Eliminate The Unnecessary

By Mario Fraioli

Shane Parrish, writing for Farnam Street:

Focus directs your energy toward your goals. The more focused you are, the more energy goes toward what you’re working on.

In other words, eliminate what’s unnecessary so you can work harder on the things that are most important to you. (Easier said than done, I know, but a good reminder just the same.)

Sometimes, You Get What You Need

By Mario Fraioli
Photo: Amy Leedham

This photo was taken last week at the summit of Mammoth Mountain, 11,053 feet above sea level, where oxygen is in short supply and turnover doesn’t come easy. Not exactly what I should have been doing since running fast over flat ground is my stated focus for the summer, but sometimes you’ve just got to say “screw the schedule” and give your soul what it needs—even if your legs aren’t necessarily ready for it.

From Strength Comes Speed

By Mario Fraioli

The Shelby Houlihan Speed Show passed through Lausanne last week as the 25-year-old once again showed she’s one of the best closers in the business with a 3:57.34 win—and personal best—at the most recent Diamond League meet in Switzerland. It was the second-fastest time in the world this year and fourth-fastest 1500m ever run by an American woman. Houlihan hit the NOS coming off the final turn to put away a stacked field that included world-beaters Caster Semenya, Laura Muir, Sifan Hassan, and Gudaf Tsegay. So where does she get her incredible closing speed? It comes from strength, she told Cathal Dennehy in this feature for Spikes magazine, echoing a statement I heard many a time from my own college coach, Karen Boen of Stonehill College.

“I’ve always had the speed,” Houlihan explained, “but I was never aerobically strong enough to use any of that speed at the end of races.”

Fourth Cup (of Coffee) Is The Charm

By Mario Fraioli

Hilary Brueck, writing for Inc:

Scientists have for years noticed that people who drink coffee seem to be less likely to die from all sorts of causes, including heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Perhaps the best evidence yet for this comes from two massive studies: one of more than 400,000 people in the US by the National Institutes of Health, and another of more than 500,000 Europeans. Both studies found that regular coffee drinkers were less likely to die from any cause than people who don’t sip a daily brew.

I’m on my third cup of coffee as I type away here and science tells me I should probably have one more before I get up and head home. You know, for my health.

Injury-Prone Athletes: Embrace Your Imperfections

By Mario Fraioli

Alex Hutchinson, Outside:

It’s the combination of high personal standards with either concerns over mistakes or doubts about actions that seems to be particularly toxic.

Are you a perfectionist who, despite trying to do everything right all the time, still gets injured a lot? You might just want to try loosening the reins a bit. Interesting read on the relationship between perfectionist personality traits and injury risk.

Is Metric Fixation Paralyzing Your Performance?

By Mario Fraioli
Photo: Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Jerry Z. Muller, Fast Company:

The source of the trouble is that when people are judged by performance metrics, they are incentivized to do what the metrics measure, and what the metrics measure will be some established goal. But that impedes innovation, which means doing something not yet established, or that hasn’t even been tried out. Innovation involves experimentation. And experimentation includes the possibility, perhaps probability, of failure.

This article deals mostly with business, education and other professional areas, but many of the points he makes about “metric fixation” apply to data-heavy sports like running just as well. The two main takeaways that I’ve observed many times over as an athlete and coach: (more…)

Quick Thoughts On Fixing Ultrarunning’s Gender Problem

By Mario Fraioli
Ladia Albertson-Junkans mastered the mud to win the Way Too Cool 50K—her second ultra—this past March.

I’m not weighing in heavily on this one because I’m not as well informed as I would like to—or probably should—be, but I’ve been giving the topic some thought of late. It’s a complicated one and I don’t think there’s a simple, straightforward solution to the dilemma here. But all else aside, I do believe the first—and most important—step to evening out the gender imbalance in ultrarunning involves making a more widespread effort to bring more women into the sport. Period. And that responsibility doesn’t just belong to race organizers—it falls on everyone else involved too: athletes, coaches, sponsors, and even the media, to collectively help close the ever-widening gap in participation numbers, identify and knock down some of the biggest barriers to entry, and create more opportunities for women. Yes, lottery selection procedures, cut-off times, and the like should all be reevaluated (and possibly adjusted in some cases), but without nailing this all-important first step, the longterm health of the sport will only continue to suffer the same ailment that’s been plaguing it since the start.

The Greatest Marathoner You’ve Never Heard Of

By Mario Fraioli

Some of you are going to debate me on this, which is totally fine, but I’m willing to bet most of you living outside of Canada have never heard of Tom Longboat. In fact, your first exposure to the 1907 Boston Marathon champion was likely this recent Google Doodle, which celebrated the legendary runner’s 131st birthday. Or maybe it was the brief mention in Ed Caesar’s excellent book, Two Hours. Or perhaps you might recognize his last name from an obscure reference in the 2004 film St. Ralph, when young Ralph checks out Longboat’s fictional book, Secrets to Marathon Success, from the library. Regardless, Longboat doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves for being one of the best runners of his era. Not only was he the first member of a First Nations community to win the Boston Marathon—his Iroquois name was Cogwagee—but he also owned several world records at various other distances and won a couple of world championships. Unfortunately, Longboat also dealt with his share of racism because “he was to so many not ‘the Canadian’ but ‘the Indian,’ according to CBC Radio—Canada. (more…)

Ira Glass: “Don’t Wait”

By Mario Fraioli

Don’t wait. Make the stuff you want to make now. No excuses. Don’t wait for the perfect job or whatever. Don’t wait. Don’t wait. Don’t wait. One of the advantages of being a journalist is you don’t need permission. You can go and run down the story now and then find a home for it.

Ira Glass’s commencement speech to the Columbia University School of Journalism is full of excellent advice—even if you graduated college decades ago. Watch it, or read the transcript, and take good notes.

The Rules of Engagement and the Value of Influence

By Mario Fraioli
Photo: Marten Bjork on Unsplash

BUT, WHAT IF I’M NOT REALLY INTO RACING? The trouble with this logic is that it is arbitrary and narrow, ignoring the fact that cycling is many things to many people. If a company wants to sell stuff to people who ride bikes for adventure, or as an expression of their identity, they’ll naturally look to support athletes who embody those ideals. Why shouldn’t those niche companies be free to sponsor whoever they want?

Excellent piece on sponsorship, social media, creating value, and making yourself relatable and relevant as an athlete/ambassador/influencer in cycling. Substitute “running” for “cycling” or “run” for “ride bikes” here and all of it still holds true. (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.