Focus On The Negative Split In Training And Racing

Raise your hand if you regularly negative split a race? If you're reading this and you aren't sure what the definition of a negative split is: 

Negative Split: Running the first half of a race or workout slower than the second half.

I'm hard pressed to remember the last time I negative split a race. That is a huge yet truthful (and painful) confession... I totally go into a race with a clear plan of execution and for a marathon, I always follow my coach's plan/advice/instructions very closely. Yet, something always happens that I end up slowing down the second half of the race. Heat, hills, just plain tired - you name it, I have a reason for positive splitting a race. I will say that the last two consecutive Boston Marathons that I raced, I did run the first half exactly where I was supposed to be - but in both cases, the extreme weather was a big factor in slowing down the second half of the race. This training cycle, I am aiming to fine tune all the things that I know about running and make the execution better, sharper, finely tuned. The biggest obstacle is starting a race slower than I know I am capable and then turning it on the second half of the race. I have dreams about it, I think about it during a workout, I am practicing it and I want to challenge you to do the same thing (practice it - you don't have to dream about it ;0)
It doesn't matter how advanced you are in your running, a negative split will make the race experience more enjoyable and there is a much better chance of achieveing a PR.

Tired face, but I negative split the workout!

Three Ways To Practice The Negative Split In Training And Racing

1. Trust The Training
Whether you are self coached or under the tutelage of a coach, you have to truly trust the training. Know that you have put in the hard work, tapered well and your body is ready to handle to challenge of racing. Trusting your training also means that you can start the race a bit slower and know that you will have the strength to pick up the speed in the second half of the race and then put down the hammer in the final miles.

2. Practice 
If you want to get better at something, you have to practice. The best advice is to muddle your way through it during your training runs. So many times I do this on easy run - it's so easy to do after a hard workout. Your body is tired and recovering, so you start out easy and then the body gets warmed up and by the end of the recovery run, you are going a little bit faster at the end (but not too much, because we are running the easy runs EASY.)
This applies in a workout as well. For instance, if the workout in an interval workout, start the reps on the easier side and then build from there.

3. Hold Yourself Back
Many times in a race, we are excited, well rested and ready to go. The runners around you are excited and when the gun goes off, you want to stay or follow that pack of runners on your level - even if they are starting faster than your plan. Don't do it!! I repeat from experience, Do. Not. Fall. For. It.
I guarantee, if you stick to the race plan, at some point you will reel them in and while you are cruising by ready to take on the last part of the race, they will have their tongue hanging out. I've been on both sides and you definitely want to be on the cruising side.

Have you mastered the art of the negative split?

Share your secrets and what goes through your mind during the beginning of a race?

Do awesome things.


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