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January 19, 2016 | Issue 10
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the morning shakeout by mario fraioli
Pine Mountain summit with the bros on Sunday. 17 miles, 3000 feet of climbing. More running adventures at: instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! I hope your week is off to a good start. Here are a few things that have captured my interest of late:

Ryan Hall’s Early Retirement

Later today I’ll be talking to the recently retired Ryan Hall. Being the same age, I’ve followed Ryan’s career closely since high school and have had the pleasure of chatting with him at length on multiple occasions since coming on board at Competitor in 2010. Ryan’s an interesting cat who, for better or worse, has always done things his own way. When we last caught up in October, he alluded to a number of frustrations that have plagued him in recent years, including a string of injuries as well as low testosterone levels. The New York Times got first dibs at his retirement story, where Ryan explained how his body has stopped responding to training in recent years. This is interesting to me on a number of levels. Like many, I’m curious about the longterm effects of hard training and racing—both on the body (musculoskeletal injuries/damage), in the body (endocrine system, immune system and the like) and outside the body (emotionally, psychologically)—and while there’s some research on these things, a first-person perspective is always more impactful and insightful. Along with running high volume and intensity for much of the past 20 years, Ryan was also mostly in marathon-mode from about 2008 through his retirement—meaning he didn’t shift his focus back toward mile/5K/10K/XC or half-marathon specific training and racing for about 7 years (his 5K through 1/2 marathon PBs were all set between 2005 and 2007, or ages 23-25, and his last cross-country race was 2006, I believe)—which I think took a toll on him in more ways than one. I’ve always felt that switching up the emphasis of your training and racing from time to time is one of the biggest keys to continued improvement—and longevity—as an athlete. I look forward to digging into this topic with him, amongst other things, this afternoon. If you’ve got something Ryan Hall-related you’ve been wondering about since last Friday’s retirement announcement, respond to this email by noon PST and let me know. 

What separates winners from losers?

In a word, grit, or “the stamina to be in it for the long haul.” This is a quick read on goal-setting (of course, it contains some running-related references!) and even though you’ve likely seen all of these strategies discussed elsewhere before, it’s a good refresher for runners and non-runners alike. “Grit is stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out – not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Life is pain, Highness. 

On the topic of grit, suffering, running and all that jazz, I really enjoyed this short film from REI featuring Errol “The Rocket” Jones, a 65-year-old ultrarunner from the Bay Area, running on some of my favorite trails in and around the Marin Headlands. “I’m just gonna have to embrace the suffering more because there’s no question it’s coming,” Jones says. “Life is about suffering. When all of the pain that you suffer through, the pleasure, the real joy comes when even if you’re the last person but you’ve crossed the line and you’ve met your demons out there on the trail and you’ve overcome them.” Great message and a nice piece of content marketing from REI. Reminded me of one of my favorites lines from one of my favorite movies: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Naturally, watching this film (the REI piece on Errol, not Princess Bride for the 77th time) led me down the rabbit hole to learn more about “The Rocket,” and I came across this older UltraRunnerPodcast interview along with a bunch of columns he wrote for UltraRunning magazine’s website that are all worth checking out. Errol, if you’re reading this, let’s go for a run sometime!

What am I listening to right now?

Last week’s podcast piece seemed to go over well, so I might make that a regular thing moving forward. Here are some fresh ones for your listening pleasure (even if one of them is from the archives): 

Brooke Gladstone on Longform: Gladstone hosts On The Media, which I’ve never actually listened to, but after listening to the first few minutes of her interview with Max Linsky of Longform, I stuck around for the entire hour. In it, she discusses how she got into media, being married to another award-winning journalist, her reputation as a hardass editor and a lot more. “I’m not going to get any richer or more famous than I am right now. This is it, this is fine—it’s better than I ever expected. I don't have anything to risk anymore. As far as I’m concerned, I want to just spend this last decade, decade and a half, twenty years, doing what I think is valuable. I don’t have any career path anymore. I’m totally off the career path. The beautiful thing is that I just don’t have any more fucks to give.” On that note, go read this year-old post from the always insightful Mark Manson. 

Wright Thompson on SI Media Podcast: Thompson, a senior writer at ESPN, is my favorite magazine writer of all-time. This podcast, which I first listened to last summer but revisited recently, is fantastic. In it, Thompson talks about his tendency to over-report, why he doesn’t write every day, how Twitter is only good for getting you fired, the insecurity of writers and a lot more. The following line about how he approaches a potential story paints a pretty good picture of why his stuff is consistently so good. “It never comes to you. If I look around and there are a bunch of other reporters, A. I’m in the wrong place; B. Whatever I’m about to do is gonna be a single, if that, and C. I need to move.” 

The Duality of Caffeine on Stuff You Should Know: I linked to a different SYSK show last week, but yesterday I listened to this sometimes comical conversation discussing the plusses and minuses of caffeine, including how it’s related to heroine and cocaine, how it affects your brain and body, and so forth. Chuck and Josh are informative and entertaining. “If you can even get your hands on pure caffeine, do not inject it. You probably shouldn’t inject anything, let alone the pure form of anything, because even too much water can kill you. Always remember that everybody: Even too much water can kill you.”

That’s a wrap on Issue 10. If you enjoyed what you read here, please forward this email along to your friends or blast out the web link from your social media rooftop of choice. 

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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