Cruising Through (Coffee) Customs

By Mario Fraioli

“According to Italian custom, I am violating an Italian taboo: It’s afternoon and cappuccino is considered a breakfast beverage never, ever to be consumed after late morning.”

Now, I know better than to commit such a coffee crime, but this quick piece on the intricacies and oddities of Italian espresso culture will be appreciated by fellow bean snobs while making the rest of you (including my own wife) roll your eyes at me.

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.

Eliminate The Dumb Play

By Mario Fraioli

The most common piece of advice I give my athletes heading into a big race? “Don’t do anything stupid.” Of course, the line between stupidity and intelligence can be pretty thin (and highly subjective), but keeping that simple guideline in mind will take you pretty far in life.
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Let’s Take A Complete 180

By Mario Fraioli

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If you’ve ever read a mainstream running publication or listened to a running form guru preach on about ideal cadence, you’ve no doubt heard that you should strive for a stride rate of 180 strides per minute. No more, no less, 180 on the dot or don’t even bother putting one foot in front of the other. This recommendation has always driven me crazy. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s shortsighted at best, misinformed at worst. To share a sentiment with Alex Hutchinson in this Sweat Science column for Runner’s World:

“Why is anyone giving cadence advice that ignores how fast you’re going?”

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It’s Gotta Be The Tools

By Mario Fraioli

“He’s also working this way to prove a point: that tools don’t really matter…He wants to remind people that the performance, the song, the feeling matter more than the gear you use to record it. If you want to make something, Lacy tells me, grab whatever you have and just make it. If it’s good, people will notice.”

This piece about music producer Steve Lacy is great. The above quote can easily be applied to running and writing. So many runners insist that they need to buy the fanciest GPS watch with every bell and whistle you could ever imagine before they can even think about training for a race. Or wanna-be writers who insist on procuring a top-of-the-line laptop loaded with the latest and greatest publishing software before they can put words down on the page. The reality is none of that shit makes a big difference when it comes down to it. Just get out there and start doing the work. That’s when the real magic happens.

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Making Sense Of It All

By Mario Fraioli

“The act of writing is an integral part of my mental life; ideas emerge, are shaped, in the act of writing… a special, indispensable form of talking to myself.”

I’d never seen this Oliver Sacks’ quote until Maria Popova brought it to my attention recently. It resonates. Despite sharing my words here with all of you on a weekly basis, writing the morning shakeout is how I try to make sense of the things I’ve read or listened to and connect different ideas floating around in my head—my preferred form of talking to myself. Enjoy Popova’s peek into Sack’s fascinatng creative process, and then do yourself another favor and go read the op-ed Sacks wrote for The New York Times two years ago just a few months before he died. I promise it will move you in some way.

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.

Stay Grateful, My Friends

By Mario Fraioli

Last week I pointed you toward Sam Robinson’s excellent essay on runners’ obsession with the pain cave. It pairs well with this Jack Kornfield interview, in which the Buddhist teacher says that learning to embrace suffering is essential to living a meaningful life. Just as Robinson wrote that “my sense is that runners gravitate toward painful activities because they provide us with opportunities for knowledge,” Kornfield says that suffering can cultivate gratitude, which “helps us to become more mindful of the life around us and what circumstance we’re in.”

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.

Off To The…Events!

By Mario Fraioli

Years ago, there were running races. They were relatively small in terms of the overall field size and finishing as fast as possible was each racer’s main priority. Nowadays, there are running events. Many of them boast thousands of participants and a selfie station or two, but not a lot in terms of actual competition. Predictably, average finishing times have slowed.

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There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

By Mario Fraioli

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Back in March, I first wrote about Colin McCourt (“Man boobs and exploding calves!”), and a few issues later I went long with him in what is still the most-read interview I’ve ever conducted for the morning shakeout. Well, the 32-year-old Brit is still charging hard and dropping pounds, and although he hasn’t run fast enough (yet) to avoid getting the names of 17 friends tattooed to his body, his competitive fire has been reignited and the Olympic Games are back on his radar.

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Where Everybody Knows Your Pain

By Mario Fraioli

“Does it taste like pennies? Hemingway says that’s the taste of death.”— Mark Wetmore in Running With The Buffaloes Photo: Jorge Maravilla

“Pain forces us to confront disruptive, awful, and occasionally inspiring realities of the world around us,” the ever philosophical Sam Robinson writes for Outside. “The pain cave is a place where we take stock of our courage and ask ourselves how much we are willing to give for the goals we’ve laid out. And that, I think, is why we willingly descend into it.”

I enjoyed this essay, which explored the “cavern of discomfort” most of you reading this know as the pain cave. It reminded me of these brief thoughts I shared on Instagram after my last race.

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.

Top of the Charts

By Mario Fraioli

Kawauchi notching his 23rd career sub-2:12 earlier this month in Australia. Photo: Gold Coast Marathon

If Yuki Kawauchi were a rock star, the Japanese long-distance runner would go down in history as one of Billboard’s most reliable Hot 100 artists—never at the top of the charts, but consistently in the top-100 based on performance and popularity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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