Final Surge Podcast

In the Final Surge Podcast, we interview coaches, athletes authors, and endurance industry experts to help you train with a purpose.
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Now displaying: August, 2016
Aug 31, 2016

Today we have a treat for you training enthusiast. Many of you may not know Coach Tom Schwartz, but a lot of you who read message boards know the poster Tinman who has some of the most read threads on training on the web.

Tom also is the coach of some of the best youth runners in the world including Drew Hunter who this past year broke the 4-minute mile on more than one occasion as a high school senior and 12-year old sensation Grace Ping who ran a 16:44 5k.

Tinman and I talk about how he would structure a new high school program and build up a runner if he had the program. We talk about the difference between tempo and CV runs, how he would structure a week and when would he add in spadework. Then we talk about Drew Hunter turning pro and he has a message for the youth runners in this country. Get your notebook and pen and ready, now on to the show.

1:10 How did you get your start in the running community - Schwartz took over coaching early in his high school career.

6:15 You have written some of the greatest training posts on Let’s Run. Here is the scenario. A new local high school comes to you and says we are starting a XC program, and we want you to be the coach, and you accept. What does that first year look like as far as training to build new runners? - His number one philosophy is getting your kids up to running of one hour a day and a long run of 90 minutes.

8:55 How soon after you got them running would you start working in tempo runs, and CV runs? Can you describe to our listeners the difference between what you call a CV run, and other coaches would call a tempo run? He also talks about the difference between endurance and stamina.

11:00 Once you have a good month base going with these new runners, what does a typical week look like with you?

14:10 If you have a CV day, tempo day, long run, that leaves you probably three other days of steady or recovery running, what kind of paces do you prescribe for those days?

16:10 So let’s say there is a 17:30 5k runner, he is running about 5:30/mi race pace. Are you saying on those recovery days he should be above 7:30? And is there a limit where he starts going to slow and doesn’t start getting any benefit.  - Talks about Grace Ping, the well known 12-year old who ran 16:44 for 5k.

20:42 You have stated there are dozens of kids in America who are running 9:10 who should be running 8:40 if they were trained right. Is that what you think they are doing wrong is training too hard?

22:37 So up until now we have not run faster than 10k pace with the exception of our races. So with a high school team that has their state meet the first week of November, when do you add in faster workouts? He starts his sharpening work about four weeks out. One workout example he gave for this would be doing your CV/Tempo workout and finishing with an 800 time trial.

23:57 How often would your team race?

24:20 You have interesting research on the 1600 which shows it is 82% aerobic, but after just 30 seconds it is 50/50 and after 90 seconds you are already at 93% aerobic so how should this effect our aerobic vs. anaerobic training for a 1600m runner?

26:20 Something that many people are going to have on their mind is one of your star pupils Drew Hunter. It is well known that you took over the coaching of Footlocker Champion and sub 4-minute miler Drew Hunter a few years ago, how did that come about?

29:18 You were coaching Drew from across the country, and we understand that you used Final Surge to help with that coaching, how did that process work?

31:48 This summer Drew decided to turn pro and continue working with you instead of running at Oregon, what went into that process? - We discuss the problem with being shuffled among coaches as you grow up.

36:45 You have a great website which I recommend anyone listening goes to check it out. ON there you have some great training calculators and also slide presentations you make available under the blog.

37:10 What type of message do you have for young American distance runners

Here is the thread we reference with more training information.

Aug 24, 2016

In episode 10 we get ready for the start of track at the Olympics by talking to coach Drew Wartenburg of the NorCal Distance Project. Drew coaches Kate Grace who will be running the 800 and Kim Conley who will be running the 5k in Rio. We talk about their training, race strategies, how they use Final Surge in their training and answer some questions from Twitter.

:45 How did you get your start in running?

3:40 When you started coaching what level was that at?

4:40 Then in 2014 you started the NorCal Distance Project?

5:42 You had a pretty good showing in the Olympic trials. Let’s start by talking about what Kate Grace did in the 800. What a great story this was. She ran controlled early and qualified 8th in the first round. Then in the second round, 8 make finals, and she was 6th. And then saving her best for last I believe she ran a PR in the 800?

7:25 What was the thought process on focusing on the 800 and tell us what you two were thinking going into the finals? They talked about staying safe, which if you saw the race was a wise decision.

10:00 The first lap went out quick in the finals, about a 57 first lap. Was this what you expected?

10:45 Part of being a great runner is not only being fast, but running smart. Kate seemed to do a great job kind of staying towards the back of the pack to the inside, then with about 130 left Kate really started moving, what was your thought at that point?

12:50 Drew talks about Kate’s celebration moment, or lack there of.

13:55 You talked about that hand on the knees moment, you see that at the end of most of these races, but Kate finished with a look on her face like she was ready to do it again. - Drew talks about how they prepared for that moment.

15:32 We talk 800 racing strategy. I would love to get your thoughts. Most 800 races seem to go out the first lap about 2 seconds faster than the second lap. One of my favorites races ever is the 1972 Olympics won by American Dave Wottle. The first lap, the two Kenyas are out front and Wottle was like 2 second behind 200 meters into the race. Bottle is not only in last, but a good amount behind the leader. Then Kenyans run a 52 first lap, and a 54 second lap. Just like most 800s. Wottle runs about a 53.2/52.5 I believe, almost even, slight negative split by a half second and wins in a dramatic come from behind situation. Do you think that runners could do a better job by backing off a little in the first lap or do you think they need to go?

19:15 Another athlete you had make the team is Kim Conley in the 5k. She was one of the favorites in the 10k, but then, there was a shoe incident were she lost a shoe in the race. Can you tell is what your thought process was as you were watching it?

22:40 Was it her decision to drop in the 10k or did you tell her to pull out?

24:40 In the 5k there was a group of 6 girls with 400 to go including Huddle, Houlihan, Mackey, Infeld and Kim, who are all known to have great finishes. At about 300 left things were starting to spread out, how were you feeling about her chances at that time?

27:10 When preparing for the US Trials you really need to be at your best to make the team and peak at the right time. So how hard is to hold that peak for another 6-7 weeks until the Olympics starts?

29:40 Have you talked to them about what their goals are now that they are in the Olympics?

30:50 It was recently announced that Kim is making her marathon debut in NYC in November. How are you balancing the training between the 5k now and marathon debut soon?

Questions from Twitter:

34:05 First question from @DougPetrick1 - Other than the number of reps & pace, how different are your workouts for runners that do similar events?

36:30 Do you use any lactate threshold measuring devices in your training and if so do you have any recommendations?

38:10 You are using Final Surge for your training with your athletes, how is that working for you and what do you like most about it?

41:37 Rapid fire, 5 questions in under a minute ready

Rapid Fire... 5 questions in under 1 minute
Favorite running book or blog? - Life at These Speeds by Jeremy Jackson
Current trainers you are wearing? - New Balance 880’s
Favorite race? - The next one on the schedule
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Chocolate milk followed by a good burger
Your favorite piece of running equipment that is not your shoes? - A good running hat


Drew on Twitter

Aug 17, 2016

In episode 11 we talk to coach James McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. James has built an amazing business in just a year starting from scratch and building up to over 100 clients and hiring other coaches to help him. McKirdy Trained coaches athletes who are brand new and never run before all the way up to Olympic Qualifiers. Now on to the show.

How did you get your start in running?

How did you transition to coaching?

So was your current coaching business McKirdy Trained the business you started 14 years ago or is that more recently?

I understand you coach everything from Olympic qualifiers to those who cannot run 5 mins. So what are you looking for in new clients?

What makes McKirdy trained special and different amongst the other programs out there?

Coaching large numbers and some internet clients I’m guessing one of the hardest parts can be communications and feedback. How are you using final surge to help with that?

Let’s take an average runner. What can an average runner who contacts you look to see within their own running after they have been working with you?

What does a day look like under your training such as warmup, core strength, cool downs, strides etc?

After someone has a good base and has been working with you for a while, what does a week look like as far as run structures?

What have been some of the biggest success stories you've seen recently as far as performance improvements?

James talks about the problem with so many programs out there and combing programs without a real structure you get while working with a coach.

With the client you mentioned before, those were huge improvements from a 52-year old. Did you focus on pacing and diet or what did you focus on to get those results?

On any given Saturday we can see thousands of runners at local 5k’s. What can these every day recreational runners get from a running coach?

You have huge growth in the last year, how did you grow your business so much in the last year to go from zero to over 100 clients in under a year?

Rapid Fire... 5 questions in under 1 minute
Favorite running book? - Marathon Man Bill Rogers
Current trainers you are wearing? - Asics Kayano
Favorite race? - Philly Broadstreet 10 mile
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - First Endurance Ultragen Chocolate
Your favorite piece of running equipment that is not your shoes? - Cold Roller

Reach James McKirdy
On Twitter
ON Facebook
On Instagram

Aug 3, 2016

Welcome to episode 9 of the final surge podcast. This week it is our pleasure to talk to professional runner and coach Neely Spence Gracey. Neely recently made her marathon debut and finished as the top American women in Boston. We talk about her recent coaching change, her coaching career and how she is using Final Surge to help grow her business. We also find out what she has planned for 2020.

1:10 Our first question that we always start with our guests is always how did you get your start in running? - Interesting fact, Neely was born while her father Steve Spence was running the Boston Marathon.

2: 25 You were a successful high school runner and probably could have run at just about any college, why did you decide to go to a D2 school over a D1? - Neely stayed close to home at Shippensburg University.

4:05 If you were sitting down with a classroom full of high school runners, who are deciding where to run in college, what advice would you have for them? - Neely thinks a visit to the school is important.

4:55 We know being a professional runner is not always the most lucrative career, so when you finished your college running career what was the decision process like when you decided to become a professional runner? - Neely had a unique experience by growing up around professional runners.

7:10 About a year ago you made the switch to start working with Coach Steve Magness, how is that transition going? - Neely has a unique situation where her husband works with Magness.

8:15 Most of our listeners probably know Steve from his book Science of Running. How has the training changed under Steve? - Variety in workouts is one of the biggest changes that Neely has experienced under Magness.

10:50 What is your weekly mileage and how long is your long run now? - Neely has topped out at just over 100 miles. This has changed in the last year as she has moved to marathon training.

11:35 This year you decided to make your marathon debut at the Boston Marathon where you were the top American women over running at the Olympic trials. What went into that decision? - This was not Neely’s original plan. Her original plan was to run the Trials, but things do not always go as planned.

A couple of questions from Twitter
13:25 Do you have any specific events in mind for 2020 Olympic cycle? - Neely hopes to be competing for a spot on the 2020 Olympic Team.

15:25 Do you run with strider and if so how far? - Strider is her dog who is a little over a year old.

Neely and Strider - Photo by David Bracetty.

16:50 You recently started coaching how is that going? - Neely currently has 35 clients.

18:00 Are you coaching people face to face or are you doing more internet coaching?

18:10 How are you using Final Surge in your training and your coaching? - Neely has been almost able to double her business because of the use of Final Surge.

19:30 Do you accept anyone or are you looking for a certain type of person and how would someone know if they are a good fit to work with you? - The one common factor for Neely’s clients is they are highly motivated.

20:40 If someone wanted to reach out to you and find out about your coaching services how could they best reach you?

21:20 So what is next, any fall or spring marathons coming up?
Not mentioned in this interview, but since the interview was recorded, Neely has announced she will be part of a star-studded NYC marathon program in November.


Neely with Strider, and her sunglasses
Neely with Strider, and her sunglasses

Rapid Fire… 5 questions in under 1 minute
Favorite running book or blog - Lauren Fleshman
Current trainers you are wearing - Adidas Energy Boost
Favorite race or race distance - Bolder Boulder
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink - Egg sandwich on a bagel
Your favorite piece of running equipment not your shoes - Sunglasses

You can find Neely at