Significance of Flanagan’s NYC Win Extends Far Beyond The Finish Line

By Mario Fraioli

Shalane Flanagan, realizing the enormity of what she’s just done. Photo: NYRR

Much has already been made of Shalane Flanagan’s victory at Sunday’s New York City Marathon: It was the first World Marathon Majors win of the 36-year-old’s career, the first WMM win by an American woman since Deena Kastor broke the tape in London in 2006, and the first win in The Big Apple by an American woman since 1977. But that’s not all.

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Out Of Competition

By Mario Fraioli

I was saddened to learn a few weeks ago that Competitor magazine, where I served as senior editor from 2010-2016, will cease to be published. The website, running.competitor.com, will continue to be operated by its new owners, Boulder-based Pocket Outdoor Media, although I’m not quite sure who will be responsible for that at this point given that the remaining full-time staff (of which there were three) was hurriedly let go last week. And while the shutting down of the magazine doesn’t necessarily come as a huge surprise (more on this in a bit), it’s still hard to see something that you poured so much energy into for so long go away for good. It was a fun run alongside some great people and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside so many talented folks who helped transform Competitor from a regional multi-sport magazine into one of the country’s top running media brands.  (more…)

Pulling On A Poignant Thread

By Mario Fraioli

I don’t live in a real mountain town, I’m not a professional adventurer of any sort, and I didn’t know Hayden Kennedy or Inge Perkins, but this piece, “A Tragedy In The Mountains Highlights Pain Facing The Young,” hit pretty close to home and left a real mark. There are a lot of thought-provoking threads that writer Timothy Tate wove into this piece but this is the one of the most poignant—and relevant—ones that I pulled out of it:

“The craving to be noticed, to be validated, to hold prestige among peers swirls around prolifically in the psyches of our young,” Tate writes. “It isn’t new but here it takes a different form. Heroic greatness escapes most, but you don’t have to be “great” to matter or to register positively in the lives of others. Peace can be found in knowing that who you are is plenty good enough. …The real trial isn’t in ascending the peak or skiing a gnarly fall line; it’s dealing with the mundaneness of grinding out daily existence and doing it in a way that gives us meaning.

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Entering The Gray Zone

By Mario Fraioli

“But then you have these half-milers, and I don’t want to say names of the ones I’m thinking that are tainted until I know for sure, but they’ll talk crazy, they run crazy. The cadence don’t look right. Everything they just do stuff that doesn’t look right and you can tell,” American 800m record-holder Johnny Gray told letsrun.com recently. “And it sounds asinine if you were to listen to me because I don’t have no proof of what I say, but my experience throughout the years and knowing what it takes to do certain things when it comes to 800 meters, I can tell the ones who have cheated.”

I’m not totally sure what to make of this interview, but it’s a provoking read nonetheless and certainly generated some chatter around the interwebs last week. Gray, who set his still-standing record 32 years ago, talks candidly about cheating, front running, weight training (or lack thereof, rather), his own breakthroughs, and much more. I found his answers to the last two questions the most interesting, as he went out of his way to re-address the drug problem in the sport and specifically called out Agee Wilson and other athletes who have “weak excuses for why I failed this test.” Gray’s responses were somewhat inconsistent, however, given the excerpted quote above as well as the fact that he refused to name the names of his own competitors who “didn’t have no shame in letting me know they cheated.” I applaud Gray for his honesty and wish more athletes—former or current—would speak so openly about the doping problem in athletics, but if you’re going to name names, why not name them all? (more…)

Knowledge Isn’t The Only Necessity

By Mario Fraioli

“My dad, from a young age—and now that I’m a coach—he reminds me all the time, that the greatest coaches/teachers he’s ever had, which is also true for me, taught him way more about life than they did about basketball,” L.A. Lakers head coach Luke Walton told Michael Gervais recently on the Finding Mastery podcast. “And it’s a 100 percent true.”

This conversation was so good. It’s a must-listen for any coach, regardless of the sport you’re involved in or the type of athlete you work with, and the key takeaways are just as applicable for teachers, managers or anyone in a leadership role. The above quote in particular is worth highlighting and emphasizing: while it’s important to know your shit if you’re going to be coaching someone, you’ve first got to show that person or group of people that you give a shit. Knowledge is necessary, yes, but without care, concern and compassion leading the way, it’s essentially a useless element. Take the time to get to know your athletes (or students, or mentees) as people, understand their motivations, empathize with their struggles, and show them that you’re going to see it through together—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unpredictable. Earn their trust and offer them more than just an ongoing lesson in the X’s and O’s of a particular pursuit. All too often I see coaches going out of their way to show the people they’re working with how smart they are as if it’s some sort of value proposition. Stop it. They don’t care how much you know—they want to know how much you care.  (more…)

Windy City Redux

By Mario Fraioli

It’s old news by now but it’s worth spending a few words on the Chicago Marathon this week since many of you have written to ask me what I thought about the race, particularly Galen Rupp’s win and Jordan Hasay’s 2:20:57 performance, the second fastest marathon ever run by an American woman, which was good enough for third place. (more…)

2017 State of The Shakeout | Issue 100

By Mario Fraioli

Out of office. | Poʻipū, Kaua’i

Issue 100 of the morning shakeout is a special one, so I’m sharing it here in its entirety. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe at this link.

This is a special issue as it marks the 100th straight Tuesday that I’ve sent the morning shakeout to inboxes worldwide. There are few—if any—things I’ve done in my life with as much consistency as this newsletter, and as such, I am proud to share this 100th issue with all of you, my loyal and steadily growing readership.

In keeping with a once-every-50-weeks tradition I started a year ago, I’m going to use this issue to reflect on how the morning shakeout has evolved over the past year while also shedding a little light on some new stuff you can look forward to in the coming months.

Before I go any further, it should be noted that I prepared this hundredth edition a few days earlier than usual so that I wasn’t working (too hard) while on vacation. As such, you won’t find any commentary around this past Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, and for that I apologize. Maybe later this week on themorningshakeout.com if the mood strikes me right. I have, however, included a few snippets of timeless interestingness at the end of this week’s missive to tide you over in the meantime.

And with all that out of the way, onto the second annual State of The Shakeout. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week. Enjoy! (more…)

Commit To Competing

By Mario Fraioli

Whether or not you want to believe Ethiopian Guye Adola’s claim that he found out he was running the Berlin Marathon just four days before posting the fastest debut in history, you can’t help but respect him for racing Eliud Kipchoge head-to-head and not worrying about the fact that he was running world-record pace alongside the best marathoner in the world in an event he’d never previously contested. “Anyway, they kept telling us we were five or six seconds outside the time (world record pace),” Adola told Michael Crawley for letsrun.com, “so I decided not to worry about it.”  (more…)

Black Roses NYC: A Cultural Phenomenon

By Mario Fraioli

GOALS. Foto by @notafraid2fail, Berlin Marathon, 24 September 2017 #blackrosesNYC

A post shared by BLACK ROSES NYC (@blackrosesnyc) on

Although they didn’t get any mention on the live feed, or receive any coverage in the post-race reports, some of the loudest buzz emanating from Berlin this past weekend was generated by the Black Roses of New York City. The 23-deep squad—which consists of men and women of various ages, races and backgrounds—stormed the German capital, sharing personal narratives and dropping personal bests that garnered them a swarm of on-the-ground attention, as well as virtually via Instagram. The social appeal—and influence—is real.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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