Podcast: Episode 73 | Ask Mario Anything

By Mario Fraioli |

“My relationship with running and myself was not in a good place—I was in a pretty low place. I didn’t have a lot of great relationships in my life, I placed all this importance on running that soured my relationship with it. So that was definitely the lowest moment but it also gave me the most perspective and it’s informed my perspective now—as an athlete, I’ve been able to stay healthy for the past 10+ years, I have a much better relationship with eating, food, my body image. But I’ve been able to use that experience in my coaching and in my writing to help other people who are dealing with similar things. So that lowest low, while I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, has also given me a perspective that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

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Trying something new on the podcast this week: Ask Me Anything! (OK, this is hardly a novel idea, but it’s a new format for me to explore.) In this episode, I’m on the receiving end of the mic with my assistant editor, Jeffrey Stern—who you will learn a little more about in the intro—and answered a wide range of reader and listener questions, including: Are there things you miss and/or don’t miss about working for a national publication versus carving out your space in the sport? How do you know when running is a good thing for you versus consuming too much of your time or attention? Do you foresee some form of mountain/ultra/trail running becoming an Olympic sport within the next 50 years? What have been some of the most insightful or significant takeaways from interviewing the running community? What’s the best way for a road marathoner to incorporate trail running into his or her schedule? How did you get into running, what have been some highs and lows along the way, and what’s next for you? What is the difference between a threshold, tempo, and critical velocity run and how do I incorporate these into my training?

And many more! Thank you to everyone who submitted questions and apologies for all the ones I wasn’t able to answer in this episode. What did you think of this format? Drop me a line on Twitter and share your thoughts: Good, bad, or indifferent, I welcome them all!


Podcast: Episode 72 with Lee Troop

By Mario Fraioli |

“Running is the most simplistic and puristic sport you can do. You put one foot in front of the other, you run as hard as you can for as long as you can, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins. But to see people now not have that joy—and I ask a lot of athletes, ‘Why did you start running?’ and a lot of them started running because they wanted to run with their dad or they wanted to make the school team, they speak with all this joy—and it saddens me that at this point a lot of them don’t have joy. They’ve got tunnel vision, and they’re gonna make it, and they’ll sacrifice everything, and they come to training and you can just see that there’s this tension in them and they just can’t let it go. They’ve already analyzed, overanalyzed, and psychoanalyzed just the training workout and I’m like, ‘Just let it go!’ You’ll have good runs and you’ll have bad ones—if you have a bad one, catch up with some friends and go out and have a beer and just let it go. So, trying to get them to realize that training is a cumulative effect and it takes weeks, and months, and years, and if you’ve already got this attitude starting out in your career, you’re not gonna last. So trying to get them centered as to why they do it, what they want to get out of it, but more importantly enjoying it.”

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This week’s guest is one of my favorite people in the sport of running: Lee Troop. Troopy, as he’s known by his friends, is a retired three-time Olympian in the marathon for Australia with a personal best of 2:09:49 for the distance. He’s lived in Boulder, Colorado for the last 10 years, where he coaches a handful of athletes and puts on local running events around Boulder County.

I caught up with Troop a little over a month ago and we had a great, wide-ranging conversation. We talked about his competitive career, from joining his dad on runs when he was 11 years old, to running at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and how his brief time there prepared him for a career as an international athlete. We talked about retiring from the sport in his early 40s and why Masters racing just doesn’t interest him. Along those lines, we got into the struggles that athletes face after retirement and what he would recommend based on his own experiences. We talked about coaching, and why he stepped back from it last year after one of his athletes, Jonathan Grey, committed suicide—and also how that experience affected him and changed his perspective moving forward.

Troopy has a real passion for people, and that’s something we also got into here, along with a discussion of mental well-being and relationships, why it’s important to work on those two things throughout your life, and so much more. (more…)

Why do you run?

By Mario Fraioli |

“You get up and run every morning as the sun is rising because you run to celebrate life. You run because it is a form of prayer. You’re speaking to Mother Earth with your feet. You’re breathing in Father Sky. You’re telling them, you’re asking them for blessings. You’re showing them that you’re willing to work for that prayer, for those blessings.”

Words from Navajo trail runner and educator Shaun Martin, featured in the morning shakeout #180 and from Sanjay Rawal’s excellent 3100 Film (which you can learn more about on Episode 34 of the morning shakeout podcast). 

Podcast: Episode 71 with Sarah Sellers

By Mario Fraioli |

“When I finally got to come back to running, my number one goal was no longer [to] run as fast as I can—my number one goal was, ‘I don’t want to have to give this up long-term again.’ And so that was motivation to have proper nutrition and to realize if I have to be five to ten pounds heavier than what I thought my goal weight was, if that’s keeps me healthy, then it’s worth it.”

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I’m excited to welcome my third returning guest back to the show this week: Sarah Sellers. Sellers, who finished second at the 2018 Boston Marathon, will race this year’s Chicago Marathon on October 13. We recorded this podcast in front of a live audience back back in early July at the Sports Basement in San Francisco. Sellers and I spoke for about 35 minutes before we opened it up to audience Q&A.

I really enjoyed this one—we touched a on a lot of topics we didn’t cover the first time around back in Episode 28—including her decision to run Chicago this fall and what she’s changing about her approach going into the race; we also talked about avoiding “the comparison trap” and having the confidence in herself to make adjustments to her training when necessary; we got into the steps she’s taken to stay healthy and keep her body strong, her renewed focus on nutrition and being at a healthy weight versus her fastest weight, how she’s learning to prioritize longterm health over short term success, and a lot more. (more…)

The Road to Fall Racing is Getting Paved

By Mario Fraioli |

After spending the past few months purposefully futzing around without any real structure or focus to my running, it’s time to start turning the dial up again so that I can be as prepared as possible to race well at the New York City Marathon on November 3.

The next 4-6 weeks will be spent getting back to basics and reinforcing the foundation that will support the 10-12 weeks of marathon-focused training I’ll layer on top of it. The main objectives right now are to reestablish a theme of consistency from week to week, reintroduce fundamental training elements such as drills, strides, and short hills back into my program, hone the speed a little bit, get my long run back up to 2 hours, and start doing strength work regularly again. The weekly routine won’t be complicated: two hard sessions spaced a few days apart, a long run that gets a little longer each week, one day in the gym with Nate Helming supplemented by additional exercises on 1-2 other days, and a fair amount of aerobic mileage to fill the gaps in between. The challenge for me, as it has been for the past several years, is moving my own training and racing up a few notches on the priority list and making sure it occupies a productive place in my life. Saying no to exciting opportunities, getting my workouts in around travel and work-related commitments, sleeping enough, and making enough time for the people and pursuits that are important to me are the things I struggle with most when I go into “training-mode.” And although I’ve made a lot of progress in these areas the past couple years, it’s always a tough transition when the dial gets turned a few notches to the right.

Follow along on Strava if you’re interested in watching it all unfold and stay tuned to this space for additional updates along the way. My summer running vacation is officially over and I’m excited to get back to work.

From the morning shakeout issue #192.

Podcast: Episode 70 with Katie Arnold

By Mario Fraioli |

“The way I approach running, it’s totally a joyous pursuit for me—which doesn’t mean that every day is happy, but I do it because I love it and I feel good when I run, and the racing is just a fraction of it. I had run all summer training on the happiness principle, where if I’m training happy and not stressed and I’m enjoying it, then I’m training strong and I’ll be healthy. And so that was just a reminder to let it come from within and to tap into that deep pleasure I take in running that really has nothing to do with competition.”

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Excited to welcome Katie Arnold to the podcast this week! The 47-year-old Arnold is one heck of an ultrarunner—she won the Leadville Trail 100 last year in 19 hours, 53 minutes and 40 seconds, which, incredibly, was her debut at the distance—and earlier this year she was second at the Ultra Race of Champions 100K. She’s won numerous other races throughout her career, and is hoping is to run the CCC—a 101K race that goes from Courmayeur, Italy to Chamonix, France—as part of the weeklong UTMB festival of races in late August.

Arnold is also an incredible writer: She’s a contributing editor and former managing editor at Outside magazine, where she worked on staff for 12 years, and currently writes the Raising Rippers column about bringing up adventurous kids—of which she has two of her own—for that publication. Arnold has also written for the The New York Times, Men’s Journal, ESPN the Magazine, and numerous other publications. She recently wrote her first book, Running Home, a memoir about her relationship with her father, grief and resilience, adventure and obsession, and the power of running to change your life.

We covered a wide range of topics in this conversation: “smile” and “flow,” what those words mean to her, and why they’re important when she races; reverse goal-setting and how this strategy sets her up for success; balancing competitive running with the rest of her life; her “real life training plan” and how that helps prepare her for races; the importance of observation and paying attention to what’s going on around her in life; how death can wake us up to the powerful realization that everything is changing all the time; her new book, how it came to be, and what she hopes readers take away from it; and a lot more. (more…)



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