Surges: An Effective Race Day Running Strategy

One of the most useful tips I received several years ago was focused around getting out of a physical or mental funk during a race. The half and Full Marathon can feel long. There are points in the race where you feel like the end is far away or you are just lost in the middle of the race somewhere; the strat line buzz has faded, and the final push is quite near enough yet. Your mind may wander, your legs might feel heavier than normal, or your mind might be trying to convince you that you have made a terrible decision signing up for this race.

To break this up, I throw mini surges into my race. Nothing crazy, just a 15-30sec boost before settling back into my normal pace. It’s not a sprint, not quite a stride, just a little pickup. It’s not long enough to fatigue you or cause your Heart Rate to elevate and remain elevated, just a quick boost. Your stride length changes, your legs switch up their rhythm and your mind sort of wakes up and is like ‘Whoa, something new is happening, let’s check out what crazy stuff is going on this time.” I exit the surge and feel like I’ve hit reset and I find that it really helps during my races. For those of you that are set on your pace, this might be hard to break from your pacing schedule, but I recommend giving it a try.

I don’t have a set schedule for when I throw in these surges, it’s just based on feeling. Maybe once every 3-4miles in the middle portion or back end of my race depending on the race distance. I recommend giving it a try during a couple of your runs between now and race day to see how it feels and if it’s something you might want to try too. At worst, if things just don’t go to plan on race day, it’s another tool you can use to help you get across that finish line!

Flow Motion Athlete using a surge to help race performance.

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