Podcast: Episode 55 with Ryan Hall

By Mario Fraioli |

“I think what made me me was taking big risks and training really hard. And I think that’s what allowed me to have such high highs but it’s also why I had so many low lows as well. I think if I would have taken the edge off my training I probably would have just been a lot more steady in my results and not so up and down and all over the map. But also, in my mind, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the same place—and for me, I would rather risk everything and see what’s going to happen than play it safe and just get to mediocre for me.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

It was a treat to speak with Ryan Hall for this week’s episode of the podcast. Hall, who retired from professional running in 2016, is still the fastest American male marathoner (2:04:58) and half marathoner (59:43) of all-time. He made two Olympic teams and finished in the top-5 at numerous World Marathon Majors, including a third-place finish in Boston in 2008.

We packed a lot into this 45-minute conversation, including his reflections on retirement and when he realized he couldn’t push himself to the level he wanted to in running. We talked about battling extreme fatigue toward the end of his career and what he might do differently in retrospect, especially as a high school athlete who trained hard from a young age. There was some talk about nature vs. nature as it relates to athletic success, body image issues amongst male runners—including his own struggles—and where his own independent and competitive streaks come from. Finally, we got into his attraction to Ethiopia and what led to he and his wife Sara adopting four daughters from that country, his upcoming new book, Run The Mile You’re In, what that phrase means to him exactly, and a lot more.

(more…)

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.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

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.

(more…)

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.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

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.

(more…)

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.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

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.

(more…)

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.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

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.

(more…)

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.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

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.

(more…)

Podcast: Episode 49 with Hillary Allen

By Mario Fraioli |

“There were days when I was just so exhausted and I didn’t even want to get up out of bed because I didn’t even see the point. There was so much time that I spent wishing that the accident would have killed me because it felt like it was easier than to have to face the pain and face the challenges of everyday life. But then I’d receive a message and some voice of encouragement, sometimes from a dear friend, sometimes from a complete stranger, and it just built this community that I felt that I had near and far and it again let me discover the strength that I had within me, whether or not it was still there. Trail running, I felt, I could experience it in a new way but talking with complete strangers or my friends supporting me, it also allowed me to dig deep and find that within me.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

It was a real treat to sit down with Hillary Allen for this week’s episode of the podcast. Every week on this show I try to glean as much insight and inspiration as possible from some of the top athletes, coaches, and personalities in the sport of running and this week’s guest has those two things in SPADES—and it really comes out in this conversation.

The 30-year-old Allen, a North Face-sponsored trail and ultra runner from Colorado, has made her biggest mark in sky running, which takes place in super gnarly, technical, high alpine environments. She was the U.S. Sky Running Ultra Champion in 2015, and has course records and podium finishes at races all over the world. The crazy thing is: she’s only been in the sport for a few years and rapidly ascended the ranks—quite literally—in a very short amount of time.

But there’s so much more to this special human. Allen has a Masters degree in neuroscience, she’s got a thing for bugs and grew up wanting to be an entomologist, she was a collegiate tennis player, she coaches other runners, and is just one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Allen also has an incredible story about survival—she fell 150 feet off the side of a mountain while racing in Norway a couple years ago—which we covered from a few different angles in this conversation, amongst a slew of other interesting topics, including using running and races as a way to explore places she’s never gone, the issue of burnout in ultrarunning, how she got her nickname, “Hillygoat,” the craziest wildlife encounters she’s had on the trails, running a 2:50 self-supported marathon to see if she could go faster than she did in her first, her love of science and the outdoors and how that’s impacted her life, and much, much more.

Postscript: Allen broke her ankle in late January, just a couple weeks after we recorded this conversation, an injury that required yet another surgery. “Things happen for a reason—if you chose to let them,” she wrote on her blog. “I’m reminded to take a deep breath, feel what I’m feeling and believe. BELIEVE. That this too, will create, reignite and provide an opportunity for growth.”
(more…)

Podcast: Episode 48 with Jake Schmitt

By Mario Fraioli |

“The idea of doing what you love doesn’t happen by accident. Like if I went to drama everyday, sure I’d have fun but it would have been misdirected. And I was fortunate enough to have what I loved and learn it but really cultivate it and really be around other people that loved it. And that’s probably the theme that will come out of this conversation, whether it’s a peer of mine that I’m still friends with because we raced against each other in high school or Mike Fanelli, who was running around the track with me at age 50, or my parents—it doesn’t matter the demographic, we shared that. And I want for our high school kids to have that. They’re coming to practice with two coaches that love it so much, they’re surrounded by teammates that really love what they’re doing, and it’s the culture that we have, it’s the community we’re trying to create.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

Incredibly excited to welcome Jake Schmitt to the podcast this week. The 31-year-old is a three-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon with a personal best of 2:15:09. He most recently ran 2:18:03 at CIM and has his sights set on competing well at the Trials in Atlanta a little over a year from now.

Schmitt was a state champion cross-country runner in high school and an All-American in track at the University of Washington. Aside from being an accomplished athlete, he has coached at his alma mater, Redwood High School, for the past nine years alongside his mom, Laura—who is also his coach—and they’ve developed one of the top distance programs in California. This mom and son duo also cofounded the Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio just north of San Francisco, which is the first of its kind on the west coast.

We talked about all of those things in this conversation and then some, including Schmitt’s tight-knit family, where he gets his competitiveness from, how his parents taught him to love running without forcing it upon him, why he loves monotony, the importance of restraint in bringing along high school athletes in their training, developing a healthy team culture, and a lot more.

(more…)

Podcast: Episode 47 with Devon Yanko

By Mario Fraioli |

“I just kind of started to give myself a little bit more credit for what I’ve done and stopped having that need to incessantly prove myself. Because nobody else is thinking of me that way, nobody else is quantifying other people that way, it’s just yourself. And so I made the choice to stop doing that to myself because the priority for me is health—because I can’t do the running if I’m unhealthy, and it’s as simple as that. The racing doesn’t matter; if I’m going to race terribly because I’m ill, then why am I bothering anyways?”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud | Spotify

I really enjoyed sitting down with Devon Yanko for this week’s episode of the podcast. We caught up a little week before the recent Houston Marathon, where she ran 2:39:34—less than a minute off of her personal best—to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials in Atlanta.

Yanko is a super accomplished athlete who has run almost 100 races of marathon distance and beyond. She’s also won two ultra-distance national titles on the roads, represented the U.S. at multiple world championships, been on the podium at Western States, won the Leadville 100, held the Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim FKT, qualified for two Olympic Trials marathons, and has finished in the top-5 at Comrades. In short: she is a badass across a range of distances and on a variety of terrain.

This was a loaded conversation and I think you’ll take a lot away from it. We talked about how Yanko got into running after growing up as a basketball player, how the sport of trail and ultra running has evolved since she first got into about 13 years ago, getting over a tough year in 2018 that was full of health issues and injuries, the importance of community, her proudest accomplishment as an athlete, sharing her story of teenage sexual abuse and how that’s impacted her life over the past 20+ years, what can be done to bring more women into trail and ultra running, opening a bakery with her husband Nathan, and much, much more.

(more…)

Podcast: Episode 46 with Rob Watson

By Mario Fraioli |

“You know, growing other avenues of my life has been really positive, and having an overall balance in my life, and not just having this laser focus on running. Because before, my running and my happiness were tied so close together that it was almost a dangerous thing. If I wasn’t running well, the rest of my life was not going well either and it was nice to be able to separate that and separate different parts of life and get enjoyment and fulfillment out of hanging out with friends, and not being stressed about not running, and stuff like that. So yeah, it was a shift in mindset that was very important—it had to happen.”

Subscribe, listen, and review on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Soundcloud

I had a blast sitting down with Rob Watson for this week’s episode of the podcast. Watson is a recently retired professional runner from Canada who won two national steeplechase titles and represented his country numerous times in international competition. He also has a 2:13:29 marathon personal best, finished 11th at Boston in 2013, and broke the 2:20 mark ten times in his career.

The 35-year-old Watson, who stepped away from the professional side of the sport after failing to qualify for the Olympic Games at the 2016 London Marathon, where he ran 2:18:45, is a coach with Mile2Marathon in Vancouver, where he’s lived since 2012. He won the BMO Vancouver Marathon last year—the first marathon victory of his career—and his resolutions for 2019 include “learning how to trail run and not fall on head. 2. Learn how to do ultra running shit. 3. After 1 & 2 are complete start crushing trail and ultra races.”

We had a great conversation and covered a wide range of topics, including being mentally done with the grind of training and racing at the professional level; coaching with Mile2Marathon and how that’s fueled his own excitement for running, given him new perspective, and revived his desire to get back into training and racing; learning how to recognize, enjoy, and celebrate his accomplishments rather than always dwelling on what he could have done better; how the business of professional running has changed over the past 10-12 years; the disconnect that exists between the participatory side of running and the competitive side of the sport, and what can be done to close that gap; how he worked through insecurity and confidence issues and learned to trust himself and his training; his new year’s resolutions and why he’s excited to explore trail and ultrarunning; and much, much more.

(more…)

SUBSCRIBE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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