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May 24, 2016 | Issue 28
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the morning shakeout by mario fraioli
the morning shakeout
Behind the scenes, I mean the wall, at Competitor magazine, circa 2014. instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! Today is my birthday and I’m going to kick off my 35th lap around the sun by breaking some bittersweet news exclusively with subscribers of the morning shakeout:

This Friday will be my last day as senior editor at Competitor magazine/.com after six years with the brand (and Competitor Group). I’m leaving to pursue a new opportunity with an early stage startup in the Bay Area beginning in early June. I can’t say much more than that right now but I’m looking forward to sharing the details with you in the coming weeks and months. This wasn’t an easy decision for me but it’s one that feels right at this point of my life. And while I’m sad to be leaving my post at Competitor, along with our small but talented team and other close colleagues at Competitor Group, I’m excited to tackle the new (and very different) challenge that lies ahead of me. 

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a lot of people as I begin this next chapter in my career and I’ll take care of most of those acknowledgements offline. But I’d like to publicly give a shoutout to my wife, Christine, as well as my good friend and soon-to-be former boss, Competitor editor-in-chief Brian Metzler. Their continued support and guidance has been huge not only during this recent transition but throughout almost the entirety of my tenure.

It’s been one hell of a ride over the past six years and I’m extremely proud of what I’ve been a part of and helped build at Competitor. The brand will always be special to me and I hope it continues to thrive. When I started as web editor in 2010, the magazine was in the midst of an identity crisis and had next to no connection to a largely news-focused running website that was barely over a year into its modern existence. Brian came on board in the spring of 2012 and merged the print and digital properties to establish a unified media title dedicated to running, promoting me to senior editor in the process. Despite an understaffed team and the challenges of an ever-changing—and extremely challenging—media landscape, we’ve grown in every imaginable way since to become one of the most widely followed, credible and respected resources for runners. A tip of the hat to Competitor’s current editorial staff—web editor Ryan Wood, associate editor Emily Polachek, magazine managing editor Adam Elder and senior graphic designer Valerie Brugos (believe it or not, that’s everyone)—along with our loyal lineup of freelance contributors for making my experience memorable and rewarding.

My time at Competitor has presented me with numerous opportunities for which I’m glad to have taken advantage of, including a cross-country move to San Diego, where I eventually met my wife, more travel than most people ever get to experience in a lifetime, a front row seat to cover some of the most esteemed events in running, including the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and U.S. Olympic Trials on multiple occasions, as well as major road races, professional track meets, trail ultramarathons and numerous national championships. I’ve interviewed, written about and run with some of sport’s top athletes, coaches and personalities, tested hundreds if not thousands of products, published a book, coached an athlete to the Olympic Games and been given a platform to inform, inspire and entertain runners from around the globe. I even got to race Kara Goucher in a half-marathon. Over the past six years, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with experienced and intelligent colleagues who’ve helped me become a better writer and editor, and have taught me invaluable lessons about media, the running industry and business in general. Most importantly, I’ve formed friendships and relationships that I’ll take with me wherever I go in life. I’m incredibly grateful for all of it. 

So what does my new gig mean for the morning shakeout? Only good things. I will continue to send out this newsletter on Tuesday mornings and eventually hope to include new forms of content in addition to the usual analysis, insight and commentary you’re accustomed to reading each week. I’ve created a Medium publication where I will post original articles in addition to re-posting popular excerpts from archived editions. Researching for and writing the morning shakeout has become an incredibly fulfilling creative pursuit for me and I have no plans to stop anytime soon, late nights and lost sleep be damned.  

That said, and before I sign off for this week, I want to share a few quick links to a few things that caught my interest of late:

  • Sinking costs. “At this major car brand I worked for, we paid $300,000 for a few photographs because the CEO’s kid liked someone.” Interesting read on the wacky world of influencer marketing and where it’s headed. 
  • Let your freak bun fly. Track and field needs more athletes like Alexi Pappas. Why? Not because she’s fast, but because she’s interesting and isn’t afraid to be herself and genuinely connect with fans both on and off the track. “Alexi tries to be open and talk honestly with people,” said her boyfriend Jeremy Teicher, who met Pappas at Dartmouth when they were studying film and theater. “She talks about her fears and how hard things can be. That’s why people are drawn to her.” And, as the article demonstrates in various ways, Pappas seems to have a good balance of interests in her life, which is something I think more runners—amateurs as well as professionals—can try to emulate. “You cannot run 24 hours a day,” she says. “There’s a mental and physical benefit to having something else in your life.”
  • Plan for things not to go to plan. I haven’t met Jon Marcus (yet), but I like what he’s doing with the High Performance West training group in Portland. He also has a great podcast with Steve Magness that I enjoy listening to and recommend checking out if you’re a coach or performance-minded athlete. It’s full of practical, no bullshit advice. This Tweet from HPW yesterday is a lighthearted (but completely on point) example of that and a good reminder that progress toward a goal is rarely linear—expect to work through setbacks, unplanned obstacles and unexpected circumstances to get where you want to go.

That’s it for Issue 28. Back to our regularly schedule programming next Tuesday. In the meantime, you can reach me by replying directly to this email or Tweeting in my direction

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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