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.

Wanna Bet?

By Mario Fraioli |
Would betting on races be a good thing for track and field? Photo: Michael Ivins for Global Athletics | NB Indoor GP

Darren Rovell for The Action Network:

I often wondered why big track meets run by pros also included high school events. That became more clear to me Saturday night in Boston: It’s essential to draw the crowds. Betting could change that. Plus it could change athletes’ lives. Broadcasters would pay more for rights. The USATF could sell its data like all of the other sports leagues, and it could spread the money around.

Darren Rovell, sports business reporter and senior executive producer for The Action Network, wants you to wager on track and field. In fact, he thinks, the sport would benefit from it in a multitude of ways. (more…)

The Future is Here

By Mario Fraioli |
McLaughlin en route to victory this past weekend. Photo: Michael Ivins for Global Athletics | NB Indoor GP

Sydney McLaughlin made her highly anticipated professional debut at her sponsor’s indoor meet on Saturday and she won the 500 relatively easily. Now, to be fair, it wasn’t a super strong field, but a win’s a win for New Balance’s marquee athlete and anything less would have been a bad business move for both parties at this stage of the game. The brand invested a lot of money in the 19-year-old Olympian, who, in addition to being heralded as the sport’s next big star on the track, is looking to expand her footprint off it: She’ll be putting in a lot of work into growing a mainstream, non-track insider fan base through her relationship with top Beverly Hills talent agency WME. McLaughlin’s marketability is huge. But so is the pressure of being the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in four decades. If she has the success she’s shown that she’s capable of on the oval, along with being able to capitalize on the opportunities off it, the hurdler could reach Bolt-like global icon status by 2024 (if not sooner).

The Journey Continues

By Mario Fraioli |

Vern Gambetta:

Fifty years ago, I had all the answers, now at age 72 I have more questions than answers. I have learned that challenging people with intelligent pointed questions is how real change occurs. Change is never easy, seldom comfortable, but it is a constant.

Gambetta has been coaching a long time—50 years to be exact—and has made an impact at the highest levels in track and field, strength and conditioning, swimming, and numerous other sports. This post sharing some pertinent thoughts and highlighting the biggest lessons he’s learned over the last five decades is solid gold for any coach in any sport.

+ Further Listening: “The process for me is all about connecting the dots and it’s definitely not linear,” Gambetta told Michael Gervais on the Finding Mastery podcast back in 2016 (episode is embedded above). “You might have A and B connected and you might jump to Z and then come back to M. It’s truly a journey….To me that’s what mastery is. It’s a constant journey. That’s what makes it really fun.”

No Standards

By Mario Fraioli |

Toni Reavis:

Though there is a consensus belief that a credible world rankings system is long overdue in Athletics, not everyone found the new system to their liking, which is understandable.  Among others, the North American, Central American and the Caribbean Championships (NACAC), one of the strongest member associations in the IAAF, took issue. ‘Understanding the system in the athletics community is limited, and on critical points, there are widely disparate views about fairness and viability of the system.’

In short: The IAAF World Rankings system, which was intended to create a “more clear understanding” for athletes, media and fans when it was launched in 2017, as well as to be part of the qualifying criteria for the Olympic Games, has only made things really f*cking confusing for everyone involved. And while it’s been stated that the world rankings system should have zero effect on qualifying in the non-track events (i.e. the marathon and race walking), here we are a little less than 18 months away from the Olympic Marathon and the qualifying standards for those events remain unknown. Way to go, Seb Coe.

An Ode to Tommy Leonard

By Mario Fraioli |
Tommy Leonard. Photo: Falmouth Road Race

Tommy Leonard, who passed away recently at the age of 85, will forever remain a legend on the Boston running scene. He founded the Falmouth Road Race and tended bar at the old Eliot Lounge, where he celebrated runners of every ilk until its closing in 1996.

“I didn’t care if they came in dead last or they took five hours,” Leonard told Outside magazine of his time at the Eliot. “I wanted everybody to be treated like Joan Benoit and Bill Rodgers.”

I was fortunate to have met Leonard on a few occasions and enjoyed listening to him rattle off wild stories, especially about the Boston Marathon, much like he does in this highlight reel Toni Reavis recently compiled. (more…)

Numbers Can’t Always Measure Success

By Mario Fraioli |

Jason Fried is one of my heroes in business—he runs a 55-person software company based in Chicago called Basecamp—who, along with his co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson, just published It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work, their third book. I haven’t read it yet but I did just listen to Fried talk about it on Chase Jarvis Live and I’ll be picking it up soon. As I wrote back in Issue 106, their two previous books, Rework and Remote, have had a huge influence on me and how I work, and I have a feeling this one will as well.

“You don’t need to measure everything to be proud of it,” Fried tells Jarvis. “Work is so much more than hitting that number. It’s about, ‘What was that experience like?’ ‘Did I enjoy working on this project?’ ‘Was it fun?’ ‘Did I learn something new?’ It’s that kind of stuff I think that really matters.”

Fried also happens to be a runner and includes a great anecdote along this same theme about trying to break a 6-minute mile, running 6:09, and losing sight of all the positive things he learned and took away from the experience because he was so fixated on hitting a specific number. Give it a listen(more…)

A Midwinter’s Marathon Tease

By Mario Fraioli |

It’s too early in the year to be thinking all that hard about April marathons unless you’re racing one of them, but Boston recently released its international fields and London surprised no one by announcing that Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah will have at it for the second year in a row. Both fields are shaping up to look fairly similar to years past: Boston’s history attracts almost all the top American talent while London’s deep pockets once again bring in the sport’s two biggest (male) stars.

Here’s a short video of Kipchoge talking about taking on Farah again in London. Let there be no doubt who the defending champion thinks is the man to beat on April 28.

An Essential Tool for Opening Your Mind

By Mario Fraioli |

Hakim Tafari:

Thich Nhat Hanh says, that in everything there should be a meditation. Walking, eating , sleeping, talking, everything should be a meditation, so why not fuse all of the things that we love; traveling, running and discovering new things, and using that mindfulness and forming that all together. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I caught wind of this interview with runner, Buddhist, and Thai chi practitioner Hakim Tafari with Aire Libre because I’m on their mailing list (co-founder Mauricio Diaz was my guest on Episode 26 of the podcast) and found it to be a good reminder of how I can approach my own running practice with better awareness and a more open mind. (There’s also a great little 5-minute guided meditation I’ve embedded above that’s worth checking out and giving a try.)



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