Podcast: Episode 86 with Bryan Hill

By Mario Fraioli |

“Tapping into the side of you that has that internal drive is super important because discipline’s a really hard thing, right? Cadence and consistency to me matters, and when I know I’m off loop is when I don’t have that consistency or cadence. If you take any successful business, any successful athlete, the reality is what makes them most successful is some sort of cadence and consistency.”

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Excited to share a conversation I recently had with my good friend Bryan Hill for this week’s episode of the podcast.

Bryan is the co-owner and CEO of Rehab United Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, which has offices in both San Diego and Seattle. A physical therapist by trade, Bryan was a collegiate All-American in soccer and played professionally for 5 years before opening Rehab United with his brother Sean in 2003. He took up running and triathlon after his soccer career ended and he also coaches a small roster of athletes in those two sports.

In this conversation, we dug into Bryan’s story, how he got into physical therapy and developed his treatment philosophy, the importance of cadence and consistency in anything you do, why community matters so much to him, what runners can do to get strong and stay healthy, and a lot more. (more…)

Episode 85: Mary Ngugi and Jared Ward

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Chris Cooper

“I had a breakthrough race in Boston and training for New York has been every bit as good as the training leading into Boston and even better in some aspects, so what I’d really like to do is, I think it would be successful if I validated that performance in Boston…and say, ‘yes, this is where I am and I belong.’ You know, I ran 20 miles with the leaders in Boston and that was the first time running with the international leaders in a marathon that long and so I want to validate that Boston performance.” —Jared Ward

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I’m excited to share a special episode of the podcast that was recorded live two days before the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon with Kenyan Mary Ngugi, who went on to finish 10th in the women’s race, and Jared Ward, who was the top American male finisher in sixth place.

Ngugi, who ran a personal best 2:27:36, won silver at the half marathon world championships in 2014, captured bronze at the 2016 championships, and owns the fastest half marathon ever run on American soil, 1:06:29 at Houston in 2016. She is also the mother of an 8-year-old daughter and one of the most outgoing Kenyan athletes on social media.

Ward, whose 2:10:45 clocking was the second-fastest marathon he’s ever run, was sixth at New York for the second straight year. Earlier this year he ran a personal best 2:09:25 at the Boston Marathon to finish eighth and was sixth at the 2016 Olympic marathon in Rio. He is a father of four children and will be a top contender for the U.S. Olympic marathon team in February. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 84 with Corrine Malcolm

By Mario Fraioli |

“If you go into the race knowing it’s going to hurt and you’re OK with it, you’re stronger than most of the people out there—and I just latched onto that: this idea that if I knew it was going to hurt and I was ready for it and I could revel in it and embrace it and be like ‘OK, lets do this’ type of deal with the pain or with the discomfort, that made racing so much easier, and that makes a lot of things in life so much easier.”

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I had an awesome conversation with Corrine Malcolm for this week’s episode of the podcast. Malcolm is a San Francisco-based trail and ultra runner for adidas TERREX and she’s also been coaching athletes for CTS since 2016.

A self-confessed science nerd with a degree in Health and Human Performance, the 29-year-old Malcolm was a collegiate cross-country skier and then raced on the U.S. national biathlon team before finding her way into trail and ultrarunning in her early 20s. She’s finished in the top-10 at the last two Western States Endurance Runs, including a tenth-place finish at this year’s race. Malcolm was also fifth at last year’s TDS in Chamonix, France and has shown some pretty damn good range in ultra-distance races over the past few years.

We covered a lot of good ground in this one: what she’s planning on doing the rest of the year since her fall goal race was cancelled, why she’s not planning to go back to Western States next year even though she has a guaranteed entry, developing a healthier relationship with exercise and overtraining and how that’s informed her perspective as a coach, embracing the suck and how she got good at it, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 83 with Christopher McDougall

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Matt Roth

“Their phrase they have at the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon is, ‘The joy of running in community,’ and it’s on all their t-shirts, it’s on all their signs: the joy of running in community. And that’s why I struggle with this idea of competition because these guys are very hardcore runners: they’re fast, they’re strong, they do Ragnars, they do sub-3 hour marathons, but always as a gang, as a team, like a cross-country team. So those things began to sort of connect for me: I’m running with these Amish dudes, they all run together. I’m running with these donkeys, they’re all having fun. I would finish runs with the donkeys and my wife and my friend Zeke feeling way better than other runs because we were going slower, we were communicating, your consciousness is off yourself, it’s on somebody else, so for me, I just started to feel and see the effects of running as a group.”

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Great episode this week: I had the chance to sit down with New York Times best-selling author Christopher McDougall while he was on tour for his new book, Running with Sherman, which is a heartwarming story about training a rescue donkey to run one of the most challenging races in America.

McDougall also wrote the wildly popular Born To Run, and in this conversation we talked about both of those books, as well as running, writing, storytelling, community, competition, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 82 with Jesse Williams

By Mario Fraioli |

“Anybody that’s in this industry, especially somebody that was in my former position, you sit around all the time and complain about what’s wrong with track and field. I’m one of the biggest talkers when it comes to that, I always complain about what’s wrong. And I feel like I have a chance to potentially work towards one piece of the solution, which is an events series in the U.S., after USAs, not only where athletes can make money, but we’re doing things differently, and it’s more entertainment. We’re going to do our best. It’s exciting—very exciting.”

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Excited to share a conversation I recorded in late September with Jesse Williams, who was the head of sports marketing at Brooks for 13 years, where he oversaw the marketing and business side of the such initiatives as Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, the Brooks Beasts, the Brooks PR Invitational, and other athlete programs. Williams left Brooks in 2017 and took a year off from work to figure out his next move, and at the end of last year he launched Sound Running, a company which offers training programs, coaching, and events for runners of ALL ability levels. He’s particularly excited about next summer’s Sound Running Tour, a series of track meets in southern California designed to create competitive domestic racing opportunities for athletes seeking Olympic tune-ups and personal bests, all while helping push the sport forward—which is something that it desperately needs right now.

Williams has had interesting career trajectory: from studying exercise physiology and English as undergrad, to becoming a kindergarten teacher as a 22-year-old, going back to grad school for a degree in biomechanics, to then working his way up the chain at Brooks to become head of sports marketing. We got into all that and a lot more over the course of this 90-minute conversation, including quite a bit of discussion about the marketing side of the sport, what excites him and what worries him about it right now, how brands can better use their athletes, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 81 with Steve Jones

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: PhotoRun.net

“That’s how my whole career, my whole running career went—it was always trying to beat the guy in front of me, always trying to catch the guy in front of me. And that helped me—not just the training, it wasn’t just the training, it was that attitude going into races. And like I said, when I started winning races, I didn’t want to win them by one second—I wanted to win them by 90 seconds or 2 minutes. It was always about beating the opposition, annihilation I used to call it.”

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This week’s episode is a really special one. I got to have a conversation with my favorite runner of all-time, former marathon world-record holder, Steve Jones. Jonesy, who is now 64 years old, broke the world-record in the first marathon he ever finished at Chicago in 1984, running 2:08:05. He won the race again a year later in 2:07:13—splitting an incredible 61:42 at halfway—just missing the world-record by one second.

What I have always loved and admired about Jonesy is his no-nonsense approach to training and racing. He describes it as “running simplified” and it’s a philosophy that’s had a profound effect on me as both as athlete and coach over the years. The guy was probably the fiercest competitor of all-time: he didn’t chase records, he just wanted to run as hard as he possibly could to beat as many people as he possibly could. He once said, “If I’m still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down because that means I didn’t run hard enough.” In short: the guy was a total badass.

I absolutely loved this conversation and I think you will too: We talked through his two Chicago victories, his New York win in 1988, and what made those triumphs so special. We got into his training philosophy, where it came from, and who influenced him over the years. We discussed how the sport has changed in the last few decades and where he sees it heading in the future. We talked about why he continued to hold down a day job as a mechanic in the Royal Air Force after breaking the world record in 1984. We also got into his current role as a coach, how his relationship with his athletes has evolved over the years, why club running is important to the overall health of the sport, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 80 with Sally McRae

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Brandon Flint

“There was definitely a time in my life where I had to tell myself, ‘It’s OK to be broken.’ That’s OK. The goal in life isn’t to be perfect—nobody’s perfect. There’s no one in history that we can point to that’s lived a perfect life. So, the reality is—and you said this so wonderfully when I was at UTMB and I was like, ‘I know this,’ when I was so disappointed in my performance, I was so down—and you said, ‘It isn’t about how you finish, it’s about how you respond to this journey and how you continue on.’ And I’m like, ‘I know this, I know this,’ and that is just a great reminder for everything in life because life, when it comes down to it, it’s the journey that’s the most fulfilling part.”

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This week I sat down with one of my most requested guests: Sally McRae. The 40-year-old mom of two is a professional ultrarunner living in Southern California and—in the interest of full disclosure—I’ve been her coach for a little over two years now.

Earlier this year she won her first race on the Ultra Trail World Tour, the Mozart 100, and more recently she finished 23rd at the UTMB, her highest ever finish at that event, in what was one of the grittiest races I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness firsthand.

This is a long episode folks, coming in right at about 90 minutes, and it does not disappoint. So much to take away from this one about relationships, communication, competitiveness, learning to give yourself grace, recognizing our victories, remembering what’s important in life, and so much more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 79 with Jonathan Pierce

By Mario Fraioli |

“That’s the most dangerous place to be—is to think you know it all. I always just try to go into problems being curious. I’m always just like, ‘I wonder if I can solve this. I wonder if we can figure this out.’ And really, it’s not me, it’s not about me. It’s me and the athlete, or me and the athlete and the coach…and it just becomes this problem-solving thing, and a curiosity, and we’re communicating, ‘Hey, how do you feel with this? Do you understand? Yes. Is that what you sense too?’ You’re working with the person to get the outcome. You’re just the facilitator. The ego has to go away.”

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I recently sat down with my friend Jonathan Pierce, who I met in 2007 when we both competed at the national club cross country championships in West Chester, Ohio. He placed third overall that day to help ZAP Fitness win the team title and let’s just say that I finished way, way back in the field.

The 36-year-old Pierce had a great running career—he competed collegiately at Stanford where he was an All-American steeplechaser, and then ran professionally for ZAP Fitness and later the Mammoth Track Club—and represented the United States at the World Cross Country Championships in 2008.

And for as good of an athlete as he was, Pierce is an even better manual therapist. Since 2012, he’s worked with some of the top athletes in the world, including national champions, world and Olympic medalists, world-record holders, and elite CrossFit competitors. A few years ago he opened Kinetik Performance, a multidisciplinary sports rehab and performance center in San Diego, where he and his staff treat everyone from Olympians to everyday athletes who just want to stay injury-free.

We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, from Pierce’s running career and his trajectory as an athlete, to his influences and what he’s learned from them along the way, to his current career path and the steps that led him down it. We talked about competitiveness, how it spills over into different areas of his life, and knowing when to turn it down. We discuss the importance of mentorship in his life and the advice he’d give his younger self. He also provides some actionable takeaways for any athlete who wants to stay healthy, and a lot more.
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Podcast: Episode 78 with Jeanne Mack

By Mario Fraioli |

“Why did it take me so long in order to decide that I needed to pull the plug on running? What was it that made me cling to the idea of running a little bit banged up for so long? [Figuring out the answers to those questions] is really cool. I’m getting deeper into figuring all that stuff out so that when I come back, I’ll have hopefully a really sturdy foundation to build on but then I’ll also have that knowledge to help me get a little bit further.”

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Excited to share a conversation I recently had with Jeanne Mack, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon who moved to San Francisco from New York just a few months ago. Mack works as a copy writer at Strava, where she also hosts the Athletes Unflitered podcast. She ran 2:39:04 in her second marathon last fall at Chicago and she’s currently working through an injury so she can be at the top of her game for the Olympic Trials in February of 2020.

This was a fun, wide-ranging conversation: we dug into Jeanne’s relationship with running and how it’s evolved over the years; what it’s been like for taking time off from running to work through injury and how some of the conversations she’s had as a podcast host have helped her in that regard; the differences between the running scene in New York versus here on the west coast, the lessons she learned—and how her training changed—from her first marathon to the second one; the professional path she’s traveled to land where she is today; her thoughts on the current state of running media, and a lot more. (more…)

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…)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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