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!

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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…)

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…)

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…)

Podcast: Episode 69 with Scott Jurek

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Luis Escobar

“As long as I’m true to myself then hopefully that benefits other people and ideally it’s a symbiotic relationship and it’s something I want to keep doing—and again, I’ve got to find ways to tweak it, it’s all about tweaking that and finding things that keep me fueled to push boundaries that are still left there for me to explore and then other times just be content. It’s a funky balance, for sure. It’s hard to not have that drive, have that competitive spirit, but at the same time it’s still there once in a while—and appreciating it and fueling it a little bit—but overwhelmingly there’s not going to be as much drive, and that’s OK.”

 

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This week’s guest is Scott Jurek and he hardly needs an introduction, especially if you’re a fan of trail and ultrarunning, so I’m going to keep it as short as I possibly can: Jurek has won pretty much every major ultra race there is to win, including the Spartathalon, the Hardrock 100, the Badwater 135, and the Western States Endurance Run a record seven straight times. He also set the speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2015, completing it in a little over 46 days, and in 2010 he set a U.S. record for the 24-hour run, covering 165.7 miles. Both of those records have since been broken but Jurek’s overall running resume is one that isn’t likely to be matched anytime soon.

Jurek’s also a best-selling author—he’s written two books, Eat and Run and North, which chronicled his 2015 AT adventure—and he’s also a husband to his wife Jenny and a father of two young children, Raven and Evergreen.

We recorded this conversation a couple weeks back alongside a trail in in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives, and we covered all kinds of good stuff, from being back at Western States last month after 10 years away from the event, to how the sport of ultrarunning has evolved over the past several years, to using running as a way to give back to other people and organizations he cares about, making the sport accessible to more people and knocking down the barriers to entry, overtraining and the importance of rest, how long it took him to physically and emotionally recover from his Appalachian Trail FKT, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 68 with Tyler McCandless

By Mario Fraioli |

“I don’t care if somebody wants to criticize my 5K time from July 4—I mean, I got an opportunity to go and race and I went out a little too hard, I made a few mistakes, I learned a bunch from it. It was awesome. That’s the point of it, that’s the point of racing. So I think that’s a really critical component: nowadays people race less because there’s too much pressure on those results instead of focusing on the process.”

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I was in Boulder, Colorado last week and had a chance to sit down with Tyler McCandless, a 2:12 marathoner whose career I’ve been following closely for the past 10 years. McCandless is not only one of the most underrated road racers in the U.S., he’s also one of the nicest guys in running, and you’ll see why in this episode.

We covered all kinds of ground in this conversation—which we recorded just a few days before the birth of McCandless’ son, Levi—from why he trains without a GPS watch to learning how to race aggressively and with confidence, balancing his full-time job as a Machine Learning Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research with being a professional long-distance runner, his relationship with his coach, former marathon world-record holder Steve Jones, and how that’s evolved over the past 6-1/2 years, the importance of having interests outside of running and not losing sight of the purity of the sport, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: The Weekly Rundown | A Teaser

By Mario Fraioli |

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I’m excited to share a little something different with you this week: a recent episode of The Weekly Rundown, a Patreon-exclusive podcast I’ve been recording the last few weeks with my friend and collaborator, Billy Yang of Billy Yang Films and the Billy Yang Podcast.

In this teaser episode, which we recorded last week on July 2, Billy and I talk about the Western States Endurance Run, The Prefontaine Classic, and Billy’s recent trip to Austria for the Infinite Trails relay race. It’s not Billy interviewing me or me interviewing Billy—it’s just two friends talking casually and unscripted about what’s been going on in our lives, the sport, and the industry over the previous week.

Right now, this show is only available to our respective supporters on Patreon, so if you’re into it and want more, you can support my work directly at themorningshakeout.com/support. If you like this informal format, or even if you don’t—or if you like it and think it needs to be longer than 30-ish minutes—let me know by dashing me a note on Twitter at @mariofraioli.

Eventually we may make this show available to everyone but for now it’s only available to our respective Patreon supporters. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled interview-style show next week but in the meantime, please enjoy this sample of The Weekly Rundown. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 67 with Gwen Jorgensen

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Talbot Cox

“When I was younger I really struggled with separating myself from sport. I really believed that how I performed is what defined me and I started to perform way better once I was able to separate myself from sport and realize that sport does not define me. And that’s something that’s just been huge for me.”

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Really enjoyed talking to Gwen Jorgensen for this week’s episode of the podcast. The 33-year-old Jorgensen is the reigning Olympic champion in triathlon, who, in late 2017, announced she was retiring from multi-sport racing to turn her attention to running full-time. Her goal: Olympic gold in the marathon. In early 2018, Jorgensen signed with Nike and joined the Bowerman Track Club to train alongside 2017 New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan and reigning Olympic Trials marathon champion Amy Cragg under the watchful eye of coach Jerry Schumacher.

We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, including Jorgensen’s recent surgery to repair a Haglund’s deformity in her right heel and how she’s dealt with it from both a training and psychological standpoint, the importance of separating yourself from sport and having balance in your life, last fall’s Chicago Marathon and why she didn’t feel that it was a fair representation of what she’s capable of in that event, reflections on her first full season of training as a runner, learning from Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan, what it’s been like going from being at the top of one sport to an underdog in a different one, how she’s learned to get comfortable sharing her story (and struggles) with a large audience, why the Olympic gold medal in the marathon is still her goal, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 66 with Rachel Schneider

By Mario Fraioli |

“Any time I step on a line it’s this huge moment of gratitude—this is another opportunity to challenge myself, to push myself, to have the privilege to run with these women. So I think when I can frame it that way, and have that sort of perspective, it just adds so much more fun and joy and excitement rather than any anxiety or outcome or stress that is often easy to get caught up in results.”

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Super excited to welcome Rachel Schneider to the podcast this week. On May 16, Schneider ran 15:06.71 for 5000m to win the USATF Distance Classic. It was a nine-second personal best and, at the time, the fastest 5000m run in the world this year. That mark has since been eclipsed but she is one of the top female 5000m runners in the U.S. right now and one of only two American woman to have achieved the 2020 Olympic standard so far in that event.

This was a fun conversation and amazingly, it’s the first time Schneider has ever been on a podcast. We got into her progression as an athlete, from a soccer player-turned-runner in high school to multi-time all-American at Georgetown and now an Under Armour-sponsored professional training in Flagstaff, Arizona. We talked about her current setup in Flagstaff and the incredible community she has around her in the mountains. We talked training and how that’s evolved over the past few years, the importance of gratitude and balance in her life, who she looks up to, how she’s dealt with challenging situations, and a lot more.
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Podcast: Episode 65 with Brady Threlfall

By Mario Fraioli |

“I was hooked by the appeal that you could work hard and you saw those results. I think coming from team sports, where you could work hard and still not be successful because there was so many different aspects that had to click and go right for that team to be successful, whereas I noticed from a really early stage that if I did the work, I was going to be successful. It didn’t take long for my times to drop—I call it the honeymoon period now with some of the athletes that I coach—in those first 6-12 months it’s really good because if you get the training right, and if you’re patient and hit that sweet spot in training, it’s almost like every second weekend you can go out there and PR a race.”

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I really enjoyed sitting down with my first Aussie guest, Brady Threlfall, for this week’s episode of the podcast. Threlfall’s a 2:19 marathoner, a coach with Run 2 PB, and host of the popular Inside Running podcast. In this conversation, which we recorded a few months ago, we got into his introduction to the sport and progression as an athlete, coaching and working with different types of runners, Australia’s rich running history, what running culture looks like in his country, how the Inside Running podcast came to be, what’s exciting him in running right now, and a lot more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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