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September 6, 2016 | Issue 43
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Mt. Tam Hill Climb
Yesterday I ran the 36th annual Mt. Tam Hill Climb. The race was a total throwback and I loved everything about it. The $20 race-day only registration, nondescript bib numbers, clutter-free t-shirt, and a few dozen dedicated souls all tackling the same challenging point-to-point course (followed by a post-race BBQ in the race director's backyard) took me back in time. The pre-race buzz in the town square was palpable and the stoke meter at the top of the mountain seemed to be stuck on 11. Even as a first-timer, it was clear to me that not much had changed in the 36-year history of the race, and I think that's a good thing. 

Good morning! Here’s some brief commentary on a smattering of things I’ve read or listened to recently I think you might find interesting or insightful. Enjoy!

What does Mo (really) know?

I’ve attended many a press conference over the years and it’s always interesting to see how a subject responds when he or she gets an uncomfortable question thrown his or her way. Along those lines, the guys at letsrun.com noted that at the Olympics in Rio, Mo Farah didn’t exactly inspire confidence when asked about his relationship with disgraced coach Jama Aden. “Farah may not like people trying to associate him with Aden, a coached linked to an EPO raid, but failing to clarify the extent of their relationship does not help in the court of public opinion,” letsrun wrote. I've been wondering about this relationship since Issue 32. It’s interesting to me that Farah can’t seem to get his story straight about his ties to Aden. It’s even more interesting to me that he gets so uncomfortable when asked about it. It’s triply interesting to me that Farah spends so much of his year not training under the watchful eye of his purported coach Alberto Salazar, who is known as something of a control freak when it comes to monitoring his athletes. Something’s just not lining up for me here.

+ Further reading: “Any maybe more importantly, why did Mo Farah in 2014, before any news had broken linking Aden to doping, indicate he was training in France when the pictures he posted said he was in Sabadell, Spain?” So many questions. Not enough answers yet. I do think we'll get more soon.

Stop the confusion. 

Brad Stulberg’s recent piece for NY Mag on the myth of muscle confusion, which could have been called “The Case For Patience, Purpose and Process,” made my neck hurt from nodding in agreement so much.

“The important stuff in life demands patience,” writes Stulberg. “Relationships. Scientific discovery. Learning. Reading a book. These things take time, repetition, and, occasionally, can be wildly boring.” 

Any good coach knows this to be true. Navigating the road to success can be a painstaking process. Regardless of your chosen pursuit, it’s important to have the patience and confidence to stay the course and keep putting the work in when something threatens to pull you in the opposite direction. Reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Running With The Buffaloes, when coach Mark Wetmore tells his charges at the beginning of the cross-country season, “I don’t need to build you up. I don’t want you to leave here smashing your head against the wall. Be businesslike, patient, and methodical. Do a little head smashing every day for 100 days.”

Just let it out. 

Writing the morning shakeout is one of the highlights of my week but for so long it was just a half-baked idea that lived inside my head, screaming at me to get out. I came up with at least a million and four excuses as to why I shouldn’t open the cage until one day I finally just said “f*ck it” and posted on Twitter that it was being released into the wild. Well, here we are 43 issues and almost 2000 loyal subscribers later and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.    

There have been many inspirations for this project along the way but one of the most consistent has been The Great Discontent, a publication I’ve been following—and admiring—since its early days as an online-only series of longform interviews with various writers, artists, designers and entrepreneurs. TGD has since morphed into a print publication and podcast, and just celebrated its fifth anniversary. I enjoyed this retrospective by cofounder Ryan Essmaker, whose reflections on the launch of “this thing that had been growing inside of us” really resonated with me. “Looking back now, the decision made over five years ago to make a change and do something that we felt deep down inside of us changed our lives,” Essmaker wrote. “It’s funny how that works. So many of life’s biggest moments all boil down to one decision — one moment of saying yes or no to something in our lives.”

Follow the answers. 

Way back in Issue 19, I linked to a Tim Ferriss interview with writer Cal Fussman that I really enjoyed and highly recommend. Fussman recently returned for a second round and it’s just as good as the original, so have yourself a listen. The stories Fussman spins in this episode are incredibly interesting and well told, such as when he describes meeting his boyhood hero, Muhammad Ali. Fussman’s interviewing skills are unmatched and if you’re a writer or storyteller of any sort, you’ll take a lot away from this conversation, including gems like this one: "What you’re doing is you’re just listening to see where the answers take you," Fussman says about interviewing. "It’s the answers that are going to take you where you want to go. The questions are there just to open the doors for the answers. And so relying on one question to get to to the bottom of something is something I wouldn’t do."

That’ll do it for Issue 43. If you liked what you read here, please forward this along to a friend or blast out the web link from your social media rooftop of choice. Got a question, comment or criticism you want to share with me? Reply directly to this email or Tweet in my direction and I promise to get back to you. 

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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