Running for any length of time means that you’ll be more tired by the end than you were at the beginning. Which is exactly what makes running negative splits so challenging.
Finishing a race or run with negative splits means that you were able to push through the fatigue to give more effort as time went on. Negative splits in running is no easy task; however, finishing with a negative split is a sure sign that you are gaining endurance and mental strength.
What does running negative splits mean?
Negative splits in running simply means that each mile or interval you complete is slightly faster than the one before.
For example, if you negative split a 5k, your pace for each mile could be the following: 10:00, 9:48 and 9:32. Shaving just a few seconds off each mile time is all it takes to be considered a negative split in running.
You could even start out easy and build up throughout a regular training run. A 5 mile easy run could have paces like this: 11:50, 11:10, 10:35, 10:05 and 9:30.
Whatever pace you run, you can say that you’ve successfully completed a run with negative splits if your mile time decreases with each consecutive mile.
Running negative splits can be slightly confusing if you’re using the treadmill or keeping track of speed instead of pace. In order to complete a negative split run, you’ll need to increase your pace with each consecutive mile.
If you usually average a 10 minute mile pace, this might mean that you complete your first mile at a speed of 5.8 mph, the next at 5.9, then 6.0, 6.1 and 6.2.
Are negative splits good in running?
Many runners aim to negative split a 5k, half marathon, marathon, or workouts throughout the week. Finishing a run with negative splits is a sign that you successfully managed your energy enough to increase pace with extra fatigue.
Runners often aim to negative split a race to help them hold back in the beginning and avoid starting out too fast. Hitting “the wall” during distance races or struggling to continue running as your race continues can all be a result of starting out too quickly.
When you consciously make a choice to run slower at the beginning of a race or run, you’re saving your energy for those trying moments when your body starts to wear down at the end of the race.
Not only does running negative splits on race day set you up to feel your best physically, but it also provides a much-needed mental boost with each mile along the course.
How to calculate running splits?
Luckily, most watches automatically display your split as soon as you complete each mile or interval during a run. Calculating running splits usually takes no more effort than looking down at your watch as you hit each mile. However, what can be a bit tricky is making sure that you are hitting negative running splits.
As each mile passes, you’ll want to remember your previous split so you are able to compare it to your next. All you’ll need to calculate negative splits is knowing whether or not your mile time is at least a second or two less than the previous mile.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing that mile time decrease, especially as the distance and overall mileage increases.
However, achieving negative splits in running is much more challenging than it sounds. While the concept is relatively simple, it takes a great deal of both physical and mental endurance to successfully increase your speed as the distance drags on.
How to run negative splits?
Fortunately, preparing your body and mind to race with negative splits involves very similar training as what you would complete for any race goal. Focusing on improving physical endurance, mental strength and overall willpower is key to negative split any run.
Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for a successful race or run of any distance and get yourself to the finish line with negative splits.
5 Tips for Running Negative Splits
Increasing speed as the distance wears on is no easy feat. However, being able to do so proves that your body and mind are both strong. In a race setting, aiming for negative splits will help you avoid hitting the wall or bonking before the finish. Here are 5 tips to help you negative split your next run.
Incorporate regular intervals faster than your goal pace.
What you do during training is key to prepare to run negative splits for any distance. Take the time to calculate running splits you’ll need in order to hit your overall goal, and then incorporate regular intervals and speed workouts at paces that are faster than your final mile goal.
For example, if your negative split plan involves you running the final mile of your race in 8 minutes and 30 seconds, incorporate regular tempo runs at an 8:00 minute pace. Or, throw in some short intervals at a 7:30 pace.
Completing these paces for shorter distances helps boost your confidence, enhance mental strength, and increase your body’s threshold to help race day paces feel easier.
Practice running negative splits during training runs.
If you’re hoping to negative split your next race, you’ll want to get used to the feeling of increasing pace as distance increases. And after all, practice makes perfect.
Practice running negative splits during your weekly training. Try completing intervals during a speed workout with negative splits, and practice negative splitting at least one long run during training.
Your body and mind will benefit from the practice of picking up the pace as you begin to fatigue, which will help you prepare for the challenges of race day.
Plan to start significantly slower than your final goal pace.
The biggest mistake runners make when attempting negative splits is starting out too fast. After all, if you start out at a pace that is already challenging to maintain, increasing your speed even further will feel impossible.
Take the time to create a race day plan by mapping out the paces you’ll need to run for each mile. Calculate running splits ahead of time and plan to start significantly slower than your goal pace. This will allow for any congestion or unexpected issues on the course on the course. In addition, starting slower will help ease into the race and provide your body a bit of time to adjust.
Holding yourself back at the beginning of a race can feel challenging with all the excitement, especially if the pace feels much easier than what you are used to running. But holding back sets yourself up for success and creates an easy base to build from when you begin increasing pace.
Create a fueling strategy and start early.
One of the biggest obstacles runners face during distance races is fighting fatigue. No matter how hard you’ve trained and how physically prepared your body is for the distance, there’s one thing that can put a halt to all of your progress: improper fueling.
Even the most well-trained athletes will eventually taper out if their body runs out of energy. And the only way to ensure you maintain the energy you need for negative splits is to make sure you are fueling properly.
Creating a proper fueling strategy means planning to start fueling early (even before you begin to need it), consistently, and with enough fuel to take you over the finish. Take the time to practice your fueling strategy on long runs during training to see how your body responds. Afterwards, tweak and adjust until you come up with something that will keep you going when things start to get tough.
Create a mental strategy to overcome fatigue on race day.
Regardless of the training you have completed, it is likely that you will be pushing yourself harder and/or faster than what your body is used to on race day.
Part of the appeal of racing is overcoming a new distance, setting new PRs or just improving your results and conquering a challenge. But in order for us to accomplish these things, we must overcome the fatigue and pain along the way.
It is inevitable that you will experience some form or fatigue or pain on race day. Planning ahead with physical and mental strategies that you can use when the going gets tough on race day will help you avoid wasting time or losing speed when things get rough.
Running negative splits is an incredibly challenging feat, but this is what makes the accomplishment so sweet. It takes a great deal of willpower, grit and determination to increase your pace when things start to feel harder.
Overcoming these obstacles makes every challenge worth it. Plan ahead, practice, and prepare for these circumstances, and you just might surprise yourself with your capabilities.