Podcast: Episode 30 with Lauren Fleshman

By Mario Fraioli |

“I’m not trying to build some empire where I need to be liked by as many people as possible. I just want to be myself and be myself publicly—until I don’t anymore, then I’ll just shut down all my social media accounts.”

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Stoked to welcome Lauren Fleshman to the podcast this week! Fleshman, who turns 37 on Wednesday, is a retired professional athlete who still maintains sponsorships with Oiselle and a number of other brands. She’s won two national titles, has represented the United States in numerous international competitions, and, in 2011, placed seventh in the 5,000m at the world championships in South Korea. These days, Fleshman wears a lot of hats: mom to two young children, wife to professional triathlete Jesse Thomas, co-founder of Picky Bars along with Thomas and professional marathoner Stephanie Bruce, coach of Little Wing, a small group of elite female runners based in Bend, Oregon, practicing writer, and one of running’s most outspoken advocates on a variety of topics and issues.

We talked about a lot of different things over the course of this 60-ish minute conversation: coaching, how the various coaches she worked with throughout her own athletic career have influenced her current perspective and philosophy, and what can be done to create more opportunities for coaches, especially females; Picky Bars, and how she and husband Jesse Thomas don’t let the business consume every moment of their lives; her recent recommitment to leaving the sport better than she found it and using her platform to spur meaningful change even though she’s no longer competing; her current relationship with running and what she misses most about being a professional athlete; what’s changed in the sport since she turned pro in 2003 and whether or not she’s worried about the sport’s future; the advice she’d give 21-year-old Lauren upon graduating college; writing, when it came into her life, and what her process looks like; and much, much more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 29 with Mario Mendoza

By Mario Fraioli |

“To me that’s faith. To me that’s faith in running. So I think runners understand faith because a lot of times we don’t really see something and it might even take years, but then it’s like ‘Whoa! Where did that come from?’ But it was actually because you stuck with it—something in you believed.”

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Really excited to have Mario Mendoza join me on the podcast this week! Mendoza, a 32-year-old from Bend, Oregon, is a five-time national trail running champion, three-time USATF Trail Runner of the Year, and has represented the United States six times in international competition. He’s placed in the top-10 at the last two IAU Trail World Championships, finishing sixth in 2018 and ninth in 2017. We recorded this episode the day before his last race—a third-place finish at the Under Armour Mountain Running Series 50K at Mt. Bachelor this past Saturday—and two days before the birth of his son, Jair Giovanni Mendoza.

We covered a lot of ground over the course of this hour-long episode: the message he’ll give his newborn son upon entering the world, what it was like growing up in a Mexican family on an avocado ranch in Cambria, California and how that experience has shaped his perspective on life and running, his work as a pastor and what faith means to him, how he got into running and the various ways his career has progressed and evolved over the years, why he’s constantly reminding himself not to get caught up in outcomes when it comes to racing, why representing the United States at global championships is so important to him, and a whole lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 28 with Sarah Sellers

By Mario Fraioli |

“My goal isn’t to garner more media attention or to shock the world or to even top Boston. My goal is to keep the love of the sport, to stay healthy, and to continue chipping away at times because ultimately I think [that] kind of like Des Linden has shown the world, if you are able to stay healthy and train consistently for a long period of time, that’s where you get really good.”

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Stoked to have Sarah Sellers on the podcast this week! The 27-year-old Sellers, who works as a nurse anesthetist in Arizona, was the surprise second-place finisher at April’s Boston Marathon, running a personal-best of 2:44:04 in cold, windy, wet conditions. Sellers, who took home $75,000 for her efforts, didn’t realize she was the runner-up until after she crossed the finish line.

In this conversation, we talked a bit about what’s changed for her since Boston while looking ahead to her next big race, the New York City Marathon on November 4.  We also discussed whether or not she’s felt an added layer of pressure after her breakthrough performance at Boston, how she’s learned to move on from bad races, where her mental toughness comes from, injuries and the changes she’s made to her training and lifestyle in order to stay healthy, defining herself as more than just a “runner,” balancing training at a high level with working a demanding hospital job, the importance of the support system she surrounds herself with, and a lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 27 with Kara Goucher

By Mario Fraioli |

“When you have things that are out of your control, that are weighing on you and really causing you angst on a daily basis, your running is not going to be what you want it to be. It can be a great escape, it can be a place you go to find calmness and peace in your heart and your mind, but you’re not going to perform at all what you’re capable of performing.”

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Thrilled to welcome Kara Goucher to the podcast this week! Goucher, who recently turned 40, hardly needs any introduction: She’s a two-time U.S. Olympian, world championships silver medalist in the 10,000m, sub-2:25 marathoner, and has finished on the podium at both the New York City and Boston marathons. Beyond her competitive accomplishments, Goucher serves as a role model to runners worldwide, particularly women and young women, who are inspired by her example.

We talked about a number of different topics over the course of 40 minutes, including how she’s dealt with racing anxiety throughout her career, the impetus behind her new book, Strong, what life’s been like for her since speaking up as a whistleblower in the Nike Oregon Project investigation three years ago, how she navigated the disappointment of finishing fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, what’s keeping her competitive fire fueled at the age of 40, the effect training with other world-class women like Shalane Flanagan, Jenny Simpson, and Emma Coburn has had on her career, the appeal of ultrarunning, what’s exciting her about the sport right now, and a lot more.

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Podcast: Episode 26 with Mauricio Díaz

By Mario Fraioli |

“And then at that same point, I was running and I found out that running was just the best vehicle and the best way and medium to know a place—and eventually, also [to] get to know yourself.”

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Really enjoyed sitting down with Mauricio Díaz this week for a conversation that had nothing to do with training, racing, or current issues that exist within the sport. Instead, we talked about running as it relates to adventure and exploration while serving as a cultural common denominator around the world.

Díaz is the VP of marketing for Aire Libre, a company out of Mexico City he accidentally co-founded with a couple of his friends that creates immersive weeklong running experiences that are partly athletic, but mostly cultural, extremely educational, and undoubtedly transformative.

In this episode, we talked about the importance of culture and storytelling, and how those two elements are at the center of everything Aire Libre does, from the content they create to the experiences they cultivate. Díaz describes the group’s initial adventure—56 miles through the Sonoran Desert in northwestern Mexico—along with some of the other culturally focused and socially conscious follow-ups he’s led, such as running along the Arizona-Mexico border to explore the land of the Tohono O’odham nation, and many other stories that I think will pique your interest and may even get you to view running through a slightly different lens. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 25 with YiOu Wang

By Mario Fraioli |

“I think that if you maintain good relationships with people, if you act in a way that is helpful to others, that is kind, that is giving, and you just hold yourself to a high standard, then opportunities will appear before you—and [when they do], just say yes.”

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Super excited to welcome YiOu Wang to the podcast this week! YiOu is the reigning U.S. 50K trail champion, two-time winner of the Lake Sonoma 50, and an Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier with a personal best of 2:38:46, in addition to being an Under Armour and Camlebak-sponsored athlete. Full disclosure: I coach YiOu—we’ve been working together for the past 2-1/2 years—and this episode marks the first time I’ve interviewed one of my own athletes for the podcast.

We covered a lot of ground in this 90-minute conversation, including YiOu’s recent year-long trip around the world—she and her husband were working as teachers—where she visited (and ran in!) numerous countries, experienced many different cultures, and stuck to a training schedule despite being in a new place every few days. We also talked about immigrating to the U.S. as a young child, “almost failing P.E. because I couldn’t run the mile,” what inspired her to take up running in college, chopping nearly an hour off of her marathon personal best over the course of seven years, transitioning to (and training for) trail and ultra running, where her competitiveness comes from, and much, much more. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 24 with Magdalena Boulet

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Chad Riley

“My first run ever, I remember just having the feeling of so much joy. I said, “Wow, how come I’ve never experienced this before in the pool? This is so cool.” And it was more about just the fact that I had this feeling of being competitive that never really clicked in swimming.” 

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And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s a huge honor to have Magdalena Boulet as my guest on the podcast this week. Magda is one of the most incredible athletes—and human beings—that I’ve ever had the fortune of getting to know. The 44-year-old Boulet, who grew up in Poland and moved to Germany before immigrating to the United States as a teenager, made the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon (and owns a personal best of 2:26:22 for the distance), has qualified for numerous national teams, and, over the last five years, has established herself as a top international ultramarathon runner, winning the prestigious Western States Endurance Run in 2015 and, most recently, the grueling Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 250-ish kilometer stage race through the Sahara Desert.

Boulet, who works at GU Energy Labs in Berkeley, California as the VP of Innovation, Research, and Development, has called the Bay Area home for over two decades. She’s married to former elite miler, Richie Boulet, and the couple has a young son, Owen.

We covered a lot of ground in the course of this hour-long conversation and I felt like we barely scratched the surface of Magda’s story, what she’s accomplished at various distances and disciplines throughout her competitive career, and how she’s able to juggle competing at an elite level with being a wife, mom, and executive, amognst other things, so we’ll just have to schedule a Round 2 for another time. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 23 with Noah Droddy

By Mario Fraioli |

I have faith in myself that on my best day if someone is not having their best day, I might be able to get ’em. And that’s enough to allow me to show up to a start line with some confidence and rest assured that I’m going to give my best and put my best effort out there. And if that puts me in last place, so be it, but I definitely show up feeling and knowing that on my best day I can compete with these guys.

Stoked to welcome Noah Droddy to the podcast this week! The 27-year-old resident of Boulder, Colo., is among running’s rising stars and one of the sport’s most interesting, likable, and relatable personalities. Since finishing last in the 10,000m final at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he received a swell of media attention for his unique looks and everyman persona, Droddy has established himself as a solid competitor on the roads, finishing second at the 2016 U.S. 10-mile championships, breaking 62 minutes at last year’s New York City Marathon, and debuting in 2:16:26 at last fall’s Chicago Marathon. Earlier this year, he “put some demons to rest” on the track, running a personal best of 28:07 for 10,000m at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Invitational. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 22 with Deena Kastor

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Jeremy Teicher

I really believe that running is such a great way to challenge us and to add that difficulty to our life in a very controlled way so that we can deal with challenge and adversity. And I love that. I love getting to the crux of a workout. I go out hard in races and workouts because I want to suffer early on so I can find ways to get through it. And to me it’s always been a game—just this playful pursuit of seeing how badly I can hurt and then what tools I can learn to get through it…When I can handle these challenges in running continuously, then when something shows up in life, I feel like it’s a breeze to get through it. 

Honored to welcome Deena Kastor to the podcast this week. The 45-year-old, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, California with her husband (and coach) Andrew and daughter Piper, is an Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, multi-time national champion at various distances, and holds numerous American records, including the still-standing women’s marathon mark of 2:19:36. She also holds multiple Masters world and American records from 5K to the marathon. (more…)

Podcast: Episode 21 with Dean Karnazes

By Mario Fraioli |

And I thought, “My god, I’ll never get to that level.” And if someone at that level can’t make a go of it in the sport, and you want to make a go of it in the sport, you’re going to have to do a lot more than win races, or just race. You’re going to have to figure out other revenue streams to make a go of it, especially if you want to commit your life to this, which I really did.

It was a treat to have Dean Karnazes join me on the podcast this week. The 55-year-old Bay Area resident remains one of the most recognizable figures in ultrarunning—if not all of running in general—for his accomplishments on and off the race course, which include multiple sub-24 hour Western States finishes, 10 Badwater finishes (including a win in 2004), 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, cross-country runs, a 350-mile run on no sleep, and countless more.

Karnazes’ achievements have inspired many, and angered some, but the breadth of Karnazes’ impact on the sport, and peoples’ lives, is inarguable. He’s authored four books, including the international best-seller Ultramarathon Man, which helped bring widespread notoriety to the sport of ultrarunning and led Time magazine to name him one of 100 most influential people in the world. Karnazes, who has sponsorship endorsements with The North Face and other brands, has also done a lot of work for charity, including Karno Kids, which has helped provide financial support for organizations and programs focused on improving health and wellness for children. (more…)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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