Are You Doing Enough?

By Mario Fraioli

Although I spend a lot of my time coaching runners, I don’t often opine on training-related topics here in the morning shakeout, but Steve Magness’ excellent post on the dangers of doing too little is worth a discussion. Here’s the gist: Athletes and coaches are almost always concerned with overdoing it—running too fast, too hard, too much or too often—and risking poor performance, injury, illness, burnout or the like, but not so much with under-doing it—i.e., big tapers, complete rest days, etc.—because there’s no real danger in doing too little, right? Oh contraire.

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I Like To Motiv, Motiv

By Mario Fraioli

One of the hallmarks of the morning shakeout is exposing you to informative and inspiring content along with other bits of interestingness that you otherwise wouldn’t have found on your own. Well, this week, I’ve got a whole new digital platform to tell you about: motvirunning.com.

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More Guidance, Please

By Mario Fraioli

As far as doping excuses go, it’s hard to beat Tyler Hamilton’s “vanishing twin” alibi or LaShawn Merritt blaming a positive test on a “male enhancement product,” but U.S. 400m runner Gil Roberts’ explanation that he tested positive for probenecid, a masking agent, because his girlfriend, Alex Salazar—who ingested Moxylong, containing probenecid, which was given to her by a local “chemist” in “semi-rural” area of India—kissed him “frequently and passionately” upon her return to the U.S., thus contaminating his urine sample, is one of the more laughable ones I’ve come across in recent memory. What’s not funny is Roberts was found to be without fault by Arbitrator John Charles Thomas, who concluded:

“But here Roberts had dated Ms. Salazar for two years and surely had kissed her before without being charged with a doping violation. Thus, for Roberts, it must have been like lightning out of a clear blue sky for him to learn that by kissing his girlfriend this time that he was exposing himself to a prohibited substance. Roberts has met his burden of proof. Roberts has explained to the satisfaction of this Arbitrator how the probenecid entered his system and that he was without fault.”

Seriously(?!), I give up.

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A Rough Wake-Up Call

By Mario Fraioli

If you want evidence of how broken the anti-doping efforts are in the sport of athletics, look no further than this article (note: if you’re not fluent in Spanish, you’ll have to translate it).

Here’s the CliffsNotes version: Jama Aden, the Somalian coach of Ethiopian Olympian Genzebe Dibaba, amongst other stars, was arrested a little over a year ago in Spain when police found large quantities of EPO and other banned substances in his hotel room and the hotel room of physiotherapist Mounir Ouarid, who was treating his athletes. Despite this damning find, along with surveillance from the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency showing Aden dumping used needles into the trash bin outside the hotel, not one of his athletes tested positive for doping. In fact, some of his athletes went on to win medals at the Rio Games. C’mon now!

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A Tale of Two Events

By Mario Fraioli

Molly Huddle, front, wound up with two laps to go in the 10,000m at the U.S. Track & Field Championships last Thursday, putting away the field with a 2:14.61 final 800m. 

I spent this past weekend a few hours north of where I live, spectating and Tweeting at the U.S. Track & Field Championships in Sacramento on Thursday night, and coaching, crewing, pacing and supporting athletes at the Western States 100 Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn on Saturday. I’ll refrain from recapping either event as those blow-by-blow accounts are readily available elsewhere (letsrun has the fast stuff, iRunFar has the long stuff), but here are a few things that stood out to me, in no particular order:

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So Pro?

By Mario Fraioli

Full transparency: Oiselle sponsored this newsletter in February. Just being open about that from the get-go—and to be clear that past (or present) sponsorship has no bearing on what I decide to write about in any edition of the morning shakeout.

This Tweet on Monday from Oiselle founder and CEO Sally Bergesen caught my eye and made me do a double-take. “Proud to sponsor pro athlete @KellyKKRoberts!” Bergesen wrote. “#sportsbrasquad helping a lot of women find their confidence.” Wait, what? Who?

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Taking a Peek at Performance

By Mario Fraioli

If you’ve been reading the morning shakeout long enough then you’ve likely come across at least a few links I’ve shared to articles written by Brad Stulberg or Steve Magness—and with good reason. These two guys are at the forefront of writing about the science of performance: Brad for Outside, New York and Runner’s World magazines, amongst other publications; and Steve mostly for his own wildly popular blog, The Science of Running (as well as appearing as a featured source on the topic for places like the New Yorker, ESPN the Magazine, the New York Times, and others). Well, Brad and Steve teamed up to write a book called Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive with the New Science of Success, and I was lucky enough to get an early copy of it a few weeks ago. Heck, to be totally transparent, I was asked to read a very early draft of the book’s detailed table of contents back in August of 2015 and knew then that it would be a home run. The finished product definitely knocks it out of the park.

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Fighting Infection (and Injection)

By Mario Fraioli

There are better things to talk about in running than the doping problems that infect the sport—and I’m going to try and bring you more of those stories here in the morning shakeout—but it’s a hard topic to avoid and shouldn’t be left completely unaddressed. That said, by now most of you reading this have seen the latest New York Times piece on Nike’s Oregon Project. If you haven’t, give it a looksie right here. “Is this legal?” three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein asked his then-coach Alberto Salazar, according to a confidential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report obtained by The Times. “This doesn’t sound legal.” Ritzenhein, whose contract with Nike recently expired, was referring to L-carnitine infusions, which appeared to enhance performance. L-carnitine is not a banned substance, but infusing it in extremely high doses of a short period of time is, which raised more than a few eyebrows amongst members of the group, including Steve Magness, who was Salazar’s assistant at the time and acted as a guinea pig for the infusion. This wasn’t the only questionable practice, as “prescription-dose vitamin D; calcitonin; ferrous sulfate; Advair; testosterone; and various thyroid medications” were amongst the other substances mentioned in the USADA report. Salazar, of course, continues to deny any wrongdoing, and even wrote an email to Ritzenhein stating that, “Everything is above board and cleared thru Usada. They know me very well because I always get an okay before doing anything!”

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Ask and You Shall Receive

By Mario Fraioli

In Issue 80 of the morning shakeout I wrote, “I/we/the entire sport of athletics, can only hope that that evidence—and the full USADA report—sees the light of day.” Well, not more than a few hours later, Flotrack released “what may be the USADA report on Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project” in its entirety. That isn’t exactly what I had in mind, although the contents of the 278-page report are pretty detailed and most definitely damning (despite what Alberto’s unofficial PR guy, Ken Goe, has to say about it). All that aside, and draw from the report whatever conclusions you may, but I’m having a hard time understanding why Flotrack would publish such a sensitive document without first confirming its authenticity. Further, I’m also not sure the legality of water-marking another organization’s confidential report. That is not journalism. That’s desperation for attention.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.

C’mon, Just Let ‘Em In

By Mario Fraioli

“I think the second problem is the lack of allowing other sponsors into the sport,” Brooks Beasts Danny Mackey told me recently. The rest of his answer to my question about the biggest problems facing the sport of track and field today was not only interesting, but it also echoed many of the same points made in this recent article by USA Track & Field president Vin Lananna. “Our incredible dependence upon one industry, the shoe companies and the apparel companies, is an unsustainable model,” Lananna told Reuters.

It’s good to see some momentum picking up in this regard from one of the sport’s more influential leaders. I’m curious to see where it goes, however, as USATF is sustained—and also handcuffed—by Nike, a company not known to play well with others when it comes to matters of sponsorship and logo placement. Trickling down to the individual athlete level, most every athlete making a living in the sport relies primarily on a shoe and apparel contract as their main source of income. As Lananna alluded to, this model needs to evolve—top to bottom—otherwise the sport will continue to miss opportunities and lose the interest of athletes, fans, and sponsors alike.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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