This week, Coach Becky posted a #TipTuesday on the Runner In Training Facebook page (read it here) about running negative splits in a race. Negative splits happen when you run faster miles at the end of the race instead of your pace dropping as the miles add up. How do you run negative splits? Practice. And a lot of restraint.
I know from experience that it is hard to get in the mindset of going faster at the end of a race than at the start. The gun goes off and you want to take off like a rocket. No way can you let those 10 year-olds beat you in the first 50 meters of this 5k race. This past weekend, there were two local 5k races. In Saturday’s race, the lead pack went out, but were not pushing their usual break-neck pace from the start. I hung right behind them, waiting for them to take off. It was a comfortable pace for me. At the midway point, the top runners picked up the pace and put some distance between themselves and the next runners. I was able to pick up the pace in the middle mile and finish with a strong final mile for an overall race result I was happy with. Sunday, I went out way too fast. The first mile was blazing. The second was sluggish. The third I held on as best I could and had just enough to fend off the runners who had gone out with a better strategy than me and were very strong down the stretch.
It is hard to hold back.
Here is a workout you can do to help make those later miles faster and practice patience at the beginning of the race.This workout will be geared toward half marathon and full marathon training, but you can adjust the length of the sections of the run to fit a shorter race.
Start with a mile or two warm up at a comfortable pace. Then run 5 miles at your lactate threshold level. Click here to learn about Lactate Threshold. Then run two miles at what you feel is your goal 5k pace. You will be running hard at this point, but under control. Finish with 2 minutes of your best effort. Really push. Pretend you are chasing down the leader of the race for a dramatic finish. Try not to dive across the finish line though; asphalt burns are embarrassing to have to explain. A short cool down run and some static stretching is recommended after the workout.
Do this workout several times of the next few weeks, changing the distance and duration of the lactate threshold pace and the your hard effort paces. Then on race day, play it cool the first half, then chase down all those chumps that went out too hard (probably me).