Negative Splits ► The Secret to Running Faster?


During a race, it can be tempting to run at full speed from the starting line. But running at a consistent speed isn’t the only way to beat that personal record. With the common beginning-of-race bottlenecks that can make passing seem like an obstacle course, why not slow it down? Conserve your mental and physical energy for the finish line with negative splits.

What are negative splits? Practicing negative splits means running the first half of a race or workout slower than the second half. It could also refer to running each mile slightly faster than the last. If you’re willing to give it a try, we’ve broken down some of the benefits and training tips to get you started:

Start Easier than You Think to Negative Split

Starting off slower than your actual race pace helps your muscles warm up properly and prevents injury. Your joints will thank you as well!

It can be tempting to go full speed at the beginning of an event. Hopefully you arrive at the startline properly fueled and full of energy. You’re anxious and ready to put all that hard work to good use. But if you start too hard, you risk “blowing up” in the race. Negative splits are a great way to not let that energy ruin your race by starting too hard. By setting yourself some sustainable pace goals and actually sticking to them, you will ensure you don’t go too hard, too early. 

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Ramp into Your Negative Split

Begin to speed up your pace after you have settled into the race rhythm. Assess how you’re feeling and if going faster is even possible (hint: if it’s not, you started too hard). Depending on race length and your personal fitness, plan to begin to speed up around the halfway mark of your event. Hit your race pace around the middle of your race.

The angle of your pace ramp will depend on your experience and fitness levels. More experienced athletes with high fitness may begin their ramp as early as after the first kilometer since they will start closer to their maximal sustainable speed. Less experienced athletes or those with lower fitness levels should plan to start their ramp later in the race and plan for a shallow ramp (i.e., increase speed in very small increments as opposed to trying to set a new PR every kilometer).

Pro tip: The fundamental question to ask when trying to negative split

Can I handle going faster or am I already on the limit? Continuously check-in with your body and mind to see how much more you can ask of both.

Try Hard to Negative Split the End

Try to negative split the final kilometers of your race even more than the previous kilometers. Dig deep inside yourself and leave nothing left at the end. Be careful though! Starting this final negative split ramp too far out from the finish line could end up backfiring! If it’s your first time trying to negative split an event, start the final ramp within sight of the finish line. As you gain more experience and fitness, you can start the final ramp from further out and dig even deeper into whatever strength you have left.

Practice Negative Splits in Training

Controlling your pace during a race may seem difficult. But using adidas Running during your training runs will help keep your speed in check. Decide on a distance before heading out for a run so you’ll know where your halfway point is. Set the app voice feedback to report your pace for each interval so you’ll be able to recognize what your target speed feels like for each half. Check the app at the end of your training runs for a chart that displays each kilometer’s average pace and speed. With adidas Running Premium Membership, you can see your route traced in color, with faster paces in green and slower paces in red.

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Have you tried running negative splits? Let us know how they’ve improved your race times!

Not Ready to Try Negative Splits?

Just finishing an event be enough of a goal for you. If that’s the case, check out some exercises that will help you build full-body fitness so you can finish your event healthy and strong:

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