Podcast: Episode 19 with Jason Ayr

By Mario Fraioli

I see it more as the type of runner, athlete, or individual who is looking for that experience and something that might change you a little bit. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be super competitive as well. For me, what racing the Sun Chasers in Death Valley taught me is that those experiences can be happening at the same time—it could be the rawest form of competition but at the same time be this moment of self-discovery. And so all of them being bundled up into that same thing just labeled ‘experience’ and I think that’s the type of athlete, runner, or individual that is going to seek those things out—and I think there’s definitely an interest there.

Really excited to welcome Jason Ayr to the podcast this week. Ayr, who works as the controller at Tracksmith, finished 22nd at this year’s Boston Marathon, running 2:29:53. The 30-year-old Ayr also captained Tracksmith’s team to a second-place finish at The Speed Project 4.0—a 340-mile unsanctioned relay race running from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that’s primary source of information, promotion, and documentation is through Instagram—a couple weeks prior, running dozens of hard miles in just under 36 hours. (more…)

Run The Dipsea (If You Dare)

By Mario Fraioli

The 108th Dipsea Race took place this past Sunday about 15 minutes from where I live on a trail that I’ve run on countless times. I did not participate partly because my wife was racing elsewhere that day but mostly because the Dipsea scares the ever-living sh*t out of me and I’m convinced I wouldn’t escape without serious injury. (You’ll see why in a bit.) It’s also not an easy race to get into, even if you live in the area. (more…)

Struggling in Silence: Disordered Eating Was My Dirty Little Secret

By Mario Fraioli

This was me 13 years and about 20 pounds ago. I was one year out of college, where I was an NCAA Division II All-American in cross country and qualified for indoor nationals in the mile. And you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at this photo, but I was silently struggling with disordered eating at the time. In an attempt to take my running to the next level, I convinced myself that I needed to better “look” the part of an elite distance runner. So I ran a lot—90-105 miles a week most weeks—but I also cut calories, swore off snacking, didn’t allow myself dessert, and made sure that I didn’t eat or drink after 8 PM. I obsessively tracked every calorie—less than 2,000 a day—and weighed myself at every opportunity. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 18 with Jeff Dengate

By Mario Fraioli

What is a runner? To define it today, that’s a question we have to ask. There are a lot of people out there who say, ‘I’m not a runner’ but they probably run 3 or 4 days a week, they might run 25 miles a week, but they also might do other things. The day of that loneliness of the long-distance runner, the guy in short shorts out there pounding the miles and training for a marathon—while we saw that popularity of the standard distances and that traditional kind of runner grow, it’s plateaued, and even receding—if you look at races, they’re struggling to hit the numbers that they want and need. But then you have all these events, there are all sorts of non-traditional things…there are these events that are happening, and they’re challenging, and they’re every bit running.

Excited to welcome Runner’s World “Runner-in-Chief” Jeff Dengate to the podcast. Dengate, who is on his third tour of duty at RW after recently wrapping up a second stint at Men’s Journal, took over for Betty Wong-Ortiz in March and has been charged with leading the brand under its new owner, Hearst.

Dengate, who got his start in media as a senior editor for NBA.com before leaving to be the web editor at Runner’s World in 2007, is best known for his coverage of shoes and gear at both RW and Men’s Journal (where he worked from 2014-2016, and again from August of last year until this past March).

A runner for the past three decades—he ran his first 5K race while training for karate as a kid—Dengate has a current penchant for off-road races and low-key events. “It’s a place for me, personally, where I like to spend my race entry fees,” he told me.

In this conversation, we talk about his new role at Runner’s World, what brought him back to the brand for the third time, how its content focus has evolved in the short time he’s had the reigns, and a lot more, including: (more…)

Is Metric Fixation Paralyzing Your Performance?

By Mario Fraioli
Photo: Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Jerry Z. Muller, Fast Company:

The source of the trouble is that when people are judged by performance metrics, they are incentivized to do what the metrics measure, and what the metrics measure will be some established goal. But that impedes innovation, which means doing something not yet established, or that hasn’t even been tried out. Innovation involves experimentation. And experimentation includes the possibility, perhaps probability, of failure.

This article deals mostly with business, education and other professional areas, but many of the points he makes about “metric fixation” apply to data-heavy sports like running just as well. The two main takeaways that I’ve observed many times over as an athlete and coach: (more…)

Quick Thoughts On Fixing Ultrarunning’s Gender Problem

By Mario Fraioli
Ladia Albertson-Junkans mastered the mud to win the Way Too Cool 50K—her second ultra—this past March.

I’m not weighing in heavily on this one because I’m not as well informed as I would like to—or probably should—be, but I’ve been giving the topic some thought of late. It’s a complicated one and I don’t think there’s a simple, straightforward solution to the dilemma here. But all else aside, I do believe the first—and most important—step to evening out the gender imbalance in ultrarunning involves making a more widespread effort to bring more women into the sport. Period. And that responsibility doesn’t just belong to race organizers—it falls on everyone else involved too: athletes, coaches, sponsors, and even the media, to collectively help close the ever-widening gap in participation numbers, identify and knock down some of the biggest barriers to entry, and create more opportunities for women. Yes, lottery selection procedures, cut-off times, and the like should all be reevaluated (and possibly adjusted in some cases), but without nailing this all-important first step, the longterm health of the sport will only continue to suffer the same ailment that’s been plaguing it since the start.



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