Houston, We Have Some Intrigue

By Mario Fraioli |

Will Jim Walmsley break 64 minutes to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and take down some notable names at the Houston Half Marathon on Sunday? And how will Kara Goucher fare in her first marathon since 2016? Those are two of the most common questions I’ve seen thrown around in recent weeks and with good reason: Folks want to see the extent of Walmsley’s range and many are wondering if the 40-year-old Goucher’s got anything left in the tank. I’m not one for predictions so I’ll save my commentary for after the event while encouraging you to pay close attention to both half-marathon races—they’re going to be ripping fast, incredibly deep, and, in all likelihood, won by athletes whose names are not immediately recognizable. (more…)

Lessons From a Living Legend

By Mario Fraioli |
Me and Joe Vigil, June 2012.

I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon this past weekend digging through old notebooks and came across this entry from the summer of 2012. They’re my key takeaways from a conversation I had with Joe Vigil while waiting in line at a Starbucks in Eugene, Oregon during the U.S. Olympic Trials. After introducing myself to one of the most successful distance running coaches of all-time, I peppered him for advice and remember being impressed with his enthusiasm—he was 82 at the time—and willingness to answer a scattered stream of questions from this hungry young grasshopper. Listed below are the aforementioned key takeaways I wrote down from that exchange with one of the living legends of the sport—he’s STILL coaching at 88 years of age—who, and it’s giving me goosebumps as I type this, called me “Coach” when we parted ways that day.   (more…)

Why Do We Run?

By Mario Fraioli |

I love asking people I meet why they run because the answers never cease to surprise (or amaze) me. It’s also a question I force myself to contemplate from time to time as a reminder of why I’ve kept at this crazy pursuit for over two decades now.

Parts of my own answer to this question have evolved over the years but the foundation has held pretty solid: I run to use my body and celebrate the fact that I can push it, test it, and see what it’s capable of. I run because it challenges me to look deep inside myself on a regular basis and helps me work through problems that nothing else can seem to help solve. I run because it’s something I can do alone or share with others depending on what I want to get out of it. I run to explore the world around me, to better understand it, and to connect with it on the most intimate level. I run because it provides me an outlet: personal, competitive, spiritual, and social. But mostly I run because it brings me a joy that nothing else can match.

The reasons why we run are vast and varied, which is part of what makes it such a special and beautiful practice. Check out this compilation of reasons we run from readers of the morning shakeout. (Some answers lightly edited for length and clarity.) (more…)

Let The CIM Celebration Continue

By Mario Fraioli |
Me and some of my squad. Photo: Jody Bailey | Run Photographs

Despite the fact that it took place over two weeks ago now, I’m still reeling over what went down at the Cal International Marathon. Why? It was, as Martin Fritz Huber aptly put it in his recap for Outside, “a mass celebration for the competitive amateur—the ‘regional class’ athlete who might eviscerate the competition at her local Turkey Trot, but wouldn’t allow herself to dream about actually making an Olympic team.” And while the unsponsored Emma Bates, who dazzled in her debut marathon and put herself on a short-list of sub-2:30 women, and previously unknown men’s winner Brogan Austin, who works full-time as an IT project manager and doesn’t see why he shouldn’t see himself as a contender Atlanta, are a step or two above “regional” status, they represent the class of competitive amateurs that helped make the event so special. That’s not to take anything away from the handful of full-time pros who gave it a go, or diss on the ones raced elsewhere this fall, but rather to celebrate a level of depth that hasn’t been seen in decades and re-affirm the improving health of competitive marathoning in the United States right now—which, I think, is best measured from the bottom up than from the top down. (more…)

Staying The Course and Coming Full Circle at CIM

By Mario Fraioli |
This is what breaking an 11-year old personal best feels like. Photo: Jason Suarez

At the end of last year I made a commitment to go all-in on the Boston Marathon and CIM in 2018. I signed up for the latter the day after spectating at the 2017 edition, inspired by what I saw transpiring on the course around me, and committed right then and there to seeing if I could finally get an 11-year-old personal best off my back. (more…)

Should Kenenisa Bekele Hang Up His Racing Flats?

By Mario Fraioli |
Bekele’s got some thinking to do. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen | Wikimedia Commons

Kenenisa Bekele, hailed by many as the greatest distance runner of all-time (with good reason), dropped out of the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday with about 1K to go. He had fallen off the lead pack after 30K but was still on 2:07:14 pace with 2K remaining, according to letsrun.com, when a short while later he just walked off the course. His manager, Jos Hermens, said Bekele had been battling an injury in the weeks leading up to the race and it had worsened after 30K. And while that very well may have been the case, and there’s a clear line between running through pain and running through injury that any seasoned runner knows not to cross, the fact that the Ethiopian legend has dropped out of three of his last five marathons doesn’t leave me feeling optimistic about his competitive future. (more…)

Will Meb Come Out of Retirement?

By Mario Fraioli |
Can Keflezighi make a fifth Olympic team at 44 years old?

Sure, Meb Keflezighi said he retired after last fall’s New York City Marathon, but this piece, written by my good friend and colleague Brian Metzler, suggests he might be having second thoughts at the age of 43.

“I still believe I can run 2:12 or 2:13, and maybe even faster on a great day,” the four-time Olympian told Metzler for Runner’s World. “The question that I have to ask myself is whether or not I want to do the work to get in 2:14 shape. I really don’t know.”  (more…)

The 2020 Boston Marathon: A Little Bit Faster Now

By Mario Fraioli |
The start of the Boston Marathon takes place on a two-lane road in the tiny town center of Hopkinton, 26 miles west of the city. Photo: Boston Athletic Association

I’ve heard and seen quite a few grumbles about qualifying standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon getting 5 minutes faster across the board (after the cutoff for entry into next year’s race was revealed to be 4 minutes and 52 seconds faster than the current qualifying standards) and I’m not sure I completely understand the complaints. The reality is that the Boston Marathon simply cannot allow everyone who hits a qualifying mark into the race. There’s a few good reasons for this, which I’ll try to outline here:  (more…)

State of the Shakeout | 2018

By Mario Fraioli |
Predictably unpredictable: You can count on the morning shakeout showing up in your inbox every Tuesday, even if you’re not quite sure what you’ll find once you open it. Photo: Dan Cruz

Arbitrary a milestone as it may be, I’m proud to share this 150th edition of the morning shakeout with all of you. It’s still crazy to me that this itch I felt the need to scratch almost three years ago is still going, growing, and evolving week in and week out.

This once-every-50-weeks update, which I like to call the State of the Shakeout, is my version of an annual shareholder letter, intended to provide all of you, my loyal readership, with a look back at the past year and a peek at what (hopefully) lies ahead. (more…)

Eliud Kipchoge: Not a Trace of Doubt in My Mind

By Mario Fraioli |

I’m going to come right out and say it: Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya is the greatest male distance runner—not just marathoner—ever to set foot on this planet. His marathon record—11 starts, 10 wins, an Olympic gold medal, and the world-record—combined with his achievements at shorter distances—two Olympic track medals, world titles in other disciplines, and some of the fastest times in history from 3,000m through the marathon—put him in rare company. Sure, you could make an argument for Haile Gebrselassie or Kenenisa Bekele, or maybe Emil Zatopek or Paavo Nurmi, but none of those men have had the range, consistency, or dominance in their primary event quite like Kipchoge has over the past 16 years. And sure, maybe its recency bias or the influence of our current social media generation coming through here, but none of those other men have captured the interest and imagination of runners and non-runners alike quite like “The Boss Man.” (more…)



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