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January 3, 2017 | Issue 60
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ekiden
Turri Road
My road to the Boston Marathon passed through Los Osos, California on Sunday morning. Follow my journey on Strava over the next 15 weeks as I prepare to give the race my third go on April 17.

Good morning, and happy new year! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start. A big thank you to ekiden and founder Peter Duyan for sponsoring the morning shakeout this month. Full disclosure: I am the head coach at ekiden and have worked for the company since June. ekiden’s mission—bring a great human coaching experience to every athlete—is one I deeply believe in, and personal coaching is a service I think will be of interest to a high percentage of this newsletter’s running-crazed readership, especially at the start of the new year. If you’ve got Boston on your spring racing schedule, need help finishing your first 10K or want a hand preparing for an epic mountain adventure, check out ekiden.com and we’ll get you matched up with one of our awesome coaches.

Now that the bills are paid, here are a few things I came across over the holiday break that I thought might interest you. I’ll return to my regular ranting and rambling next Tuesday. Enjoy!

Find a ninth path.  

It’s early in the year and chances are you’re still thinking about your goals for 2017. Hunter S. Thompson would like to remind you that “the goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.” This letter is one of my favorite pieces of writing in existence and contains some of the best life advice anyone could ever give you. Just read it.

The amazing aging idiot. 

I don’t know what I’ll be doing 50 years from now but it’s not likely that I’ll be interested in racing marathons, much less running them in under 4 hours like the incredible Ed Whitlock did a few months ago. Whitlock, 85, who is fairly well known to my fellow running nerds reading this, got some nice press in The New York Times last week for his record-setting ways that have defied the long understood limitations of aging athletes. “I believe people can do far more than they think they can,” Whitlock told Jere Longman. “You have to be an idiot enough to try it.” Well, sometimes an idiot can be one of the most inspiring individuals you’ll ever come across, so I encourage you to read the aforementioned profile on Whitlock (along with this older feature Scott Douglas wrote for Running Times in 2010) before telling yourself that you’re too old to do whatever it is you think you’re too old to do.  

+ The fact that Whitlock “has no coach, follows no special diet, does not chart his mileage, wears no heart-rate monitor, takes no ice baths, gets no massages and avoids stretching” is likely baffling many modern-day endurance athletes who are quick to spend money on compression socks, featherlight shoes (Whitlock’s racing flats are 15 years old, for what it’s worth), customized recovery drinks, fancy power meters or the like in the name of improvement. So why doesn’t Whitlock worry about these things and would he be even faster if he did? The answers to those questions are up for debate but the one thing I am sure of is that Whitlock’s consistent training over many years, a number of long runs at a high percentage of marathon pace (note: tread carefully here), fairly infrequent racing and resting when his body tells him he needs it are the main reasons for his success and longevity. His own disinterest not withstanding, Whitlock doesn’t need to worry about these extra considerations—I’m not saying they wouldn’t help him—because he’s got the basics covered so well. Steve Magness discussed this topic recently in a post for his Science of Running blog entitled “Forget The Gadgets and Hacks: Nail The Basics.” “The focus on the final 1% has created a dire problem,” Magness writes. “If we head down this route, we quickly run out of room for improvement."

Apply common sense.

I’m undertaking a major book editing project in a couple weeks, so I spent some time over break reading through this compilation of interview responses from—and about—renowned editor Robert Gottlieb to get in the spirit. “Editing is simply the application of the common sense of any good reader,” Gottlieb explains. “That’s why, to be an editor, you have to be a reader. It’s the number one qualification. Because you could have all the editorial tools, but if you’re not a responsive reader you won’t sense where the problems lie.”

Hurry up already. 

Where is media heading in 2017 (and beyond)? According to BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti, the same places it’s been purported to be heading for the past 5 years: digital, socially connected mobile platforms. It’s just going to take a little longer to get there, of course. “Understanding the inherently social nature of media is one of the biggest ‘digital advantages,’” Peretti wrote in his annual memo to Buzzfeed employees. “But despite the rise of social media and the growth of BuzzFeed, it will still take years until most of the industry fully understands.” Peretti’s correct, of course, and his well-funded venture is one of the modern-day media companies driving this slow shift. I do think the pace is going to pick up quite a bit in the coming years but I’m not confident most of the industry will understand—and act—in time. Outlets like Buzzfeed, Vox, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Netflix and others will continue to be the drivers of this socially charged media movement and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the fall of a more than a few “traditional” outlets across different areas of interest—including running—within the next 5 years.

Clear your desks. 

Congratulations to Sarah Duffy and Tamara Paton, winners of last week’s #2017nodaysoff Instagram giveaway. Please reply to this email with your mailing address and I’ll make sure a No Days Off desk calendar from Tracksmith gets sent your way.

That’s it for Issue 60. If you enjoyed this digital dispatch, please forward this email along to an unsuspecting friend or share the web link to your preferred social media platform. And as always, feel free to reply directly to me with your silly questions, snarky comments, dopey concerns, unsolicited inquiries, high praise or general disgust. It’s all welcome here. 

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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