Marathon Surging Workouts

By Rick Morris

What! – Surge during a marathon! I know – you’ve always heard that even pacing is the best marathon strategy. It’s true that even pacing is usually your best bet for maximizing your marathon performance but when you’re competing in a marathon there are still times when you must throw in a surge or two to either pull away from or stay with your competition. If you haven’t trained your body to efficiently surge during a marathon it could cost you in your finishing position. These marathon surging workouts will help you out.

Competition isn’t the only time surging can help you during a marathon. What if you are in the final miles of your marathon and find yourself a minute or two off your goal pace? Your only choices at that point are either give up on reaching your goal or surging to make up time. Again, if you haven’t trained for marathon surges you might be in trouble.

There’s another good time to incorporate surges into your marathon that has nothing to do with your pace or competition. When you run at the same pace for mile after mile you are running using the same muscles in the same way. In the later stages of your marathon, those overused muscles become highly fatigued and carbohydrate depleted. One way to help give those overworked muscles a brief but well earned break is to surge to a higher speed. I know that sounds like it goes against all marathon training logic but it actually works. The higher speed surges will place more emphasis on your fast twitch muscle fibers that haven’t been doing that much work. It also gives you access to some additional carbohydrates that have been hanging out in those fast twitch fibers.

Here are some surging workouts for the marathon distance. I would suggest including these or similar surging training runs at least once every 10 to 14 days during your marathon training.

Marathon Madness

Run between 6 and 12 miles alternating between 3/4 mile at goal marathon pace and 1/4 mile at 5K pace. Take no recovery during this workout. This is also a very good lactate turn point training run for the marathon.

2400 Meter Pick Ups

Run 2400 meters alternating between 800 meters at goal marathon pace and 400 meters at mile pace. Take no recovery during the 2400 meter repeats. Repeat 3 to 7 more times. For your first attempt at this workout do 4 total repeats. As you progress through your training program gradually increase your number of repeats to eight.. Take no recovery during each 2400 meter repeats. Recover between each repeat with 4 minutes of complete passive rest.

Marathon Long Run Fartlek

Run 12 to 24 miles. Run the first half of your long run at easy endurance pace. Run the second half of your long run at goal marathon pace and throw in 6 to 8 surges at 5K pace. Vary the distance of your surges from 200 meters to 800 meters. There is no specific structure as far as when to throw in your surges or how far to surge. Just be sure you get in at least 6 surges. Vary the both the distance and amount of time between your surges. Finish your long run with 400 meters at the fastest pace you can maintain.