Podcast: Episode 54 with Erin Strout

By Mario Fraioli |

“The bottom line is that a lot of people look at running and they want to try it but are intimidated by it—and I think the more encouraging and welcoming we are, starting from the top of the sport, the better it is. And so that’s exciting for me to watch and to cover and I hope [elites] continue to be encouraging and welcoming.”

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I had a great time sitting down with Erin Strout for this week’s episode of the podcast. Just a few weeks ago, Strout was named the digital editor at WomensRunning.com and for my money, she’s one of the top journalists covering the sport of running today. In addition to her work at Women’s Running, Strout has also written for Outside, Runner’s World, Running Times, and numerous other publications.

We covered quite a bit of ground in this conversation, including Strout’s introduction to running, when she began to think of herself as a runner, and the evolution of her career as a journalist. We also discussed the current state of the sport, the collective rise of American women in recent years, and what can be done to bridge the gap between elite athletes and middle and back of the packers. Finally, we got into the issue of gender equity in coaching, how she deals with feedback and criticism of her work, why she wishes freelance writers would stop pitching her personal essays, and a whole lot more, including some fun anecdotes about Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan.

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Podcast: Episode 53 with Brad Stulberg

By Mario Fraioli |

“Looking inside at the stuff that is scary and that you don’t want to face, that’s really hard, uncomfortable work. So in order to get to the other side, to truly feel compassionate for yourself and show yourself love, you have to come to terms with the ugly stuff. And that ugly stuff can be, ‘I’m insecure,’ that ugly stuff can be that, ‘The only reason that I race is because I’m scared to die and this gives me something else to focus on,’ it can be that ‘I feel validated and my self-worth is from this,’ like all kinds of stuff comes up and that’s normal. We’re humans, that’s the thing. It doesn’t mean that you’re broken. And the more you can acknowledge that, be aware of it and be kind to it, the better chance you have of getting to the other side where suddenly you’re just racing out of love.”

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Excited to share my recent conversation with good friend and colleague, Brad Stulberg, on this week’s episode of the podcast. Stulberg coaches executives, entrepreneurs, and athletes on their most pressing challenges and writes about health and the science of human performance as a columnist for Outside magazine. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Wired, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Runner’s World and many other outlets.

The best-selling co-author author of Peak Performance, a book which explores the science and practice of world-class performance, Stulberg and his co-author Steve Magness are about to release their second book, The Passion Paradox, a guide to going all in, finding success, and discovering the benefits of an unbalanced life, which comes out on March 19 and can be pre-ordered here.

In this episode, Stulberg and I discuss performance, passion, addiction, health, well-being, purpose, burnout, the importance of practicing self-awareness and self-compassion, and a number of related topics that are pertinent to your athletic, personal, and professional pursuits alike. We also got into Stulberg’s own path as a hard-charging consultant turned writer and coach, recovering Type-A triathlete, his own struggles with burnout and mental illness, and much, much, more.

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Podcast: Episode 52 with Stephanie Bruce

By Mario Fraioli |

“Things are going to be uncomfortable in life. You’re going to have uncomfortable runs, uncomfortable races, uncomfortable conversations with family and friends, or standing up to your boss if you feel like you deserve a raise. All things like that, I think are just giving you a little more courage and a little more pep in your step to really stand up for what you believe in and push through those hard days and know that you’re going to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Thrilled to welcome Stephanie Bruce of Hoka Northern Arizona Elite to the show this week. The 35-year-old mom of two young boys is a 2:29 marathoner, co-founder of Picky Bars, online running coach, and oh yeah, reigning national 10K champion on the roads.

In this episode, we discussed what she’s focused on from a training and racing standpoint right now, why she thinks it’s important to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to racing, and the changes coach Ben Rosario has made to her training in the past several years that have contributed to her recent success. We also talked about the marathon and her biggest limiters in that event, what it will take to make the 2020 Olympic marathon team in Atlanta, who she looks up to in the sport, where she gets her grittiness from, how to cultivate it in your own life, and a whole lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 51 with Scott Gravatt, Jeremy Bresnen, and Pam Hess

By Mario Fraioli |

“Everybody runs. It’s the original. You go to an elementary school at lunch time and everybody is running. It’s intrinsic to us. And we lose that, whether we don’t make the track team, whatever it ends up being, we lose that and I think that’s a shame. And I think as a community and as an industry and everything we need to get back to this idea of ‘run a block and a half, and then run five blocks, and then run 10 blocks.’ And just that alone is amazing.”

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I’m excited to share a roundtable discussion I hosted last November at The Loop Running Supply in Austin, Texas, with Scott Gravatt, who is the run specialty sales director at Nike, Jeremy Bresnan, the co-founder of Ciele Athletics, and Pam Hess, who is the co-founder, along with her husband Ryan, of The Loop.

We covered quite a bit of ground in this discussion, which centered around running culture, what that is exactly, how it’s evolved over the years, and where it’s heading. There was talk about the running industry, the rise of smaller brands like Ciele, the influence of bigger ones like Nike, and how they can all co-exist in an increasingly crowded space; we got into the sport of running, the activity of running, and the lifestyle of running, how those things are all very different and also where they intersect. Finally, we dove into the importance of running specialty shops to local culture and community, the importance of storytelling, the role of athletes, and a whole lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 50 with Michael Wardian

By Mario Fraioli |

“I hope people can find joy in what they’re doing, I hope people find things that are exciting, I hope people can look at me and say, ‘If that dude with a job and a family and 1.5 cars and all the same things that I’m dealing with can get out and do something, maybe I can do something too and maybe I can set a big goal and maybe I can find something that excites me and motivates me and I’m passionate about that I want to chase.’ And then I hope they go out and they do it.”

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Stoked to welcome another awesome guest on to the podcast this week: Michael Wardian. Wardian is the exception to almost every racing rule and for his latest trick he just broke the Guinness World Record for running ten marathons in ten consecutive days, covering 262 miles in 29 hours, 12 minutes, and 46 seconds, or an average of 2:55:17 per marathon. He ran the first seven of those 10 marathons on seven different continents as part of the World Marathon Challenge and completed the last three around a certified 5K loop near his home in Arlington, Virginia in 2:50 flat, 2:48:43, and 2:44:33. Oh, and on the 11th day, he raced a 5K with his vizsla Rosie in 17:01. Perhaps more impressively, he did all of that off about 20 total hours of sleep, which is something I pressed him on in this conversation.

If you know of Wardian’s way of doing things, you know this is just how he rolls. The 44-year-old races around 50 times a year on average and he’s not afraid to line up at a mile on the track or ultramarathon on the trails, sometimes doing both on the same weekend. He’s also set a number of wacky world records —like the  fastest 50K ever run on a treadmill, fastest marathon ever run wearing various costumes, fastest marathon ever run on an indoor track, and even pushing a baby stroller— and he regularly tackles challenging ultra endeavors such as Badwater 135, Marathon des Sables, and the Hurt 100 to name a few. He’s also qualified for three Olympic Trials marathons, won a number of national titles and placed on the podium at world championship events.

Wardian’s a great guy with crazy goals, unmatched ambition, and a big, selfless heart. We talked about his most recent feat, what lies ahead, how he recovers between big efforts despite being a notoriously bad sleeper, how he fits it all in around a family and job, the importance of giving back and helping others, the power of positivity, what he hopes the average person can take away from his approach to life and running, and much, much more.

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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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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