This Runner's Trials

My secret to negative-splitting

Posted by runnerstrials

Whenever someone asks me to give them words of wisdom before a race, I always say the same thing: Don’t go out too fast.


Starting out too quickly usually means you’ll blow up in the later miles, and have a less than ideal race. Theoretically, negative-splitting a race (running the second half of the race faster than the first half) means you’ll have a positive race experience.

It sounds so simple. But with the festivities at the start line and your adrenaline pumping, starting out slowly is anything but easy. Especially if you never practice negative splitting…

Yup, you heard it here first, folks. You have to negative split on your training runs if you also want to do so during a race. Novel idea, right?

But here’s the thing: Who likes calculating their pace and staring at their Garmin during a training run? Certainly not me. So, how can you learn how to negative split without becoming a slave to your watch?

Simple: Run you first mile uphill and your last mile downhill on training runs.


I’m not joking. This is how my neighborhood is set up. When we moved here 2.5 years ago, I never, ever negative-splitted. Now, I do it on almost every training run without thinking about it (I haven’t really raced since December 2010, so I can’t say if I still do this in races). Even when I’m not in my neighborhood, I’m used to going slow the first mile and fast the last mile that I naturally do this.

Of course, you all don’t live in my neighborhood. You could always move here... Or, run on the treadmill and adopt the downhill- uphill approach, but that would be insanely boring. Instead, try to run your first mile and last mile by perceived exertion. Start out ridiculously slow, and pick up the pace for the last mile no matter how tired your legs are (yes, I even do this on long runs). Running hard on fatigued legs is not easy, but you may wish you practiced this once race day rolls around. After all, practice may not make perfect, but it will better prepare you.

Happy racing!


I’m not a running expert by any means. I’m just a girl who likes to run, and this approach has helped me. But I have no idea if it really works or not. If you want to learn how to negative split correctly, check out Runner’s World, ask a running coach, or at least consult someone smarter than me.

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