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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 436

Published about 1 month ago • 8 min read

Good morning! I opened up my 2024 racing season this past Sunday with a 10K in Oakland, a short drive across the bay from where I live. It was my second-straight year participating in the event (I ran the half-marathon last year as a tuneup for Boston) and it will be an annual one for me as long as my schedule allows for me to get over there. While it’s fun to travel and be a part of something massive there’s nothing quite like the magic of a local race. As I stood there in the start corral, I thought of the John Green quote I shared in last week’s newsletter about how being “bound up with others, and friends, and strangers alike is the human condition, and to be in community is—for me, anyway—to be more fully alive,” and in that moment I felt pretty damn alive as I made small talk with other runners from various local clubs and crews, and even a couple folks who came from out of town to join in on the fun.

The race itself went well for me. (You can crunch my numbers on Strava if you’re into that kind of stuff.) I ran strong from start to finish, closed well over the final ¼ mile or so, and I’m really happy with how I executed on the day. As I wrote back in January, I’m focusing my attention on the 1500/mile through the end of July, so this 10K fit in well as an early season rust-buster/fitness check/hard effort. I’ve pretty much stuck to my original plan 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 haven’t been in my spikes as much as I would have liked, mostly due to timing and track access issues, but the rest has been pretty routine week to week. I’ve been doing drills, short hills, and strength work with a consistency I haven’t had since college and I feel like I’m moving as well as I ever have, just really in command of my stride at any speed. The mix of “steady” and “hard” tempo work has gotten me pretty fit. The past 10 weeks have reinforced to me that doing a few key things consistently well gets you most of the way toward where you want to go. It’s when we get wrapped up in trying to do too much at once that we often get ourselves into trouble. Keep the main thing(s) the main thing.

OK, enough about me. I’ve got a good roundup of inspiration, information, entertainment, and other bits of interestingness to share with you. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— The Paris Men's 10,000m at Sound Running's The TEN (yes, that’s a mouthful) this past Saturday was STACKED. Eight guys went under 27 minutes with American record-holder Grant Fisher leading the way in 26:52.04. Nico Young of Northern Arizona University shattered the NCAA record, running 26:52.72 to finish second, just ahead of New Mexico’s Habtom Samuel, who ran 26:53.84 for fifth, also well under the old collegiate best. (Full results here). If, like me, you were already in bed when the race went off or just couldn’t stomach forking over yet another subscription fee to watch a race, you’re in luck and can watch a full replay of The TEN right here. No disrespect to anyone in the race but all the good stuff starts with a K to go. It was just a bunch of guys running in a straight line until that point. Fisher didn’t lead a step until he had to, which was about 100 meters from the finish line. He looked so smooth coming down the final straightaway and there was never a question who was going to take it. I did chuckle to myself, however, while thinking back to 2010 when Chris Solinsky became the first American to break 27 minutes in the event and it was a huge freaking deal at the time. That would have been good enough for ninth place at The TEN.

— Matthew Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic 1500m gold medalist, says this is his final season. The 34-year-old has made three straight Olympic teams but the last few years have been anything but smooth, as he didn’t make the final of the 2021 Games in Tokyo, and less than a year later he needed to have ACL surgery. His goal for 2024? “To finish up on a high note and ride off into the sunset with a smile on my face.” Centro kicked off his season this past weekend with a 3:38.88 opener in the 1500 at The TEN, finishing fifth. Not great relative to what others are running these days but honestly, I didn’t think it was a bad opener for him considering where he was at this point a year ago. Centro’s made a career out of showing up when it counts the most—I think it’d be a mistake to write him off on the final lap of his career.

— I run with our dog Tahoe 4-5 times a week on average, anywhere between 2 and 6 miles. More often than not he accompanies me for the first couple miles of my run before I drop him back at home. It eliminates the need for a separate walk and it’s time we get to spend together doing something we both enjoy. Once or twice a week we do a family run along with my wife, Christine. I look forward to these runs more than anything, as does Tahoe, who genuinely seems confused when he doesn’t get to go, or Christine isn’t joining us. I’ve long believed that running together is great for our collective well-being and according to this recent Outside article, a study out of Sweden confirms that to be true. “Not only do dogs seem to have a direct impact on heart disease, but they’ve also been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure in humans, meaning that they likely reduce stress and anxiety in conjunction with reducing heart disease risk factors,” writes Mary Beth Skylis. “Many of these benefits are reciprocal, meaning that dogs that run also experience a reduction in cardiovascular disease, too, while boosting joint health, respiratory function, and immune strength. And since dogs are also highly attuned to their owners, reducing your own anxiety and stress levels can help you to lower your dog’s levels, as well.”

This was a interesting short interview by iRunFar’s Hannah Green with Rickey Gates, one of the most unique and creative runners I’ve ever met. In it, he discusses running and art, and where and how the two intersect for him. “Art and running, in their deepest forms, are related in that they both require endurance and suffering,” he says. “Both require you to engage in practice even when, or especially when, you don’t want to. Both require the fatigue, frustration, boredom, and self-doubt to push you mentally and physically into deeper realms.”

— Cal Newport is one of my favorite thinkers and his latest book, Slow Productivity, is next up in my queue. In this article he recently wrote for The New Yorker, “How I Learned to Concentrate,” Newport recalls his time as a grad student at MIT, which changed how he thought about thinking, as well as understanding the difference between busyness and productivity. “Too many of us undervalue concentration, and substitute busyness for real productivity, and are quick to embrace whatever new techno-bauble shines brightest,” he writes. “You don’t have to spend hours staring at whiteboards or facing down monster minds for these realizations to ring true. M.I.T. is preposterous—but in its particulars it may have also isolated something that the rest of us, deep down, know is important.”

— Last week on Instagram I shared a few thoughts on racing and how it can serve as a reminder for how to navigate life. You can check out that post here.

— Hat tip to friend of the shakeout Peter Bromka for sending this George Harrison tribute from Prince, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Steve Winwood my way over the weekend. It’s from Harrison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and they’re performing a rendition of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It’s phenomenal. The best part is about 3-½ minutes in when Prince appears on the stage and rips into a guitar solo, seemingly unaware anyone else is even in the building as his body moves with the instrument and his eyes roll back into his head. Definitely a “holy sh*t that was something” kind of moment.

— From the archives (Issue 19, 8 years ago this week): What are you afraid of? Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for her book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” is a great storyteller—on stage as well as on the page. I enjoyed this short supplement to her TED talk, “Your elusive, creative genius.” In the written piece, she shares her best advice for living a meaningfully creative life. My favorite bit was #7 addressing fear. “Because for one thing, you don’t want to get rid of your fear; you need it to keep you alive,” she writes. “We’re all here because we had fear that preserved us.” This tied in nicely with a TED Radio Hour podcast re-run I listened to recently called “What We Fear,” which took a deeper dive into what it means to be afraid and what effect fear can have on our lives. The first conversation with astronaut Chris Hadfield was my favorite part of the episode and resonated most with me. “If you’re gonna take any risk in life, if you’re gonna expose yourself to any danger, it’s worth asking why,” Hadfield says. “For me, if I’m going to take a risk, I want it to be for a purpose. I want it to have a reason. And also something that I have some control over, so I can be master of my own destiny and fate, at least to some degree. That’s sort of the essence of exploration.”

— A big thank you to my longtime partner Tracksmith for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2024). I recently got a pair of the new Turnover Half Tights and I fell in love with them right away. Formerly called the Reggie Half Tight, this updated version is everything that was great about the prior model plus three extra pockets to store fuel for long runs and races (or whatever else you might want to stuff in there). The zip pocket is bigger and better positioned than before and can easily fit a phone, keys, or a credit card. The material is the same and fit is identical from what I can tell. I do appreciate the new removable internal drawstring that allows you to adjust the waistband to your desired snugness. I’m not going to be doing any long races anytime soon but these have already proven their mettle for long runs and workouts. Great option as we head into spring here in the coming weeks. If you buy the new Turnover Half Tights, or anything else 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).

Workout of the Week: The 5 x 5 Fartlek

One of my favorite all-purpose workouts to assign my athletes, whether they’re burning rubber on the track, shredding grass on the cross-country course, kicking up dirt on the trails, locking into a rhythm on the roads, or doing some combination of the aforementioned, is the 5 x 5 Fartlek. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”
Robert Frost, American poet


That's it for Issue 436. If you’re enjoying the newsletter, please forward this email to someone who might find value in it and/or share the web link far and wide. (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

Support the morning shakeout directly on Patreon and help keep my work sustainable for years to come.


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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