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: July, 2018
Jul 26, 2018

Today we welcome professional runner Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beast Team. Garrett was a 9-time All-American at Standford before turning professional. Garrett won the 2014 and 2015 Edinburgh Cross Country short course races before beating Mo Farah in the world championships in 2016. We catch up with Garrett about what his plans are for the future and talk to him about a time he almost took out a rabbit in a race. 

How did you get your start in running?

  • Running across the gym in kindergarten and lead to stitches in forehead
  • Was always outdoor and active growing up
  • Middle school my father pushed me away from football so tried cross country running

You ran for a great program in high school did that help keep you interested?

  • Was exposed to high school team while in middle school

There are many successful runners who came out of Minnesota and many of them seemed to spend a lot of time cross country skiing in the winter, did you do much skiing?

  • Did almost all skiing in winter
  • Does keep up fitness, but grow upper body mass and lose a little in the legs

You had a great career at Stanford and I’ve heard in your college career your coach had some interesting ways to work on overspeed work?

  • Used a Vespa and attacked long bungee cord on the back and around our waist and would pull you around the track 
  • Seems crazy now, but made us run fast from 100-400 meters 

When did you know that you wanted to try your hand at professional running?

  • Didn't even realize it was a thing until I was in college
  • Junior year started thinking how it could happen
  • Junior year went and did a few races in Europe which exposed me to it

What was it like running in Europe, how was it different?

  • Meets are like 10-hours in college while over there it is more of a spectator event and entertainment so meets are just a few hours
  • Really physical 

Sounds like there is a model of how to make track and field a success with the public, why don't you think we do this in the US?

  • Trying, some races do, some mile races 
  • College meets too long
  • Track Town did a great job with this too

First time you broke 4 minutes in the mile?

  • At U of Washington. My brother was running at the Junior Cross Country Championships at the same time in Boulder. I was super excited and at the same time my brother was running and won the US Junior race.

You are now running with Danny Mackey and Brooks Beast Team, how did that connection happen?

  • Was running with friends, but they started joining other teams so ended up doing a lot of solo time
  • Liked the resources they had available, much like a college team

Early in your career, you focused more on the 1500, then you started with some 5ks but this year you ran a good 10k at the Payton Jordan. Where do you see yourself focusing going forward?

  • Getting more used to the longer grinding workouts/runs
  • Still, enjoy the 1500, but I am turning into more of a 5/10k guy
  • Still unfinished busienss in the 5k and just starting with the 10k

You have had a lot of success running longer distances in cross country, how different is it racing those bad weather cross contry races vs a controlled track race?

  • XC you need to change your efforts a lot more like a fartlek
  • XC races go by a lot quicker, different things to think about
  • Track try to turn off brain

If money and everything were the same would you make a living on the track, roads or xc course?

  • Cross Country
  • Love the team aspect even on national teams

You have mentioned a few times about the mental aspect of of racing, how much time do you spend working on your mental game?

  • The mental game is huge
  • Need to work on it in practice
  • Being confident in training goes along with it

Not sure how much you pay attention to Let’s Run, but One of the posts from January this year asked who is most jacked Chris Solinsky vs. Garrett Heath vs. Ben True. So how much do you lift and work on strength?

  • We did not lift in college hardly at all
  • Most of that came from cross country skiing and trying to get rid of some of that upper body weight
  • With Brooks and I spend 45 mins 2x a week, but more minimalist lifting than others on the team

One thing a lot of casual observers of our sport may not realize is when you run for a team, it is not like running for a professional football or baseball team with a huge salary. What is that relationship like with your sponsors?

  • Spend a lot of time in Brooks office
  • Coming out of college was blind to how it worked
  • Talked to a lot of agents in the day right after finished NCAA
  • The problem was it was in 2009 downturn was not any money
  • Really tough sport because the market is limited
  • Also, run for Roka Sunglasses

Final Surge round, 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Running with the Buffaloes 
Current trainers you are wearing? - Brooks Glycerin 
Favorite race? – Edinburgh Cross Country 
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? – Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Your favorite workout – Long Tempos



Jul 19, 2018

This week we bring you a "Best Of" episode with Dr. Stephen Seiler and our discussion on polarized training.

Jul 12, 2018

Welcome to episode 89 of the Final Surge Podcast where today we welcome 2x defending NCAA XC Champ Coach Mike Smith to the show. Mike has a unique background working for years alongside Jack Daniels before going into college coaching. We talk to Mike about his coaching philosophies. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss future episodes and share it on Twitter or Facebook.


How did you start running?

  • Played a lot of sports when youth

How did you move from running at Georgetown to Coaching?

  • After college tried running some longer distances
  • Taught school for a few years then moved to Flagstaff to try training for a marathon 
  • Moved to Flagstaff and lived there for 6-years

Was there any coaching between when you left college and the head coaching job at Georgetown?

  • Worked with Dr. Jack Daniels and learned sports science
  • Coached some athletes with Daniels and some club coaching
  • When Georgetown opened up it seemed like a natural fit

What was it like working with Dr. Daniles

  • At first, it was overwhelming, such a wealth of information
  • Learned something through his teaching and stories every day
  • The inquiry of why
  • Asked how and why all the time
  • Unofficial Ph.D. course

You had 4 years at Georgetown with great results. When you heard Eric Heins was stepping down at NAU what was your thought process when you were considering changing jobs?

  • I am from the east coast but had my time in Flagstaff with Daniels
  • New that if NAU job ever opened it would be a hard decision
  • Never really thought it would be so soon
  • Leaving Alma-Marta was not an easy decision 
  • Loved Flagstaff and looked forward to moving back

Took NAU first-year assistant then took over for xc champ any pressure?

  • The first year worked with Eric that was the first national championship
  • A chance to be an observer and work with Eric for a few months was amazing
  • Won the championship in '16
  • Pressure doing it again when on own the next year was something I had seen before as I took over Georgetown as a defending national champion
  • I learned from the first experience 

We focus on the championship race, but 99% of what you do is not at that race it is in practice day-to-day. Can you tell us what you are looking for in practice and what your interactions are like?

  • Skilled coaching is done way before the meet itself
  • Insecure coaching shows at the meet
  • Uncertainty comes out during meets if did our job correctly we are sure we are ready
  • Athletes should be able to make own decisions at the moment
  • Good coaching preparing them to make decisions
  • In practice, we work on those things

What do you think of race plans for your athletes?

  • Early on I would draw up race plans that were complicated
  • Easy for us to come up with the plan, we don't run the race
  • As soon as something happens to plan, an athlete's mind goes to the wrong place
  • The athlete needs to just be able to react based on what is going on around
  • Coaching happens before the race

Not everyone is going for the win as an individual, can you talk about winning the race within the race, what does that mean to you?

  • They will be in situations where they won't have control, they need to understand their place within the race
  • We talk about what it looks like to be in 60th and doing your job
  • What it looks like to be in 81st when you are trying to get to 71st
  • Prepare for the war and not the dream that won't ever come
  • Stay calm during your war

Your culture seems to be of a fun team where the top racers are all competitive, are they as competitive with each other in practice as they are in a big race and is that culture dictated by the athletes you have and will change with the athletes or something you instill in the team?

  • In our program, we teach what healthy competition is
  • We show up to practice to make each other better
  • We push the best out of each other
  • We have gratitude for our best competition 

Tyler Day is one of your top runners and a very interesting story for me. Tyler went to high school less than a mile from my house and I watched him compete in high school. He had that great personality then too. And while Tyler was a good high school runner, I don't think anyone ever looked at him and said he would be a national all-American in college. What do you contribute to the huge jump Tyler made at NAU?

  • There are no measurements for belief and will in a lab, cannot measure his will and belief
  • Moves well within interaction with the ground
  • Some people there is no way to see when something is coming

You said on another podcast that you thought one of the issues you see in training is over-prescription of VO2 work. Can you talk about your training philosophy.

  • We have too many coaches who stay inside the box
  • Outside the box thinking means you are being creative and looking for improvement
  • VO2 is an example of insecure coaching, we don't always need to make things harder 
  • Use races as part of a workout day if racing frequently 

How does your training differ from Georgetown to NAU because of the altitude?

  • From an aerobic standpoint there is some benefit 
  • There are some disadvantages to recovery

Let’s say you were a high school coach living at sea level in a very flat area, and every year the high altitude teams came down to the state meet and over performed, how you would target your planning to offset the advantage the altitude teams have?

  • Some of the best runners in the world don't train at altitude
  • Altitude team may have some advantages, but not a magic pill 
  • You need to know they are beatable 
  • Altitude is a great teacher in suffering, you need to practice discomfort 

How does you periodization work. Are you like a lydiard with pretty strict training periods or are you more of the new school where you touch on everything all year with small variations?

  • Look at NCAA, people who are running great in September, but after taper feel terrible
  • Is there evidence that tapering really works or do we just think it does
  • We need athletes ready to go, but we need to look at it differently and not cut so much
  • The nervous system has to be firing, look at sprints and not pulling back too much
  • We keep volume and intensity high

What are you looking for in runners who may want to run at NAU?

  • Men's team is obviously strong and asked about men all the time, but women's team coming on strong
  • Women's program has me motivated and within 2-3 years we will be a force in the NCAA's
  • We have a great culture and recruiting like crazy
  • Men want to come and compete for team titles, for women we want people who want to build something
  • We want people who are fired up about being a team and every day show up and work
  • We want people who want to be part of a team, not just individuals 
  • People who understand mechanics are a big part of what we do
  • We don't sell, we want people who want to be at NAU 

You talk about moving with the ground, I know you run a summer camp for high school runners, is this something that athletes?

  • We run a yearly camp once a year
  • We show healthy ways to go about running
  • Movement piece is crucial 
  • Drills need correction of drills, do them right or don't do them
  • Teach build the engine and masters of movement 

Final Surge round, 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Once a runner
Current trainers you are wearing? - Ultra Boost
Favorite race? – Western States 100
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? – Mike and Rhonda's Lumberjack Special
Your favorite workout – 


NAU Running Camp
NAU on Twitter 

Jul 5, 2018

Welcome to episode 88 of the Final Surge Podcast where today we welcome Olympian runner Ruben Sanca. Ruben ran for Cabo Verde in the 2011 World Championships in the marathon and the 2012 Olympics in the 5k. Ruben won 2017 New England Grand Prix Road Racing title and was elected U.S.A. Track & Field New England Male Runner of the Year. We talk to Ruben about how he came to American at age 12, his running career and about his newer company, The Lowell Running Company.

Ruben can you start out telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got started running?

  • Born in Cabo Verde
  • Came to the US at 12 and in middle school teacher asked who wanted to sign up for cross country
  • Ran in HS and recruited to run at U Mass Lowell

So you came to the US at the age of 12. I don’t know a lot about Cabo Verde besides it’s off the coast of West Africa. Did you speak English? Tell us what it was like for a 12-year-old to come here?

  • Dual citizenship
  • From tiny island 
  • We came here for health reasons and education
  • Was hard to get here, took all our money
  • Came here on Green Card Visa

Was running big there or something you didn't discover until you got here?

  • Soccer is big there not running
  • I played soccer when I was here too
  • I was a very good soccer player and had to make a decision in 11th grade as soccer and XC were in the same season
  • If quit soccer to run, I had to make sure I took it very seriously

You ran at U Mass Lowell then you went on to compete at the World Championship in 2011 in the marathon and the London Olympic Games in the 5k in 2012. What was it like competing in the Olympics?

  • I was able to represent Cabo Verde
  • My college coach trained me for it and came with me

What is your running goals now?

  • Training for 2020 Olympics in the Marathon 
  • Run many local road races but big focus is on the marathon

You are working full time, you train 100 miles a week and you manage the Lowell Running Company. How do you fit it all in?

  • I get up early
  • I use technology to save time

So one of the ways I first started noticing what you were doing was from the activity online with the Lowell Running Company. Can you tell us what the LRC is and how that started?

  • Started 2016 as I was coaching a few local people
  • Partner with Bay State Marathon to help people run BQ times
  • The goal of LRC was to be a full-service coaching firm
  • Training plans or custom training plans to fit around their schedule

Do you do group runs or is it all virtual?

  • We run clinics every 4-5 weeks to answer questions
  • We have group runs for long runs once a week

Is your coaching all in person or do you virtual coaching too?

  • We do both 
  • We do training for other races too
  • We track the goals of each runner and their results

Do you work with mostly marathoners or do you work with others?

  • Work with 5k-marathon
  • Specialize in half and full marathon
  • Runners are a mix of I want to finish and those who are more experienced

How are you using Final Surge in your coaching?

  • Love it to see what the athlete does 
  • I get notifications on my phone for specific athletes and go through all the athletes weekly
  • Use the messaging often in the app through my email
  • Great for busy people to make it easy as they get their text message of the workout or look at their calendar on the phone

Final Surge round, 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book?  Lore of Running by Tim Noakes and for enjoyment: Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear
Current trainers you are wearing? -   New Balance 880’s
Favorite race? – Boston Marathon
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? – Sirloin steak with sweet potatoes and Endurex R4 Endurance Formula
Your favorite workout – 4xmile at 5k pace for track and for marathon 3x3mi at marathon pace w/ a mile recovery at 95% marathon pace. This is one of the standard marathons workouts I do at the beginning of every marathon block.

Lowell Running Website
Sanca Foundation
Facebook Page
Twitter Account