A Week With The Best: Mario Fraioli

Today on A Week With The Best we have Mario Fraioli, author of one of my favorite running publications, the morning shakeout. He runs, writes and coaches in San Francisco and has given me some of my favorite tid-bits of advice while I’ve built my business here at Upper Left Distance Training. He’s an all around good guy and I am super pumped to have him on the blog this week!

Mario, Introduce yourself and a few of your biggest accomplishments.

I’m Mario Fraioli, a running coach and writer with an insatiably curious mind.

As a coach, I’ve helped runners reach their first finish lines, personal bests, Boston Marathon qualifying times, national championship titles, Olympic Trials appearances, international podiums, world championship teams, national records, and even the Olympic Games. I’ve been fortunate over the course of my own running career to train under some excellent coaches, whose influence has inspired me to help others achieve their goals.

I share my thoughts on running and other topics that interest me in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter that goes out on Tuesday mornings. From 2010-2016 I was the senior editor at Competitor magazine and I’ve worked on numerous other projects in both the running and media spaces. In 2013, I authored The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training.

As an athlete, I was a cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in Massachusetts and have raced competitively from the mile to ultramarathon distances, with personal bests ranging from 4:09 in the mile to 2:28 for the marathon.


How and when did you start running?

I started running cross country my junior year of high school to improve my endurance for basketball. That was 20 years ago and I really haven’t stopped since. Before that, as an eighth-grader, I ran my school’s “Walk For Technology”—the idea was to raise money for a new computer lab by completing as many laps as possible around the schoolyard in an hour (we solicited family and friends to give us a set amount of money for each lap completed)—because there was a trophy for the person who could do the most laps. I figured I had a better shot to win the prize if I ran the entire time—and I did.


What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?  

Not letting it take over my life. It has at various points, and in retrospect, running wasn’t super enjoyable during those times because I was so results-driven that I failed to appreciate the process and find joy in it. Fortunately I’ve been able to overcome that, but it wasn’t an easy road.


Your biggest accomplishment ?

Taking what I’ve learned through my own journey as an athlete and using those lessons as a coach to help others navigate similar paths, overcome the same obstacles, and/or achieve things they never thought possible.


You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

I’ve never run professionally or made a living off of appearance fees, prize money or sponsorships. My full-time job is coaching runners and writing about running/related topics.


Describe a day’s general diet for you:

Pre-Run: Usually a glass of water, small cup of black coffee and a bar of some sort. Before harder workouts or long runs, I wake up a little earlier and have some Generation UCAN in addition to the above.

Post-Run: Medium size bowl of cereal (Trader Joe’s Honey Nut Os) with whole milk; breakfast burrito (2 scrambled eggs, rice, spinach, salsa); banana

Lunch: Sandwich: 2 slices of rosemary olive oil bread with turkey, provolone cheese, half an avocado and a pinch of salt. Bag of Kettle brand Sea Salt potato chips

Snack: Small bag of trail mix and a piece of fruit (pear, peach, apple, orange or whatever is in season)

Mid-afternoon: Small cup of black coffee

Dinner: Fish, chicken or beef (always some sort of protein), green salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, side or rice or quinoa and roasted vegetables

Post-dinner: 3-5 dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and a 2-4 squares of dark chocolate

What’s a typical training week like for you? An example from your training log:

Monday: Easy Run: 30 minutes or OFF

Tuesday: Easy Run: 60-75 minutes + drills/strides

Wednesday: Workout (intervals, hills, tempo or some combination thereof): 75-90 minutes

Thursday: Strength Training at the gym (60:00) followed by an Easy Run (60:00)

Friday: Easy Run: 60:00 + drills/strides

Saturday: Workout (intervals, hills, tempo or some combination thereof) or Long Run: 2:00-2:30 w/intervals, tempo or progression mixed in

Sunday: Long Run: 2:00-2:30 easy if did workout on Saturday or Easy Run (60-75:00) if did harder long run on Saturday


What is your favorite workout?

It depends on the day but I love a session of 8 x 800m on the track at ~5K pace with 2:00 recovery between reps. Another favorite is a 4-mile tempo run followed by a set of hard, fast hill repeats (8 x 30-60 seconds with 1-2 minutes recovery between reps)


Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?

Set a goal and forget it. Focus on the process. Work on becoming a better, stronger athlete in addition to becoming a better runner. But most of all, enjoy it! If you’re not having fun, find a different activity.


Thanks for joining us, Mario!

If you’re a pro runner or industry pro and would like to be featured in a Week With The Best, please shoot me an e-mail at upperleftdt@gmail.com