March 29, 2016 | Issue 20
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the morning shakeout by mario fraioli
Life motto or new tagline for The Morning Shakeout?

Good morning! It’s crazy to think this is the 20th straight Tuesday that I’ve published The Morning Shakeout. I had no idea what to expect when I first launched this last November but I do know that I LOVE working on it each week, even if it’s caused me to burn midnight oil by the barrel on occasion.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts on various topics that affect us all in different ways, along with links to articles, podcasts and other things I find interesting. I’ve been blown away by the (mostly) positive emails, Twitter shoutouts and social shares—thank you for those and please keep them coming! 

For new subscribers and readers, welcome, and feel free to waste the rest of your day rummaging through the archives after you finish this issue. 

What makes your fire burn?

As a coach of competitive runners, one of the most important things I try to learn about the athletes I work with is what lights them up every day. It’s not always immediately obvious, but over time, with a keen eye and an appreciation for differing motivations, I’m better able understand the passion behind what they do. In other words, I try to uncover the kindling that got their fire going and continually learn more about the logs that keep it burning. There are athletes who carry chips on their shoulders and feel like they have something to prove, whether it’s to themselves or someone who may have doubted them along the way. On the flipside, there are some who are trying to escape something and others who are motivated by forces (or causes) greater than themselves. And many runners just want to see how fast, how far or how close to the edge they can go—they’re always trying to one-up themselves, a perpetual personal challenge or ongoing pursuit of achievement. Passion is a powerful, complex and sometimes messy emotion. Brad Stulberg did an excellent job covering this topic recently for Outside magazine. “And while extreme passion enables breakthrough performances and storied careers, it can also come at the expense of health, family, and friends,” Stulberg writes. “As the climber Jimmy Chin once told me, ‘Mozart’s life may not have been considered ‘healthy,’ but his pursuit of excellence benefited generations of people.’ Wherever it may come from, passion is a great blessing, but one that should also be carefully handled.” Of course, this lesson is applicable to a number of areas outside of athletic and/or professional pursuits. Spend some time trying to better understand and appreciate the fire that powers you (or those you coach) to go after your (or their) goals and learn how to best stoke that passion over time so that it continues to burn without getting out of control.

+ On a tangential note, watch this video for highlights of a recent performance that might as well have been ripped straight from Matt Fitzgerald’s book How Bad Do You Want It? Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor was trampled at the start of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in the U.K. on Saturday, got up and weaved his way through a thick mass of citizen runners to rejoin the lead pack—he hit the mile marker in a silly 4 minutes and 15 seconds—and went on to run away from the field and successfully defend his world title in a few ticks over 59 minutes. I’m still shaking my head while enjoying the uniquely Kenyan commentary from the YouTube video I linked to above. “Kamworor had a torrid start, falling to his knees after the gun, but he recovered sufficiently to link up with the leading pack,” and “After half an hour it was down to Karoki, Kamworor and Tola of Ethiopia—10 minutes later the Kenyan duo proved to be too clever for Tola, dropping him in fine style” were my two personal favorites. 

Do stories that some people care a lot about.

I’ve written about BuzzFeed in recent issues, giving mention to founder Jonah Peretti's vision for the company and explaining how they’re rethinking the way audience engagement gets measured. It’s a fascinating operation and in many ways they’ve become the paradigm for what a modern-day media company needs to do in order to not only keep its head above water, but thrive in an ever-changing online environment. So, it was with great interest that I listened to this recent Longform podcast with BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, a former political reporter who has been heading up (and strengthening, arguably) the site’s editorial since he took the reigns in late in 2011. “I also think that the way the internet is structured is deeply different from the way a print publication is structured,” Smith says in the podcast. “If you have a magazine or a newspaper, you spend a lot of time thinking about your sort of median reader, like maybe your median readers are women who are 37 to 40 in a metro areas with an income of X who are professionals. And if you’re big metro newspaper, you’re thinking about the educated professionals in your metro area or whatever it is and I think when you’re online, each story is a magazine. Each story is its own publication, each story has its own audience and if you wanna reach a mass U.S. audience, which we certainly do, you don’t reach people necessarily by finding the lowest common denominator. Sometimes you reach them by finding the thing everybody has in common—everybody is outraged by certain kinds of abuse, everybody cares about cute animals….but the other way, which is something that isn’t available to print publications, is you do stories that only some people care a lot about.” For more on how Smith operates his operation, check out this email he sent to his team in 2014 clearly outlining a mission of diversity and an aim of reaching a wider range of readers. 

"Stay on the f*cking bus!"

I really enjoyed this post from James Clear on committing to consistency, embracing the grind of doing your work and demonstrating a willingness to revisit, rethink and revise whatever it is you're working on in order to produce something great. It's geared toward photographers, writers and other "creators" but the central lesson is applicable to everyone, regardless of your chosen pursuit. The main message of the article centers around Arno Rafael Minkkinen's "Helsinki Bus Station Theory" metaphor, which I think you'll enjoy. "Any creator who tries to move society forward will experience failure," Clear writes. "Too often, we respond to these failures by calling a cab and getting on another bus line. Maybe the ride will be smoother over there. Instead, we should stay on the bus and commit to the hard work of revisiting, rethinking, and revising our ideas." Sound familiar? In a world where we've been conditioned to drop what we're doing and change directions if we don't see immediate results, Clear's post is a good reminder that the road to success isn't always smooth—it's important to "stay on the f*cking bus" and make the necessary tweaks along the way. 

Know your limits—and watch what you eat!

Inadequate preparation and unrealistic expectations amongst marathoners are apparently global epidemics, as evidenced two Sundays ago at a race in Qingyuan, China. Here are the key stats: 12,000 medical treatments (including 10,000 muscle spasms and 1,700 sprains), 23 ambulance rides and 17 hospitalizations. “Running a marathon is not like going to the farmer’s market; it’s not for everyone. These people should know their limits,” wrote one user of China’s Weibo social network. In related news, fruit-scented soaps don’t make for very good energy bars.

That’s a wrap on Issue 20. What would you like to see more (or less) of each week? Let me know by replying to this email or engaging me on Twitter

Thanks for reading, 


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