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December 6, 2016 | Issue 56
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Zach Miller
I swear this was a 50-miler and not a 5K. | Stinson Beach, California
 instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! I’ve got a diverse lineup of material to sort through and share with you this week, so I’m going “Quick Splits” style from start to finish. Let me know what you think of this abbreviated format by replying directly to this email or Tweeting in my direction

But before I get rolling, a huge thank you to Tracksmith for their continued support of the morning shakeout this month. While I’m super appreciative of their sponsorship, I’m also a big fan of their products and overall brand ethos that celebrates the sport we all love. I’ve been running in the Harrier Long Sleeve a lot this fall and it’s the best running shirt I own (and no, they didn’t ask me to put that plug in here). It looks good, performs well and doesn’t smell when I’m done running in it, which my wife really appreciates. If you’re looking to get the runner on your holiday gift list something they’ll love using for a long time, check out what Tracksmith has to offer and support the brand that helps keep your favorite email newsletter going strong each week.  

And with that expanded intro out of the way, let’s commence shaking it out. Enjoy!

Full gas from the gun. 

The sport of ultrarunning is experiencing a new kind of excitement right now and I was fortunate enough to witness some of it up close on Saturday morning at the North Face Endurance Challenge Championships north of San Francisco. Defending champion Zach Miller (pictured above) and newbie ultra stud Hayden Hawks threw every move they had at one another for just shy of 6 hours and it was an incredible battle. Miller came out on top but hats off to both men for putting on a show that will be talked about for quite some time. Full gas from the gun and only a 2-minute difference between the two when all was said and done. Check out this video montage of Miller from the talented Billy Yang, along with Hawks’ silly splits on Strava (no data for Miller since he races with an old Casio he probably picked up at a yard sale). Just bonkers. Racing is awesome.  

+ I met Hawks a few weeks ago when he was in town to preview the course, which is hugely advantageous if you’ve never experienced the thrashing your legs will take on the long climbs and descents that make up the Marin Headlands. He got a few solid runs in while he was visiting (you can check them out here and here), and, interestingly, averaged around the pace he did during the race on Saturday.

Cheating on the cheap. 

“For $300 you’ve done better than an altitude tent.” That’s Australian Paralympian Michael Gallagher talking about how inexpensive and effective it was for him to adopt an EPO doping regimen ahead of this past summer’s Paralympic Games (which he did not compete in after getting popped in an out-of-competition test). Gallagher, a “nice guy” by all accounts, ultimately got caught because he wasn't being careful, but he also admits that he would have kept doping if he hadn’t been busted. If you don’t think the exact same situations are at play in running, triathlon and related sports, then I’ve got a few bridges in the Bay Area I’d like to sell you.

+ On that note, I’m proud to have written this guest post for the Clean Sport Collective, an organization whose mission I believe in and want to support. Cleaning up the doping problem in sports isn’t just about funding more testing or imposing tougher punishments on convicted cheats. Those things will certainly help, but it starts with athletes, fans, coaches, agents, sponsors, events, and media alike coming together to take a united stance against doping and increasing awareness in order to force change and make meaningful progress. If you care about clean sport, join the movement.  

+ Well, this is certainly a start. Bravo, USATF Athlete Advisory Committee. 

Working on my balancing act. 

If I have anything in common with Twitter co-founder and current Medium CEO Ev Williams, it’s that we’re both trying to “put a lot more focus on keeping things in balance.” As someone who spends a good chunk of his waking hours online, stepping away from work and keeping my tech in check is something I’ve struggled with for quite a while now. I recently had an experience, however, that served as a loud wakeup call to start taking better care of myself before I went flying off the edge. For me, that’s meant putting parameters around my “work” hours (I’m fortunate that I can make my own schedule), committing to running first thing in the morning whenever possible, spending a deliberate amount of time each day devoid of devices and enforcing a non-negotiable bed time each night. I’ve got a long ways yet to go but I’m already noticing that my energy levels are higher, stress levels lower, thinking clearer and relationships better as things have started to balance out a bit.

Cool back story, bro. 

I loved the back story behind this cool outside-the-box assignment that photographer David Bracetty pulled off for Tracksmith’s Meter magazine at last summer’s Olympic Trials. Bracetty, whose work I’ve previously featured in the morning shakeout, shot the third and fourth-place finishers in each event and captured all the raw emotion involved in those moments immediately after each athlete crossed the finish line. Great project, from idea to execution.

They can’t handle the truth. 

“Holding the most powerful to account is what we are supposed to do. If we do not do that, then what exactly is the purpose of journalism?” Right on, Marty Baron. The Washington Post editor’s recent Hitchens prize acceptance speech eloquently expands upon many of the pro-journalism points I brought up in Issue 16 after Spotlight won the Oscar for Best Picture. Baron’s speech highlights why journalism needs the public’s support in order to ensure that the most powerful individuals and institutions—regardless of the specific domain being investigated and reported upon—aren’t let off the hook when it comes to the pursuit of the truth.

Election oddities.

To say it’s been an odd election season would be an understatement and the recent running for president of USA Track & Field is certainly no exception. Vin Lananna was awarded the seat last week after Jackie Joyner-Kersee somewhat surprisingly withdrew her bid at the last minute. As I Tweeted a couple weeks ago, I think Vin is the right guy for the job. I have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished as a coach, athletic director and president of TrackTown USA, and truly believe he has the best interests of the athletes—and the sport—in mind at the end of the day. That said, my one major reservation about Lananna taking the role revolved around his consulting relationship with Nike, which essentially owns USATF for the next 24 years, but it appears he didn’t hesitate to give up that gig. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a little leery about the whole situation but I’m also willing to let Lananna prove that he can increase transparency within the organization while helping restore excitement around the sport in this country. “We have all these people out there who run and there’s no connection between those who run and those who are fans of the sport,” Lananna told Erin Strout of Runner’s World. “I think athletes are fantastic entertainers. We have to make sure they are compensated. The only way to do that is to have a better broadcast of our meets."

Winner, winner. 

Congratulations to Bearden Coleman, winner of this week’s “Gravy Training” tee giveaway, for this unique submission. Bearden, please reply to this email with your mailing address and we’ll get a shirt sent out to you right away.

That’s it for Issue 56. If you liked what you read here, I'd appreciate it if you would blast the web link out into the world for all your friends, followers and fans to see.

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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