Negative Splits Rule or it Might Get Ug-LY

Up and at ‘em early today. Got up and put in my easy 8 and change on the tread this morning. Sundays kind of stink TV wise so it was Nick at Nite (bleeding over into Nick Early Morn would be more correct) and Family Matters was on. I’ve never been a huge Urkel fan myself, and when he was on TGIF I put up with the half hour block but looked forward to the Full Houses and Step-by-Steps on later.



Finished up with abs and core work and on with the day! Yesterday I noted how there are tons of races going on now that summer’s here; for some these are their first races and for others it’s their bizzillionth. Newer runners often ask for tips before their first races, or perhaps they’ve raced shorter distances but are now signing up for the longer ones. I think one of the biggest lessons that most of us have learned the hard way is this: DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST!!

Sorry, didn’t mean to yell that one, but trust me on this because it’s a very easy trap to fall into but paying for that fast start later in the race gets ug-LY!! I used to think that if I went out faster and under pace in the beginning of a race (or even workouts) then I’d be setting myself a nice little ‘cushion’ so that if I happened to slow down later I’d still be able to hit my target time. That sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it? Well, the body isn’t always logical as any PMS’ing woman can tell you.

When you’re running, or working out in general, the body burns glycogen as it’s prime fuel source. Physiologically the body burns glycogen more efficiently if you gradually work into a faster, more intense effort and not the other way around. And it doesn’t make just a little bit of difference, but a lot. The amount of time you go out too fast in the beginning could leave you slowing down 2-3 times that amount in the later miles. That means that should you go out even just 10 seconds too fast in the first mile, you could be paying for that with 20-30 seconds/mile by the end. And trust me, those seconds will feel WAY longer than the time on your watch indicates…lol.

That’s why negative splits rule. Negative splitting just means that you get faster as the race/workout progresses. Not a complicated theory but it’s tough to hold yourself back and not get swept up in the excitement of race day. But you want to go into a race with a goal pace and race plan in mind and then stick to it.

Finding your goal pace is pretty easy to do based off of your workouts for most races. But it’s trickier come marathons only because you don’t typically run the full 26.2 miles in regular training like you would a 5k or 10k. For a marathon you can of course get a good idea based off of your long runs but there’s also a track workout you can do to give you a fair approximation.

Marathon goal prediction workout:

Do a warm-up and then head to the track for 10×800 meter repeats. Do a recovery jog lap between each repeat and make sure to take your recovery easy before starting the next one. Once you’re done with all 10, take your average time and whatever it is in minutes:seconds will translate into your marathon prediction time in hours:minutes. So if Bob ran his repeats in 3 minutes and 30 seconds, his predicted marathon time will be 3 hours and 30 minutes. From there you can figure out his mile pace should be 8:01. (PS-don’t forget your cool-down! hehe)

Going out too fast for your capabilities in the beginning of ANY race can suck, it’s just that it’s a lot ‘easier’ to gut out the rest of a 5k than some of the longer races. In the case of a marathon you might not even be able to finish. So that’s my spiel on negative splitting. :) Oh, one more thing real fast, other factors that can make you slow down more and feel even worse should you go out too fast are heat and elevation. So keep that in mind too, if you aren’t used to running at elevation you might want to go out even more conservative at the start.



All this marathon talk reminds me that if you happened to read about the drunk driving accident I happened to see and wrote about, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s tragic that these accidents are so common. My friend, Kara Goucher, lost her father because of a drunk driver and is an avid supporter of MADD. (For anyone who doesn’t know who she is, you should because she’s a kick@$$ distance star, she’s one of the leading US distance gals. She rules the track and the marathon…so that was my line of thinking to get here…lol) Well, she created a design that is featured on both a card and shirt and if you order one 100% of the proceeds benefit MADD. So I wanted to share those links!

Okay, so I think that’s it for now! I’m off to the store to restock and then we’ll see. :)

1) Worst story of going out too fast in a race or workout?

Too many times to count, but I think the most embarrassing was at a really big cross-country meet that I hoped to do really well in. My whole family was there, coaches, and let’s face it plenty of other people who I hoped to ‘look good’ in front of, and I totally bombed. That was one painful and humiliating last mile!

2) Favorite track/running type workout?

I already said tempo’s and long runs, but for intervals I like mile and 800 repeats.

3) What are you up to this fine Sunday?


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13 thoughts on “Negative Splits Rule or it Might Get Ug-LY

  1. Ha! I normally avoid running in the morning, but Friday I did since we had to travel that day. I ran on the treadmill and watched Family Matters..lol. Thankfully Boy Meets World was on after that. I miss TGIF.

  2. Great post and great blog! Great advice too….I will definitely act upon that in my upcoming 1/2 marathon….negative splits rule! :-)

  3. oh cory, topanga and shawn how i miss them so!! and who didn't have the biggest crush on shawn?? glad they could brighten up that treadmill run for you. :)

    thanks for stopping by quirky kitchen emma! :) glad my two cents came at a good time and i'm sure u'll kick butt in that 1/2!! :)

  4. Um I pretty much LIVED for TGIF. I would still watch it now if it was on. I kind of wanted to be Topanga, not going to lie. And Full House? Don't even get me started. I still have dreams about Uncle Jessie.

    This was a really awesome and informative post. You always have amazing things to say! I ran my first winter race in February and the conditions were awful (freezing with snow and slush EVERYWHERE). It was just a half marathon so I thought it would be a walk in the park. I went out super fast trying to keep up with a particular pace bunny and about half way through got injured and had to have an ambulance drive me to the finish. It was brutal.

    And please tell me you are actually real life friends with Kara. That would make my day and increase your coolness level even more (even though that's probably not possible since you're pretty much the coolest cat I know).

  5. oh, okay, the episode where uncle jessie made that music video: wind blowing thru his hair, shirtless…ummm, how hot was that?! lol. but i feel like a total skeeze writing that! haha.

    glad u liked the post and u always leave the sweetest comments! but holy moly girl, that half sounds like the race run in hell once it froze over! being taken away by ambulance…poor thing. :(

    wowza, u calling me a cool cat = makes my day! haha…but did i just undo that by using wowza? probably. but yes i'm friends with kara and her sister, so i'm a big goucherette fan. :)

  6. You're seriously friends with Kara??? No way- I didn't think you could be cooler but surprisingly, you are!!! I love your negative split information! That is so cool to be able to do a marathon expected time from a track workout. Yay!!!!
    I ran a half marathon a month after I got married (and took a 2 week honeymoon before the crazy month of back to school started). I felt amazing until about 16km where I experienced hitting the wall (mostly because I did not train at ALL for the race). I hit the wall HARD. It was actually like I was in slow motion, running under water, drunk. It was terrible. I actually finished with a decent time (for me) surprisingly. But good god, it was terrible. And I was holding in my need to run to the port-o-potty on top of that. Good times.

  7. Cait! Thank you for the negative splits info! Unless I have a pacer I am ALWAYS too fast :(.
    My story is that my first race of my Freshman year in high school, I was so pumped and excited. I went out in a 72 second 400 for the freshman girl's race and finished at 6:20 for the 1600. The guy standing next to my mom was like 'that girl just went out at the same pace as the varsity boys'.
    My coach proceeded to put me in the 800m for the rest of the season until he finally realized I had no speed and was just a fool. =).

  8. Katy…i know the drunk/underwater feeling all too well. i have another term that fits it: booty-lock. OUCH! haha, but of course we can always rely on our stupid stomach woes to make things worse…i'll bet popping that squat past the fininsh line never felt sweeter! ;)

    Margs…i only laugh, not in making fun of u at all, but because i did the same thing my frosh year!! that crawl through the last couple laps sucks and it hits you HARD!! again, reference booty-lock. ;)

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