mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 440

Published about 1 month ago • 7 min read

Good morning! It only took me eight years but I finally realized that trying to write an issue of the shakeout from start to finish on Marathon Monday is an exercise in futility, so I prepared everything from the Quick Splits on down in this one while flying across the country last Thursday.

I spent a few hours yesterday just past Mile 17 in the Newton Hills cheering on my athletes, friends, and everyone else that ran past. I arrived at 10:15 AM and took my long sleeve shirt off right away. It was warm in the sun and there wasn’t a lot of cloud cover. In general, a great day for spectators is a tough day for runners and that certainly held true yesterday. From the elites on back I watched a number of runners duck into the medical tent next to where I stood. Volunteers were handing out ice left and right. The struggle on the street was very real. More than a few runners stopped—but most found a way to keep moving forward, even if it was at a slower pace than they had originally planned. And how could they not? Other runners on the course were encouraging them along, while thousands of strangers on the side of the road were cheering like mad, telling them they could do it. It was a beautiful sight to see: the joy, the pain, the determination, the struggle, the perseverence, the camaraderie, all of it. For a few hours yesterday some of the best of humanity was on display, reminding us of what we’re all here to do: help each other get through—selflessly, enthusiastically, and without judgment. In the words of EK: Marathon is life.

The rest of the weekend was memorable as well. I spent some time with my family before heading into the city, hung out with close friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough, caught up with my athletes, raced a 5K, shook out (and then shook out some more), and even got to meet a bunch of you. My cup is full. Let’s do it again next April!

Quick Splits

— Pay them the money: It was reported last week that World Athletics will pay track and field individual gold medalists at this summer’s Olympic Games $50,000 each. In 2028, silver and bronze medalists will also take home a few bucks. Victor Mather writes that, “Much like athletes competing in the nude, as they did at the ancient Greek Games, Olympic amateurism may be slipping into history.” I’d argue Olympic amateurism slipped into history long ago and anyone that says differently is bullshitting you. The Olympic Games are big business. And while I applaud World Athletics for doing something to reward the athletes for their otherworldly efforts, I’m also of the opinion that it should be the International Olympic Committee, a nonprofit that’s rolling in billions of dollars of dough, that pays medalists across the entire Olympic program. This is 2024. Amateurism at the Olympic Games died over 30 years ago. The Olympic Games, one of the world’s most-watched and well-funded sporting events, doesn’t exist without the athletes that participate in it. The fact that the top athletes aren’t getting paid—especially when their names, images, and likenesses serve as a major revenue driver for the IOC—is a travesty.

— "If you can measure it, you can improve it." This statement is at the heart of optimization culture, which permeates sport, business, and many other areas of life. And while there's some truth to the sentiment, the desire to try and optimize seemingly every aspect of our lives is out of control. Running is certainly no exception. Many runners, myself included, regularly train with a GPS watch to keep an eye on distance, pace, and myriad other metrics. We may also use additional devices that track our heart rate, monitor levels of lactate and glucose in our blood, calculate our power, predict VO2max, analyze our sleep, measure various movements, and much more. And while many of these tools can help us dial in our training, problem-solve our nutrition issues, improve recovery, and whatnot, oftentimes they just make it all feel like way more work than it needs to be. Paralysis by analysis is becoming an increasingly bigger problem for many athletes (and coaches). My friend and colleague Steve Magness recently wrote about the perils of over-optimization and how we’ve seen a shift in how we place value on things (and not necessarily for the better). My advice: Forget about the latest and greatest data-gathering gadget. Identify the handful of metrics that matter most (to you!), use them as points of reference, and don't worry too much about the rest. Remember: We are human beings, not programmable robots.

— Marquis Bowden is a two-time guest on the morning shakeout podcast (learn more about him on Episodes 132 and 207) and over the past four years he’s become a close friend. We talk every other week and he’s just one of the most positive, humble, and hard-working people that I know. Last week his partners at Bandit released this short film, where Marquis shared a bit of his story and reflected on his buildup to Boston. It put a huge smile on my face and I know it will do the same for you.

— Parker Valby is a four-time NCAA champion who might be as well known for her savage cross-training workouts on the Arc Trainer as she is for her competitive accomplishments. Sarah Lorge Butler takes a deeper dive into the specifics of Valby’s regimen in this profile for Runner’s World, but she also paints the best picture I’ve seen yet of Valby’s fierce competitive streak that’s “barely concealed behind her wacky exterior.” “Everything about her was just a little bit, well, goofy,” Lorge Butler writes. “She told [coaches Will and Samantha Palmer] during their first meeting: ‘There’s nothing normal about me.’ Every serious conversation requires a long time. They learned to be ready for the discussion to veer in ‘a hundred directions,’ Samantha Palmer said. ‘It’s like playing a pinball game,’ Will Palmer said.”

— From the archives (Issue 75, 7 years ago this week): Heading into Mile 10 of Monday’s Boston Marathon I knew I was in trouble. Despite starting with a bottle in hand and dumping water on myself at every available opportunity, I was roasting in the middle of the road. If there was a tailwind, I didn’t feel it. My pace was starting to slow, the 71-degree temperature taking its toll and punishing me for my early aggressiveness. My training told me I had close to 2:30 fitness in my legs but truth be told it wasn’t a 2:30 type of day for me given the warm weather conditions. I knew this when I stepped into the corral of course, and should have been more respectful of that fact, but I went out at 2:30 pace anyway—like an idiot. And I paid for it. Mightily. My A, B and C goals went out the window pretty quickly and I went into straight-up survival mode. I spent the entire last 16 miles of the race figuring out how I was going to make it to the finish line. In racing, as in life, you decide how to play the hand you’re dealt. Everyone was dealt theirs from the same deck yesterday. I didn’t play my cards right and got myself into a hole very early on in the race. My two options were to fold or find a way out of it. I chose the latter. Why? There were a number of reasons.

— 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 was also the shoe of choice for most of my athletes racing Boston yesterday.) 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: 3 is a Magic Number

Not only does this workout share its name with one of my favorite covers of all-time, it also happens to be one of my favorite sessions to assign my athletes. In fact, if I were only allowed to use one interval—but could manipulate the intensity, recovery, and number of reps to suit my needs and desires—it’d be 3-minute repetitions. What makes them magic? Three-minute reps are short enough to keep your attention, long enough that you can’t fake your way through a set of them, and versatile enough to achieve different objectives depending on the day. Let me explain.

The bottom line.

“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.”

—Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of ​​The Little House books, in this 1947 letter to children

That's it for Issue 440. If you enjoyed it and would like to support my work, please forward this email to a friend (or five!) who might find it interesting or insightful. (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,


P.S. This is very last minute but if you’re in San Francisco this Thursday night, come down to Ocean Plant, 800 Great Hwy, for a meetup, shakeout, and live podcast with me and my friends from Run Local and Like the Wind magazine. We’ll get started at 5:30 PM with a 30-45 minute run and then turn the mics on at 6:30 for a conversation about running culture, storytelling, and more. Check out this link for more details and to reserve your free spot at the event.

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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