mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 439

Published about 2 months ago • 8 min read

Good morning! I’m heading home to Boston in a couple days to take part in my favorite weekend of the year and if you’re going to be in town I’d love to celebrate and share some miles with you. Join me on Saturday, April 13 at 9 AM EST from Tracksmith’s Trackhouse at 285 Newbury Street. Please RSVP at this link. We’ll run a few easy miles along the Charles River and catch up over coffee afterward. (I’ll be racing the Boston 5K from Boston Common beforehand so keep an eye out for me if you’re also competing or give me a shout from the sidelines if I run past.)

I know not everyone loves Boston, the race or the city, and that’s fine. We can agree to disagree without screaming at each other about it. I, for one, love this marathon: its history, the course, and what it means to so many runners. I also love the city: its people, its energy, and the resilience it’s shown over the years. In the words of the legendary Bill Rodgers, “You have that feeling of the history of Boston when you are on that starting line. You can just feel it in the air—it just saturates you...This is for real and it’s the best thing in the world.”

And on the third Monday in April, whether you’re on the starting line or not, it really is the best thing in the world. You can feel it everywhere you go in the days leading up to the race and it’s a special thing to experience. I’m privileged to be a part of it for the umpteenth time and am looking forward to sharing in the excitement with everyone throughout the weekend.

OK, lots of good stuff coming your way this week. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— I don’t follow high school running all that closely these days but a couple of my close friends are coaches and one of them had an athlete competing at the Arcadia Invitational this past weekend, so naturally we were texting about it. (n.b. Mark’s athlete, Caroline, shattered her 3200m PB, breaking 10:20 for the first time. It was awesome to share in some of that excitement with him and our friend Rich.) Anyway, after her race was done and dusted, talk turned to the boys 3200m where, over 6 heats spread across two days—a “seeded,” an “invitational,” and four “opens,” all of which were stuffed to the brim—there were 69 sub-9 minute performances, which I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around. (I still remember as a senior in high school when two guys from my home state going 8:49-8:50 in an indoor race was “the race that changed everything.”) Anyway, here’s a video of the invitational race from this past Saturday in its entirety. I love the boxing match-style introductions (which took over 5 minutes because of the sheer number of athletes in the field) followed by the race itself, which was just pure insanity. It’s not often that 38 athletes are on the track at once but that’s how they do it at Arcadia and it really is something to see. Some guys are charging hard at the front, a few trying to surge into position, many just hanging on for dear life, and a good amount of the field spending way more time than they would have liked in Lanes 2 and 3—all of this before a flurry of a finish that sent folks out into Lane 4. It didn’t even look real watching 37 guys finish over the course of 25 seconds. It resembled an all-comer’s time trial in Japan or Kenya, which I think bodes well for the overall health of distance-running in the U.S. Mark, Rich and I (half) joked that, “The great college coaches are going to be the ones who can develop 8:55 guys.”

— My favorite book of the last decade is William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days and there’s not even a close second. I’ve never surfed a day in my life but I devoured his memoir in a matter of days, which is saying something because I’m the slowest reader on the planet. The way that he wrote about surfing (“Surfing is not a sport, it's a way of life. It's a constant search for new waves, new places, and new experiences.”) resonated a lot with me as someone who has been running for more than half of his life and thinks about various aspects of my relationship to it in much the same way. Finnegan was recently a guest on The Surfer’s Journal podcast Soundings with Jamie Brisick and it’s an awesome conversation about the book, yes, but more broadly about the importance of curiosity and asking questions, how he reports and writes, the evolution of surf culture, why he’s not on social media, and a lot more. I loved it and think many of you will too. (A hearty thank you to longtime reader Andrew A. in Colorado for knowing I would devour this one and sending it my way.)

This recent episode of The Running Effect podcast with coaches Chris Miltenberg of the University of North Carolina and Mike Smith of Northern Arizona was great. Miltenberg and Smith were teammates at Georgetown and remain best friends to this day. I really enjoyed listening to them talk about their time together in college and the influence that their coach Pat Hanner had, and still has, on their career. There’s no X’s and O’s talk here—and surprise surprise, when Miltenberg and Smith talk to one another, which is almost daily, there’s very little of it in those conversations either—but there’s a lot of great reflections on the importance of friendship, honesty, and how they’ve helped one another navigate the challenges on the coaching career path.

+ Miltenberg and Smith have both been guests on the morning shakeout podcast and you can listen to those conversations here and here, respectively.

— It has nothing to do with running but this profile of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark by ESPN’s Wright Thompson is one of the best longform stories of 2024. (n.b. I am confident this statement will hold up 9 months from now.) Thompson, as only he can, paints a full picture of an abnormally intense competitor navigating the challenges of growing superstardom and all the external pressures that come with it, while simultaneously trying to figure out who she is as a person, teammate, and leader at the ripe old age of 22. “Modern fame is a radioactive thing that corrodes everything it touches and consumes some people completely,” he writes. “Human beings are designed to live in small tribes, where the most important part of everyday life revolves around direct interactions. That vital way of being is undercut again and again by fame. It really messes some people up. Caitlin has been fighting to feel and be and be seen as human since high school, even as she has strived for things that can only be described as superhuman.”

— Kyle Merber of The Lap Count (n.b. highly recommend subscribing here if you’re not already) recently interviewed Australian middle-distance coach Justin Rinadli of the Fast 8 Track Club and it’s full of awesome insights, including how he works remotely with many of his athletes throughout the year, as well as why he keeps regular hill repeats and long intervals in the workout rotation for his 800m crew. “We also tend to focus on both ends,” he explains. “People think we are a speed based program because we do a speed workout every Monday, but we also focus on the strength on Saturday. As you know, coach Gags (Frank Gagliano) would say, ‘you put the speed and strength in a bowl and you mix it up and you should get a good 800 at the end of it.’”

— Just trust me on this one: Tenacious D covering part of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” is the best two minutes of music you’ll listen to this week. The only travesty is that there’s not a full version of this one.

— From the archives (Issue 73, 7 years ago this week): “I’m pretty sure the human body has a mileage limit.” Real talk from one of my all-time favorite marathoners, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan. Be sure to check out Part II and Part III of the series for more nuggets like this one and incredible first-person insight on what it took for Kawauchi, an unsponsored athlete who works full-time, to qualify for his country’s world championship team. It’s total running-nut nerdery.

— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2024). I’ve been test-driving the new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 for a couple months now and the ride is super smooth. The fit is dialed and the shoe feels like an oversized extension of my foot. 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.) I raced a 10K in them a couple weeks ago and they performed admirably at high speed. (And it’s also the shoe of choice for most of my athletes racing Boston next Monday.) The new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is available now on (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here) and at your favorite local run specialty retail store.

Workout of the Week: Broken Tempo Run

Tempo runs are a staple workout for many runners and with good reason: they’re very effective at improving fitness, focus, discipline, and grit. They also tend to cause some of the most confusion. In general, a tempo run is defined as maintaining a steady effort for a prolonged period of time. So how far and how fast should your tempo runs be? It depends on who you ask. For ease of creating a common understanding here, we’re going to say your tempo runs should be 15-45 minutes worth of work at half-marathon pace, i.e. a “comfortably hard” effort. Tempo runs tend to intimidate a lot of runners because of their stop-free nature, e.g. 3-8 miles at half-marathon pace is a popular prescription and anything but an easy assignment during a heavy training week. The Broken Tempo Run, which simply breaks a traditional tempo run into smaller chunks—serves as a nice alternative, especially early in a training block when you’re just not that fit. I also find it to be a good option for runners, newbies and veterans alike, who have a hard time wrapping their heads around long workouts—taking a 30-60 second break every 5-15 minutes (n.b. I’m using 5:00 reps here for simplicity’s sake) is usually enough time to mentally regroup without affecting the intention of the session. Here are the details.

The bottom line.

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

—Zig Ziglar, author and speaker

That's it for Issue 439. If you’d like to support the shakeout, please forward this email to someone who might enjoy it or post the web link in a high traffic area of the internet where others can check it out. (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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