Positive Thoughts about Negative Splits

I am terrible about not starting out too fast, a common problem among new (and even not-so-new) runners. In my first year of racing, all of my races were completed with positive splits, where the time for the first half was faster than the second half. In my second year of racing, almost all of my races were completed with positive splits. Despite knowing that a negative split would lead to a better race time, psychologically while racing I had a hard time accepting it. The temptation to “bank time” was far too great. I succumbed just about every time.

In an effort to become a better runner and racer, this calendar year I’ve been trying harder to do negative splits. I don’t always succeed (see Dash to the Finish Line). I made a concerted effort in my training runs to end the last mile (or at least the last half mile) faster than the prior couple of miles. I wanted to build confidence in myself that I still had enough in me to push the last mile, despite the fatigue. My best race for 2014 was the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in April. I ran a beautiful negative split. Now if only I can do that for every race.

I’ll be running the Trenton Half Marathon tomorrow. I’m running it out of sheer vanity. Had I PR’ed in one of the HMs that I did this year, I wouldn’t have entered Trenton. But the thought of letting 2014 go without a PR in the half pained me. In January I had ambitious plans to run a sub-1:45. It’s not happening this year. I let go of that goal, but I still want a new HM PR. Trenton is my last chance for 2014. I know I can PR if I don’t get carried away and run the first few miles too fast. I need to hold myself back. But by how much? I can use McMillan to calculate what my average overall pace should be, but I was uncertain about how much I should slow down for the first few miles. 10 seconds? 20?

I googled and discovered this fantastic race pace split calculator. It calculates what your pace should be for that mile (or km) depending upon what type of split you want (very negative, negative, even, positive, or very positive) and how you want the paces to change (two even-paced halves or gradually changing pace). I really liked playing around with it and found it very useful. I probably won’t stick with the paces that it gave me, but I have a much better idea of how fast I want/should start the half marathon.

So goals for tomorrow:

A goal: Sub-1:49 (probably will not make it because I haven’t really been putting in the training for it)

B goal: PR (Quite doable as long as I don’t go out too fast and implode)

C goal: Beat my time at Brooklyn Half (1:53:04)

18 thoughts on “Positive Thoughts about Negative Splits

  1. Have a great race tomorrow. Nothing is more frustrating than that elusive PR that you know you are capable of. Negative splits are truly almost an art form in running. They really do take practice and some races are definitely better than others. I am sure you will nail it!

  2. Saw your results on Twitter! Congrats!!! You totally crushed this! I’m guessing you were successful at the negative split? It really is the way to go. You get better times and finish races feeling so much more satisfied. If only I could remember that at every race 🙂 Can’t wait to read your race report!

  3. This is quite possibly my BIGGEST race-day challenge. I am notoriously bad at pacing, and I ALWAYS positive split. I have such a hard time forcing myself to slow down when I’m feeling pumped and energetic in the early miles of a race. But, I have to say, I ran with my BF in the Hershey Half last month and ended up accidentally negative splitting…and I felt SO much better afterwards! And after I crashed and burned in NYCM for starting out way faster than I should have, this is totally something I’m going to be working on!

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