Many runners start a race running too fast and pushing too hard. Finding the right pace for the first half of a race, whether you are running a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon or ultra-race, you need to find your right pace to avoid struggling, slowing down or even having to quit the race. It is very common to see runners sprint at the beginning, and keep pushing because of high adrenaline levels, trying to keep up your faster runners. They get halfway into the race and are trying to hang on, and get closer to the end struggling and trying to survive. Finding your ideal pace according to your body and training history will support your stamina, energy and endurance until the finish line. Some runners can maintain a good steady pace from the start to the finish, but that is not very common. A good racing plan to be able to push, feeling strong to the finish line is to focus on “negative splits”.
What are Negative Splits?
They might sound technical, but the concept of negative splits is very simple. You run the first half of your race slower than the second half. The reason why negative splits work is that our body needs a 1km-4km (depending on the distance) to warm up properly. After our body is warmed up, the muscles are charged, the joints are lubricated and the endorphins start boosting the body and brain. If you’re able to conserve some energy during the first part, you will have strong energy left for the second half of the race. For Ultra races, running a pace that is too fast in the first half will affect your whole energy system, muscle fatigue and mental fatigue, making your body crash and having to DNF.
How to Train for Negative Splits?
Negative splits during easy short or easy long runs- On the days running an easy run, in a comfortable pace, once you get to the last 2km-5km (depending on the distance) start running at a moderate effort. This will train your body and mind to remember how it feels to finish a run faster than when you started.
Negative splits workouts- The best way to train for negative splits is to practice them during single-speed shorter runs (moderate pace). On the second half of the run, pick up the pace, which forces you to run harder when you’re fatigued.
Predict your race timing goal- By figuring out your race timing, you can calculate and organize your race pace, so you can make sure you don’t run too fast the first half by keeping track of your pace. This will allow you to save some energy for the second half.
Be confident- It can be challenging to start picking up a pace towards the finish line, increase your mental toughness by reminding yourself how strong you are and make sure you smile so you can finish feeling good and happy!
Train Well, Eat Right, Feel Great!