead pack and doesn’t let go or get shaken off?

— Does Keira D’Amato try to control the race? The earlier she grabs hold and dictates the tempo, the better her chances of running onto the podium, I think.

— The course, conditions, and competition feel like an ideal setup for Emily Sisson. Would you bet against her in a championship environment on a flat course in warmish conditions? (Before you answer that, re-watch the 10,000 final from the 2021 Olympic Trials first.)

— Molly Seidel, with the exception of the 2022 Boston Marathon where she dropped out due to injury, hasn’t had a bad marathon since surprising everyone in her debut at the 2020 Trials in Atlanta. If she’s healthy, you have to put her amongst the favorites, no matter the circumstances. Seidel knows how to play her hand when the chips are down.

— Des Linden just keeps showing up. The 40-year-old will be lining up for her fifth marathon Trials. She’s made two teams. Four years ago she was fourth in Atlanta. Does she have one more Trials trick up her sleeve?

— It’s hard to bet against Conner Mantz and Clayton Young as they’re ranked 1-2 going into this one. And their coach, Ed Eyestone, knows a thing or three about making and putting people on Olympic teams. Mantz gets most of the attention but Young, for reasons I can’t find words for right now, seems ready to bust out in a big way. And while Mantz and Young certainly deserve the attention, not many people seem to be talking about their other training partner, Sam Chelanga, who was within a minute of both of them at Chicago last fall. (OK, 63 seconds behind Mantz. My point still stands.) Chelanga has reportedly been training with Mantz and Young in Provo in preparation for Saturday’s race. (And despite the fact that he’s now 38 years old, Chelanga, for my money, is the most talented man in the field.)

— People are forgetting about Colin Bennie. I will remind you that he was 9th at the 2020 Trials in his debut, has run sub-2:10, and finished top-10 at Boston. (Nevermind the fact that he’s another Central Massachusetts guy now living in the Bay Area and I might be a little biased because of it.)

— Futsum Zienasellassie has never run a bad marathon. Granted he’s only run two of them to this point, but they’ve both gone really well. The same can be said for Sara Vaughn on the women’s side. (Fun fact: They both won in their 26.2 debuts at CIM, Vaughn in 2021, Zienasellassie in 2022.) Can they both keep the not-bad streak alive on Saturday?

— Is this the time CJ Albertson pulls a CJ Albertson and even though most people saw it coming from a mile away it still seems to catch everyone by surprise that it actually worked out the way he intended?

— I would not sleep on Betsy Saina. Or Lindsay Flanagan. Or Emily Durgin. Scott Fauble has been awfully quiet of late and for some reason I think that should worry people. I would not take my eyes off Paul Chelimo at any point of the race. Or Leonard Korir for that matter. Bottom line: Everyone better race with at least one eye open.

— The men’s race will go out fast. It has to go out fast. Too many on-the-cuspers with nothing to lose and everything to gain for it not to be quick from the get-go. This should lead to some interesting carnage earlier than you might expect. Women’s race will likely be more strategic early until someone decides they’ve had enough and breaks up the party with like 10 miles to go. (Of course, now that I’ve said that, watch it all go the exact opposite way.)

OK, that’s all I’ve got to say about that for now. I don’t do much in the way of race previews or commentary these days but the Trials excitement and anticipation has been building over the past several days and this was the place to let it all out. Appreciate you all indulging me in my nerdom for a bit.

Before we dive into the rest of this week’s newsletter, I’d like to thank my partners at New Balance for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2024). The new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 launches later this week and will be on the feet of a few folks at the Trials on Saturday. I recently got my pair and I’m actually kind of pissed that I’m not racing a marathon this spring. These racers are unreal! The fit is dialed, the shoe feels like an oversized extension of my foot, and the ride is super smooth at cruising speeds. The FC SC Elite v4 has a new PEBA foam FuelCell midsole with a full-length carbon plate for the right blend of lightweight, plush cushion and snappy responsiveness. (As soon as you start running in them you’ll know exactly what I mean.) The new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 will be available on February 1 on newbalance.com (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

Quick Splits

— I love reading ultrarunner Zach Miller’s writing as much as I enjoy watching him race. He’s unapologetically himself in both pursuits and he brings his best every time. His latest column for iRunFar, “Stride by Stride,” is somewhat esoteric in the topic he’s covering, but the main takeaways from the piece are rather universal in nature. “To me, a craft is more art form than business,” he writes. “While a businessperson cares largely about money and productivity, a craftsperson cares about how they go about doing things and the quality of the finished product. To me, they are more artist than businessperson.”

Important read from Fast Women’s Alison Wade on why the number of women in collegiate coaching remains low. For what it’s worth, I think coaching collegiate cross-country and/or track at any level is a tough sell no matter what, but it’s a particularly untenable situation for many women, as Wade lays out in this piece. (My college coach, Karen Boen, discussed some of this with me on the podcast we recorded a few years back.)

— It’s hard to go wrong with a live KEXP in-studio performance and this one from Wilco a month or so ago did not disappoint. (It pairs well with frontman Jeff Tweedy’s book, “World Within a Song,” which I read over Christmas break.)

— From the archives (Issue 168, 5 years ago this week): I’ve been a fan of Steve Kerr since he played for the Chicago Bulls way back when and, in recent years, I’ve been impressed and inspired by what he’s achieved as the coach of the Golden State Warriors. So, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this recent conversation he had with Michael Gervais on the Finding Mastery podcast. Loved hearing about what he learned from his coaches over the years—namely Lute Olson, Gregg Popovich, and Phil Jackson—the values that are most important to him and how he’s instilled them in his team, as well as how the tragic passing of his father in high school reshaped his life perspective. The last part really resonated with me, as I lost my mom suddenly 10-1/2 years ago, an event which taught me a lot about what’s really important in life and has profoundly impacted how I've lived mine since. “I think it’s important to go through life counting your blessings,” Kerr says. “Each day being thankful for your family, your career, whatever it is you’re thankful for, those things need to be acknowledged. You just can’t let them slide by every day. And honestly, it’s a big part of coaching.”

— Every Thursday afternoon I sit in front of my laptop for a few hours and write out my athletes’ training schedules for the next week. Six years ago, this used to be a messy process: I’d have to sift through a combination of spreadsheets, Strava, emails, and text threads to make sure I had all my ducks in a row before I got started. (Note: This is not uncommon, even today!) That all changed in mid-2017 when I moved my entire coaching operation over to Final Surge. Doing so immediately streamlined my workflow and made the day-to-day business of analyzing workouts, planning training, and communicating with my athletes so much easier and more effective. I built out my workout library and never looked back. Plus, it’s been a far better experience for my athletes, who can see what they need to do, track their progress, and provide feedback all in one place. Well, I’m thrilled to officially be partnering with Final Surge in 2024 and helping more coaches transform how they plan training, analyze data, and communicate with their athletes and teams. This is a platform that I use literally every day and I can’t recommend it highly enough for coaches, whether you work with individuals or teams, in-person or remote. (Check out this page to learn more about what you can do with Final Surge and take advantage of a free 14-day coaching trial. Any questions? Just reply to this email and send ‘em my way!)

Workout of the Week: Surging Mile Repeats

Let me know if this situation sounds familiar: You're in no-man's land midway through a half-marathon or marathon. Or maybe you've been towing a group for several miles and none of the other runners in it want to help out with the pace. There's a good-sized pack about 10 seconds down the road but they're not really pulling away anymore. What do you do? If you want to ride that wave's momentum and take advantage of the collective energy in front of you, you need to make a move and surge ahead. The Surging Mile Repeats workout is a session designed to help give you the fitness and confidence to do just that. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Editor’s note: The lines that preceded this particular excerpt appeared as the bottom line in Issue 172.)


That's it for Issue 429. If you’re enjoying the morning shakeout, please do me a solid and forward this email or pass on the web link to someone who might also appreciate 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,

Mario

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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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