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mario fraioli | the morning shakeout

the morning shakeout | issue 443

Published about 1 month ago • 8 min read

Good morning! It’s nice to be home for a bit after spending a majority of the past few weeks on the road in some way, shape, or form. I’m a creature of habit, and admittedly struggle in myriad ways when taken out of my routine, but I think I’ve gotten a little better at rolling with the punches over the years (though my wife may disagree!). The training side of things is perhaps where I’ve made the most progress/peace with being thrown off my game. Over the past few weeks my key workouts, long runs, total volume, strength sessions, and overall consistency have all taken a hit. I knew this would likely be the case. But, instead of trying to force things into the schedule where they didn’t fit, or being frustrated when I had to dial things back, switch things up, or miss things altogether, I just did what I could and didn’t stress about what I couldn’t. I viewed it as a mid-season reset of sorts. And you know what, this simple shift in mindset helped a lot. I returned home on Sunday afternoon feeling refreshed and excited to get back into a good groove. Even the best routines benefit from being broken up every once in a while.

OK, I’ve got lots of interesting stuff to share with you this week. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— Over the past year or so I’ve shared a lot from the handful of health and performance-focused newsletters that I read regularly. The latest in that rotation is Nexus Health and Performance from David Lipman, a doctor and exercise scientist who makes complex topics easier to understand for idiots like me. One of my favorite recent posts of his is this one on ideas that need to die. They’re all great but the most relevant to this audience is probably the one on junk miles: “Mindlessly going through the motions to just tick a box is where ‘junk miles’ truly live and this needs to die,” he writes. “Yes there will be fluctuations in motivation and times where things feel a grind. But as mentioned previously in discussing lessons learned from the best in the world, HOW things are executed is of the utmost importance. There will (or at least should) be parts of the training to be focussing on which aren’t staring at the timer and wishing it would speed up. They may be breathing, form, or other facets of execution. Being mindful of these and really ensuring quality of them is key.” I appreciated this because I hear a lot of athletes and coaches talking about “quality” training as if it means only one thing, i.e. the intensity of the effort, and “quantity” somehow not being important, when the truth is quality takes many different forms (as Lipman says, “it’s about how you execute”) and quantity doesn't just mean "do more for the sake of doing more." These two training variables need to coexist and complement one another: right intensity in the right doses at the right times.

+ More from David: Lessons Learned from the Best Athletes & Coaches in the World. “I was recently talking with some other coaches in various conversations, and the resounding take away was that the small details mattered much less than the big picture,” he explains. “Young/new coaches often really fixate on details, which often transitions to intermediate coaches who love to discuss the merits of different details until they finally become experienced enough to realise the details probably don’t matter much.”

— Many of you seem to have enjoyed the Renato Canova video I shared in last week’s issue so I suspect this analysis of Emile Cairess’ training before the London Marathon by John Davis over at Running Writings will go over quite well. The analysis stems from Canova sharing the entirety of Cairess’ training block to the letsrun forums recently. As my buddy Mark texted me the other day, “Amazing that someone can post ‘Renato: what was Emile’s training like before his breakout?’ & canova just hits cntrl+c and cntrl+v on his whole training plan.” Davis’ interpretation of Cairess’ log is great and a nice peek into how Canova is bringing the 26-year-old’s training along as he immerses himself in the marathon. The three most noteworthy takeaways/reinforcements for me are: 1. No intensity goes untouched. Yes, Cairess does a lot of running at/around goal marathon pace but he’s also sprinting on occasion, not neglecting VO2max work, jogging a fair amount, and generally making his way up and down the entire intensity ladder throughout the training block. 2. He never does the same exact workout twice. As I explained last week, Canova’s workouts progress throughout a training cycle, which I think is the primary reason no one session gets repeated, but the spirit/intention of the workouts in the rotation remain intact over the course of 16 weeks. 3. Canova and Cairess aren’t afraid to make adjustments for travel/illness/life. “Cairess gets sick, backs off because of some small injuries, and takes rest days when doing long-haul travel,” Davis writes. “As always, Canova athletes roll with the punches of real-life training.” (I note this as a reminder to myself—see above—as well as for all the other amateur age-group athletes I know that will do whatever it takes to check the box, often for no reason other than to check the stupid box.)

— My new favorite podcast is Second Nature with co-hosts Aaron Lutze and Dylan Bowman and you can listen to it wherever you find your podcasts. In each episode they talk about various happenings in the outdoor industry, so it’s kind of insiderish in that way, but it’s also an interesting and informative listen even if you haven’t lived within that world and/or only pay attention from the periphery. The latest episode, which, admittedly, I haven’t listened to yet, is an interview with Mike Rogge, the owner and editor of Mountain Gazette, a legendary print magazine that hadn’t put out a new issue for nine years when he bought it in 2020. I’m somewhat familiar with Mountain Gazette’s history and am excited to learn why Rogge bought it, and how he plans to revitalize it as a twice-a-year large format print product in an age of immediacy, shrinking attention spans, and general digital overload.

— Hat tip to my buddy Brendan Leonard for pointing me toward this short YouTube video from Ali Gallop that captures the magic and energy of the marathon. And while I don’t agree with the title that marathons aren’t about running—in many and arguably most cases they are, at least on some level—I do appreciate the sentiment that everyone is out there for their own reason(s) and that is part of what makes the experience so special, meaningful, and memorable. As I wrote a few weeks ago after Boston: “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 perseverance, 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.”

— I love (watching) a good 800m race. (Running one hurts too much but I’ll still do it from time to time.) Often these two-lappers go out super hard from the gun and it’s the runner who can best fend off the figurative bear on their back while coming down the home straight that comes out on top. Well, high school freshman Cooper Lutkenhaus caught the bear by surprise at the UIL 5A boys 800m in Texas a few days ago, going from fourth to first with half a lap to go to win in a new national freshman record of 1:49.84. Watch the final 30 seconds or so for yourself right here. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he hit half a lap to go in 1:24 and change.

— It’s kind of scary how good the YouTube algorithm is at finding and feeding me obscure covers but I’m not going to complain. Here’s Melissa Etheridge covering Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” on Howard Stern ten years ago. (It was re-released last week.) Listening to her hit the key parts with her signature raspy voice gave me chills, but seeing Billy in the background enjoying the performance is what makes it for me. My Mom, a fan of both of these artists who sadly did die young, would have loved it.

— From the archives (Issue 286, 3 years ago this week): This unedited 85-minute interview with David Foster Wallace from 2003 won’t be for everyone but it absolutely captivated me and I know it will do the same for a number of you. Wallace, as awkward, anxious, and uncomfortable as he comes across in this conversation, was an incredibly gifted thinker, writer, and observer of the human condition. The thoughts he shares here on media, entertainment, advertising, culture, where these things intersect and intermingle, and ultimately how they affect society on an individual and collective level are frighteningly on point. Although the mediums have evolved over time, Wallace’s message holds as true today as it did 18 years ago when this was recorded. “A model of life in which I have a right to be entertained all the time seems to be not a promising one,” he says.

— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2024). When it comes to running shorts, I’m super picky, which is why I end up wearing half-tights most days. My biggest issue with shorts has to do with fit: the waist is weird and/or doesn’t have a functional drawstring, the liner is either too tight or too loose, and/or the length doesn’t feel right. Pockets, or lack thereof, are also a problem. New Balance came to the rescue this year with the revamped RC Shorts and I’m in the process of stocking up for summer! These are the best running shorts I’ve ever worn and that is not hyperbole. The material is lightweight, breathable, and nearly seamless, the waistband is just the right thickness and features an external drawstring for plenty of adjustability, and the liner is incredibly comfortable and supportive. Plus, they have a secure zip pocket in the back and two built into the liner to carry whatever you might need. Oh, and they come in different lengths—3, 5, and 7 inches for men (5” is my personal go-to), 3 and 5 inches for women—and a nice range of solid colors to boot. Check ’em out for yourself right here!

Workout of the Week: The Sisyphus Session

I first wrote about this hill workout several years ago for Competitor (now Outside Run) and you can dig into its background and some of its variations here. Inspired by Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, this is one of my favorite sessions. I use some version of its short-medium-long format with all of my athletes, manipulating the specifics for who they are, what they’re training for, and where they are in a training block. This session is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one and there’s probably a place for it in your program. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“Inspiration is merely the reward for working every day.”

—Charles Baudelaire, poet and art critic, from Curiosites Esthetiques (1868)


That's it for Issue 443. 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,

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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