When Ronaldo da Costa broke the marathon world record at Berlin in September 1998, he justified a racing tactic I’ve promoted for a long time. Da Costa ran negative splits, which means he finished the second half of the race faster than the first half–a full 3 minutes faster, in fact.
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to run like da Costa. Anyone can and should run negative splits. Unfortunately, most runners don’t. Instead, they start in a near sprint, hang on through the middle and resort to a survivor’s shuffle at the end. In contrast, those who opt for negative splits patiently run a bit slower for the first third of a run, pick up the pace in the middle and finish with strength and speed.
The reason this works is because it can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, your muscles are charged, your joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood your system. You’ll find yourself running faster without feeling any more effort.
While even 5-K racers can benefit from this negative-split technique, marathoners will find it even more beneficial.
Trust the method. Many people are so used to charging out and then gradually slowing down that they don’t trust their bodies will ever speed up during a run. Trust me. It works. If you conserve your resources during the early part of a run, they’ll be available to you at the end.
Train negative. To build confidence in the method, practice negative splits during your training runs. Instead of starting your fartlek or interval sessions at the pace you want to average, run the first portion of the workout 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower. By the end of the session, you’ll be running faster than planned and will probably be feeling better than you’ve ever felt during a speed session.
Practice during 5-Ks. Running numerous short races will help you predict your starting pace for a longer race. Think of these races as miniature marathons, where you’re honing your negative-splitting abilities. Just as in your practice runs, start out conservatively and gradually build speed.
Predict your pace accurately. One of the most important keys to running negative splits is pinpointing an accurate race pace.
The table doesn’t take hills, wind, heat and other race conditions into account. So stay on the safe side by adding 5 percent to the time predicted in the table. Remember: you can always speed up at the end if you’re feeling good.
Start slow. Begin your race 10 to 20 seconds per mile slower than the race pace you’ve predicted. Don’t be tempted to speed up when you notice all those other runners flying by. Instead, hold back by imagining yourself comfortably passing them later in the race.
Gradually build speed. As you near the middle of the race–8 to 10 miles into a marathon, for example–you want to hit your race pace. Then, toward the end, use those fresh legs to pass as many tired runners as you can.
- The Pros and Cons of Running a Negative Split
- Negative Split Basics
- The Negative Split Myth
- Negative Split Magic
- No Success Without Work
- Negative Split, Positive Results
- Negative Split Spokane Half Marathon & 5K
- Sunday, April 19, 2020 • Spokane, WA • Course Map
- Race Weather & Climate
- Past Results
- Course Map
- Starting Time
- Official Race Website
- Facebook Conversations
- Half Marathon Race Plan
- Overall strategy
- First 3 miles (5km)
- Miles 3-12 (KM 6 to 20)
- Last Mile (last KM)
- WHY DO YOU NEED TO DISCOVER YOUR RUNNING PACE
- RUNNING PACE CALCULATORS -WEBPAGES
- RUNNING PACE CALCULATORS – MOBILE APPS
- How to Run Negative Splits in a Half Marathon
- Progression Runs
- Running Lingo 101: 30 Terms Every Runner Should Know
The Pros and Cons of Running a Negative Split
Running negative splits in training is an effective way to build both your aerobic base and the mental toughness required in the late stages of a long event. Not everyone agrees on whether this pacing strategy is good or bad come race day though. To find out why opinions differ, we interviewed two top endurance coaches to get their perspectives on negative splitting a race.
Negative Split Basics
A negative split is simply running the back half of a long run or race faster than you ran the first half. This can mean one second faster or ten minutes faster, but a common strategy is to run an even pace then kick it up a notch when you’re coming down the final stretch.
Using this strategy has a number of benefits in training. On long runs, it helps you find your true race pace—if you start off too fast, you won’t be able to hold that pace for the entire distance. This can help you set a realistic time goal for your next race. Then on race day you’ll be less likely to go out too fast, setting yourself up for failure further down the course.
The strategy is also effective for middle-distance tempo runs where you have to push harder at the end to maintain what was already a “comfortably hard” effort. This mental benefit can also be trained by adding a fast kick at the end of a long, even-paced run.
So there’s no doubt that negative splits are useful training tools, but what about using them in a race? The two coaches we interviewed had strong opinions, and they couldn’t have been more different.
The Negative Split Myth
Chris Hauth is a two-time Olympian and 2006 IRONMAN Age Group Champion who coaches athletes at all levels across a wide range of endurance sports. He owns AIMP Coaching based in Corte Madera, California, and talks all things endurance on his podcast, The Weekly Word. Hauth’s philosophy on negative splitting a race falls in line with his overall coaching philosophy: AIMP stands for Advanced, Integrated Mindset and Performance, and cultivating mental toughness in his athletes is a top priority.
“My whole concept on the negative split is, it’s great in training, because if you can find the proper pacing with regards to output, the more you can learn about that, the better,” Hauth says. “We tend to start out too fast; our perceived exertion is less than our actual output, so training is the perfect time to learn from that. But in racing, I am not a fan of it because it leaves time and effort and speed and performance out there on the course. None of the top guys ever negative split in a race.”
Instead of maintaining a steady pace with increasing effort to maintain that pace, Hauth coaches his athletes to maintain a steady effort or “output” level. He explained that this is not the same thing as keeping a steady heart rate.
“If you look at a good race, it should technically be a rising heart rate line,” Hauth says. “It’s a gradual rise at the beginning, a little flat in the middle, then rising over the final third or quarter as you work harder to maintain output.”
That doesn’t mean a runner should throw out all of that negative split training on race day though. “The guy who slows down the least wins, so in that regard the negative split mindset can be useful in a race,” Hauth says. “But you want the actual pacing to be such that you run the back half a little slower. You don’t want to leave time out on the course.”
Negative Split Magic
Leslie Branham, owner of Leslie Branham Fitness in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a strength and running coach with over 20 years of experience coaching newbies to advanced runners in distances ranging from 5Ks to ultra-marathons. She has run over 40 marathons and negative split a large number of them. Her coaching and training motto is, “Go slower, get there faster!” Not surprisingly, she had a very different perspective on using negative splits in races.
“I’m not much of a risk taker,” Branham explains. “I don’t mind a little bit of pain.” She says that going out slow creates less risk in the second half of a long race because “it’s putting energy in the bank instead of time. It works the energy systems better.”
The pain part comes in the later stages of a race when a runner has to hold their pace or even kick it up a notch. “You definitely need some mental toughness, but I like that challenge,” Branham says.
She also loves the mental boost a runner can get from passing others in the back half of a race. “I love catching people who passed me in the first half of the race. It’s sort of like a little game.”
For that to work though, “it’s critical to have realistic expectations of your finish time.” Indeed, no one can maintain an unrealistic pace for 13 or 26 miles or more no matter how mentally tough they are. Branham coaches her athletes to ask themselves at key points in a long race if they can maintain the pace at which they’re running for “X” more miles or if they need to reign it in. To achieve a negative split, this is especially crucial in those early miles.
No Success Without Work
Both coaches stressed the importance of practicing your chosen strategy in training to help you set realistic expectations and to learn how your body is going to respond—either to a late-stage acceleration or a quick early pace. The only way to learn those things is by doing targeted, specific workouts time and again. So whether you plan to play it safe or go for broke in your next race, make sure to train that way in order to be successful.
READ THIS NEXT: 7 Essential Keys to Running Success
Negative Split, Positive Results
Whether you’re planning to cross the finish line in just over 2 hours or trying to break 4 hours for the first time, there’s a tried-and-true racing strategy you can use to run your best marathon this fall. It’s called negative splitting, and the concept is simple and straightforward: Run the second half of your race faster than the first.
And if finishing strong for the sake of running your best marathon and bragging about it to all your friends isn’t enough, Strava and New Balance will sweeten the pot a bit. If you can keep enough gas in the tank to run the second half of your next marathon faster than the first half—and prove it—New Balance will send you a free pair of shoes. Take on the Back Half Challenge >
Why run negative splits? For starters, the numbers don’t lie.
The current men’s marathon world record? Negative split.
Women’s world record? Also, a negative split.
All six marathon medalists at the most recent Olympic Games in Rio? You guessed it, they all ran negative splits.
Smart pacing and patient execution will help you run your best marathon. But it’s easier said than done.
“It takes mental willpower to run a controlled, smart first half and mental toughness to pick up the pace in the latter half,” says Michelle Meyer of San Francisco, a 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier. “It also obviously requires the physical training that you have to put in beforehand to have the knowledge of how fast you are capable of running your race.”
Mark Coogan, a New Balance coach who represented the U.S. at the 1996 Olympic Marathon, put his patience into practice when he qualified for the team at the Trials that year in Charlotte, NC. The margin for error was thin, and the difference between a strong finish and a big blowup could make or break Coogan’s Olympic chances. “I knew I was having a good race” says the now 50-year-old Coogan. “And I felt like I had strength and could close hard. Coogan passed Keith Brantly in the final mile of the race, finishing in second and securing his spot on the Olympic team. He ran the second half of the race three minutes faster than the first, crossing the finish line in a personal best 2:13:05.
Despite the evidence from the elites listed above, most runners finish the second half of marathons slower than they started—a lot slower—to the tune of 10-15 minutes on average according to Strava data from the most recent editions of the New York, Boston, Marine Corps, Cal International, Portland and Chicago marathons. On the other hand, the number of runners who negative split marathons is staggeringly low, usually falling between 1 and 8 percent of finishers.
Why is this?
“I think many runners have a plan to negative or even-split a race, but they get carried away early on and deviate too much from their plan,” says two-time Olympic marathoner and New Balance athlete Reid Coolsaet of Canada. “The marathon feels relatively easy early on, and many runners get excited and push the pace too much. Some athletes pick over-ambitious goals as their fitness over shorter distances points to marathon performances they don’t actually have the endurance for.”
Reid’s Rio Marathon Race Analysis
Coogan concurs, saying many marathoners, even the best ones, often commit the grave mistake of stepping to the starting line without a realistic sense of what they can actually do. He cites his own Olympic race in 1996 as a prime example, where he went in thinking he could medal, when he really should have been happy to finish in the top-10 or 15. Coogan says he went out harder than he should have in that race and blew up spectacularly, finishing 41st in a disappointing 2:20:27.
Early excitement, as Coolsaet alluded to, is an emotion that can be challenging to control, whether you’re a seasoned racer or a first-time participant. Developing the discipline to stay focused on your own objectives, especially in the opening miles, can be the difference between finishing strong and doing damage control in the final 10K.
“I think a lot of runners get excited in a marathon,” says Anoush Arakelian, who ran a near 4-minute negative split at last fall’s Philadelphia Marathon on her way to a 3:16:28 finish. “Sometimes we start too far up in the corral, or try to keep up with others, instead of focusing on our own race. By the time you reach the half, oftentimes people are totally spent and by mile 20, you have to slow down in order to just finish the race.”
And then there are those runners who think they can bank time in the first half of a marathon, thus giving them a cushion to sit on later in the race when things start falling apart. But it doesn’t exactly work that way. Banking time in a marathon almost always backfires: You run the risk of going anaerobic too early in an event that’s primarily aerobic, fuel stores get quickly depleted and muscles incur a tremendous amount of damage. The usual end result? You run full-steam into the vaunted wall and end up shuffling across the finish line.
“When you start to tire in the marathon your form will go which will make you more susceptible to injury,” adds Coolsaet. “On top of that, when you tire in a marathon things can quickly go from bad to worse, and slowing down gets compounded.”
Negative splitting isn’t something you can just hope to do on race day. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to run within yourself when you take off from the starting line and a lot of practice to know what you’re capable of before you even get there. In essence, race day should be an extension of some of your most challenging, confidence-building workouts. And, as with most skills, the most surefire way to hone your ability to finish stronger than you started is to practice it with purpose before you get to the starting line.
“The strongest second half I ever ran was when I achieved my personal best,” says Coolsaet, who clocked a 2:10:28 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. “I took the lead after the pacemaker dropped off around 29K and knew I was running fast as the pack thinned out really quickly. I was able to run strong towards the end because of the consistent and purposeful training I had going into that race.”
Want to own the back half of your fall marathon?
Incorporate these three workouts into your build-up and learn to negative split like a pro:
Fast Finish Long Run
It’s as easy as it sounds: Finish off the last four miles of your long runs at goal marathon pace (see the McMillan running calculator here) or slightly faster. “The more long runs with fast finishes you can do in preparation for the race, the better,” says Meyer. “By finishing a long run with four miles that are at race pace or even slightly faster, this will prepare you to finish strong and will make those last several miles feel easier come race day.” Coolsaet also practices finishing fast in his long workouts, aiming to progress the pace every 30 minutes. “To help finish strong most of my long sessions are set up to run faster towards the end,” says Coolsaet. “The longest session we do is a 90-minute run where each 30 minute section is faster than the previous one. We usually end this session at marathon pace or slightly faster.”
This was one of Coogan’s key marathon workouts that gave him the confidence that he was ready to finish fast. “This workout trains your body to run fast when it’s tired so your body and mind know what to expect,” Coogan says. “You’re wiring your brain correctly.” Following a 2-3 mile warmup and strides, run a 5K at a pace that’s 10-15 seconds per mile faster than your goal marathon pace. Rest 5 minutes, then run another 5K at the same pace as the first one. Rest 5 more minutes. Finish with one final 5K at the same pace as the first two or slightly faster. Cool down with a couple miles of easy running.
Coogan and Meyer are both big proponents of simulating the race course in practice, especially if it’s a route like Boston or New York, both of which feature challenging second halves. Meyer likes tempo runs that have an “easy” first half and a tougher or slower second half, where she’ll try to pick up the pace slightly even though the terrain is more challenging. Coogan has done long runs that feature a downhill start and hiller finish (much like Boston) or he’ll even have his athletes finish the last few miles of a long run on the track if they’re preparing for a flat, fast course. “You want to simulate the race as best you can in training without going into race mode,” advises Coogan.
Run the second half of your next marathon faster than the first half, and our partners at New Balance will send you a free pair of shoes. All you have to do is keep enough gas in the tank for a negative split, finish strong and you get the NB running shoes of your choice. Take on the Back Half Challenge >
Negative Split Spokane Half Marathon & 5K
Sunday, April 19, 2020 • Spokane, WA • Course Map
Named for the running terminology “negative split” — which means running the second half of a race faster than the first half — Spokane’s Negative Split Half Marathon arrives for its 8th annual running this year.
Runners will start the out-and-back loop course for the race in Kendall Yards on Summit Parkway near Cedar Street and a short distance from Spokane’s Riverfront Park, just across the river from Canada Island.
From there, they’ll follow a counter-clockwise loop route largely along the Centennial Trail, a 37 1/2-mile-long paved trail that runs alongside the river and features flat, fast terrain with plentiful tree shade.
The course unfolds along the bends in the river, taking runners past Mission Park, Spokane Community College and John C. Shields Park all the way to the turnaround point at Camp Sekani Park along the river.
There, runners will make the turn and retrace their steps along the Centennial Trail all the way back to the bridge where they crossed the river in the first half of the race.
Instead of crossing back over the river, however, this time they’ll continue on along the northern bank of the river back to Riverfront Park, where the race finish line lies.
Race Weather & Climate
Located near Washington’s eastern border, just over 280 miles east of Seattle along Interstate 90, Spokane typically sees mild to cool weather in April, which has brought record temperatures here as low as 14 degrees (in 1936) and as high as 90 degrees (in 1977).
On race day (April 19), the average low is 36ºF and the average high is 59ºF.
- 2019 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
- 2018 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
- 2017 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
- 2016 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
- 2015 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
- 2014 Negative Split Half Marathon Results
See the race route map for the Negative Split Spokane Half Marathon here.
- 7:30 AM – half marathon early start (only for people finishing in over 3 hours)
- 9:00 AM – half marathon
- 9:45 AM – 10K
- 10:00 AM – 5K
- $85 – $115 for the half marathon
- $45 – $60 for the 10K
- $35 – $45 for the 5K
To reserve your spot in the 2020 running of Spokane’s Negative Split Half Marathon or 5K race, register online at RunSignUp.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the Negative Split Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.
Half Marathon Race Plan
*Note: Remember to enter time as h:mm:ss. So, a 2 hour marathon time would look like: 2:00:00
You should arrive at the race about 60 minutes (or more) prior to the start time. This will allow you to settle down, find the bathrooms and get in a good warm-up. Run a very easy 10-15 mins, just like you do before all your hard runs, 10 minutes of easy stretching and then 3 x 30 sec strides starting about 35-45 minutes before the race.
You should focus on running a patient and conservative race over the first three miles, relaxing during the middle while staying on pace, and then attacking the course for the last mile.
Interestingly, every world record from the 1500 meters to the marathon has been set running negative splits – running the first half of the race slightly slower than the second half.
This means that if you want to ensure that you run the fastest time possible, you don’t want to run the 800 or mile too fast. With the adrenaline and competition, this can be difficult and will require focus.
Luckily, you’ve had lots of practice with the pacing, so use your internal clock and your effort to measure.
First 3 miles (5km)
You should target a pace around 5-10 seconds per mile slower than your goal race pace the first 3 miles. Use the pace calculator above to determine the exact pace.
Remember that it will feel “slow” and you might be getting passed by people you want to beat. While it is mentally difficult, this is by the most effective way to run a race and you’ll tear by those people during the last mile.
Miles 3-12 (KM 6 to 20)
At 4 miles or so, creep your pace into your goal pace range and start looking around and engage the competitors around you.
Find a group that is running your pace or a little faster and latch on. Try to relax and keep your focus on staying with the group, not your splits. Use the group and the people around you to help you relax and take your mind of the distance ahead.
This is the hardest part of the race as it requires a lot of mental focus and fortitude. Be aware that you need to increase your effort to maintain the same pace or run faster as the race goes on. As you get more tired, it gets more difficult to keep running faster, so you have to try harder.
The pace is going to start getting hard around 8 miles; it’s part of racing the half marathon, so prepare for it mentally.
Keep you mind and body relaxed. Look within yourself and focus on you. Think confident thoughts and repeat confident mantras to yourself; “I am fast, this feels good” or “I am strong”. Every time you feel tired or feel the pace slip, repeat to yourself that you need to refocus and concentrate and get back on pace.
Last Mile (last KM)
With 1 mile to go, keep your head up and start to try and catch people in front of you. Pick one person and focus solely on reeling them in, nothing else. As you pass them, surge and put your eyes on the next person and repeat. Imagine tying a fishing line to their back and reeling them in. Kick hard the last mile and finish fast!
Good luck, run fast and let us know how it goes!
Discover your running pace with the best online tools. We will show you websites and mobile app so you can calculate your running pace per mile or kilometer.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO DISCOVER YOUR RUNNING PACE
Your running pace is an important factor of your developmet as a runner.
So if you want to know if you are impoving, yo have to calculate your running pace.
Usin these tools you can:
.- Plan your race pace
Finish your tace and reach your personal best knowing your running pace.
.- Plan your splits
In almost every racing scenario, negative splits are the ideal pacing strategy.
Calculate the speed of each split with these tools.
.- Analize your training
Figure out how far you ran based on your estimated pace, or calculate the pace of your last training run.
RUNNING PACE CALCULATORS -WEBPAGES
There are many websites that can help you calculate your race pace.
These are our favorites:
COOLRUNNING PACE CALULATORS
You can access the calculator in here >>> http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/4/4_1/96.shtml
ACTIVE PACE CALCULATOR
You can access the calculator in here >>> https://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/pace
RUNNING PACE CALCULATORS – MOBILE APPS
Therefore, in this note we will present a series of free applications for your mobile:
Pace Calculator (Iphone)
This free app for Iphone allows us to define the distance of the race to which we will participate and the time we want to take it.
After loading this data, it will give you the average pace and speed (km / h) you need to run to acomplish your objective.
Also you can send the data to your email or export it to PDF format to print the information and have it on the race day.
Finally, it also has conversion tools: from race pace to speed (and vice versa) and from kilometers to miles (and vice versa).
You can download it by entering here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pace-calculator/id502814541?mt=8
Pace Calculator (Android)
With the same name as the previous app, but different developer and operating system (works on Android phones), this free application offers the possibility of a typical pace calculator in addition to being able to calculate the time in which you must run each interval to meet your objective of time in the competition.
Free application for Iphone that will give us the same information as the previous ones, but with a more friendly and intuitive graphic interface.
The intervals are calculated in kilometers.
You can download it by entering here: https://itunes.apple.com/ar/app/paceplan/id552367205?mt=8
Another application available for Iphone, which also has an attractive visual interface, in addition to having more versatility to allow us to configure the size of the intervals (not limited to 1km or 1 mile like the previous ones).
In this way, it is a useful application for those who run on the track (400 meters), being able to count on the information on the speed at which they must run each lap, in order to fulfill their established objective.
You can download it by entering here: http://www.logyourrun.com/iphone/pace.html
Being all free applications, we recommend that you try them and choose the one that works best for you.
As a negative aspect of these applications, it is worth noting that they do not allow the configuration of negative splits (race strategy used by the best runners in the world that consists of running the race in intervals decreasing the speed).
However, the solution to this is to plan your intervals and load them separately in the application of your choice. For example, if you want to run 10 km in 40 minutes you can load two 5 km intervals: the 1st to run at 20:30 and the 2nd at 19:30.
I love online calculators because they provide some great insights into comparable performances at various distances. But like any useful tool, you have to know how to use the tool if you want it to work for you. Let me give you two examples, both using a half marathon time, showing how a calculator can be misleading and a detriment to your racing.
Okay, so you run a half marathon and you feel pretty good about your time – perhaps you even run a PR. You enjoy your post-race refreshment, get your medal, go home. That night you put your half marathon time in a calculator and it spits out a marathon time that you should be able to run. But can you run that time? The answer, like so much in life, is “it depends.”
Taking a half marathon PR and assuming you can run the comparable marathon time is problematic because to run a good marathon you have to be able to utilize fat (lipids) as a fuel source. I’ll go ahead and geek out for a second: the body has enough stored glycogen to run roughly 18 miles. When you run a half marathon the limiting factor is NOT fuel, but rather fitness. The marathon, however, is a different beast because you’ll have to fuel throughout a 26.2 mile race. Yes, you can take sports drinks and gels along the way, but most runners don’t practice the skill of bringing in sugars during their long runs, and when they are in the race they bonk somewhere after the 20 mile mark. And this is the problem – the calculator told you that you could run ___ for a marathon based on your half marathon time, yet you haven’t done the long-long runs to be able to run that projected time. Also, you might not have done enough running at marathon pace to be properly prepared to run the marathon at your projected time. The calculator is accurate IF you do proper marathon training, but it’s not accurate if you haven’t done the work necessary to run a good marathon.
Now let’s look at the problem with using a half marathon time to predict a 5k time. This prediction is difficult for many runners because they haven’t done put in enough work at race pace. For instance, they’re doing long runs and threshold runs, which are key workouts to improve fitness, yet they haven’t done work like 6 x 1,000m with 400m recovery. This type of workout does two things. First, it gets you grooving race pace, and for many runners, the pace of the 5k feels frenetic because it’s faster than their easy pace, their long run pace, and their threshold pace. Second, those 5k specific workouts hurt, and a 5k hurts differently than a half marathon. The 5k is less than a quarter of the distance of a half marathon, and so it’s a type of hurt that is intense, but ends quickly. You have to practice being “5k uncomfortable” to be able to run the projected time the calculator tells you.
Final point with calculators: the projected times the calculator spits out assume you don’t run dumb. Obviously I could have said “the calculators assume that you run smart,” but I want to be blunt – runners run dumb often. They go out at a pace they can’t maintain and then they die a horrible death in the final quarter of the race. Don’t run dumb. Run even splits or run negative splits if you want the calculator’s projections to work.
Again, I like using calculators but you have to be specifically prepared for each race distance for the calculator to be useful.
How to Run Negative Splits in a Half Marathon
The half marathon is rapidly becoming the distance of choice for many runners both domestic and international. From Washington to Florida and across the globe, the 13.1-mile event is flourishing in popularity, with new half marathons popping up at a rate only second to the 5K.
A frequently discussed topic in coaching circles is how to most effectively race this distance. During the first American “running boom,” the most common approach to half marathon racing was to treat it similarly to a 10K, with a “just hang in there” attitude during the second half of the race. This Darwinian approach yielded its fair share of late race implosions.
As another running boom has emerged, coaches and athletes alike are taking a page from the marathon playbook in how best to execute a half: negative splits.
Negative splitting a race simply means covering each mile (or another unit of distance) faster than the last and it is an effective race strategy both physiologically and psychologically.
Executing a negative split can and should be practiced with a handful of specific workouts in the weeks and months leading up to race day.
Progression runs are runs that begin slow and finish at a fast pace, picking up the tempo little by little throughout the run. Progression runs teach athletes to naturally expect the second half of the effort to be harder rather than the “hanging on” approach.
Two to three times in the final six to seven weeks before your half, plan progression runs that are six to 10 miles. On these runs, tackle your opening one or two miles at a pace that is 45 to 55 seconds per mile slower than your goal half marathon pace. The final one or two miles should then be at your intended goal pace—or even a touch quicker, if you’re feeling good.
As an example, see the below paces for an ideal 8-mile progression run for someone targeting a roughly 9-minute pace for a half marathon (finish time of 1:57.59):
Running Lingo 101: 30 Terms Every Runner Should Know
There’s always a learning curve when you try something new, and running is no different. Whether you are prepping for your first run ever or you’ve been running for a while but never understood the difference between a fartlek and a LSD, we’ve got you covered. This guide will help you sound like a seasoned veteran in no time.
When the book “Born to Run” about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico came out in 2009, it started a barefoot running frenzy. While true barefoot runners literally run barefoot, this term can also apply to the minimalist movement, in which you wear a shoe ranging from a thin piece of rubber to a more traditional running shoe with no drop.
BONKING/HITTING THE WALL
The point in a race or run when you feel like you can’t go any farther. This isn’t because you are injured or physically exhausted; it’s usually mental — when you begin to wonder if you are crazy and if you should just quit. Pro tip: If you can push through the wall, you will usually get a second wind.
How many steps you are taking per minute while running. Many coaches and running gurus believe that the most efficient cadence is about 180 steps per minute.
The very painful experience when parts of your body (like your inner thighs) rub together while running (or if a shirt rubs you the wrong way on your armpit or nipples), causing redness and soreness.
Lots of runners swear by these for increasing blood flow and reducing lactic acid buildup. Some people put them on after hard workouts or long runs, and you’ll see others wearing them on runs or during a race.
Something that every runner should do! Cross-training is typically lower-impact than running, so it gives your body a break but still gives you a good workout. Think: cycling, swimming or yoga.
The difference between the toe of the shoe and the heel of the shoe. Almost all running shoes today elevate the heel to give you a little padding for your heel strike. Thanks to the barefoot running/minimalist movement, you can now find shoes with very little (1–3 mm) to no difference between the toe and the heel. Typical running shoes have somewhere between 8–12 mm drop.
Exactly what it sounds like — a run where you should be able to have a conversation with your running buddy without getting out of breath.
The Swedish word for “speed play,” it’s a type of run that incorporates periods of running fast with easy running in between to help you recover.
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How your foot hits the ground. Many of us heel strike, which means our heel hits the ground first, our foot rolls forward and then we push off our toes. The ideal strike is to land with the middle of your foot. It’s the most efficient way to run and will prevent some injuries.
How you run, or your mechanics. The ideal form is a short, quick stride with shoulders back, arms at a 90-degree angle, eyes a few feet in front of you, all while staying relaxed. Don’t worry, very few people out there (ever) get it perfect.
What you consume while you run. This could be gels or other energy products, or even pretzels. It shouldn’t upset your stomach, as fuel will give your muscles more energy on harder/longer runs.
HILL WORK/HILL REPEATS
Running up and down hills, repeatedly. This is to build overall strength but is also important to practice if you are training for a race that includes hills.
Anything from water to sports drinks. Hydration is what you drink while you run to avoid dehydration.
Similar to a fartlek, an interval run includes periods of harder running and periods of easier running. There is also a run/walk method of training that involves alternating intervals of running and walking.
A compound in your body that doesn’t actually cause muscle soreness (despite popular belief) but causes the burn you feel when you challenge yourself.
Long slow distance, or long slow day. This run is usually on a Saturday or Sunday, and it’s the longest run of the week. It’s usually at an even slower pace than your easy run and is basically to get some extra mileage in.
How fast you are running per mile. For example, someone who runs three miles in 30 minutes is running a 10-minute mile pace.
Mini accelerations during a run. These might just be a few strides in the middle of an easy run.
Our feet are supposed to roll in a little bit when they hit the ground, and this is called pronation. Depending on your arch, you may roll in too much (overpronate) or roll out instead, which is underpronation or supination. This can usually be corrected by wearing an insole or stability shoe.
5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles)
These types of slow, short runs are usually the day after a race or hard workout, and they are designed to just get your body moving — nothing serious or strenuous.
Days off from running. You should always give your body a break and include at least one rest day per week, usually after a long run day or race.
Your mile times in a multimile race or run. You may also do a workout with a goal of negative splits, which is running each mile at least a little faster than the previous.
STRIDES OR STRIDERS
Short bursts of speed, usually at the end of a workout or race. They are great for stretching out your legs a bit after a long run and for incorporating mini speed workouts.
A run at a moderate pace. You aren’t going all-out, but you are going faster than your easy run.
A general rule of thumb to avoid injury is to never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from the previous week’s mileage.
You may have heard of time trials as a way to qualify for the Olympics, but for the average runner, it’s a way to see how you are improving. Pick a distance (even a mile or two) and run as fast as you can. Keep track of your time, and compare it to another time trial (for the same distance) in a few weeks.
The maximum amount of oxygen that your body can use during exercise. As you exercise more, this number will increase, and you will be able to run faster.
A way to get your body ready to run. This usually includes an easy jog for at least a few minutes and some stretching.
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“The splits are easy,” said no runner ever.
Maybe a few of you did, but the majority of runners suffer from tight muscles in their legs, specifically their hamstrings and hip flexors. Tight hamstrings can contribute to plantar fasciitis, lower back pain and glute pain. Tight hip flexors can lead to back pain and weakened gluteus muscles that can cause serious knee injuries such as patellofemoral stress syndrome (PFSS), iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBS), patellar tendonitis, and bursitis of the knee.
Not only do tight hamstrings and hip flexor muscles contribute to foot, knee, glute and back pain when they are tight, they may also prevent us from mastering the splits. Maybe you aren’t interested in the splits at all. Or perhaps the idea of even attempting the splits scares you, but the pose can be extremely beneficial.
The splits is an effective pose for runners. Besides the mental barriers it forces us to overcome, it stretches the following muscles:
- Hip flexors (TFL, psoas )
- Adductors (groin muscles)
Many runners struggle to touch their toes in a forward fold, so the thought of working towards splits seems impossible, that the pose is reserved for gymnasts and dancers. It doesn’t matter if you can’t move completely into the pose, since the process towards splits will be helping to prevent injury and develop better mental focus, enhancing your performance.
Below is a sequence of poses that targets each of the muscles stretched in splits. Incorporate the sequence into your next post-run stretch and you might be surprised how quickly you see the benefits. Start each of the poses with your right leg forward and move through each pose before switching to your left.
Lizard Pose – Stretches: hip flexors and hamstrings
Start in table pose, on your hands and knees. You can place a blanket under your knees for extra comfort. Your hands should be shoulder width apart with your wrists inline with your shoulder and your knees hip width apart. Inhale and step your right foot forward to the outside of your right hand so that both hands are on the inside of your right foot. Make sure your right knee does not extend in front of your right ankle. Exhale and slide your left leg back, allowing your pelvis to sink towards the mat. Hold the pose where you feel a stretch in the front of the left hip. Keep the back long and keep the spine from rounding by looking forward. Imagine a straight line from your tailbone to the crown of your head.
To move deeper into the posture, exhale and come down onto your forearms. Try to hold this pose for 15-30 seconds (or 5-10 breaths).
Low lunge with quad variation – Stretches: hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps
If you are on your forearms come back up onto your hands on the inhale. Exhale and bend the left knee reaching back to your left foot with the same hand. If you aren’t able to reach your foot, loop a strap around your ankle and holding it in your left hand, create the desired tension. use a strap and loop it around your left ankle while holding the strap with your left hand. Avoid resting your weight directly on the knee cap by extending your leg back so that it sits on the bottom of your quadricep just above the knee. Try to hold this pose for 15-30 seconds (or 5-10 breaths).
Pigeon – Stretches: hip flexors, adductor, and gluteus muscles
To move into pigeon pose from a low lunge, on your exhale release your left foot and bring you shin back to the mat. As you inhale, slide your right foot behind your left wrist and rotate your right thigh out. To deepen the stretch, slide your right foot away from your buttocks bringing your right shin parallel with the top of your mat. To lessen the intensity, bring your foot closer to your buttocks. Square your pelvis to the front of your mat, and ensure your are not leaning to your right side (both hips should point forward). Inhale while elongating your spine from your pelvis to the top of your head. To move deeper into the pose, on your exhale begin to fold forward. Try to hold this pose for 15-30 seconds. On an inhalation walk your hands back, bringing your torso to an upright position.
Half splits – Stretches: hamstrings, and calves
To move out of pigeon, as you inhale inhale press your hands into the mat and tuck your left toes under. Pull your right foot up, placing it onto your mat coming back into lizard pose. Exhale and gently place your left knee back on the mat. Inhale and lift your body to an upright position and place your hands on your hips or blocks. Draw your right hip back and your left hip forward, squaring off your hips. Your left knee should be inline with your left hip. Exhale, straighten your right leg, keeping a micro-bend in the front knee. Flex your right foot so your toes are pointed towards the sky. Place a blanket under the front heel if you feel any pressure here. Inhale and lengthen through the torso by drawing the navel (or belly button) in towards the spine. Gently draw the shoulder blades together and down your back. Exhale, and begin to fold over the front leg, bending at the hips, reaching your chest forward, while maintaining a long spine. It’s important you don’t round your spine. Try to hold this pose for 15-30 seconds (or 5-10 breaths).
Splits Pose – Stretches: hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, and calves
Before moving deeper into splits pose, remember that some of your leg muscle will be stretched, while their opposing muscle will be engaged.
From the previous pose, gently slide your left knee back on your exhalation. Engage and contract the left gluteus maximus. Feel the hip flexor and quadriceps of the back leg stretch . Inhale in this position. Exhale and slide your right heel forward engaging the right quadricep. Gently engage the adductors (inner thighs) and turn the leg inward, keeping the knee cap up. You will feel a stretch through the right hamstrings. You can stack cushions or blocks under your pelvis for support if your pelvis does not reach the ground. Try to hold this pose for 15-30 seconds (or 5-10 breaths).
To come out of the pose bring your right hand to the inside of your right leg and swing your right leg back and around.
Ensure you are not forcing your body deeper into the pose, but rather allow your body to adapt to the stretch slowly. Repeat the sequence on the left side.