Negative Or Positive Splits Are Good For Running?

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As a runner, we consider negative splits as rudimentary a skill for runners as anything else. It is being considered that every runner must learn how to run negative splits as that bring the runner into the actual league. But there are many who are not able to achieve negative splits even though the timings are great and progress is visible. So is negative split that important?

What are Negative and Positive Splits?

Negative splits simply mean running the second half of the run faster than the first half. Positive split on the other hand is running the first half faster than the second. Negative split running is all about managing energy levels and pacing accordingly. Hence one has to push only hard enough in the first half so that the second half does not blow up and one is able to achieve negative splits.

There are people who consider positive splits a taboo giving out a lack of training, planning, wisdom, and bad form. It often is considered an embarrassment. But is it so?

The Positive Side of Positive Splits

Positive splits can be an excellent powerful pacing strategy, many coaches certify the fact. But the concept of positive splits also needs to form part of training. Simply running fast when you are fresh and then slowing down as you cover the distance is no running strategy. One must make sure that planning and average goal pace is well calculated in order to achieve the best out of the run. Positive splits give one an opportunity to have a pace higher than the goal pace in the beginning so that as one gets tired, one can slow down. This is a huge advantage as getting tired is natural. Also, it is difficult to push harder when one is tired.

Why Negative Splits?

It will be clear that most of the world records are set with negative splits. But we all are not there to break the world records. We want a successful run achieving our goal or maybe ‘Personal Best’.

Negative splits are generally more favorable for professional and elite runners. They log more miles than amateurs do. Hence amateurs are not able to maintain goal pace for longer periods because of training and physiological barriers. So the question for all runners other than professional runners is that since we understand lack of training, is it wise to consider negative splits a good strategy? On examining most agree that in order to achieve negative splits, many have spoiled their runs and goals.

Planned Reduce Pace

The planned reduced pace is a strategy which most of the runners will feel comfortable about. It is surely a positive splits strategy. But it is planned so that one doesn’t hit the wall or blow off the run completely. Remember margin to blow off the complete run is more in negative splits than in positive splits.

For most runners, to push or pick up the pace when you are tired is way more difficult than one can imagine. Also physiologically, in positive splits, the advantage is that goal is within reach for the first half of the race and hence it is easy to hold on to the goal even in the second half. In a negative split, the goal comes only in the second half. So for half the run, we are not close to the goal. Hence striking hard for something which we never had till half the run is a bit difficult for runners who are not professional. Hence planned reduced pace is all about mental approach. It simply means to fade away slowly and hence be the fastest at all times.

Planning The Reduced Pace Technique

Depending on the fitness levels, one can start at a higher pace and see that the average goal pace is met till half of the run. This gives an opportunity to slow down in the second half when one is tired. There are various running pace calculators available which give out pace required for every kilometer. The beauty here is that one may be faster than the average pace even at half the distance. This further takes off the load of meeting the goal. Most amateur runners achieve their ‘Personal Best’ on such a day.

The goal here is to start with a faster pace say by 30 to 60 seconds faster and maintain as long as one can. Then slow down in small blocks. The more one is able to maintain the pace at the beginning of the run, the more one can afford to slow down at the end.

Where to Use Reducing Pace Strategy

It should be used in longer races such as half marathon or a marathon. Once you have decided the goal, all you have to do is decide your opening pace. Keep it realistic so that you are able to hold as long as possible and do not go below average goal pace before half the run.  Remember when the weather is not cooperating, the track is not as good or one is simply having a bad day, reducing pace strategy allows runners to have some room for those pressures or some errors.

Is Controlled Strategy Made for You?

It is all about individual training, level, and goal. However the only way to find out which pacing strategy is better for you, you need to try them out. Every runner is different and hence a general rule cannot be applied to all. So hit the track and test your pacing strategy.

Article by: Capt Jitu Harjai Fitness Expert H2F Care

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