No, I’m not referring to some military campaign or Tsunami, it is however a favorite word of mine when forcing key efforts in early-season training. If you’re lucky enough to experience the cattle prod as one of my Run on Dirt coaching athletes, then you are all to familiar with this technique.
For many this is no longer early season, rather it falls into a pre-competitive or competitive training phase. However, for those of us in Tahoe looking out the window at the 6-8” of fresh snow, our regular runs on dirt have once again been delayed. That’s not to say our training won’t happen, it’s just different. Whether you’re in a base development phase or geared up for competition “the surge” is a great tool.
The surge exists in various forms, most famously as a type of fartlek. However, I opt for shorter bursts of intensity with lower overall work intensity. So, here’s how it works: Your coach sends you out for an easy hour run but includes something like “plus six 10-20 second surges. What the heck does that mean?
During your hour-long run, accelerate from your talking pace to your best early season perfect form sprint. Specifically, only run as fast as you can to maintain proper technique. This could mean you’re only accelerating to 80% of your best 10km effort. That is fine. It’s better to run a bit slower than compromise proper form.
Now this gauge of time: it’s truly on feel. It’s not meant to exhaust or generate excess fatigue. Its just waking up your muscles from the slow movements they’ve been doing. Your muscle fibers need to be reminded to fire quicker. It’s that simple.
The terrain can be varied, but fire roads or forgiving trails are also good. As you become comfortable with the accelerations then executing these efforts on rocky trails and climbs increase the benefits exponentially.
The benefits are great. And best of all, when our club Tuesday speed work begins, you’ll have a leg up on those that have not been throwing surges into their workouts.
Two variations of the surge include: post run strides or pick ups. These I like to save for a bit later in the training cycle. In the meanwhile, get out there and wake up those running muscles.