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). 

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.

What’s the secret to mental toughness in an ultramarathon?

By Mario Fraioli |

Self-care. In fact, it’s the good kind of grit. Don’t believe me? There’s research to prove it. “The kind of grit that comes with self-sacrifice and self-criticism actually leads to an inability to learn from one’s mistakes and to bounce back from trials,” Emma Seppälä PhD, write for Psychology Today. “It is linked to anxiety and depression and makes us feel beaten down when we mess up. However, there’s another kind of grit and mental toughness that will get you ahead over the long run–not to mention increase your happiness in the process. It’s the kind of grit that is linked to self-compassion.”

Check out the complete morning shakeout issue #191.

Running: A Beautiful Teaching Tool

By Mario Fraioli |

“One of the beautiful things about running is that even after you’ve been at it a while—22 years and counting in my case—you can always learn something about yourself. Sometimes these lessons are profound, other times they’re more practical. And every once in a while, they’re a bit of both. Recently I’ve come to realize that as an athlete, I can only keep the proverbial water running at full blast for 8-12 weeks at a time before I need to dial it back for an extended period to refill the tank. And that is exactly where I’m at right now…”

Read the full excerpt from the morning shakeout issue #175.

Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Time

By Mario Fraioli |

“If you get into that productivity trap, there’s always going to be more work to do, you know?” the writer and artist Austin Kleon told Eddie Shleyner for verygoodcopy.com. “Like, you can always make more. I think that’s why I’m a time-based worker. I try to go at my work like a banker. I just have hours. I show up to the office and whatever gets done gets done.” This short blog post resonated with me as I’ve been trying really hard the past couple of months to adopt a time-based method of working—i.e. setting specific “office hours” for the various things I need to get done throughout the week rather than mindlessly working on whatever strikes my fancy at a given time—which isn’t so easy when you work for yourself, have a lot of people that you communicate with throughout the day, and could feasibly be working on something at all times. The reality of work, regardless of your field, is that there’s almost always more that you could work on, but that doesn’t mean that you should (or need) to work on it. At the beginning of the week, I block off chunks of time on my calendar for when I’ll be coaching workouts, writing training schedules, working on the newsletter, recording or editing the podcast, doing research, making phone calls, replying to emails, etc. I try to stick to those hours as best I can—and the hours vary depending on the day and the week—and while it wasn’t the easiest adjustment to make, this new way of doing things has kept me more organized, helped me to prioritize what’s important in and outside of work, allowed me to do better work, and, most importantly, kept me sane.

From the morning shakeout issue #184.

Don’t Try This at Home

By Mario Fraioli |
Wardian running a marathon in Antarctica in 2017. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Wardian

When last week’s newsletter arrived in your inbox, Michael Wardian was only halfway through what ended up being a pending Guinness World Record for running ten marathons in ten consecutive days. He covered 262 miles in 29 hours, 12 minutes, and 46 seconds, or 2:55:17 average, on about 20 total hours of sleep (that last fact alone makes me want to take a nap). Wardian ran the first seven on seven different continents as part of the World Marathon Challenge and completed the last three around a certified 5K loop at Hains Point near his home in Alexandria, Virginia, cheered on by local supporters. He covered the last three marathons in 2:50:00, 2:48:43, and 2:44:33, respectively, closing out the final mile under 6 minutes. Oh, and for shits and giggles, on the 11th day, Wardian did not rest. Why rest when you can race a 5K with your dog in 17:01? I’ll get the answer to this question—and many more—later today when I talk to Iron Mike for next week’s episode of the podcast. Stay tuned.

Wanna Bet?

By Mario Fraioli |
Would betting on races be a good thing for track and field? Photo: Michael Ivins for Global Athletics | NB Indoor GP

Darren Rovell for The Action Network:

I often wondered why big track meets run by pros also included high school events. That became more clear to me Saturday night in Boston: It’s essential to draw the crowds. Betting could change that. Plus it could change athletes’ lives. Broadcasters would pay more for rights. The USATF could sell its data like all of the other sports leagues, and it could spread the money around.

Darren Rovell, sports business reporter and senior executive producer for The Action Network, wants you to wager on track and field. In fact, he thinks, the sport would benefit from it in a multitude of ways. (more…)

The Future is Here

By Mario Fraioli |
McLaughlin en route to victory this past weekend. Photo: Michael Ivins for Global Athletics | NB Indoor GP

Sydney McLaughlin made her highly anticipated professional debut at her sponsor’s indoor meet on Saturday and she won the 500 relatively easily. Now, to be fair, it wasn’t a super strong field, but a win’s a win for New Balance’s marquee athlete and anything less would have been a bad business move for both parties at this stage of the game. The brand invested a lot of money in the 19-year-old Olympian, who, in addition to being heralded as the sport’s next big star on the track, is looking to expand her footprint off it: She’ll be putting in a lot of work into growing a mainstream, non-track insider fan base through her relationship with top Beverly Hills talent agency WME. McLaughlin’s marketability is huge. But so is the pressure of being the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in four decades. If she has the success she’s shown that she’s capable of on the oval, along with being able to capitalize on the opportunities off it, the hurdler could reach Bolt-like global icon status by 2024 (if not sooner).

The Journey Continues

By Mario Fraioli |

Vern Gambetta:

Fifty years ago, I had all the answers, now at age 72 I have more questions than answers. I have learned that challenging people with intelligent pointed questions is how real change occurs. Change is never easy, seldom comfortable, but it is a constant.

Gambetta has been coaching a long time—50 years to be exact—and has made an impact at the highest levels in track and field, strength and conditioning, swimming, and numerous other sports. This post sharing some pertinent thoughts and highlighting the biggest lessons he’s learned over the last five decades is solid gold for any coach in any sport.

+ Further Listening: “The process for me is all about connecting the dots and it’s definitely not linear,” Gambetta told Michael Gervais on the Finding Mastery podcast back in 2016 (episode is embedded above). “You might have A and B connected and you might jump to Z and then come back to M. It’s truly a journey….To me that’s what mastery is. It’s a constant journey. That’s what makes it really fun.”

No Standards

By Mario Fraioli |

Toni Reavis:

Though there is a consensus belief that a credible world rankings system is long overdue in Athletics, not everyone found the new system to their liking, which is understandable.  Among others, the North American, Central American and the Caribbean Championships (NACAC), one of the strongest member associations in the IAAF, took issue. ‘Understanding the system in the athletics community is limited, and on critical points, there are widely disparate views about fairness and viability of the system.’

In short: The IAAF World Rankings system, which was intended to create a “more clear understanding” for athletes, media and fans when it was launched in 2017, as well as to be part of the qualifying criteria for the Olympic Games, has only made things really f*cking confusing for everyone involved. And while it’s been stated that the world rankings system should have zero effect on qualifying in the non-track events (i.e. the marathon and race walking), here we are a little less than 18 months away from the Olympic Marathon and the qualifying standards for those events remain unknown. Way to go, Seb Coe.

SUBSCRIBE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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