Podcast | Episode 141: Best of 2020

By Mario Fraioli |

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This week’s episode of the podcast—the last one for 2020—is a “best of” compilation of highlights from 12 of the most impactful conversations I’ve had over the past 12 months. To provide a little context: I put out 47 episodes of the podcast in 2020—totaling almost 100 hours of conversation—and picking out soundbites from only a dozen of them to highlight here was really freaking hard. I literally have notebooks full of stuff that I’ve learned from every single guest and I simply cannot express enough gratitude for all that they’ve shared with me and, in turn, all of you.

In this episode you’ll hear from six women and six men whose stories, experiences, wisdom, and insight really stood out to me. They are, in order of episode release date: Fernando Cabada, Laura Schmitt, Nate Jenkins, Mike Smith, Mary Cain, Karen Boen, Faith E. Briggs, Mike Rouse, Brenda Martinez, Kilian Jornet, Diljeet Taylor, and Knox Robinson. These weren’t necessarily the most downloaded episodes but I promise you each of these guests will move you in some way by either teaching you something new, providing an important insight, or getting you to reflect upon and perhaps even re-examine some aspect of your own life.

If you’re a devoted fan of the podcast, it’s my hope that this second annual “best of” episode serves as a bit of a refresher or maybe a reminder to revisit an old episode or two. For those of you who are newer listeners to the show, welcome. Use this episode as a nudge to check out some of the conversations you may have missed while also letting it serve as a primer for what’s to come in 2021.

Whether you tune in to every episode of the podcast or only listen every once in a while, I just want to say: thank you. I’m tremendously grateful for your interest and support. I’m a little over three years into this podcast journey and the impact it’s had on my life and many of you who listen regularly is immeasurable. I’m so glad to have all of you along for the ride and sharing in these experiences with me.

There is no sponsor for this week’s show but if you’d like to support my work directly, you can become a member on Patreon at themorningshakeout.com/support, where, for as little as a buck a week you can help keep the morning shakeout sustainable and also gain access to some exclusive content like The Weekly Rundown, my Patreon only podcast that I co-host with my friend Billy Yang, the occasional “emergency pod,” and other perks that pop up from time to time. A big thank you to all of you who are already members—your support means so much to me and I cannot thank you enough for it.

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Podcast: Episode 114 with Mary Cain

By Mario Fraioli |

“I have a lot of goals in running and I have a lot of dreams in running but I feel like I love to run—period, end of sentence. And if that is kind of all I’m ever going to say about my running career from here on out, I’d maybe be a little bit disappointed, but at the end of the day, I want to run when I’m 80. I want to run with my family, I want to run with my friends, I want to run with my dog, and those miles that I can put in going forward, I hope they lead to really cool things on the track, but if they lead to really cool things through, you know, other opportunities that come forward in the future, that would be just as cool. So maybe looking ahead, I’m not trying to write my future out maybe like I used to, I’m just trying to go a little bit more with the flow and see where the run takes me.”

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Mary Cain is the youngest American athlete ever to represent the United States at the World Championships, which she did in 2013 as a 17-year-old high school phenom, finishing 10th in the 1500m final. Earlier that year, she broke numerous high school and junior records from 800m through the 5000. She turned professional in the fall of 2013, joining the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon. In 2014, Cain broke more junior records, won a senior national title indoors at 1500 meters, and then the world junior championship at 3000m outdoors. It appeared she was on top of the world until it all came crashing down in 2015 and 2016, when her performances suffered, seemingly inexplicably. Mary left the Oregon Project in 2016 and returned home to New York, where she enrolled at Fordham University and began training with John Henwood, who helped coach her in high school. She spent much of 2017 and 2018 battling injuries and had pretty much fallen off the radar from a competitive standpoint.

Then, last November, Mary came forward in The New York Times with a powerful op-ed sharing her story of the emotional and physical abuse she suffered while as an Oregon Project athlete. The piece exploded online and revealed details about how Mary had suffered from disordered eating while a member of Salazar’s team, missed her period for three years, broke five bones, and suffered from thoughts of suicide. Following that story, several other former Oregon Project athletes backed her claims of similar mistreatment going back at least 10 years.

Mary, who is now 24, recently took a full-time job at Tracksmith as the community manager in New York City, where she continues to live and train with an eye toward returning to world-class competition.

In this conversation, which got emotional at times, we got into the details of her new employment arrangement, talked about the importance of not being outcome-oriented, the energizing effect of being actively involved in her NYC running community, and how she picked herself back up after leaving Oregon and returning to New York.

We also talked about Mary the person vs. Mary the runner and when that flipped for her, what she experienced during her time in Oregon, and being self-critical and feeling helpless when she was told she needed to lose weight to run faster. She also told me when she realized the environment at the Oregon Project was a problem and why it took her so long to realize it and leave, if her training partners and teammates at the time showed any concern for her while she was suffering, how she’s thinking about her running goals in the next few years, and a lot more.
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