Quick Splits: February 21, 2017

By Mario Fraioli

If you can successfully navigate the annoying pop-ups and blinking banner ads, check out Alex Hutchinson’s most recent piece for Runner’s World on Nike’s Breaking2 project. He provides a solid update on the athletes involved and some good insight into how they’re preparing for the “marathon moonshot” that will take place at a yet-to-be-announced place and date. I found the assessment of Lelisa Desisa particularly interesting—and I’m not just talking about the 200+ mile training weeks! “I asked the team more about what they’d seen in Desisa, and they said that his lab numbers—VO2 max, lactate profile, running economy—were particularly good,” Hutchinson writes. “In fact, no matter what criteria they used to rank their various contenders, Desisa was always in the top three—something that not even Kipchoge could match. But there was also an intangible element. Watching him run in the initial tests, Kirby recalled, ‘he portrayed confidence and strength.’ He seemed like someone willing to undergo challenges, and who would respond well to those challenges.” Despite regular dispatches from Hutchinson and Wired’s Ed Caesar, both of whom have exclusive access to the athletes and scientists involved, I’ve been a little perplexed by the lack of organic buzz Nike has generated since the announcement of the attempt. But fear not, I’m told by multiple sources close to the project that the Swoosh-driven marketing machine is getting set to kick things into high gear in the not-too-distant future. Note: I’m still having a hard time getting excited by the attempt itself but I am enjoying the stories Hutchinson and Caesar are telling about the athletes, where they come from, how they’re preparing and what they’re like when not tearing down the road at 4:40 per mile pace.

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Let The Project Define The Plan

By Mario Fraioli

“You should never be religious about methods of any kind. The only sane way to work is to let the project define the plan. Only a fool chooses tools before studying the job to be done.”—Scott Berkun, The Year Without Pants

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Quick Splits: February 14, 2017

By Mario Fraioli

— File this podcast under “Places I didn’t think I’d find insight and inspiration this weekend.” Host Michael Gervais and his guest Jewel—yes, the musician—spend an hour talking about her path from homeless teenager to best-selling artist artist, how to face and embrace fear, letting go of perfectionism, how internal and external motivation influence performance, and a lot more. I found Jewel to be honest and articulate, her insights applicable to a number of different arenas. It’s worth an hour of your time. “I needed to do something that I loved that made me feel like I was making a difference in the world…” Jewel says. “…I want my life to be my best work of art. I don’t want my art to be my best work of art. If I look back and say, ‘Hey, I was a great song writer but a bad person, I failed. And again, it’s just saying, ‘What’s my definition of success and what am I doing every day to ensure that I have success in those categories?”

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Oh, Lordy.

By Mario Fraioli

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve gone off on a proper Seb Coe rant but this morning seems as good a time as any to get back in the groove, so here we go:

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Quick Splits: February 7, 2017

By Mario Fraioli

— In Issue 53, I wrote about the supposed struggles of The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ latest digital venture, which, it turns out, is apparently doing just fine. “The one thing that’s not a problem for us is money,” he told Peter Kafka in a lengthy interview for recode.net. As those of you who have been reading the morning shakeout for at least a few weeks know by now, I’m a sucker for longform interviews (see: here and here), and I suggest checking this one out if you’re into the business and mechanics of media. It covers a wide range of topics from the evolving world of digital media, to monetization strategies—“You can’t monetize a site with just writing,” Simmons says. “You have to have multiple things.”—to launching The Ringer’s site on Medium, to how Simmons’ own relationship with writing has evolved after burning out on it at ESPN. “It’s just fun to do it,” Simmons says of writing. “I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. I just like it. I think you hit a point where you start getting in your own head a little bit when you’re a writer, no matter what you’re doing. I hit a point the last few years at Grantland where you feel you can’t win and you have to just keep topping yourself, and I was writing these 9,000-word mailbags. It was just stupid. There were so many things I would do differently.”

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Sticking My Hand In A Hot Pot

By Mario Fraioli

At the morning shakeout, I generally try to avoid stirring the political pot, but as the son of an immigrant I can’t stay completely quiet regarding some of the recently established policies currently affecting my country in a major way. The United States is a nation built by immigrants and refugees seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. My grandparents, dad and uncle fall into this boat. I wouldn’t be who or where I am today if they weren’t welcomed here decades ago and offered the chance at building a better life. Many of our country’s best leaders and brightest minds, including Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Albert Einstein and Sergey Brin—children of immigrants or immigrants and refugees themselves who have all fundamentally shaped our country, if not the world, in a significant way—also fall into this boat. And many of our top athletes, including track and field stars like Meb Keflezighi, Bernard Lagat, Sanya Richards-Ross, Lopez Lomong, Leo Manzano, Abdi Abdirahman, Brenda Martinez, Hillary Bor, Paul Chelimo, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir, amongst others, all of whom have represented this country with unmatched pride on international stages, won major races or taken home Olympic medals, fall into this boat as well. Immigrants have always made this country great and are the foundation that our best values are built upon. And to this point, none of them were discriminated against because of where they hailed from or what god they chose to worship. The executive order targeting immigrants and refugees from certain countries and preventing them from seeking a better life in America is unfounded, ignorant and discriminatory. The boat is sinking fast and that’s worth speaking up about.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mario Fraioli
Mario Fraioli is a writer, runner and coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area.