Podcast: Episode 77 with Jason Koop

By Mario Fraioli |

“One of the really cool things about trail and ultrarunning in particular is people go so far into the unknown and I think that, as an element of humanity, doing something where there’s a legitimate chance that you’re going to utterly fail and get taken off by a helicopter—right, that’s going to happen tomorrow, people are going to get flown out by helicopters—the fact that there’s a sport that people can participate in that has these neat elements to it, I think it’s good for everybody. It’s obviously good for me because I’m in the sport, I’m in it professionally and I earn a living doing it, but I just think it’s good for society to have those things that can really test you, so I just hope that the sport continues to maintain its edge, attract new people, be viable, and be fun to come out and do these types of events.”

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Really enjoyed sitting down with a coaching colleague of mine, Jason Koop, for this week’s episode of the podcast.

Koop is one of the most highly respected and successful coaches in ultrarunning. He’s the head ultrarunning coach for Carmichael Training Systems, a company he’s been working for since 2001. Koop ran collegiately at Texas A&M and he’s coached athletes of all ages and ability levels over the course of his career, including some notable ones such as Western States champion Kaci Lickteig, Dylan Bowman, Dakota Jones, Stephanie Howe, and others.

We caught up a couple weeks ago in Chamonix, France, where we were both supporting athletes during the UTMB festival of races, and a few days before he was about to set off for the Tor des Géants, a 330K trail race through Italy’s Aosta Valley. (Ed. note: Koop finished 27th overall in 97 hours and 6 minutes.)

We got into a lot of coaching nerdery in this one, including the path Koop has traveled to get where he is today, the importance of education, experience, and observation as it pertains to coaching, how his mentors and colleagues have made him a better coach, balancing volume and intensity in training, how he responds to criticisms of his employer and why he doesn’t just start his own coaching company, the growth of the competitive side of ultrarunning in recent years, and much more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 76 with Amelia Boone and Brad Stulberg

By Mario Fraioli |

“I actually don’t feel that added pressure. If anything, to me, it’s just about continuing to live authentically, and part of that living authentically is that there’s going to be ups and downs—it’s not a linear progression at all and just giving myself grace with that is really important—and sharing those ups and downs. There are so many people that talk about eating disorders after they’ve conquered them or when they used to struggle but are over that now—and you see it a lot in the running world and I’m really, really appreciative who talk about it, but they also talk about it as a thing of the past, that it’s no longer an issue—but I think more of the reality is that there are many, many people out there for who it is still an issue day to day. And I think if I waited to a point where I was totally over it and in a really solid recovered place, honestly, I probably would never talk about it.”
— Amelia Boone

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I’ve got a unique episode to share this week with two past guests of the show: Amelia Boone, world champion obstacle-course racer and badass ultrarunner, and Brad Stulberg, author of the books Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox, sat down with me for a roundtable discussion of sorts about mental health, eating disorders, OCD, recovery, running and racing, the desire to be relevant, social media and its influence on us, sharing our stories, and a lot more.

This is an important conversation and there’s a lot to think about and take away from it, especially if you—or someone you love—have dealt with mental illness in the past or are currently struggling. Many thanks to both Amelia and Brad for being so open, honest, and flat-out raw with me in talking about these difficult and personal topics. (more…)

1 Million Downloads and Counting

By Mario Fraioli |

Sometime in the past week the morning shakeout podcast surpassed 1 million total downloads. I know it’s just a number, but I’ve never hit a million anything in my life. THANK YOU to everyone who has listened in, offered feedback, and/or shared an episode(s) with others. It truly means a lot to me.

Check out the top ten episodes below in case you missed one or just want to revisit some amazing conversations:

  1. 1. Episode #7 – Shalane Flanagan
  2. 2. Episode #55 – Ryan Hall
  3. 3. Episode #27 – Kara Goucher
  4. 4. Episode #40 – Des Linden
  5. 5. Episode #45 – Colleen Quigley
  6. 6. Episode #62 – Scott Fauble
  7. 7. Episode #52 – Stephanie Bruce
  8. 8. Episode #67 – Gwen Jorgensen
  9. 9. Episode #53 – Brad Stulberg
  10. 10. Episode #64 – Frank Gagliano

What’s been your favorite episode? Who do you want to see on the podcast in the future? Here’s to the next million!

Podcast: Episode 75 with Brian Metzler

By Mario Fraioli |

“Sometimes we all want to get as far away from running as possible, right? And I say that in a lighthearted way but I think that anyone who has been involved in running in any way knows what that means. We love running to an obsession, and that’s great, but we also need a deep breath, a break, something else that is not just running. I find myself as a lot of things, and running is a big part of that, but that’s not the only thing I am.”

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Super excited to share a recent conversation I had with Brian Metzler for this week’s episode of the podcast. I’ve known Brian a long time—back in 2009-2010 we co-wrote the On The Run column for Triathlete magazine—and he was my boss at Competitor magazine and Competitor.com (now PodiumRunner.com) from 2012-2016. Before his stint as editor-in-chief of Competitor, Brian worked as a senior editor at Running Times, he was also the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, and he’s written for almost every running and outdoor publication imaginable at one point or another over the years. He’s authored or co-authored a few books in recent years and has a new one coming out soon called Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture, and Cool of Running Shoes.

I loved this conversation and I think you will too. We talked running, media, and running shoes—along with where and how all those things intersect—and how Brian has made a career out of writing about the sport and the industry over the past 25 years. We discussed trends that have come and gone in media and with running shoes—two areas Brian knows more than most people about—and we also got into his new book, which, if you’re a shoe geek like me, or are just curious about how running shoes and the industry have evolved over the last several decades, you will definitely want to pre-order ahead of its release next month. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 74 with Matt Futterman

By Mario Fraioli |

“It takes a long time to write books, it takes a long time to run a marathon, it takes even longer to train for a marathon, but if you don’t take any shortcuts, and you push yourself, and you do the things that you’re afraid of, if you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, then that’s where the magic can happen.”

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Excited to welcome Matt Futterman, the deputy sports editor of The New York Times and author of the new book, Running To The Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed, to the podcast this week.

Futterman is an avid runner himself—he’s run 23 marathons and has qualified for Boston—and we had a great conversation about his new book, which is largely about coach Bob Larsen and his quest to discover the training secrets that would lead American runners back to prominence on the world stage. We also talked about how he got into running and developed an interest in it, why track and running have fallen out of fervor with mainstream media and what he’s doing at The New York Times to help bring more attention to the sport, the appeal of the marathon and what it’s taught him about himself and life in general, the importance of being process-oriented and appreciating the journey, whether it’s running, work, of life, and so much more.

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…)

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…)



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