the morning shakeout | issue 446


Good morning! My birthday was last Friday. I turned 42. Back in 2020 I started a collection of life lessons and every year I update it with a new one that I’ve been taught or learned myself, oftentimes the hard way. It was inspired by Kevin Kelly’s “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice” and this annually updated post from my friend Chris Corbin.

This year’s addition is about progress and it comes from this journal entry my friend Tommy Rivers Puzey shared last August: "Direction is much more important than location when it comes to progress." All too often many of us equate making progress with arriving somewhere. But not all progress has a clearly defined endpoint, nor is it always measurable. What's more important is whether or not we're heading in the right direction: Are you hung up on failure or are you exploring opportunities for improvement and growth? Maybe you didn't run a personal best but are you training more consistently than you were before, staying healthier for longer periods of time, and improving in other ways? If you’re feeling stuck in a situation, or struggling to get started on something, what’s a step you can take that will get you somewhere? Progress is about knowing where you want to go, continuing to take steps in that direction, learning along the way, and being open to changing course if necessary. It may take you a while to get there, and there's a chance you might not make it at all, but that doesn't mean progress wasn't made.

While I wrote this list for me, it’s my hope that there’s a nugget or two that you can take away and apply to your own life. Please feel free to share it if anything in here speaks to you. I’d also encourage you to spend some time compiling your own list of life lessons that you can refer back to when necessary. It’s a good exercise in reflection, whether it’s your birthday or not.

Note: Some of these have to do with running, others not so much. They’re listed in no particular order and I’ve included attribution/inspiration when I was able to remember the source.

Quick Splits

— My friend and occasional creative co-conspirator Brendan Leonard has a new book out called Ultra-Something. I was fortunate enough to get an early look at it and was honored when he asked me to provide a blurb, which I’ll re-hash here: “I don’t know how to describe this book other than to say it’s the most Brendan Leonard thing I’ve ever read: odd and a little all over the place but creatively told, relatable, and funny as hell. It’s really…something!” Here’s a free preview of the first chapter, illustrations and all, that sets the stage for what’s to come. It’s a quirky narrative that explores the weird proclivity we as humans have for endurance, the different ways we express it (not just running, or cycling, or whatever other sport first comes to mind!), and the lessons that emerge when you find a way to keep going.

— To say that Saturday’s Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic was stacked might be the understatement of the season. It featured the reigning world champion, the reigning Olympic champion, the 2022 world champion, and numerous global medalists and national record holders—a murderers’ row of men’s milers if there ever was one. You can watch the race in its entirety here. The short of it is that Josh Kerr beat Jakob Ingebrigtsen at his own game, taking the lead with 600 meters to go and never relinquishing it, winning in 3:45.34, 26/100ths of a second ahead of his Norwegian rival. American Yared Nuguse was third in 3:46.22. Kerr broke Steve Cram’s 39-year-old British record as nine men ran under 3:50, kicking off what’s sure to be an exciting summer of middle-distance racing. To echo what I wrote a couple weeks ago, “there’s not really a time of the year from January through September this day and age when middle and long-distance athletes (not just in the U.S., but worldwide) can afford to ever be too far away from peak fitness.” And while these athletes certainly aren’t razor sharp in late-May, there are no dull blades in the drawer a month out from the Olympic Trials (for U.S. athletes, anyway), two months before the Games get underway, and with over three months to go in the Diamond League season. It will be interesting to see how things shake out between now and mid-September.

+ One of the reasons it’s fun to be a track fan in 2024: Josh Kerr, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Jake Wightman (2022 world 1500m champion, fifth at this year’s Bowerman Mile in a personal best 3:47.83) all shared some of their final pre-race tuneup workouts in videos that were released over the past few days. Kerr did sets of 400/600/200 at a little over 5,000 feet of elevation in New Mexico, Wightman did sets of broken 600s (400/200) at 7,000 feet in Flagstaff, while Ingebrigtsen ripped off twelve 400s and ten 200s, also in Flag. Running fast, especially at altitude, is anything but easy, but what stood out to me in each of these videos is how smooth and controlled they all looked throughout their respective sessions. These guys are working hard, no doubt, but they’re staying within themselves, and if there’s a magic takeaway from watching each of these videos, that’s it. “I wasn’t feeling that hot after the first set,” Kerr admits. “Any pace change work is always gonna start killing you, but just trying to stay focused on each rep as it comes. Because the splits are coming but sometimes I just need to not overthink ’em.”

— Best middle/long distance race of the day at Pre? Or the one I enjoyed watching the most, anyway, was the women’s 800. Keely Hodgkinson is a master tactician and she raced this one brilliantly. This one went out in a quick 55.22 with Hodgkinson running in a decently distant fourth at the bell. Approaching half a lap to go she regained contact with the lead pack and less than 50 meters later she put the gas pedal all the way to the floor, and that was all she wrote. Hodgkinson won the race convincingly in 1:55.78, nearly a second ahead of reigning world champ Mary Moraa, running nearly dead-even splits to do it. Unraveling to nearly any degree in an 800 isn’t much of an option anymore.

— My partners at Precision Fuel & Hydration support some incredible athletes and I had the pleasure of interviewing one of them recently, Lucie Hanes. Lucie is a professional ultrarunner and rock climber based in Colorado. In addition to her athletic exploits, she's also a journalist and Mental Performance Consultant with a Masters in Applied Sports Psychology. We had a great conversation about all the different hats she wears, where and how they intersect and interact with one another, her history with disordered eating and how studying psychology has played a role in her recovery, the importance of creativity in her life, her relationship with Precision Fuel & Hydration (and the changes she's made in those regards since she began working with them), and a lot more. “Climbing really helps me zone in on just the present moment where I am. If I am climbing at the level where if I lose attention or if I let my mind wander, then I’m coming straight off,” she told me. “The only way to be able to send is to be fully immersed, and the type of climbing that I do is so full body that you really have no option. Once you’re on, you’re on. With running it’s kind of the opposite, but still in a tranquil way. You get into that flow state, and when you’re there, things flow in one at a time, it’s not everything all at once. You can actually think through full trains of thought. They both just organize my mind in different ways.” You can read the full interview right here. (And if you’re interested in trying PF&H products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)

— U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon runner-up Clayton Young has been documenting his buildup to Paris on YouTube and it’s a must-watch series. As of this writing there are four episodes, each of them 12 to 20 minutes in duration, and they are so well done. Young’s primary sponsor, ASICS, is clearly supporting this project but they’re doing so in a very tasteful, non-intrusive way. The honesty, storytelling, details shared, and production quality are head and shoulders above anything else other pro runners or outlets covering the sport are putting out there right now. (I say that with gratitude and appreciation for anyone who is filming and sharing workouts for the rest of us to watch!) I recommend carving out time for the entire series but one of my favorite installments so far is Episode 3 because it shows Young struggling with some Achilles issues, which affects his training and racing schedule a bit, and also messes with his mindset a little. This part in particular, where he’s working through a tough workout of 12 x 1K on a minute’s rest, felt relatable to every runner who’s surely been in this exact same spot at one point or another themselves. I appreciated how Young broke everything down into small, digestible chunks: In the workout, it was 3 minutes at a time, much like in the race, as he describes, it’s one mile at a time, and even though they’re 15-16 weeks out from race day when this was filmed, he was thinking in terms of one week at a time, and one day at a time. I think this is a huge takeaway. Many runners, when things aren’t clicking for whatever reason, or if we fall behind on training because of injury or some other circumstance, tend to get anxious about losing fitness, or we compare ourselves to someone else (or even where we were at some other point in time). The best thing we can do in those situations, as Young demonstrates in this episode, is bring it back to the here and now, break the big task into smaller, more manageable chunks, and try to control what we can control as best we can. “On Thursday it was a lot of just trying to keep that gap with Mantz as close as possible,” Young explains. “I just kept thinking, take care of one (rep) at a time, kind of like how you take care of one mile at a time in a marathon—just take care of this three minutes, and then the next three minutes, and then the next three minutes.”

— Nelly Furtado packing parts of 11 of her songs into a 21-minute set—while also taking the time to graciously introduce and acknowledge each and every person in her band—in this recent Tiny Desk concert for NPR is one of the most enjoyable and impressive musical performances I’ve seen of late. Timeless talent on display.

— From the archives (Issue 81, 7 years ago this week): I’ve been following Danny Mackey’s coaching career since he began writing training-related articles for Flotrack back in 2008 and in addition to learning a lot through his writings, I have been impressed and inspired by his persistence, passion and professionalism. Coaching is where Mackey’s passion lies, and it's the path he’s stuck with despite getting rejection letters from the 209 collegiate positions he applied to after finishing graduate school. The now 36-year-old Mackey now heads up the Brooks Beasts Track Club—a full-time position he’s held since 2013—where he coaches a number of Olympic level middle and long-distance athletes. (Editor’s note: He coaches reigning 1500m world champion Josh Kerr.) I went long with him recently to talk about the path his coaching career has followed, which mentors have influenced him the most, what the sport of track and field is struggling with most right now, and much more. Settle in and have a read!

— A big thank you to my partners at New Balance for supporting my work this month (and throughout 2024). My go-to shoe for speed workouts the past few years has been the FuelCell Rebel and the latest iteration, v4, has continued to hold down that spot in the rotation in 2024. As fast and fun as carbon-plated shoes can be, it’s important not to be overly reliant on them for all your track sessions, fartleks, hills, and tempo runs. The Rebel v4s allow your feet to do what they want to do while providing plenty of protection underfoot when you’re putting a lot of extra force into the ground. They offer a responsive ride in a flexible, lightweight package that will fit a variety of foot types (n.b. my wider-than-average forefoot really appreciates them!). The FuelCell Rebel v4 is available at your favorite run specialty store or at newbalance.com (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

Workout of the Week: The 5-n-Go Tempo

There’s a lot of confusion around the tempo run but stripped down to its core, this workout simply boils down to maintaining a steady (i.e. comfortably hard) effort for a prolonged period of time. And while the definitions of steady and prolonged can vary depending on a variety of factors, for the sake of simplicity and ease of creating a common understanding, let’s call the “classic” tempo run 5 miles at half-marathon pace. This is a pretty standard workout you’ll see utilized by a wide range of athletes and coaches to build aerobic strength, improve efficiency, and/or practice running race pace. The 5-n-Go Tempo adds a slight twist to the classic tempo run by squeezing down the pace for a mile or two at the end. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“People who bet on themselves tend to win.”

—Billie Jean King, tennis great, to Sally Jenkins, who used the quote in her book, The Right Call: What Sports Teach Us About Work and Life (I just started reading it and was hooked from the prologue.)


That's it for Issue 446. 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

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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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