Monday, October 13, 2008

Splitting it Negative Style

If you are one of those unfortunate souls who reads Nitmos’ blog, Feet Meet Street, then you probably remember a post on Friday in which he discussed the challenge of running negative splits. His rhetoric, *checks dictionary* yes rhetoric, while causing my eyes to bleed a little, also caused me to pause for a moment of introspection (curse you for this, Nitmos!). It caused me to think back to a time when my long runs felt faster and I began to remember that earlier in the year I almost always ran negative splits on my long runs. I even mentioned in this post that I had been setting my Garmin’s digital training partner to the goal pace, letting him get out ahead of me, and then reeling him in over the last half of the run.

After this time of enlightenment and meditation ended on Friday I checked my training plan and saw that it was calling for a 15 mile run at a 9:45 pace on Saturday. Up until Saturday the longest I had ever run was 13.1 miles and my average paces on my last 4 long runs were 10:34, 9:44, 9:34, and 10:15. This has been somewhat frustrating because before the Georgetown Half I was completing long runs at a pace somewhere around 9:15 to 9:20. Nevertheless, I decided that I would attempt this longest run of my life on Saturday using negative splits. The plan was to run two 6 mile loops and a 3 mile loop so that I could consume water and Clif Shot Gels at the end of each loop, freeing me to run without the fuel belt and making me look much cooler. I wanted to run the first loop at the 9:45 pace and then have each loop get progressively faster, here’s how it worked out:

Loop 1 (6mi): 58:28 - 9:45 pace. BAM! Right on target.
Loop 2 (6mi): 55:37 - 9:17 pace. Stay on target. Stay on target.
Loop 3 (3mi): 27:48 - 9:16 pace. Whew! That was close!
Total Time: 2:21:56 - 9:28 pace.

My fastest 2 miles were the 13th and the 14th but then I really crapped out on the final mile which is why the 3rd loop was almost a positive split. All in all I was pleased with this run, but I still have a lot of work to do.

For those of you who don’t remember Nitmos’ post (easily forgiven as it wasn’t very memorable) or who don’t read his blog, this is what he said on Friday:

“I am suggesting that a negative split is the sign of a seasoned, well trained, and developed runner. Either that or someone who started out woefully slower than their ability so had an abundance of energy late.”
I think he just called me a seasoned, well trained, and developed runner. If that doesn’t convince you that Nitmos’ has no idea what he’s talking about then I don’t know what will. I mean, I’m definitely ‘developed’, and you might even say handsome, witty, charming and urbane, *checks dictionary* yes urbane, but seasoned and well trained? Hardly.

Update: Congrats to Viper who finished the Towpath Marathon (his second marathon in as many weeks) with a new PR. As of right now he hasn’t posted about it, but his sidebar has been updated with his new time. Congrats!


  1. Well, no matter what Nitmus says, I think you ran a very good long training run, indeed.

  2. Um, have you considered that you might fall into the second category instead? Just putting it out there.

  3. With only 11.2 more miles to go (or, the so called "easy" miles) to make a marathon, there's no doubt you would have continued to decrease in pace. I will have to re-examine my strategy as negative splitting does seem pretty easy after all.

    Thank you.

    And nice run!

  4. Xenia, I did consider that, but only for a second because if that was the case then it really wouldn't have been worth posting about AND I'd be admitting that Nitmos was right. *shudder*

  5. I think he called you a NOOB. "shudder"

  6. Thanks for the preemptive congrats. I believe in the negative splits, but I believe it must be practiced. You know, like, more than a week before your marathon. Keep up the training.

  7. Vanilla, Viper, Nitmos:

    I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but every time you guys snipe at each other, a unicorn dies.

    This makes me cry a little.

    Because I'm heavily invested in McDonald's next big product roll-out - The Quarter-Pound Unicorn Burger in Elf Sauce. So KNOCK IT OFF, already! You're killing my off all my livestock. Do you want your next unicorn Burger to be mostly Hobbit by-product and other cheap filler?

    If not, STOP, already. The government may not have enough money left to bail me out.

  8. Thanks for the reminder about running negative splits. Recently I've concentrated more on the miles than the pace of those miles, and while a good base is important, if you want to run half-fast, you've gotta train fast-ish, right?

  9. The problem with negative splits is that they mean you have to care about your time in the second half of the race. I certainly care in the first half, and that's usually where I have delusions of PRing, but by the time I get to about mile 20, I could care less about my pace - I just want it to be easy.

  10. Hey, if you achieved the most important goal on your training run -- looking cool b/c you weren't wearing a fuel belt -- who cares about your splits? Priorities, people.

  11. Pretty impressive. Plus, if you crapped out in the last mile, it sounds like you most definitely did not have an abundance of energy late.

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  13. nice job on the run, and a negative splits are awesome.

  14. great job. Negative splits are key to having a race you want to remember!


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