What I’m Listening To This Week:

By Mario Fraioli

Cal Fussman on The James Altucher Show

I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned Fussman in this newsletter but this certainly isn’t the first and it likely won’t be the last. Fussman, a longtime columnist for Esquire who has interviewed hundreds of world leaders, famous athletes, and award-winning musicians—you name it—is reinventing himself at 61 years of age. I’ve mentioned his relatively new podcast a few times now, but on this occasion he’s the guest and provides a good glimpse into his path as a writer and interviewer, while also explaining why learning how to ask good questions can set you apart, regardless of your field.

“Now just about any question you have, you can put it into Google, or Quora, and you’re going to get an answer,” Fussman says. “If you’re looking at the laws of supply and demand, the supply of answers is filled. We got answers up the gazoo, but how many great questions do we have? How many people who ask great questions are left?”

Alex Honnold on The Rich Roll Podcast

Honnold is a badass climber, Roll is an incredible interviewer, and this is just an amazing conversation about risk taking, death, preparation, curiosity, adventure, and a whole lot more. “For me, the hard part was constantly thinking you’re going to die,” Honnold said of a recent expedition to Antarctica.

“While I was there, each day was pretty stressful because you’re making so many little decisions that you think is the right decision, and it’s probably the right call,” Honnold explains. “But there were a lot of times where if Cedar and I just wound up dead at the base of the wall, people would have said ‘well, that’s what happens when you’re repelling big mountains like that that nobody’s ever been on.’ Stuff happens.”

Tristan Harris on The Ezra Klein Show

Important conversation about technology, social media, and why it’s bringing out the worst in us, as well as a discussion on how to take back control of your time.

“This is the thing that needs to change. This is why I was working on this for so long,” explains Harris, a former Googler who who recently co-founded the Center for Humane Technology. “We actually have to change the thing that we are exporting to the world, which is distraction, outrage, slot machine-style rewards, constant stimulation, social validation, making it harder for people to tell what’s true.”

Thievery Corporation and Willie Watson

Total opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but I’ve been bouncing back and forth of late between Thievery Corporation, an electronic/reggae/hip hop/Brazilian mashup of sounds I’ve enjoyed live four or five times, and folksinger Willie Watson, whose rendition of Gallows Pole is quite good. Check ’em both out if your tastes are as eclectic as my own.

Wake Up Your Mind with Sam Harris

By Mario Fraioli

“Now I’m not saying that everything we do has to be profound in every moment. Sometimes you just have to find a font. But contemplating the brevity of life brings some perspective to how we use our attention—it’s not so much what we pay attention to, it’s the quality of attention, it how we feel while doing it. If you need to spend the next hour looking for a font, you might as well enjoy it.”

The Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris engages my philosophy major brain and has nothing to do with running, which is exactly why I like it. I’m not that into every episode, and I don’t always agree with Sam’s takes—and I oftentimes feel like I’m getting in way over my head—but I always learn something or at least allow my mind to be opened to new ways of looking at things. (more…)

What I’m Digging This Week:

By Mario Fraioli

 Lindsey Vonn on goal-setting and grit. This was a great interview and paints a pretty good picture of what gets Vonn fired up to compete. “I just kind of learned as a kid that there are no excuses,” Vonn told Adam Grant for Esquire. “You put your head down and you work. You don’t complain. Get the job done and keep working until the job is done right. I think that’s a reason why I’ve been so good at coming back from injury.”

 Falling in love with running for life. “Like in any relationship, a healthy running life is based on honesty,” Jonathan Beverly writes for Motiv Running. “Honesty about where we’re starting, how much we are able to give to the relationship at this time, and what goals are possible.” (Beverly’s book, Run Strong, Stay Hungry, was one of my 8 recommended reads of 2017.)

 These tips for breaking up with your phone. I thought about, and employed, many of these strategies for my end-of-the-year social media sabbatical a few months back. This article was a good reminder/reinforcer to keep most of my focus away from the small screen in my pocket.

 My Moleskine Cahier Journal. I own a bunch of these little pocket-size notebooks and take one with me wherever I go. I use it to jot down thoughts, ideas, quotes, lyrics, information, whatever I come across that’s interesting or might eventually prove useful. I could just as easily do this in the Notes app on my phone—and I often do—but there’s something about writing it down in a notebook that is more satisfying to me. Anyone else still like to go analog?

 The idea of hosting a 3-5 day running retreat in a beautiful mountain town this summer. Would anyone be interested in such a thing? Let me know by giving me a shout on Twitter. Just trying to gauge interest at this point.

Should Vin Lananna Stay or Should He Go?

By Mario Fraioli

If I had to put up a bet, I’d wager that Vin Lananna resigns from his post as president of USA Track & Field in the not-so-distant future (even though he said he’s “still trying to sort it out”) after being placed on administrative leave. Why? The board doesn’t want him there and hasn’t since he got elected in 2016. Lananna is a threat to the establishment and they’re doing everything within their power (maybe even bending the rules?) to prevent him from being able to make a significant impact. (more…)

Simple Rules For Behaving Like An Adult

By Mario Fraioli

I came across this list of 25 principles of adult behavior recently and should probably print it out and carry it with me wherever I go. Written by the multitalented John Perry Barlow, who passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 70, this is a basic but brilliant guide (or refresher/reminder) on how to live well. (more…)

Amy Cragg Set To Take On Tokyo

By Mario Fraioli

Cragg on her way to winning the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2016. Photo: instagram.com/mariofraioli

She just wants it to a whole ’nuther level,” Amy Cragg’s college teammate, Des Linden, told me a couple weeks ago on the morning shakeout podcast. “I was watching her at worlds and with 10 people left and 4 miles to go, it wasn’t if she’s going to medal, but what medal she’s going to get. She’s going to out-tough all of these people. I just think she’s so gritty. It’s really cool to watch.”

Amy Cragg is running the Tokyo Marathon on February 25 and I, for one, am looking forward to it. It won’t get the attention of a big city win on home soil, but don’t be surprised if Cragg does something special in Japan. The 34-year-old, who hasn’t raced a marathon since taking bronze at the world championships in August, seems primed to knock a large chunk of time off her 2:27:03 personal best. If conditions are favorable, I say she runs in the ballpark of 2:20. And why the heck not? Cragg trains with the best women’s group in the world, including reigning New York City Marathon champion and 2:21 marathoner Shalane Flanagan, and has more than proven her marathon mettle in recent years with an Olympic Trials win, top-10 finish at the Games, and a world championship medal. Plus, she’s just so damn gutsy when the chips are down. (more…)

Billy Yang’s Latest Film, The Why

By Mario Fraioli

“In the end, I guess we all have our hundred different reasons for doing this but running 100 miles doesn’t have to be your journey, although I think we can agree that we can all benefit from stepping outside what’s familiar and comfortable just a bit. For me, the finish line, one of my favorite places in the world, gives you a little peek into the satisfaction of doing so.”

Whether you’re into ultrarunning or not, the storytelling and cinematography of Billy Yang’s latest film, The Why, are top notch, and will inspire you to find your own “why” in whatever form it may take. (more…)

Press and You Shall Find

By Mario Fraioli

Photo: Matt Hoffman | Unsplash

As an avid Aeropress user with an unrepeatable recipe of his own, it was fun geeking out on how award-winning baristas weigh, grind, boil, filter, stir, press, and brew their best cup of coffee. (Many thanks to subscriber Matt Novak for the link!) I love the Aeropress (inverted method all the way!) because it’s easy to use and clean, not to mention it makes a consistently killer cup of coffee. I have a fancy stovetop gooseneck kettle, which is a total game changer in terms of the control it allows me, and a badass burr grinder to get the grounds just right. But unlike the baristas you’ll read about in the aforelinked article, however, I don’t use a scale to weigh my beans, nor do I take the temperature of my water or precisely time my press. Why? Because if there’s no element of art to the process, the fun is quickly lost for me. (That same statement could be applied to any number of areas in my life.) (more…)

Always Have To Steal My Kisses From You

By Mario Fraioli

“The moral to this story is that it is perfectly O.K. to passionately kiss your mate, even if he or she has a sinus infection.”

Ahh, the old “contamination by passionate kissing” defense. Stories like this are why it’s hard to take our sport seriously sometimes. But hey, kudos to The New York Times on a great lede and congratulations to Gil Roberts for having his positive doping test overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (Also, I’m no doctor, but in India, a “chemist” will treat your sinus infection with gout medication. Modern medicine sure is a fascinating field.) (more…)

Lightning Rod

By Mario Fraioli

Dixon celebrating his 1983 New York City Marathon victory. Photo: New York City Marathon

In my six years working at Competitor Group, I had the good fortune to spend time with Rod Dixon at a number of Rock ’n’ Roll events and I always enjoyed chatting with him about his career, training, running shoes, and what he was doing with the KidsMarathon program. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. For those who aren’t super well-versed in the history of the sport, Dixon was an absolute stud, ran some super fast times, qualified for four Olympic Games, bagged a medal in one of them, and won more than a few big races, perhaps most notably the 1983 New York City Marathon (n.b.This photo from that race is one of my all-time favorites). (more…)



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