the morning shakeout | issue 442


Good morning! I spent the end of last week and part of the weekend visiting some close friends in the bucolic environs of Asheville, North Carolina. It was my first time back to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 12 years and while the city itself has certainly changed in many ways over the last decade or so, the area still felt as familiar, welcoming, and beautiful as I remembered it. Bent Creek within the Pisgah National Forest is one of the most special places I’ve ever run with miles upon miles of tree-covered fire roads and singletrack to explore and enjoy. It’s a small slice of heaven on earth. I definitely recommend checking it out if you ever get the chance. This visit wasn’t nearly long enough but it was a real treat to spend some quality time with a few people who mean a lot to me. Distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder but when you make the effort to close the gap every once in a while it will leave it feeling a lot fuller.

Before we dive into this week’s issue, 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 these bad boys can really fly! 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.) It’s an amazing marathon shoe—it was the shoe of choice for most of my athletes racing Boston a couple weeks ago—but is versatile enough for racing shorter distances and mixing in for longer workouts from time to time. The new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is available now on newbalance.com (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here) and at your favorite local run specialty retail store.

OK, let's get right to it.

Quick Splits

— Leonard Cohen was talking about writing in this quote about perfectionism but the same holds just as true for the Type-A runners amongst us. “If it is your destiny to be this laborer called a writer, you know that you’ve got to go to work every day, but you also know that you’re not gonna get it every day,” he says. “You have to be prepared, but you really don’t command the enterprise…I found that things got a lot easier when I no longer expected to win.”

— How we talk to ourselves (and what we choose to listen to) is important: as runners, as partners, as parents, as workers, as people in general. It’s normal to have negative thoughts and feelings—we’re probably not going to stop them, but what we do with them when they arrive is important. This article from Lexi Miller takes a look at Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs, and shares a number of effective strategies for reframing negative self- talk when things aren’t going to plan (or even when they are and you fail to recognize it). Developing emotional intelligence and improving awareness around these negative feelings is helpful in running or any other “long game” pursuit in life.

— A popular topic of conversation with many of the athletes I coach is what the cut-off is going to be for the 2025 Boston Marathon. Registration won’t open until September but it feels safe to say that interest in next year’s race is likely to be off the charts. (Interest in marathons, in particular the Majors, has increased exponentially the past couple of years. Chicago will have a record-size field this fall, New York had its second-most ever applicants for this year’s race (just shy of 2020, which ended up being canceled), Boston had a record number of applicants last year, and yesterday the London Marathon announced that more than 840,000 applied for entry into next year’s race, up from last year’s record of 578,304. “Running a marathon has become a milestone for a growing number of young adults,” Maggie Mertens wrote in this recent article for The Atlantic, “The New Quarter Life Crisis.”) Here’s a deep dive into the Boston 2025 data (so far) by a guy named Joe Drake that predicts next year’s cut-off will be somewhere between 5:43 and 7:11, a range that’s likely to change again in the coming months with a few more key qualifying races still to take place. This is all speculative, of course, but last year’s cut-off was 5:29 (over 11,000 qualifiers were turned away), the field size isn’t likely to get any bigger, and, I have a hunch that since less people re-qualified at Boston this year due to the warmer conditions, we’ll see a late summer BQ blitz at smaller to mid-sized races that still have spots available. (I’ve already had this conversation with a handful of my athletes.) In years past I’ve always encouraged my BQ-focused folks to aim for at least a 5-minute cushion—for what it’s worth, we’ve stretched that out to a minimum of 10 minutes for 2025. (And I can’t help but wonder: If another 10K+ folks get turned away for 2025, will we see yet another arbitrary adjustment to BQ times across board?)

— If there’s a figurehead when it comes to modern-day marathon training, his name is Renato Canova. Canova, the almost 80-year-old Italian coach whose athletes have won over 40 Olympic and world championship medals in addition to a dozen or so world records, is credited with popularizing what we now think of as the key elements of modern-day marathon training: high global volume, frequent and increasing amounts of running at MP (especially during long runs), and whatever you’ve got to do to build yourself up to handle such a workload. Anyway, I enjoyed watching him at work in this recent YouTube video documenting a track session of 10 x 1600m (200m jog recovery) with some of his current athletes, including Emile Cairess (third at London a couple weekends ago), Amanal Petros (win and course record at Hanover the same weekend), Tadesse Abraham (course and Swiss national record at Barcelona last month), and others. Canova explains that his athletes work on specific speed from the beginning of the training cycle and then try to extend the amount of time—and total volume—they spend at that pace over the course of a few months. “At the end, the final goal in every event of athletics is to increase the volume of the specific speed,” he says. “Not the volume, and not the specific speed, but the volume of the specific speed—for everything, for 5(K), for 10(K), for 1500m.” The other comment he made in this one that caught my attention was right at the end. It had nothing to do with training but was insightful nonetheless. “Arriving number 6 or number 8 at the Olympics can be important for a European,” he says, “but for a Kenyan or an Ethiopian, it doesn't add anything. It’s very much more important for them to try and win a medal than to arrive number 5 at the Olympics.”

— I’m the kind of guy that, when he goes to his favorite restaurant, orders the same dish(es) pretty much every time. (And if what I’m looking for hasn’t been on the menu for the while, I’ll ask them if they can still make it for me.) I’ve got an open mind, and I’m willing to try new things every once in a while, but I know what I like. This is how I feel about Pearl Jam and their new album, Dark Matter. It’s great, and I know that I’ll enjoy bits and pieces from it every now and again for years to come, but more often than not I’ll go back to the tracks that fill me up every time, namely “Daughter” and “Yellow Ledbetter,” both of which the band performed live last week on The Howard Stern Show. Sure, these two songs are over 30 years old at this point, but holy hell does Eddie Vedder sing the shit out of them in the aforelinked performances. These versions taste as good if not better than when they were first released. (And like any of my favorite dishes, I savored them to the last bite.)

— From the archives (Issue 338, 2 years ago this week): Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Tommy Rivers Puzey. It was the day after the Boston Marathon, which Tommy finished in 6 hours, 31 minutes, and 54 seconds. We met at his hotel, caught up for a couple minutes in a second-floor lobby, and then retreated to his room, where we turned on the mics and spoke for nearly 2-1/2 hours. You can listen to that conversation in its entirety on this week’s episode of the podcast. This a long, winding, and at times heavy conversation with someone I deeply respect and admire about life, death, cancer, identity, hope, potential, love, gratitude, and more. It gave me pause, made me laugh, caused me to shed tears, and brought multiple smiles to my face. It also reinforced my appreciation for the miracle of Tommy’s survival, the heroes that helped him pull through, and the outpouring of support he and his family received (and continues to receive) from so many people. And finally, it forced me to reflect on what’s important in my own life, how I want to live, and the purpose I want to serve. I hope it does all of this—and then some—for you, too.

— As athletes and coaches, we talk a lot about what we should eat and drink during long(er) races such as half marathons, marathons, and ultras. What doesn’t get discussed as much, however, is what to consume during and around key training sessions. Speaking for myself, one of the major shifts I’ve made in my own training the past couple of years is taking in carbohydrates during my more intense workouts (intervals, tempos, and the like). I don’t overcomplicate it: If I’m at the track, I’ve got a bottle full of PF 60 on the infield, sipping on it between reps, and/or I’ve got a PF 30 gel or two at the ready in my pocket when there isn’t a bottle within reach. Not only has this helped me perform optimally during the session, it also kick-starts the recovery process before I’ve even finished. My partners at Precision Fuel & Hydration, whose products I’ve used to fuel my own training and racing for 7 years now, recently shared this incredibly helpful and comprehensive cheat sheet that details how to best fuel around training sessions, keeping in mind the duration, intensity and purpose of the workout, and I highly recommend checking it out. (And if you’re interested in trying PF&H products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)

Workout of the Week: Ks For Days

If you’re training for longer races like half-marathons or marathons, it behooves you to do regular work at or around threshold intensity, which, according to renowned coach and exercise physiologist Jack Daniels, is the effort you can race at for 50-60 minutes. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say this is slower than your 10K pace but faster than you can go for a half-marathon. These workouts require a lot of focus while improving the physiological and psychological endurance you’ll need to race well at longer distances. One of my favorite threshold workouts is a bunch of 1-kilometer repeats with a short rest (30-60 seconds) in between intervals. We start at half-marathon pace if not a touch slower—better to start on the side of too slow than too fast—and get a little quicker as the workout goes on without ever going too crazy. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“In general, indeed, the wise in all ages have always said the same thing, and the fools, who at all times form the immense majority, have in their way too acted alike, and done just the opposite; and so it will continue.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer in the introduction to The Wisdom of Life


That's it for Issue 442. If you found any part of it to be informative, insightful, inspiring, or even remotely interesting, please forward this email to a friend (or five!) and encourage them to subscribe at this link so that it lands in their inbox next Tuesday.

Thanks for reading,

Mario

P.S. Are you a coach? Whether you work with individuals or teams, coach in-person or remotely, Final Surge has the tools for you to provide effective and efficient instruction and feedback to all your athletes. Moving my entire coaching operation under the Final Surge roof in 2017 streamlined my workflow and made the day-to-day business of analyzing workouts, planning training, and communicating with my athletes a much better experience for everyone involved. Check out the full list of features available to coaches right here. You can also tighten up the sign-up process and manage onboarding, getting waivers signed, and/or monthly billing all in one place. It’s pretty awesome. Head over to finalsurge.com and take advantage of a free 14-day coaching trial today. Use the code MORNINGSHAKEOUT when you check out to take 10% off your first purchase. Any questions? Just reply to this email and send ’em my way!

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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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