the morning shakeout | issue 450

Good morning! Ordinarily every 50th issue of the newsletter I publish what’s called the “State of the Shakeout,” which is essentially a year-over-yearish look at what’s changed, what remains the same, and what’s to come down the road. I’ve been traveling and focused on family matters the past few weeks so I’m punting that annual update to next Tuesday and am going quick and dirty in general with this week’s edition. Let’s get right to it.

Quick Splits

— Hat tip to longtime reader Rod A. for clueing me into this 3-part original series from NBC Sports Boston on Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who just led my hometown team to a league record 18th NBA title. Mazzulla’s a great coach and an impressive human. He’s a Rhode Island guy who was the son of a coach and this series gets into his upbringing in lil’ Rhody, grieving the loss of his father who passed away four years ago, his relationship to competition, the sacrifices and mindset needed to achieve great things, and a lot more. “He just does things a little differently,” explains Derrick White in Part Two. “He likes the uncomfortable probably a little bit more than other people like the uncomfortable. But that’s the cool thing about him, that’s just the way he’s wired.”

— Toughest distance runner on the scene right now? I’d put my money on Elle St. Pierre. The woman doesn’t give an inch on the track and this recent profile of her attempts to explain what’s behind her take-care-of-business mentality. “Growing up on a Vermont dairy farm imbued St. Pierre with an unwavering work ethic and a tolerance for tough conditions,” Cindy Cuzma writes for Runner’s World. “As she tells her coach, Mark Coogan, cows don’t care if the weather’s bad or you’re unmotivated: ‘There are no days off if you’re a farmer.’ She applies that philosophy to every endeavor. ‘There’s not a single thing in her life—whether it’s being a mom or doing a track workout—where she is just like, ‘It’s okay if I just give 90 percent today,’ said her New Balance Boston teammate, Millie Paladino.”

— How does multi-time world and Olympic 800m silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain train? In a word: smart. What I appreciated most about this profile of her for Runner’s World is how she doesn’t seem to overthink or overcomplicate her approach to the sport. She does what she needs to do, rolls with the punches when they strike, and saves her carbon-plated shoes for race day. “My watch will tell me [my mileage] because I keep it there, but no – I don’t count,” she explains. “Trevor [Painter, Hodgkinson’s coach] might count them, though. This winter, we tried to go with around 35 miles a week through the winter. Some weeks would have been 28 miles, while some would have been 36 – it just varies depending on what we’re doing. Other than that, I don’t really like to count it. I just like to know my recovery when I’m doing reps.”

— Confused about carb loading? My partners at Precision Fuel & Hydration put out two brilliant newsletters on the topic recently, this one that looks specifically at what the science says, and this one that explores the art of approaching it practically in the real world. (Pro tip: Do yourself a favor and subscribe to their weekly performance advice emails for yourself right here.) As engaging as they are informative, these recent newsletters from the team at PF&H help cut through the confusion when it comes to the what, when, and how of “eating an uncomfortably large amount of carb” so that you can keep going faster for longer. (And if you’re interested in trying PF&H products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)

— If anyone’s ever made racing 800 meters look easy, it’s Athing Mu. But in this recent piece on her by Jonathan Liew for The Guardian the 22-year-old reigning Olympic gold medalist explains how the road she’s traveled the past 12 or so months has been anything but smooth. Expectations, pressure, attention, and injuries rattled her, forcing her to reevaluate her relationship to the sport and what she wants to get out of it. “Things are going to happen,” she explains. “Say I run 10 more years. In those years, so many things will happen. It’s not going to be all smooth sailing. Problems that we have are lessons that we learn.”

— I had no idea who John Morgan was until a week or so ago, and I haven’t dug into his catalog of music at all, but this cover he did of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” that YouTube served up to me is phenomenal. Morgan puts his own country-inspired stamp on this one and his version feels just as timeless as the original, which was released 40 years ago.

— From the archives (Issue 85, 7 years ago this week): “Work harder,” we’ve been told. “No no, you need to work smarter,” someone else will insist. So which should you do, work harder or work smarter? This is the wrong question to ask, writes executive coach Ed Batista. Instead, we should be exploring the relationship between effort and results and where we fall on that curve. “In a system characterized by increasing returns, additional effort yields ever-greater results,” explains Batista, “while in a system characterized by diminishing returns, additional effort yields less and less. This is a truism, of course--nothing could be more obvious. The key is recognizing that some systems are fundamentally one or the other, while others change their nature, often depending on the timeframe under consideration.” Good food for thought around reframing a question many of us wrestle with—I know I do—when it comes to our professional and/or athletic pursuits.

— 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 (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).

Workout of the Week: Deek's Quarters

I first read about this workout, made popular by former Boston winner and marathon world champion Rob De Castella of Australia, in Michael Sandrock’s Running With The Legends (one of my favorite running books of all-time, for what it’s worth) when I was in high school. The session’s construction is simple: 8 x 400m with a scant 200-meter float for “recovery” between repetitions. I like to say that this is a threshold run disguised as an interval workout. It’s efficient and effective but it ain’t easy! Here are the details.

The bottom line.

“New and surprising makes headlines, but it should also warrant caution.”

—Christie Aschwanden, science writer, in a recent interview with David Epstein about the science of uncertainty

That's it for Issue 450. Please forward this email to a friend, share the web link on social media, or reply to me directly at your own risk.

Thanks for reading,


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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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