USA Track & Field Can’t Get Out Of Its Own Way

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Thanos Pal | Unsplash

Erin Strout, writing for Runner’s World:

I’ve encountered a lot of knowledgeable people with the best intentions who are staff or volunteers at USATF. Unfortunately, their work is often overshadowed by a lot of nonsense at the top, and this is just the most recent example of an organization that can’t seem get out of its own way for the greater good of the sport.

My thoughts on the whole 2020 Olympic Trials ordeal haven’t changed from what I wrote last week (part of which ended up as letsrun.com‘s Quote of the Day on Wednesday) but veteran journalist Erin Strout shared some good ones of her own in this opinion piece for Runner’s World that further corroborates how sloppy of a situation this has become and just how much USA Track & Field’s leadership is paralyzing the growth of the sport in this country.

Putting Failure Into Perspective

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Max Vallot

Professional mountain biker Syd Schulz, writing for the CTS blog:

Meditation teaches you to fail and to put those failures into perspective. The even bigger failure, meditation teaches you, is to dwell on those failures and let them affect the present moment.

I’m back on the mindfulness train after falling off of it post-Boston in April. My routine is far from fancy: ten minutes of guided practice in the morning before I dive into whatever I’m going to do for the day. In Issue 113, I wrote that my word for this year is “awareness.” Ironically enough, I lost focus on keeping that stated objective front of mind for the past few months. On some level, you could say that I failed. But this this article from professional mountain biker Syd Schulz provided some good perspective on failure and was the kick in the butt I needed to get back on the pillow and practice being present.

Blast From The Past: Bill Rodgers and The 1977 Boston Marathon

By Mario Fraioli |

If you like distance running, appreciate our sport’s history, and love the Boston Marathon as much as I do, here’s 20 minutes of awesomeness to brighten your day. Granted I was still a few years in the making when this was produced in 1977, the scene and people felt familiar to me and so much about it made me smile, especially Bill Squires’ accent and Bill Rodgers’ honest post-race interview. “There was no sense in me continuing any further,” Rodgers explains after dropping out of the race. “I’m sure I could have finished 200th, 300th, but that doesn’t inspire me. I want to run well or else—maybe some people will look on that poorly but that’s the way I am.” (more…)

Learn How To Move It, Move It

By Mario Fraioli |

What can you learn from watching the world’s best distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, and throwers compete? In short: a lot. Outside’s Alex Hutchinson took a close look at a biomechanics study at last summer’s world championships in London led by researchers from Leeds University. Here’s a link to the full report if you want to geek out over it. The main takeaway?

If you want to tweak your own biomechanics, the first step is to collect a bunch of baseline data to make sure you understand what’s normal for you. Then make changes slowly and cautiously, allowing plenty of time to see if it’s having the effect you’d hoped and watching for any undesired side effects.

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…)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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