“I think at Furman I ended up doing a lot on my own, just thinking, ‘Oh, I have to do all this stuff to be good.’ So I ended up overdoing a lot of things that I ultimately was kind of wearing myself out trying to get all this stuff done—just in my head to have an edge on everybody. But I think a big factor now is just that I’m letting myself recover and rest and I go into every race feeling super good and super fresh because I have taken the time to focus on letting my body relax and only stressing it out when it needs to be stressed. I think that’s been a big factor…I found that giving myself actual ample time to recover and rest has been the biggest change for me. I think it’s a big factor to the success I’m having now.”
Frank Lara is a professional runner for the Roots Running Project out of Boulder, Colorado. He also works part-time for Strava as a community management representative. Most recently, Frank paced 20 miles of The Marathon Project at sub-2:09 pace, just a couple weeks after running a massive personal best of 27:44 in the 10,000m. In 2020, he was named the U.S. 15K champion a few months after the winner of the race was sanctioned by USADA for a doping violation.
I enjoyed this conversation, which we recorded back in December, just a couple days before Frank’s pacing assignment at the Marathon Project. We talked about transitioning from collegiate to professional running, his biggest learnings as a pro, and developing the confidence to compete at the highest level of the sport. He also told me about learning how to rest, chasing his curiosities, and a lot more.
It’s hard to go wrong with 800m repeats. Do them fast enough and you’ll stay pretty sharp; do enough of them and the strength gains will take you a long way. An example of a pretty standard session many coaches will assign their athletes consists of six reps at 5K pace with 2 to 2-1/2 minutes recovery in between, or maybe 10 reps at 10K pace with two minutes recovery between the two-lap intervals—you get the idea. These workouts will help you build the specific strength you need for race day, practice getting your pacing down, and improve your overall efficiency. Every once in a while, however, I like to throw my athletes a curveball and have them switch gears halfway through, running the final 400m 4-5 seconds faster than the first. Learn why (and how) below.(more…)
“If we don’t know what the most important thing to do in a day is, or in a moment, then we will become more like leaves, blowing with every breeze. And so I think there have been times in my life where if I wasn’t clear with myself on my own priorities or my goals then I was behaving more like a leaf and being blown around—and I don’t think we want to be like rocks, where we’re not affected by anything, but I think I’ve grown and try to be more like a tree where there’s some roots but you can still feel the breeze. I say this thing—that tomorrow starts tonight—and I really mean it when I say I just prepare as best I can for the next day or the next thing I’m doing so that I give myself the best chance at attacking what my north star is first.”
Alexi Pappas is a professional athlete who holds the Greek national record in the 10,000-meters and competed for Greece at the 2016 Olympic Games. She’s also an award-winning writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Runner’s World, The Atlantic, Outside magazine, and other publications. Her first book, Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas comes out on January 12.
This week’s episode of the podcast—the last one for 2020—is a “best of” compilation of highlights from 12 of the most impactful conversations I’ve had over the past 12 months. To provide a little context: I put out 47 episodes of the podcast in 2020—totaling almost 100 hours of conversation—and picking out soundbites from only a dozen of them to highlight here was really freaking hard. I literally have notebooks full of stuff that I’ve learned from every single guest and I simply cannot express enough gratitude for all that they’ve shared with me and, in turn, all of you.
If you’re a devoted fan of the podcast, it’s my hope that this second annual “best of” episode serves as a bit of a refresher or maybe a reminder to revisit an old episode or two. For those of you who are newer listeners to the show, welcome. Use this episode as a nudge to check out some of the conversations you may have missed while also letting it serve as a primer for what’s to come in 2021.
Whether you tune in to every episode of the podcast or only listen every once in a while, I just want to say: thank you. I’m tremendously grateful for your interest and support. I’m a little over three years into this podcast journey and the impact it’s had on my life and many of you who listen regularly is immeasurable. I’m so glad to have all of you along for the ride and sharing in these experiences with me.
There is no sponsor for this week’s show but if you’d like to support my work directly, you can become a member on Patreon at themorningshakeout.com/support, where, for as little as a buck a week you can help keep the morning shakeout sustainable and also gain access to some exclusive content like The Weekly Rundown, my Patreon only podcast that I co-host with my friend Billy Yang, the occasional “emergency pod,” and other perks that pop up from time to time. A big thank you to all of you who are already members—your support means so much to me and I cannot thank you enough for it.
“It’s not just like you can have a bad race because you get too nervous. No. The very essence of, in the middle of a race, you’re asking yourself, ‘Can I maintain this pace? Can I speed up? Can I slow down?’ And that decision, which you’re asking yourself with every stride essentially, is not answered by, ‘I can’t speed up because some physical parameter is maxed out,’ because it’s not—it’s clearly not, you can keep going. Instead, it’s maxed out by your brain’s assessment of how hard you’re going and whether that is something that is sustainable and will get you to the finish line. And so fundamentally, you make that switch that, ‘Oh no, at every point, unless I collapse on the ground, at every point through a race, it’s been my mind that’s deciding whether I can keep going or whether I can speed up or not.’”
Alex Hutchinson is the author of the New York Times best-seller Endure, which is one of my favorite books of the past few years, he’s a contributing editor at Outside magazine, where he writes the Sweat Science column, and his byline has also appeared in numerous other publications.
We recently had a great conversation about writing, running, and the path he’s followed in both of those disciplines. We also talked about the concept of endurance, which he wrote an entire book about, the limits on our potential, the future of connected fitness, and a lot more.
There’s a lot of confusion around the tempo run but stripped down to its core, this workout simply boils down to maintaining a steady effort for a prolonged period of time. And while the definitions of steady and prolonged can vary depending on a variety of factors, for the sake of simplicity and ease of creating a common understanding, let’s call the “classic” tempo run 5 miles at half-marathon pace. This is a pretty standard workout you’ll see utilized by a wide range of athletes and coaches to build aerobic strength, improve efficiency, and/or practice running race pace. The 5-n-Go Tempo adds a slight twist to the classic tempo run by squeezing down the pace for a mile or two at the end. Here are the details:(more…)