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July 19, 2016 | Issue 36
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I went searching for buried treasure in some old training logs recently and found this one from my senior year of college in 2003. The Cervantes quote on the cover is a favorite of mine. "Big souls will remember only this: That one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star." instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! After two straight weeks of overly wordy track trials commentary (here and here if you missed ’em!), it’s time to switch things up a bit with a smorgasbord of articles, podcasts and other non-doping related things (yes, I know there was more Russian news yesterday) that have caught my interest of late. Enjoy!

(Re)charge ahead!

“If you have too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone, otherwise you risk burnout…The value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us.” This excerpt from a recent article isn’t referencing training for races—it appeared in the Harvard Business Review, after all—but it might as well be. The takeaway? Whether it’s staying up late so you can get ahead at work or training harder than you ever have so you can make a major breakthrough on race day, it’s important to remember that being resilient isn’t about how much more you can push yourself, but rather how well you can recharge the batteries between those big efforts so you don’t end up in too deep a hole—something I’m constantly trying to keep in mind and practice in a a few different areas of my life. Admittedly, it’s not an easy balance to strike!

“Don’t waste good time.”

The above line is one of my favorite quotes from Kenyan cross country legend John Ngugi, and it’s also the title of Scott Douglas’ latest piece for Tracksmith’s Meter publication on Medium. I’ve been reading Scott Douglas’ ramblings about running since I first took up the sport in high school and I continue to enjoy his work some 20 years later. (Douglas was also instrumental in giving me a shot when I was a young running writer looking for assignments, and for that I’ll always be grateful.) Anyway, I’m getting off track. In his piece for Meter, Douglas lays out four tried-and-true rules for giving yourself the best shot to run a personal best. All of them resonated with me but my favorite, of course, revolves around not wasting good time. “Get out there and race!” instructs Douglas. “You might think you’re going to be in this kind of shape for the foreseeable future. Odds are you aren’t. Don’t miss opportunities while waiting for the perfect alignment of VO2 max, competitive zest, fast course and salutary weather. Go carpe some diems while you can.

Shake it off. 

If you live on the west coast, the probability of earthquakes is a fact of life. If you reside in the Pacific Northwest, then you probably just about shit your pants about a year ago when you first read this piece by the customarily excellent Kathryn Schulz. I know I almost did, despite the fact that I live smack in the middle of two of the country’s major fault lines myself. Schulz was a recent guest on the Longform podcast, where she goes in depth about her mind-blowing piece along with discussing how she went from being a book critic to a longform magazine writer, and explaining the how and why around connecting her writing with big ideas. Fellow writing nerds should definitely check it out. “I think that as is so often the case for all of us, our strengths are our weaknesses, and vice versa,” Schulz says. “I am drawn to the vast and abstract and unwieldy. I am interested in impossible things like the human condition and ontology and existence and cosmology and morality. These are deep and guiding interests of mine. They’re what I notice….It’s how my mind works. I’m drawn to the big and our place in it.”

Take the Hitt.

The Longform podcast got most of my ears’ attention over the weekend, as listening to Jack Hitt talk about his career proved to be a nice encore to the aforementioned Kathryn Schulz interview. Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with Hitt’s writing but I found him to be equal parts entertaining and informative on the podcast, partly for wise pearls like this one: “One of the best ways to learn how to write is to edit—not your own writing, somebody else’s writing. Edit and shape. Really, to go inside somebody else’s sentences is a very invasive thing to do. You learn to be very respectful when you’re inside someone else’s prose.” Hitt also shares a great anecdote about the time he was a young 22-year-old newspaper reporter and had a 6,000-word story chopped down to one sentence. I loved it. Totally reminded me of the first feature I ever wrote for Running Times that came back to me from editor-in-chief Jonathan Beverly bleeding of red ink, comments and suggestions. If you’re thinking about getting into writing, this one is a must-listen.

Run through your walls.

It might not be the solution to all the world’s problems, but running, more so than most other physical activities, can connect, impact and inspire people in incredibly meaningful ways. Such is the crux of Peter Abraham’s message in his recent TEDx talk at UCLA. “We’re living behind walls and building even bigger ones,” Abraham says. “It’s no wonder there’s a growing sense of isolation and a skyrocketing suicide rate. But shared physical, and running in particular, offers a solution.” Abraham shares the story of how a young girl named Haley Hickey overcame the challenges of an at-risk childhood by joining a running group at her school. He also explains how running helped him solve his own “crisis of purpose” at an earlier point in life. These stories are just two examples of what happens when running and community become intertwined in a positive way. “This one thing, building community with shared physical experience really can change the world.” Pretty relevant message given the divisiveness we’re seeing in our world, no?

Strive for disappointment. 

It’s OK to be disappointed in life. In fact, you should probably even strive for it from time to time. I was intrigued by Maria Popova’s commentary on Geoff Dyer’s new book, “White Sands,” which I’ll be adding to my growing reading list. “And yet that see-saw of hope and despair is precisely what animates us into motion,” Popova writes of Dyer’s thesis. “Dyer’s elegant wryness strums a quiet serenade to disappointment as an integral, and perhaps even vitalizing, part of life…this capacity for disappointment, Dyer suggests, is a centerpiece of the seeking and striving that define secular life and, as such, is a relatively modern phenomenon qualitatively different our ancient quests.”

That’s it for this week. If you want to catch up on past issues of the morning shakeout, you can have yourself a field day right here. Got a thought or something else you want to share with me? Send it my way by replying directly to this email or Tweeting in my general direction

Thanks for reading,

Mario

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