the morning shakeout | issue 449


Good morning! I’ve been in the Midwest since last Thursday and will be here for another week. The reason for my visit isn’t an important detail. I haven’t been keeping a normal schedule since I got here, but I have gotten out to run nearly every morning, and managed to find some time yesterday to hammer out this week’s issue.

In addition to the newsletter, I have a new episode of the podcast to share with you today as well. It’s my quarterly conversation with Like the Wind magazine co-founder and editor Simon Freeman. We recorded the episode back in April and I put it out yesterday. Ordinarily it coincides with the release of a new issue of LtW, in which an excerpt of the conversation usually appears, but the latest edition of the magazine is “by women, about women, for everyone,” so Simon and I sat this one out. We still had a great chat, however, about a few topics that both of us have spent quite a bit of time thinking about: how we handle change, shifting priorities over time, defining our values, and emphasizing quality in our work. It was quite enjoyable and insightful, and we hope you feel the same way, so tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at this handy link.

Quick Splits

— I love a good graduation speech and this recent one from tennis great Roger Federer at Dartmouth a couple weekends ago is worth 25 minutes of your time, even if, like me, you finished school decades ago. (You can also read the transcript here.) Federer, who’s told the audience that he recently “graduated” from professional tennis (and explained why “retire” is an awful word), shared three lessons he learned from his years of playing tennis, which, of course, are applicable to virtually any area in life. My favorite was the second lesson: It’s only a point. “When you’re playing a point, it is the most important thing in the world,” he explains. “But when it’s behind you, it’s behind you. This mindset is really crucial, because it frees you to fully commit to the next point—and the next one after that—with intensity, clarity and focus.The truth is, whatever game you play in life.. sometimes you’re going to lose. A point, a match, a season, a job. It’s a roller coaster, with many ups and downs. And it’s natural, when you’re down, to doubt yourself. To feel sorry for yourself. And by the way, your opponents have self-doubt, too. Don’t ever forget that. But negative energy is wasted energy. You want to become a master at overcoming hard moments. That to me is the sign of a champion. The best in the world are not the best because they win every point. It’s because they know they’ll lose—again and again—and have learned how to deal with it. You accept it. Cry it out if you need to, then force a smile. You move on. Be relentless. Adapt and grow. Work harder. Work smarter. Remember: work smarter.”

In last week’s issue I led off with a short entry about not majoring in the minors when it comes to performance. This recent post from author and friend of the shakeout Brad Stulberg about the false promises of protocols, magic exercises, supplement cocktails, and other quick fixes for optimizing health and performance complements it well. I know I keep hammering on this topic, and on some level it seems silly because I feel like most of this stuff should be common sense, but it works me up to no end what “sells”—quite literally, but also in terms of ideas, beliefs, and practices—in this area. “With consistency and community, you can become very good at nearly anything,” he writes. “At the tippy top, it’s also about having the right genetics. Few professional athletes wake up at 5 AM to cold plunge and gaze at the sun. The same goes for health. It’s shocking the number of bizarre things people do to ‘optimize’ their health and longevity and yet they don’t exercise regularly, eat fruits and veggies, build community, commit to meaningful relationships, or ever relax. They obsess over the 0.1% but not the 99.9%.”

— Faith Kipyegon has been kind of quiet this outdoor track season—then she stepped up to the mic at the Kenyan Olympic Trials in Nairobi this past weekend and made a lot of noise. The 30-year-old living legend blew everyone away in both the 5,000 and 1,500 meters, winning in 14:46.28 and 3:53.99, respectively, and word on the street is she hasn’t even started speed work yet. Sarah Gearhart, who I interviewed for this newsletter a year ago, recently profiled Kipyegon for Outside and it’s a solid read. Kipyegon, who has three world-records, four world titles, and two Olympic gold medals to her name, plans to record a few more smash hits on the track before eventually hitting the roads and testing her range at the marathon. “They always say ‘you stay with a witch, you become a witch,’” Kipyegon says, laughing. “I’ve stayed with marathoners, and they are doing 40K a week. I join. Doing 40 kilometers is like 20 kilometers.”

— Earlier this year, Jasmin Paris, a 40-year-old mother of two, wife, and full-time veterinarian from Scotland, made history by becoming the first woman to ever complete the Barkley Marathons, a 100-mile off-road sufferfest in the deep woods of Tennessee with a 60-hour cutoff time. Here’s how she trained for it. What stands out to me most, but doesn’t surprise me one bit, is how straightforward it all is: intervals, hill repeats, or a tempo run once a week, steady and consistent (but not otherworldly) volume, a couple long(er) days with a hefty amount of vert mixed into them, strength-training workouts, and a rest day once per week. If she did anything special for Barkley it was a few additional stairmaster workouts a week to top off her climbing fitness without beating up her body. “I just do what’s there and that helps when you’ve very little time,” she explains. “It probably stops me doing too much too, and [her coach, Damian Hall] can be flexible, he’s very good about understanding the pressures of family life and work.”

— Many thanks 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).

A week ago I shared the men’s 800-meter final from the recent NCAA Outdoor Championships and this week I’d like to point you toward this Philadelphia Inquirer profile of the guy who won that race: Shane Cohen. Cohen, a reluctant walk-on at Tampa who became a good but not great Division II runner, transferred to the University of Virginia this year and leveled up in more ways than one. Taking his PB from 1:48.25 in 2022 down to 1:44.97 at NCAAs a little week ago (n.b. for those of you not well-versed in middle-distance racing, this is a stratospheric jump), Cohen, who has long been known for his insane kick, is suddenly a threat to make an Olympic team at the upcoming Trials in Eugene. How can you not root for this guy? “As far as the athletic ability, he has this knack to just be able to go,” said his high school coach, Greg Green. “That’s a special athlete.”

— Jelly Roll covering two of my all-time favorite songs—Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” and Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry”—live on The Howard Stern Show last week put a huge smile on my face. (The opening to “Let Her Cry” kind of caught me by surprise and sent chills down my spine.) He paid homage to the originals while making them wholly his own. Best of all? Just how much he and his band were enjoying themselves while doing it. Just beautiful.

— From the archives (Issue 344, 2 years ago this week): It’s worth your while to read anything Alex Hutchinson writes about sports science—and I recommend checking out his latest column for Outside—but in this case the headline and deck capture his observations and conclusions quite well: “Your Watch Doesn’t Know How Much Recovery You Need | The algorithms used to estimate your training load have some fundamental flaws, scientists say.” The watches and other training devices we have available to us today are impressive in what they can purportedly measure, and the amount of data they can provide is abundant, if not overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that these devices are tools and tools are only useful if you know how to use them properly. And as with any tool, it’s important not to become overly reliant on any one to do all your work for you. Training and recovery are not an exact science. Athletes are not programmable robots. Even with ever-improving tools and mountains of data at our disposal, at the end of the day the decisions we make—how hard to go, how many reps to do, how much recovery we need, etc.—are a hypothesis, and as with any hypothesis, you test it, observe what happens, gather all the information you can (from various measuring devices, but also the athletes themselves) and adjust accordingly the next time out. As I like to tell my athletes: Don’t just rely on your watch (or Whoop, or whatever the hot new product of the month is). You have to pay attention to everything that’s affecting how you’re feeling at a given moment.

— 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. (A little birdie at FS told me they’ve been working on a big app update that will be available next month, and it will include a new feature that helps coaches better determine how well their athletes are recovering from training throughout the week.) On the business side of things, 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!

Workout of the Week: The 3-2-1 Cutdown

My favorite workouts are pretty universal in nature, meaning you can go to them whether you’re focusing on something as short as a 5K or as long as a marathon. The 3-2-1 Mile Cutdown session fits that bill. Here are the details.



The bottom line.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

—Albert Einstein in a letter to Carl Seelig, March 11, 1952


That's it for Issue 449. If you enjoyed it, please forward this email to a few friends and encourage them to subscribe at this link so that it lands in their inbox next Tuesday.

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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