Yesterday our summer track work began! As an emphasis, I talked to them about running negative splits. What’s a negative split?
It’s when the 2nd half of your run is faster than the first half.
Did you know, a significant majority of long distance world records and olympic runners have been set running negative splits? In reading more about it, it’s a common style of training & competing.
What is the benefit of training that way on your runs? Well notably, it teaches you to pace and to understand what your ideal pace should be. How? Well, when you begin a run, your perceived effort to run at any given pace is quite low.
That can be quite misleading. It takes several minutes for your aerobic system to fully settle, from heart rate to rate of energy consumption. When you start a run out too fast, let’s say fast enough to feel like you’re flying or working hard, you are using a lot of anaerobic energy. When you use a lot of anaerobic energy, you end up out of breath trying to pay back the energy bank.
Paying back the energy bank? Think about how hard you are breathing at the end of a series of fast interval runs vs going on a steady paced run.
If you go out too fast, you can end up with this happening in the middle of your race/run. Also known as hitting the wall.
Backing off - not running slow - at the beginning allows you to settle into a pace and then when you speed up later on towards the 2nd half, you can actually better gauge how fast you can run at. Rather than slowing down during the 2nd half, never having established a constant pace.
This can lead to your overall pace being more accurate and teaches how much gas you really have in the tank.
How can you try this on your next run? Figure out the pace you want to run overall, and run about 10-20sec per mile slower than that pace for the first half. It should feel somewhat easy. Then on the 2nd half, pick up the pace to the goal pace, OR slightly faster by 10-20sec and see how that feels.
This can be done even for shorter interval runs like mile repeats where the 1st 800m is 5-10 seconds slower than the 2nd but felt easier and allowed for a strong finish.
Let me know how this goes for you!