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April 12, 2016 | Issue 22
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the morning shakeout by mario fraioli
Playing in the dirt never gets old. More running adventures at: instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! Three is (once again) a magic number—at least as it pertains to this newsletter. Please enjoy this week's abbreviated edition: 

Can’t we all just get along?

There’s a lot I love to hate about letsrun.com, but I’ll give them credit where it’s due and almost all of it lately goes to writer Jonathan Gault. He penned another solid piece yesterday, this one highlighting Ben True and Adam Nelson’s ideas for cleaning up the sullied sport of track and field, along with some additional commentary from Michael Joyner and Renee Anne Shirley. I highly recommend giving it a read. There’s a lot to ponder in Gault’s article but one line in particular jumped out at me. “It’s been tough to still get out the door and give 100% of myself to the sport knowing that I am on an uneven playing field,” True said. Why this quote? One, I’m certain there are a lot of athletes who feel the same way, and that’s unfortunate; two, it encapsulates how I’ve felt about covering the sport over the past year or so, and I know I’m not the only running writer who shares that sentiment. Despite a number of athletes who are committed to playing fair and creating positive change within the sport, it’s getting increasingly harder to be positive and optimistic about track’s professional future as an increasing number of athletes and performances get called into question—not to mention additional incidences of corruption, scandal and even public squabbles between some of the athletes themselves. The last issue, in my opinion, is evidence of track’s biggest problem, i.e., there’s little to no unity and communication amongst the athlete population, and until that changes, no real progress will be made. I think Hawi Keflezighi said it best in a blog post for Athlete Biz. “Let our differences in perspectives help us create a stronger collective and coalition for a better sport and society,” Keflezighi writes, “Not a fractured one.” Right now track and field is broken, and in order to put the pieces back together, athletes need to unite for common causes—in Gault’s piece, Nelson discusses the need for athletes to unionize—or they’ll continue to be exploited by incompetent, self-serving governing bodies as they have “for 40 or 50 or 60 years in a row now.”

These cows aren’t sacred. 

“You know it as I know it: The Globe, like every other major legacy news organization, has faced what have proven to be irreversible revenue declines. The revenue funds our journalism. The declines have mandated significant cuts over the past dozen years.” Such are the ominous words Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory wrote to his staff last week. Media, whether you’re a legacy news organization such as the Globe or an enthusiast title in a niche area of interest, is a tricky business to be in as the landscape seems to change by the hour some days. Revenue, as McGrory wrote, is getting increasingly harder to come by whether you rely on advertising, subscriptions or some combination of the two to keep the lights on. The key to survival? As I first wrote in Issue 12, innovate or die.

Embrace the suck. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter, I tend to go on kicks from time to time. First it was Austin Kleon, and then Seth Godin. My latest one is Elizabeth Gilbert, who I first wrote about in Issue 19. The author of Eat, Pray, Love (Yes, I’ve read it—judge me if you must) came back onto my radar last week when she showed up as the latest guest on the Longform podcast. The early part of the interview totally caught me off guard, but in a good way. Gilbert begins by telling the story of her dad—who worked in a chemical plant to pay the bills—buying a farm in Connecticut so he could fulfill his dream of being a farmer and raising a self-sufficient family. “I’m not just here just to pay bills and die,” Gilbert says of the example her dad set forth from an early age. “There’s a vision I have for my life. I want to make a life in my own image. I want to test the limits of my creativity and my resourcefulness.” She goes on to discuss how growing up on the farm without many modern comforts (such no heat in her bedroom) was a gift that helped build character, while encouraging independence and creativity—traits, she says, that helped her become a resourceful self-starter in her own writing career. Gilbert’s story made me think of other writers, athletes and top performers I admire. One of the main qualities many of these people share is that they’ve learned not to avoid uncomfortable situations because they know that’s where the real magic happens. In other words, they embrace the suck. They don’t make excuses. They find a way. The lesson here? Be willing to struggle. In fact, welcome it. Practice working through it. Learn from it. You’ll be better off for it, I promise. 

That’s a wrap on Issue 22. As always, I encourage you to reply directly to this email with your silly questions, snarky comments, dopey concerns, unsolicited inquiries, high praise or general disdain regarding what you've read here. Or, feel free to pester me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading, 

Mario 

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