It was raining pretty good out and when it wasn’t raining it was super humid out there. I stuck to the treadmill although I wanted to get outside. I felt pretty good overall today and refreshed.
Last Thursday I had my worst workout to date running 7 miles at race pace. I know I’ll have those days and by now know that not having a great workout 11 weeks from race date isn’t going to make or break the race. Either way it was still a disappointing workout.
Having said that, after 26 easy miles Friday-Sunday today’s workout proved to be much more positive. Saturday and Sunday’s runs were each 10 mile days at an easy pace.
Both days I purposefully tried to go out super slow and controlled, aiming for negative splits with every mile, closing out the run around 7:30’s to finish. Both days I successfully carried out my daily plan, and the 7:30’s didn’t feel very difficult after 8-9 miles. The last 3 miles both days were sub-8’s, increasing my ability to overcome my personal mental barriers.
Negative splits are an essential part of training/racing. When I first began running I just thought you should lace up your Mizunos, run your heart out, and hope that you could make it back while gasping for every bit of oxygen your lungs could take in. After all, what would the point be of running if you weren’t completely exhausted afterwards?
In hindsight, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Running your fastest miles at the beginning of your workouts tire you out and make those last few miles ridiculously difficult to complete as your breathing suffers and your quads are worn out. Running on fumes couldn’t be a more accurate description of the way you feel when running positive splits.
In every race I’ve run, researched, and every elite runner I’ve studied in no case has a person PR’d or set a record via positive splits ie running 2 hours on the front 13.1 and 2:10 on the back 13.1. If you want to successfully PR you must concentrate on going out slow and killing the back half.
I can assure you through my experience that negative splits are the way to go. I ran positive splits during the Newport marathon (my worst marathon, 1:45/2:10) and negative splits at Big Sur (a PR, 1:51/1:44).
Benefits of Negative Splits
One of the biggest benefits to running negative splits is the mental strength you gain late in the race. In Newport I might have passed 2 people on the back half, the rest passed me! At Big Sur, I was passing people left and right. Knowing that you have more in the tank as other people are fading is a huge boost to your confidence, rather than hanging on for dear life as others zoom past you with ease.
Another benefit of negative splits is that you’ll likely be tight at the start of the race, so taking it slow to start will allow your muscles to warm and loosen up. Taking a few miles at 10-20 seconds slower than race pace, then hitting your stride and settling in at race pace until you reach the 20 mile mark when, depending on how you’re feeling you can maintain that race pace or put the pedal to the metal and pick off those who are hitting the wall!
Negative splits take practice, patience, and trust in yourself. It’s doubtful that running all of your training runs at one pace and then trying to turn the “negative split switch on” for your race will prove successful. You must practice negative splits if you want to run your race that way.
At the beginning of your runs most of the time you will feel fresh and ready to “win the run.” You need to be able to harness this initial surge of energy and save it for later in your run as you continue to run each mile faster than the last.
You’ll see zero success if you don’t trust the process. There’s a reason why the past 3 World Record holders, and one who’s run the fastest recorded time, in the marathon have run mostly negative splits. Running 1 second per mile slower on the back half doesn’t qualify as positive splits in my book, I’ll call those equal splits.
2003 – Paul Tergat – 1st Half – 1:03:04 2nd Half – 1:01:51
2011 – Patrick Makau – 1st Half – 1:01:43 2nd Half – 1:01:55
2011 – Geoffrey Mutai – 1st Half – 1:01:58 2nd Half – 1:01:04 (Not recognized, point-to-point course)
2013 – Wilson Kipsang – 1st Half – 1:01:34 2nd Half – 1:01:49
They knew that negative splits were the recipe for success and they stuck to the game plan. If you look closer at Kipsang’s back half, he was 9 second ahead of Makau’s previous record. Kipsang actually fell 20 seconds behind Makau’s pace at the 35k (21.75 mi) mark. Kipsang closed in fashion, finishing his last 7k 15 seconds faster than Makau, an incredible 35 second swing.
Regardless of the history lesson, we can agree that if the best runners in the world are focusing on negative splits, it’s a pretty good indication that us lesser humans should too.
Date & Time: 8/4 @ 4pm
Workout: Easy 8 Miles
Sleep: 11p-6a = 7 Hours
Location: Treadmill Weekly Mileage: 8 of 56