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January 17, 2017 | Issue 62
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ekiden
GGTC Squad
Misty morning shakeout with a mountain backdrop. | Kentfield, California

Good morning! This week’s issue is all over the place—but then again, what else is new? Enjoy!

Don’t quiet your inner voice. 

I’ve been fortunate to spend an inordinate amount of time around many of running’s best athletes, observing how they operate on and off the race course. Watching these stars compete is thrilling in and of itself but the unique insights I’ve gained into what makes the people behind those mind-blowing performances truly excel is exciting, inspiring and revealing in its own special way.

One of the athletes who has surprised, impressed and taught me the most over the years is Desiree Linden. The San Diego native wasn’t on anyone’s radar when she first joined the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project out of college in 2006 but over the course of the last 10 years, she’s patiently established herself as one of the most respected and feared racers in the sport. Obviously she works hard, and her steady progression as an athlete is certainly admirable and noteworthy, but the quiet confidence, unassuming aggressiveness and methodical tenacity Linden operates with when she laces up her racing flats are what have always impressed me most. When Linden races, she’s something of a silent assassin—innocent and unassuming until she decides to go after you, then you damn well better start running for your life.  

“My inner voice says 'You are ready for this. Go out and rip some @#%#T heads off. Have fun,’” Linden told innervoice.life recently for this great first-person piece. “It's a very (possibly overly) confident and a bit aggressive inner voice.”

The other key quality Linden possesses in spades is that she’s not easily rattled—by anything—even when she’s not racing. I’ve witnessed this firsthand in press conferences when she’s been served tough interview questions, in the middle of a high-stakes race when she’s facing pressure from her competitors, and even when she’s been on the sidelines recovering from a devastating injury. Linden is a master at owning whatever situation she finds herself in and controlling the things she’s able to control without worrying about the rest. Whether you’re a world-class athlete, struggling writer, a stressed-out employee or an overwhelmed parent, this is a lesson worth taking to heart. 

“When things get tough in life, I make sure to focus on the things that I can control and try to fix or improve the situation,” Linden said in the innervoice.life piece. “I’m not a big fan of worrying; I’ve never been able to worry myself out of a tough situation and have things turn out better.”

Anything to avoid a zero. 

A few weeks back, I wrote about the launch of Tracksmith’s annual No Days Off campaign, promoting the values of consistency and dedication as they relate to the pursuit of one’s running goals in the new year. Well, North Carolina high schooler Quinn Schneider took the embodiment of that mission to the next level a little over a week ago, shoveling off the inside of his school’s outdoor track to avoid having to put a 0 in his training log. “You’ve got to stay in your [training] routine,” Schneider told The Washington Post. “If you get out of your routine, it’s not as effective.” Kudos, Quinn Schneider. 

+ Dedication and inspiration (and dizziness) comes in different forms, such as this woman in New York who has been running round and round (and round and round) the same quarter mile-ish stretch of city block for over 25 years. “What can I tell you?” 65-year-old Judith Jaffe told The New York Times. “I like the consistency.” That’s nineteen laps of the same four sidewalks, four days a week, for over quarter of a century. It’s equal parts mind-blowing and mind-numbing. But hey, it still beats the treadmill.

Coffee talk.

It’s widely known that the morning shakeout pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. I’ve gotten quite a few questions about what—and how—I’m brewing, so I thought I’d share some of my own coffee-making secrets this week. I’m by no means an expert but I do enjoy playing around with different beans and brew methods. Currently, I’m working my way through a batch of Pretty Penny beans from Red Bay Coffee, a local roaster here in the Bay Area. I alternate between using an Aeropress and a French Press at home, but mostly gravitate toward 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 new 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. Some of you may be surprised to learn that I don’t use a scale to weigh my beans, nor do I use a precise timer or take the temperature of my water. 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.)

Give this your full attention. 

A few issues back I shared my thoughts on a piece Cal Newport wrote for The New York Times about quitting social media. Newport was recently a guest on the EntreLeadership podcast and discussed how to avoid the myriad disruptions and distractions we deal with on a daily basis in order to do better, more focused work. In short: it’s great, and I should probably go listen to it a few more times. Fast forward to the 7-minute mark and get right to the good stuff. “With deep work, it’s not just the intensity of the focus, but it’s that you’re really embracing what you’re doing completely,” says Newport, author of the best-selling book, Deep Work. “You’re giving it your full attention, you’re diving deep into it, you’re pushing your cognitive ability to its limits. You think about your mind like it’s any other tool and you want to use it at its limits… You’re fully embracing what you’re doing, pushing your mind to its current limit, and therefore producing something you’re proud of: this is the best thing I could have produced at my current level of skill.”

Connect more.

My friend and colleague Brad Stulberg continues to put out great stuff for a number of different outlets. This recent piece for New York Magazine, “You Can Be Happy and Lonely at the Same Time,” pairs well with the Cal Newport podcast I mentioned in the last item and will make you think about how you interact with the people in your life. “The people of the world, and perhaps more important, the people of my world, are literally all at my fingertips,” Stulberg writes. “Yet at the same, I’ve been feeling a bit lonely.” I find myself in a similar boat to Brad—the problem is we’ve been emailing about it from opposite sides of the bay rather than just meeting up to talk about it over coffee or a run. That’s something we’ve committed to changing this week and it will take a bit of effort on both our parts to make it happen. The key word there is effort: we have to choose when to spend meaningful time with other people over sending a “quick text” or email simply because it’s convenient. Technology can be a great tool, and is essential to both our personal and professional lives, but there is no substitute for spending meaningful time together in person whenever possible. (And yes, I fully realize the irony of sharing this piece and these thoughts with a few thousand people via an email newsletter! That said, and there are a lot of details I still need to iron out, but I’m working on creating an opportunity to connect with readers of the morning shakeout in person later this year in a cool location. Stay tuned!)

That’s it for Issue 62. I’m excited to share the latest installment in the Going Long interview series with you here next week. In the meantime, keep me entertained by replying to this email or giving me a nudge on Twitter.  

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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