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, 2018
Aug 30, 2018

How do you improve on a top 3 American place at the Chicago Marathon? We talk to NAZ Elite runner Aaron Braun about exactly that. Aaron was the leader of the 2017 Chicago Marathon at about 25k, we talk to him about what was going through his mind then. Aaron will be blogging about his 2018 training on Final Surge. Make sure you check the show notes to view the blog.

How did you get your start in running?

  • Active kid played soccer and football
  • Elementary School got 2nd place in a citywide mile race
  • Once I got into high school loved the team aspect of cross country
  • Recruited by a few D1 schools
  • Ended up at Adams State - D2 school

When did it change and you became a fan of running?

  • Mostly in college

When did you decide it possible to run as a professional?

  • My third year, but the sophomore year of running I was second at Nationals
  • Coaches planted a seed it is possible

How did you get connected with NAZ Elite and Coach Ben Rosario

  • When I was training in Flagstaff earlier we became friends
  • As he started his team we stayed in touch
  • 2016 I called him about joining the team

Was Ben's passion for a marathon a factor in choosing a team?

  • That was one of the big factors
  • We wanted to get back to Flagstaff was another factor
  • Had maxed potential at shorter races so wanted to maximize the marathon

When did your thought of retirement come in?

  • 2015 and 2016 I was injured a lot and the thought entered my mind
  • On July 4th in 2016, I did a 5k in Fort Collins and surprised myself how well I did
  • Decided to give running one more chance

You have the Chicago Marathon coming up that you blogging about on Final Surge. Last year you found yourself at the front of the pack halfway. Was that the plan?

  • No pacemakers so we thought it was a possibility
  • Was surprised how long it lasted
  • The plan was to run an even pace and get locked in

What is your goal for Chicago this year?

  • Want to improve placement and time

You can set a goal for a major race, but anything can happen. It is hard to keep improving each race. What advice do you have for age group runners who may be having a hard time dealing with not hitting PR's?

  • I had that problem early in my college career
  • Was hard when I did not PR in a season
  • Now I can look at a race and say did I give my best effort I could today based on how I was feeling

When did you start your buildup for Chicago

  • July 8th was last race of the summer
  • Took a week off and jumped back into training

What races do you have planned between now and Chicago

  • US 20k Championships

I noticed from your training log you recently did a 4-mile tempo run on the track. How often do you do those on the track vs roads or trails?

  • Very rarely
  • Was alternating 800's so pacing was easier

What has been your toughest workout this cycle?

  • 2x1mile at 4:50 with 3min rest then ten mile run alternating paces, then 2 more miles at 4:50, but ran 4:42 and 4:46

When you are doing a marathon training cycle is there a workout you like to do that gives you a gauge of your fitness level compared to the prior training cycle?

  • We use the long steady state as a barometer the last few miles we ignore pace and go by feel so we get a good gauge of our fitness based on that effort

What can the readers expect from your Chicago Marathon blogging?

  • What I am doing and the thinking of why we are doing what we are doing
  • Feedback on workouts and how I was feeling
  • Updated weekly


Final Surge 5 questions in under a minute

Favorite endurance/running book? - Matt Fitzgerald How Bad Do You Want It
Current trainers you are wearing? - Hoka Clifton, Mach and Challenger
Favorite race? - Bolder Boulder 10k
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Egg Sandwich and milkshake
Your favorite workout - 4x400 max effort with long recovery


Aaron Braun blogging about Chicago
Aaron Braun on Twitter
Aaron Braun on Instagram
Final Surge on Twitter


Aug 23, 2018

Matt Fitzgerald has had some challenging goals, but this may be the most challenging yet. Today we talk to Matt Fitzgerald about his quest to qualify for Kona after not having done an Ironman in over a decade and also about his new book which is the 80/20 Triathlon.

Last time we talked to you, you had just finished your Running Bum challenge and you were working on a book, when is that coming out?

  • 2020

Your latest challenge is called Kona or Bust, can you tell is about that?

  • Unfinished business
  • Marathon was about breaking 2:40
  • I was 23 seconds short of qualifying for Kona in my one Ironman 
  • 23 seconds were there, I could have got them

You never did another Ironman?

  • I have registered for some, but never made it to the start line
  • Injuries always come up
  • Starting to have some now
  • I have 9 more months to get ready so not rushing it

Your goal is to qualify for Kona, where are you going to need to be?

  • Doing Ironman Santa Rosa
  • Mens 45-49 age group
  • Last year was under 9:30 for the win of my age group
  • Depends on who shows up and how many in the age group
  • If I don't make it this time I will try again next year

How did you pick your race?

  • Looking to stay close to home
  • Didn't want to play a game, just knew I needed to be fit
  • Not many who can run a 2:39 marathon so I know if I can stay healthy I have a shot

Is your goal to qualify for Kona or are you looking to be competitive in Kona and compete?

  • 1998 was the first year I was at Kona to report on it
  • I was exhausted spending the day on that course
  • I swore I would never do Kona
  • It is more about qualifying as I am not awesome in heat
  • I would do the race, but with lower expectations

When you were doing the Running Bum challenge you built up to 90 miles a week, are you close to that still?

  • No, I knew the biggest mistake I could make was to keep that going
  • Smart thing was to take a step back
  • I am better not running every day that is why triathlon was so attractive

When is the last time you really trained in the pool and on the bike?

  • 2009 after the Boston Marathon was training seriously for triathlon

What was it like getting in the pool for the first time after a decade?

  • Dreadful
  • I am comfortable with water but was not training
  • Swimming so technique dependent 

The new book is your 80/20 Triathlon, what brought about this book?

  • When we mimic the training of pro's and their 80/20 we get best results
  • I wrote 80/20 running in 2014
  • Triathlons asked for a version

Is 80/20 still optimal in the pool where the impact on the body is less?

  • Swimmers, even short sprint swimmers, train at high volume and 80/20 is relevant
  • Cannot train at all high intensity because will fry yourself 

You mentioned getting stuck in the grey zone rut, want to talk about a few ways that happen?

  • This book is different than the 80/20 running
  • I put in a list of why people get caught in the rut
  • Less genetically gifted athletes our ranges are a lot smaller
  • There are 8 reasons in the book, the biggest may be the natural pace compromise 

One of the things I loved about this book is you give plans but you also it teaches you how to build plans. One you talk a lot about your zones. You talk about power meters, do you use a Stryd Power Meter?

  • It is legit, I have used it
  • I have not made it a regular part of my training, but it is a useful tool
  • Makes my job easier with some athletes I coach

Have you found since you worked with the NAZ group that you do more strength/stretching?

  • Yes I took that with me



Kona or Bust



Training Plans

Stryd Power Meter

Aug 16, 2018

This week we look at what may be the hottest thing in professional team endurance racing, the Major League Triathlon series. Welcome to episode 93 of the Final Surge Podcast. This week Daniel Cassidy the founder of the Major League Triathlon series joins us to talk about how he got the idea for creating a professional triathlon series and where he sees the growth in the future. If you enjoy this episode please head over to iTunes and rate and review the podcast and please don't forget to subscribe to the show. 

 How did you get your start in endurance athletics?

  • Started racing triathlons as a senior in high school
  • Played hockey and baseball until an injury
  • Swam/biked to rehab knee and became good

Tell us what the Major League Triathlon is?

  • As competing girlfriend was frustrated with how long it took as a spectator 
  • Saw need to take friends and family members into consideration 
  • Wanted to make it more exciting to people and grow the sport of triathlon

How does it work?

  • Mixed team relay
  • 2 men and 2 women per team
  • 300m swim, 4-mile bike, 1-mile run and tag to teammate
  • One hour and 20 minutes or less
  • One square mile or less footprint
  • Have 9 teams

So longest leg is on the bike and 4 miles, is this looped or an out and back?

  • Loop all courses 4-6 loops on bike and 3 on the run

You mentioned 9 teams, how does the season work, is there a playoff? 

  • Point system from each race
  • Last race counts for 1.5x typical points

Do you have other people participating or just professionals?

  • Started to do some other races throughout the weekend
  • Playing with other ideas to get other people involved

Is the shorter distance also done to get new people involved as it doesn't seem as intimidating?

  • Want to give racers a chance to race more
  • Shorter translate into making it easier to watch
  • Want to grow exposure for triathlon 

Like any sport, it's who is involved that makes it work or not. How has the reception been from professionals? 

  • Just about everyone who has a shot at 2020 is involved
  • Every athlete involved has a shot at making the 2020 Olympics team
  • Athletes racing love it which is causing more people to reach out

With the short races and team aspect I would think this would be attractive to TV, have you been talking to any of them?

  • Yes we have had conversations with television networks
  • It is in our future

Have you thought about doing other distances?

  • We likely won't change the distance
  • We are working on super sprint individual races

How about the weekend, is this just race day or do you have expos and exhibits?

  • Focus on race day
  • Do have expo and live music
  • Beer gardens and food trucks
  • Kid zones

How do you decide where you are doing them?

  • We have Atlantic City, Colorado, Tempe and Charlotte
  • Plan on staying in those locations but adding on other locations 

Do you think triathlons are growing as a sport or do you think it has been stagnant? 

  • In the US has leveled off some
  • Need to attract the younger audience

To last, it needs to be profitable which means you need a product which is athletes people want to see as well as sponsors. What are you doing to make it attractive to sponsors?

  • Amplifying reach with online streaming
  • 8,000 people at an event are good, but nothing like big sports games so online is important
  • Engagement rates and views are growing

When a family or friend of a professional triathlete goes to a race they have hours to spend, how did this play into your planning?

  • Community event with food trucks
  • Want vendors to be interactive not just products
  • Music

What races are left this season?

  • Sept 22nd, Tempe AZ
  • Oct 6th, Charlotte for Championship 

Final Surge 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Pass
Current trainers you are wearing? - APL
Favorite race? - 70.3 San Juan 
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Chipotle
Your favorite workout - Hour and a half long run




Aug 8, 2018

Why would a professional triathlete decide to take on a Fastest Known Time 5-day challenge of the Long Trail in Vermont? We had Alyssa Godesky on to talk about why she did it and to talk about the challenges she faced. As a professional triathlete and an ultra-marathon runner, Alyssa was no stranger to pain, but the pain of covering 273 miles and over 63,000 feet of elevation is something different. 

How did you get your start in athletics?

  • Did not do a college sport, played soccer competitively through high school
  • At Naval Academy joined Navy Marathon Team - Ran JFK 50-mile to qualify for the team
  • Transferred schools and started trail running
  • Moved to Baltimore after school and joined Baltimore Running Crew group
  • Tried triathlons and stayed with them

You race many triathlons and ultra races. How do you train for both of these at the same time and remain competitive?

  • Had years of base miles with ultra racing that can build on
  • Ironman training is harder effort training and running more endurance easy miles

What is the difference between Ironman and long Ultra on your body?

  • Early on Ironman was just finishing
  • Now impact is comparable because goes hard in swim and bike

When did you get to the point about leaving your career to pursue triathlons as a professional athlete?

  • 2009 started thinking about it
  • Started working with Hillary Biscay in 2011
  • Started getting serious about the idea in 2013
  • Jan 1, 2014, officially left the job to train and coach

What did parents and friends think of leaving a good job to go after this dream?

  • They were worried but supportive

Let’s talk about your latest adventure and your quest for a fastest known time on the Long Trail in Vermont. You just spent 5 days conquering the trail, before we get to the how, let’s star with they why?

  • Always looking for challenges
  • Was on the bucket list and wanted to get it done before the end of career
  • Always fascinated with records
  • 2011 became aware of the FKT's
  • Scouted pars of the trail in October and had doubts

How long is the trail?

  • 273 miles plus need to hike in and out so longer

Why specifically the Long Train in Vermont? 

  • Out west more elevation but east coast are more rugged so wanted to do east coast
  • Vermont in summer sounded good

What is the terrain like on the trail? 

  • Almost all single track
  • No switchbacks, straight up and down mountains
  • Elevation gain about 63,000 feet total
  • The first two days had longer climbs

What is the key to a long effort like this, are you paying attention to heart rate, pace, just how you feel?

  • How you feel
  • Much of the training was hiking
  • Trying to stay relaxed and upright

How much sleeping did you get?

  • First day 4 hours, about 17 hours total over 5 days

Anything you did to be prepared for sleep deprivation? 

  • Not really much you can do
  • More important to train self to sleep anywhere, anytime

What was the biggest struggle you had on this FKT?

  • The last day
  • Weather had made trails towards end slippery and on top of lack of sleep made it hard

Would you do another one of these again?

  • Yes, this one was supported, next time maybe do a solo

You also have your own podcast, IronWomen, what types of guests and topics do you have?

  • Started to give a voice to professional female triathletes and what they are doing
  • Third season

Final Surge 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Pursuit of Endurance 
Current trainers you are wearing? - Brooks Ghost 3
Favorite race? - Ironman Wisconsin
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Rehab 3:1 FTC
Your favorite workout - Hill Repeats





FKT Site -


Aug 2, 2018

Are you struggling to get the most out of your racing? In episode 91 of the Final Surge Podcast we talk with Shannon Thompson a sports psychology and mental performance expert at Hypo2Sport in Flagstaff where she works with professional runners and the 2x defending national cross country championship team from NAU. Shannon is going to tell you how to break down your race and get the most out of it mentally.


How did you get involved in the psychology field?

  • 3-day eventing athlete and coach
  • Rode professionally for 12 years and coached for 10
  • Could see the role the mind played in performance and training

Your running career?

  • Parents were road races and marathoners
  • Ran some as a rider
  • Got a boyfriend who was an ultrarunner

At the 2-hour marathon attempt, they asked Kipchoge how his training was going to be different. He replied it wasn’t going to be, his mind was going to be. We also know from Dovid Goggins and Navy Seal Training that when your body is done and you do a test of our muscles it shows there is plenty of glycogen left to keep going. So everyone fails before their body really does. What is it that makes some be able to push more than others?

  • Central governor theory 
  • Stress

We have known about the central governor since noakes wrote about it in, so we have had time to study it, What have we learned about if we can change our relationship with the central governor?

  • Study with faces flashed positive and negative
  • Study where coaches gave them false positive feedback
  • Mental performance plan

Let's take that false positive. If someone is struggling in a race is there anything that can be said to change it or is the athlete's performance or is it they are just having a bad day?

  • Tone matters
  • Task oriented
  • Don't freak out
  • Energy matters - Stand and speak with purpose
  • You can catch those three guys

Let’s talk about race plans and the mental game. Running is different than team sports. In most team sports, baseball, football, or even individual sports like tennis or golf you do your play or movement and then have time to think. Running or triathlon you are going and you keep going for several minutes or hours. So I would think the mental game is different. How do you come up with a mental gameplan for endurance athletes?

  • Divide into 1/3 or 1/4
  • Each section a word or focus point
  • Needs to be worked on in practice

Can have two runners on a college team who workout and live and eat together, but on race day one outperformes the other. How much of that difference could be mental?

  • Many things we do not know, we need to get to know the people involved
  • We don't try to compare athletes to each other

If you are sitting down with that runner who is struggling, what type of questions do you ask them to gauge if it is a mental block?

  • Explore past races when they were their best
  • Find patterns

Can you give us an example of how you break down your races into 1/3s?

  • We talk about things we need to do daily, the night before a race, the day of a race, warm ups etc
  • First 1/3 is usually about patience 
  • Second 1/3 is gratitude or love 
  • Final 1/3 something about them being tough self

I Heard you at the NAU camp a couple of weeks ago. You had a great story about love and how love can have an impact.  Can you share that story with our listeners?

  • Noticed from interviewing runners their best race stories usually involve love

What are some common traits you see between those who excel and those who struggle?

  • Excel - Seek out advice, humble, inclusive, more relaxed
  • They love the process 

We know you work with college and professional athletes. What do you notice the difference in ages and how things change?

  • HS athletes are harder on themselves 

We hear a lot about positive thinking. We all know this is important. But let’s look at just this last year’s Boston Marathon. Desi’s self-talk early was I don't feel good. I am going to try to help Flanagan my Olympic Team member, so her self-talk didn't seem to be great. Yet she went on to win. So what do you think happened there?

  • The desire to help her friend gave her purpose

Is there much research that shows a correlation between stress and physical ailments? 

  • Not the level of stress that impacts their health, it is the belief about their stress
  • If you believe stress is going to have an impact vs a challenge you are looking forward to, it will have a bigger impact

Books recommend?

  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
  • The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
  • Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
  • Psyching for Sports by Terry Orlick
  • Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
  • Talent Code and Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

One thing we hear a lot about these days is mindfulness can you talk about how you use and teach it?

  • Corework for brain
  • If the core is strong you stay more stable
  • Quiets noise in the brain
  • Increase brains ability to pay attention 

Final Surge 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Momentum 
Current trainers you are wearing? - Nike React
Favorite race? - Sun Run 10k
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Dense and sweet like fudge or icing
Your favorite workout - Technical downhill