Life During Lockdown: Mario Fraioli
I’ve known Mario (@mariofraioli) since I was working at the LA Marathon and he was an editor at Competitor Magazine. I think we more or less met on Twitter, but now we keep in touch regularly. I’m a huge fan of his The Morning Shakeout newsletter and podcast, and I’ve referred friends to him for coaching. Mario has a smart point of view on not only the world of running, but media and life in general. Whenever I’m in the Bay Area, or he’s in LA, we try and get together.
1. Give me some highlights and lowlights from your first month in lockdown mode.
Not to discount the severity of the situation we all find ourselves in right now, but life has become a lot simpler — and my world has gotten a lot smaller — over the past month. In a way, it’s been refreshing, and the forced pause I personally knew I needed but failed to initiate on my own. I’ve enjoyed not having as many decisions to make and getting to spend more quality time with my wife and dog has been great. At the same time, it’s hard not to feel scared and overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what lies ahead and how that will affect our lives: personally, professionally, athletically, socially, and otherwise.
2. How have you grown personally and professionally during this disruption?
I’ve had a lot more time for contemplation and journaling over the past month and that time has been incredibly eye-opening for me. Through those exercises, I am developing a renewed sense of who and what are really important to me, realizing how I want to spend my time and energy, understanding where I’ve been wasting it, and focusing more intently on what really matters in life: health, well-being, family, friends, relationships, love, empathy, environment, service, community, and connection. Professionally, things shifted pretty quickly for me with running events being cancelled, athletes having their racing schedules wiped out entirely or severely altered at best, and some sponsors pressing pause on upcoming campaigns for my newsletter and podcast. In a matter of weeks, the entire running industry got flipped on its head and it looks as if it will remain there for a while. This has forced me to think about how I’ll evolve my approach to coaching and content production so that I can best serve my athletes, readers, and listeners as we navigate this strange and challenging time.
3. Has your relationship with running and media changed as a result of being home alone with no events or in person coaching on the calendar?
I’m personally enjoying running more than I ever have in a long time, which is saying a lot given that I’ve been doing it for 22 years. As of today I’ve run for 45 days in a row, which is the longest streak I’ve had in a long time, and I feel great. It’s the foundation which I layer the rest of my day upon. I’ve developed a newfound “love of the game” that isn’t tied to a race, weekly mileage goal, meeting up with other people, and it’s rewarding in a very intimate way. I miss being on the ground coaching workouts but I’ve been encouraging the athletes I work with to use this time as an opportunity to re-evaluate their relationships with running and competition — to look beyond the weekly mileage totals, workout paces, or race results and turn the focus inward toward what the sport does for them, how running makes them feel, how it strengthens other areas of their lives — which I believe will benefit them when races return to the calendar and it’s time to train hard and compete again.
4. Can storytellers and coaches like yourself create positive change in the world during the pandemic? If so, how?
A big part of our job during the best of times is to do exactly that: inspire people to create positive change in their own lives. As storytellers and/or coaches, we have a responsibility to fulfill that role more than ever right now by encouraging resiliency, inspiring empathy, spreading hope, and creating solidarity. We do this in our communities and online through the stories and content we share, the conversations and interactions we have, and the examples we set through our work and actions — because we can write about it and talk about it all we want, but at the end of the day we’ve got to be about it too.