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November 15, 2016 | Issue 53
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My SFRC Racing teammate and friend, Paddy O'Leary, finishing up an impressive 32:34 10K XC effort on Sunday after winning the aptly named Mt. Tam 50K on Saturday in 4:08:29. instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! I'm still recovering from last week’s supersized serving of Big Apple-related business, so today I'm serving up a slightly more varied sampling of insights, inspiration, interestingness and entertainment. Enjoy!

Sorry, we’re not going to card you.

“If I qualify for the 2017 World Championships in the marathon I would in all likelihood defer my selection…Most likely I will pick a race where there is potential for appearance and/or prize money.” Those strong words belong to sub-2:11 marathoner Reid Coolsaet of Canada, who finished 23rd in the marathon at the Rio Olympics and ran 2:10:28 in Berlin a little over a year ago. So why wouldn’t one of Canada’s best marathoners choose not to represent his country on the world stage next summer despite the high likelihood that he’ll be selected to do so? Quite simply, the man needs needs to make a living. Because of strict criteria around “carding” i.e., government funding, Coolsaet does not qualify for a monthly training stipend through Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program (AAP), despite the fact that he competed in Rio and ran a world-class time at Berlin in 2015. Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak find themselves in the same situation. It’s a complicated and messy state of affairs worth reading more about when you have the time but it highlights the very real struggles of trying to make it as a mid-level marathoner at the professional level, regardless of wha country you represent. Despite Dennis Young of FloTrack’s weak attempt to make Galen Rupp look like a patriot for running two marathons in 2016 “for very little money,” the fact of the matter is that unlike Coolsaet and most other athletes at his level (i.e. solid, consistent but not world beaters), Rupp can afford to give up a major marathon payday or two and “bet on his own performance” while “prioritizing competitive success over money and fame.” Why? 1. I am quite certain Rupp’s base salary with Nike is at least double what Coolsaet makes with New Balance, if not triple or quadruple. 2. When he does decide to run a major marathon that isn’t a global championship, Rupp, with his Olympic medals and American records, will command an appearance fee Coolsaet can only dream of (no offense, Reid). 3. Rupp has proven on multiple occasions that he can medal at a global championship, and despite the fact he doesn’t get an appearance fee to line up at the Olympics or world championships, he does get a nice bonus from his aforementioned sponsor for making the team, as well as from USA Track and Field—and even nicer bonuses for landing on the podium, which he’s done on multiple occasions. Read another way, Coolsaet can’t bet on his own performance in the same way that Rupp can afford to—key word there being “afford.” Bottom line: I don’t blame Coolsaet one bit for saying that he would defer a world championship selection next summer in favor of accepting appearance and (potential) prize money elsewhere. He’s only looking out for himself (and his family), which, regardless of which country you compete for, is how you have to operate to make a living in Athletics these days.

Let's take a complete 180.

If you’ve ever read a mainstream running publication or listened to a running form guru preach on about ideal cadence, you’ve no doubt heard that you should strive for a stride rate of 180 strides per minute. No more, no less, 180 on the dot or don’t even bother putting one foot in front of the other. This recommendation has always driven me crazy. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s shortsighted at best, misinformed at worst. To share a sentiment with Alex Hutchinson in his most Sweat Science column for Runner’s World, “Why is anyone giving cadence advice that ignores how fast you’re going?” I’m glad Hutchinson reminded his readers that cadence is largely a function of speed and included the references to studies that show even the best runners have a cadence lower than 180 when they’re running at an easy pace (and often one higher than 180 at faster speeds). On an empirical level, this just makes sense to me. What’s the first thing most runners do when they want to pick up the pace? They increase their cadence. How about when it’s time to start slowing down? They decrease their cadence. There are also stride length considerations at play in both situations but the shift in cadence cannot be ignored, not should it be discouraged. “It should be obvious that there is no magic stride frequency that everyone should run,” writes Steve Magness. “It depends on the athlete and their speed."

Going through the ringer. 

I’ve always liked Bill Simmons, not only because he's a biased Bostonian who isn’t afraid to speak his mind but also due to the fact that he’s carved his own path to success as a “new media” sports columnist and personality. I was sad last year when Grantland ultimately went away because “in this economic climate you will be very closely scrutinized if you are not a money-making operation.” So, it felt like deja vu all over again this past week when I read piece after piece about the “struggles” of Simmons’ latest venture, The Ringer. The problem? The same thing plaguing countless other enterprises across any number of domains: scale and speed. Whether it’s readers, iPhones, customers, events or something else altogether, the numbers are seemingly never enough and you can never hit them fast enough, either. The Ringer is owned by HBO, so 7-10 million readers a month (or much, much less, depending on who’s tracking it) after less than 6 months in existence is apparently cause for some concern. This is ridiculous. No matter how slice it, there are quite a few people interested in what Bill Simmons and his team are putting out into the world, even if there are fluctuations in the numbers being tallied each month. You can not undervalue the loyalty and engagement of Simmons’ readers (and listeners), many of whom have been following his work from The Sports Guy days. “Ultimately, the thing that could determine The Ringer’s success might rest less in numbers than voice,” Max Willen writes for Digiday in response to the arbitrary 10-million reader figure that advertisers find attractive for some reason. “Every site or publisher needs to find their voice and make sure it’s distinct and unique enough to build a loyal audience*,” emphasizes Adam Shlachter, president of Verizon’s media agency VM1.

*This is what I strive for on a weekly basis with the morning shakeout. I’m thankful for you, my loyal readers, and appreciative of Tracksmith for supporting my work this month.

Quick Splits

— Non-sponsored personal plug: Back on My Feet is a national organization that uses the power of running and community to help people navigate their way out of homelessness. I believe in their mission and want to support it. The new San Francisco program launches later this week and I’m looking forward to taking part in the kickoff run on Friday morning. Check out the organization's website and see if BoMF has a chapter in your area. Running is a sport we all enjoy and an outlet many of us seek, but it can also be used as a vehicle to spark positive change in peoples’ lives and the communities they call home. 

— On that last note, I liked this post from Virgin Sport CEO Mary Wittenberg on why the New York City Marathon—a race she was in charge of for nine years as CEO of the New York Road Runners—represents hope during a tumultuous and uncertain time in our history. “The marathon represents the dream: every color, shape, gender, background and viewpoint, all-standing shoulder-to-shoulder in support of one another,” Wittenberg writes. “Our dream is already a reality on the first Sunday of November every year. We believe the dream can still be every day in America.”  

— I’ve grown weary of the term minimalism (I prefer Greg McKeon’s “essentialism,” or the disciplined pursuit of less—great book, by the way) but this short piece on being content with less and appreciating what we already have was a pretty good read despite its clickbait-y headline. “Part of having more, is wanting less,” writes Dan Pederson. “Being content with less, is itself an increase.”

— Congratulations to Ned Dowling, winner of last week’s Varsity Runner’s Cap giveaway, by way of this #muddyshakeout photo. Ned, please reply to this email with your mailing address and we’ll get a cap sent out to you. This week, we’re celebrating Tracksmith’s monthly 1/2 on the 1/2 run, which, fittingly, happens to fall today. What do you need to do? Go out today—or heck, anytime between now and next Tuesday—run 13.1 miles, snap a photo from your half and post it to Instagram, tagging it #halfshakeout. I’ll choose the one that inspires me to lace up my shoes and announce the winner here next week.

That’s a wrap on Issue 53. If you enjoyed this week’s shakeout, do me a solid and please forward it to a friend or share the web link on your social media channel of choice. And of course, you can always send your sentiments my way by replying to this email or hurling them at me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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