Podcast: Episode 64 with Frank Gagliano

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: David Bracetty

“No, I’m not surprised [that I’m still coaching] because there’s two things: My heart and my mind is in it big time. And as long as those two continue to be in it—and my health, thank the good Lord at the age of 82 is very good—I love it, and I’m not ready to pack it in at all. Actually, I have a lot of fire in my belly.”

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It was an honor and a privilege to sit down recently with Frank Gagliano, the 82-year-old coach of the Hoka NJ-NY Track Club, for a conversation about coaching and life that had a profound impact on me—and I know it will do the same for you.

This one got emotional a couple times but Coach Gags opened up to me in a way he hasn’t elsewhere before and his story, and message, is really powerful. The man has coached at every level of the sport over the past 58 years—high school, college, and professionally—and he’s had great success at all of them. He’s coached 15 Olympians, 140 All-Americans, multiple national champions, and a world championships medalist. More importantly than that, however, the lessons he’s taught his athletes extend far beyond the track. He has a love for the sport, his family, his athletes, and his country that is unmatched and it really comes across in this conversation.
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Podcast: Episode 63 with Nicholas Thompson

By Mario Fraioli |

“The great thing about running is: it’s all you. If your team does better in soccer, it might be you, it might be your team. You could actually get worse and your team could get better, but if you are getting faster at running, it’s you, so the improvement feels pretty intensely emotional, and that drew me in.”

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I’m excited to share a special live recording of the podcast that I did with Nicholas Thompson, the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, in front of a live audience last month in Boston.

In this conversation, we spoke exclusively about aging and the marathon, which is a topic he’s written about for Wired. Last fall, Thompson—who is 43 years old—ran not one, but two 2:38 marathons at Chicago and New York, only 4 weeks apart, both faster than his previous personal best of 2:43. We recorded this episode at Tracksmith’s Trackhouse the day before this year’s Boston Marathon, where he finished in 2:34:27, a new personal best, running a nice negative split (which, if you’ve run Boston, you know is not easy to do).

This episode is only about 35 minutes long but Thompson has agreed to come back on another time so we can dig deeper into the role running plays in his life, talk about his journalism career, learn about his love of music, and much more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 62 with Scott Fauble

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Ryan Sterner

“I went to the lead, even over Heartbreak, with a purpose and with the goal of dropping people and injecting pace—and I think that’s maybe what surprised me the most, is that I was able to be an actual factor and be something that impacted the way the race played out, which is a new feeling for me in the marathon, particularly in World Marathon Majors. In New York, I was as far back as probably 20th pretty early in the race and was kind of doing my own thing, so that was the biggest surprise—being up front—and the way we got to the 2:09:09 here in Boston.”

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Stoked to welcome the morning shakeout’s first-ever guest, Scott Fauble of Hoka Northern Arizona Elite, back to the show to talk about his recent seventh-place finish at the Boston Marathon, where he ran a big personal best of 2:09:09.

We covered a lot of good stuff in this conversation: all things Boston, of course, but also training and recovery, what the next several months are going to look like heading into the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon, his greatest strengths as a marathoner (and where he has the most room to grow), how he keeps himself centered and grounded, where his extraordinary ability to push himself in races comes from, what’s exciting him in running right now, and a heck of a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 61 with Katy Sherratt

By Mario Fraioli |

“Homelessness is a label, it is not who they are. It is a point in time, it is something they are struggling through, it is not something that should be used to put a label on them and define them as a human—and that’s what we try to change on those morning runs. When you’re running with one of our members, who may be suffering from homelessness at that point in time, it’s just a human to human conversation.”

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I had a great conversation for this week’s episode of the podcast with Katy Sherratt, the CEO of Back on My Feet, an organization that uses running and community support to help combat homelessness and provide essential employment opportunities and housing resources for people who need it.

We talked about Back on my Feet’s origins, how the organization has grown since it launched in 2007, and where it’s heading in the coming years. We discussed running as a universal language, the evolving role that running has had in Sherratt’s life, how she first got involved with BoMF, and what she’s learned during her tenure. Sherratt also explains how the program works, shares some member success stories, knocks down some of the biggest misconceptions people have about homelessness, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 60 with Terrence Mahon

By Mario Fraioli |

“Watching from an athlete perspective, where all of a sudden he gets it, or she gets it, and you see that just click, and then it’s game time, I think that’s the biggest thing I get from an athlete. All these things you see as a coach, like ‘this athlete should be able to do this, or should be able hit these times, or do this performance,’ but it’s all nothing because it’s just you and me talking here and we know the science of it, and method, but the athlete is the one who has to believe in it and believe in themselves. It doesn’t matter how much you tell them how great they are, or whatever, until they get it. And watching that process happen, and how it happens differently with each athlete, is probably the most exciting part of coaching.”

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Really enjoyed sitting down with Terrence Mahon for this week’s episode of the podcast. Mahon, one of the best middle and long distance running coaches in the world, is currently the director and coach of the Mission Athletics Club in San Diego, which he co-founded last year with his wife, three-time Olympian Jen Rhines. Mahon was previously the coach of the BAA High Performance team in Boston, he was the distance coach for U.K. Athletics before that, and he was also the coach of Team Running USA/the Mammoth Track Club from 2004 to 2013, where he guided Deena Kastor to an American record of 2:19:36 in the marathon, Ryan Hall to his 59:43 AR in the half marathon, and developed eight Olympians during his tenure.

This was one of my favorite conversations. We talked about Mahon’s career as both an athlete and a coach. I learned more about Mission Athletics Club and what his objectives are with his new group. We discussed the trajectory of his coaching career, from his humble beginnings working with age-group runners at a running shop in Pennsylvania to becoming one of the most highly sought after coaches in the world. He also told me about his coaching influences and mentors, including the legendary Joe Vigil, Dan Pfaff, and others.

We got into the weeds of Mahon’s coaching philosophy and there are a ton of great takeaways: like the importance of really getting to know your athletes, being brutally honest with them, and being adaptable when it comes to setting goals. We talked about what he sees as his main responsibilities as a coach, how he keeps sharp and stays excited about the craft, what he learns from the athletes he works with, the idea of “coaching mastery” and what that means to him, and a heck of a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 59 with Chelsea Sodaro

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: James Mitchell

“A lot of us endurance athletes are obsessive and one of the things that makes us good is that we’re able to focus on the very small details of our craft and spend a lot of time concentrating on improving those things. On the flip side, it’s pretty easy to get too bogged down in the weeds and we can have a hard time stepping back and really seeing the big picture of progression, which is something that happens over a long period of time—not something that we can expect to happen in a matter of weeks or months or even like a year or two, and I think that’s something that I’ve got into a little bit of trouble with in the past.”

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I had a great time talking to Chelsea Sodaro for this week’s episode of the podcast. Many of you may remember Sodaro by her maiden name, Chelsea Reilly, who national titles in the road 10K and indoor 3000m in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The 29-year-old Sodaro was one of the top distance runners in the U.S. not that long ago, with personal bests on the track ranging from 4:08 in the 1500m to 15:10 in the 5K. She’s turned her attention to triathlon in the last few years and is quickly rising through the pro ranks, having won her first ITU World Cup race last June and finishing 2018 atop the podium at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells-La Quinta in December.

We covered a lot in this conversation: how Chelsea got into running, where she gets her competitive drive from, how she’s dealt with injury throughout her career, the special relationship she has with Olympian Magdalena Boulet, transitioning to triathlon less than three years ago, why she felt so alone and empty immediately after winning her first triathlon last year, the advice she’d give her younger self, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 58 with Edward Cheserek

By Mario Fraioli |

“They were doing 10-mile long runs by that time and I dropped them. And they were like, ‘Oh, this kid is tough!’ I was coming and going on rolling hills and my coach was like, ‘Hmm, you ran the last mile in 4:55.’ I didn’t even know what that meant—4:55 a mile? I just ran. I used to clock [time] in kilometers, so I thought it was a kilometer, and I was like, ‘That’s slow.’ But it was miles. A few months later I came back and ran my first indoor [race] and they were like, ‘You can run!’ and I was like, ‘OK.’ That’s the moment I fell in love with the sport and I ended up quitting the soccer thing and just focused on running.”

 

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Excited to share a recent conversation I had with Edward Cheserek on this week’s episode of the podcast. King Ches, as he’s known throughout the running world, recently tied the IAAF world record for the road 5K at Carlsbad 5000, breaking the tape in 13 minutes and 29 seconds. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the 25-year-old Kenyan for half an hour a couple days before the race to learn a little more about his life, his upbringing in Kenya, moving to the U.S. as a high schooler 10 years ago, his record-setting collegiate career at the University of Oregon where he won 17 NCAA titles, what it would mean for him to gain his U.S. citizenship and represent this country in an international championship, where his competitiveness comes from, and a lot more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 57 with Paddy O’Leary

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Ryan Scura and Dylan Ladds | @doosterfilm

“I always found myself working very hard to try and be the best at those little things but also enjoy what I was doing. This was evident at a very early age—I wanted to be competitive at something but I wanted to enjoy it while I was doing it. I don’t think I gain most of my enjoyment from the competitive side of it and from the racing or the competing. It was more from the just being present there and enjoying seeing other people enjoy what we’re doing and enjoying it with them.”

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Excited to share a recent conversation I had with a guy many of you outside the Bay Area running scene may not have heard of yet: His name is Paddy O’Leary, he’s an Irish lad living in San Francisco, and he’s a North Face-sponsored trail and ultra runner who has risen through the ranks of the sport in just a few short years. He’s also got a fast set of wheels, having run a big personal best of 2:20 and change in the marathon last fall at CIM, a race he ran on somewhat of a whim after The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships got cancelled due to the California Wildfires.

O’Leary’s a friend and sometimes training partner of mine and he’s got an incredible story—not to mention a beautiful Irish brogue—that I’m excited to share with you in this episode. Before he got into running about five years ago, O’Leary played on the Irish national lacrosse team from 2007-2014, captaining the squad to its first European Lacrosse Championship final in 2012. He’s also been a cancer biologist at UCSF since 2013, was the co-leader of the November Project in San Francisco from 2014-2018, and has a love of traveling, community, sport, and, of course a good Guinness.

On Saturday, April 13, O’Leary will attempt the Wicklow Round in his native Ireland, a self-supported long-distance run which involves summiting 26 peaks with over 20,000 feet of climbing over 70 miles with no GPS—just a compass, a map, and his own questionable senses.

This is a long one but it was an enjoyable exchange that covers a wide range of topics, from O’Leary’s upbringing in County Wexford, Ireland, why he came to the U.S. to do his postdoctoral research, how he got into trail and ultrarunning, what he’d like to do in running over the next couple years, and much, much more. I really think you’ll take a lot away from it, so settle in and enjoy my discussion with Paddy O’Leary.

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Podcast: Episode 56 with Dena Evans

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Nico Zurcher

“A lot of the folks I interact with now, whether it’s a newly post-collegiate athlete who’s still got goals that they want to achieve, or a middle-aged athlete who has a general fitness goal they want to achieve, or they’d like go for that Boston qualifier, whatever it is, most of these goals are achievable if you stick with it and keep building the tower—I call it ‘the Jenga tower.’ My outlook on coaching, generally, is: Let’s build the tower and we’ll eventually get there. Sometimes you do have artificial timelines, but if you can avoid them that’s better, and just concentrate on building on what you have done and not worrying about what you aren’t. So I try to think inductively about coaching and I think that’s partly due to some of these experiences—let’s assume we’re going to get there. It’s just a question of ‘how’ and not ‘if.'”

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Really enjoyed sitting down with Dena Evans for this week’s episode of the podcast. Evans is currently the coordinator and coach of the Peninsula Distance Club, a competitive post-collegiate team based in Palo Alto, California that she founded in 2007. Evans also coached at Stanford from 1999-2005, and in 2003 was named the NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the year after leading the Cardinal to the national title. A few of her athletes during those years are some names you might recognize, like Lauren Fleshman, Sara Hall, Alicia Vargo, Malindi Elmore, and others. She’s also been on the coaching staff for Team USA at multiple world championships. In addition to her coaching accolades, Evans was a standout athlete at Stanford from 1992-96, where she was a three-time All American in track and also star player on the soccer team.

We covered a lot of different topics in this conversation, from getting into multiple sports at a young age to her thoughts on specialization, her career at Stanford and how she juggled being a two-sport athlete, her relationship with coach Vin Lananna and how he influenced her as both an athlete and a coach, how she got into coaching and what she’s learned working with different levels of athletes over the past 20 years, what’s exciting her—and what she would change—about the sport of running right now, and a lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 55 with Ryan Hall

By Mario Fraioli |

“I think what made me me was taking big risks and training really hard. And I think that’s what allowed me to have such high highs but it’s also why I had so many low lows as well. I think if I would have taken the edge off my training I probably would have just been a lot more steady in my results and not so up and down and all over the map. But also, in my mind, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the same place—and for me, I would rather risk everything and see what’s going to happen than play it safe and just get to mediocre for me.”

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It was a treat to speak with Ryan Hall for this week’s episode of the podcast. Hall, who retired from professional running in 2016, is still the fastest American male marathoner (2:04:58) and half marathoner (59:43) of all-time. He made two Olympic teams and finished in the top-5 at numerous World Marathon Majors, including a third-place finish in Boston in 2008.

We packed a lot into this 45-minute conversation, including his reflections on retirement and when he realized he couldn’t push himself to the level he wanted to in running. We talked about battling extreme fatigue toward the end of his career and what he might do differently in retrospect, especially as a high school athlete who trained hard from a young age. There was some talk about nature vs. nature as it relates to athletic success, body image issues amongst male runners—including his own struggles—and where his own independent and competitive streaks come from. Finally, we got into his attraction to Ethiopia and what led to he and his wife Sara adopting four daughters from that country, his upcoming new book, Run The Mile You’re In, what that phrase means to him exactly, 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.