Be NEGATIVE!

People constantly ask me how I train and what secrets I have to improve my running speed and endurance. One thing I am a BIG believer in is always running even and negative splits. An even split means you run the same pace for your entire run and a negative split means that throughout your run you continue to get faster. If you look  at world records; nearly every long distance running world record has been set while running even or negative splits. It sounds like a no brainer, yet most runners don’t do it. Instead, they start in a near sprint, hang on through the middle and resort to a survivor’s shuffle at the end. In contrast, those who opt for negative splits patiently run a bit slower for the first third of a run, pick up the pace in the middle and finish with strength and speed. Our bodies will race like we train so by incorporating negative splits into training runs; it makes it a lot easier to do it in a race! 

So, training via negative splits means you condition your body to be able to perform while tired and give it more energy during the back half of the race. You learn to pace yourself and not go all out in the beginning, and your body learns to give that extra kick in the second half while your energy levels begin to wane. In every workout I do, I try to always finish with more effort than I begin. I slowly increase my effort and speed throughout a workout and then by the end I am all out moving! (I feel like I am sprinting!) It’s a tough workout, but over time your body gets used to it. And come race day you’ll be thankful for training this way. 

Jeff Galloway wrote an article for Runner’s World on learning to run negative splits. To check it out; go here! It is filled with some awesome tips to help the new runner learn how to incorporate this valuable training method! And this does not only apply to running, but can be used in biking and swimming! 

So there you have it…one of my BEST running tips! Sometimes being NEGATIVE is truly the best POSITIVE! 🙂 

San Antonio Half Marathon, November 2009

 Do you run negative splits when training? 
 

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44 Responses

  1. I hate the negative splits workout, but they do work to make one faster. I do this type of workout about once every other week.

  2. haha if i did want to train better i would TOTALLY do negative splits!!! sounds like a fabulous tip 🙂

  3. I actually started doing negative splits after reading your blog :D! Now it seems like I read it in every running tips article. Most days I do try to accomplish negative splits but it’s sometimes tough on group long runs where I stay with people (though I’m the only one in my little pace group with a Garmin so I should lead the way!). I think it was really helping my pace up till that darned surgery… now everything is out of whack with my pace.

  4. Hmm I think I need to start doing this sooner rather than later, especially since I have a half marathon planned for September. Eep! Any suggestions on how to get started with the negative splits?

    • Start slow and don’t overwhelm yourself. It might be good to start out by running even splits….then once you get comfortable with that move onto negative splits.

      When you are ready to start negative splits at first start slower…about 10 to 20 seconds per mile slower than the race pace you’ve predicted. Don’t be tempted to speed up. Start to gradually build speed as you near the middle of the run until you are at your race pace. Then, toward the end pick it up and kick it in with all you have left.

  5. Great info! I usually run at the same speed the whole time. I am thinking that when I start running again I’m going to try negative splits because I definitely need to increase my speed and endurance. I am such a slowpoke but hopefully this method will help. Thanks!

  6. I always TRY to do negative splits…but it’s really hard to not get carried away in the beginning, when you’re just itching to run!! 🙂

  7. I do try to run negative splits actually. Although, during a race, I tend to do the opposite b/c I go out to hard and then overcompensate at the end.

  8. I just learned something! I honestly never knew what that meant! I think I do them already naturally though now that I think back on all my races. Great to keep in mind though so that I can be more aware of that. I haven’t ran in a race since my 10K on Thanksgiving, but I have 2 5K’s coming up in May, so I’ll keep this in mind. Thanks for passing along that article, I’m gonna go read it now! 😉

  9. While I am not a runner, I really agree with this approach. I usually try to gradually work up to more intensity with whatever workout I am doing. While that isn’t necessarily a negative split since it isn’t related to running, I love having energy to really pout my all into a workout by the end. Instead of burning myself out too fast. Great information and thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. Thanks for these definitions! I don’t know if I can even call myself a runner yet (only up to 3 miles; only on a treadmill!) but i’m running even splits 6.3 mph all the way!!

  11. I’ve heard of that. I hadn’t tried it out yet. That’s a really neat analogy of running though. I bet it’s tough!

  12. Thanks for posting about this. I had NO idea what those terms meant and it’s nice to be in the know now. And apparently I’ve been doing even splits the entire time and didn’t know it! Sweet! 🙂

  13. Depending on my mood, I aim for either negative splits or just to make it through a run. 🙂 Haha, seriously though…negative splits are normally my goal. I like to run at a good steady pace and then save energy so I can speed up.

    Great post!

  14. Great running tip! Since I’ve read about negative splits, I’ve tried to aim for it more often in my runs. I’m successful on the treadmill, but stay mostly even on the road. Always room for improvement!

  15. I was so determined to run a negative split in the Boston Marathon on Monday, but it just didn’t happen. I’m not giving up, though, b/c there’s nothing better than finishing strong!

  16. I’m tired just reading about negative splits.

  17. Oh how I miss running. I enjoyed reading your post and living vicariously through you! Negative splits is always something I tried to achieve in running. Sometimes at the end it’s so easy b/c your adrenaline kicks in!

  18. I’ve never really thought about it with this terminology because I don’t run very far or run very many races, but the ones I have I always try to start out slower at the beginning and pick it up at the end. My body just normally gravitates towards that. great advice!

  19. I actually do it naturally. It just takes me a couple of miles to really get into a stride, so my first half of a run is almost always slower than my last half.

  20. Love how your posts are both fun and informative, we get a look into your life and also information on recent topics and FUN things :)…used to run negative splits…hah – now it’s all in the dumper – diagnosis double negative? whatever i don’t have the energy to care 😉

  21. I definitely don’t ALWAYS run even/negative splits, but I try to pick up the pace during the last half of a run–both for conditioning my body to work hard when it’s tired, and because I’m mentally so relieved that I’m on the last half of my run! 😛

  22. I tend to run even splits but I’m trying to work on this!

  23. This is the exact post I needed to read right now. Thank you!! I’m about to ramp up training and really need to work on improving speed but I want to go about it carefully and methodically. Thanks so much for the tips!

  24. oooo love this!! I have always heard negatives but honestly I really didnt know what it meant! Thanks!

  25. i have heard of thsi method before! thanks for the explanation, kelly!

  26. I just thought about negative splits this morning after my run before I read this!!! I’ve been running fast for the first mile, slowing down the 2nd and then going back to my first mile’s speed for the next 1/2 mile. It definitely makes more sense to start slower and then go harder at the end.

    My ultimate goal is to run even (which I never knew had a name so thanks!). I’m trying to work on distance and I’m sure speed will come with time.

  27. Negative splits are great for training! I try to do them at least once a week.

    However, hills are the only training run that have truly made me faster. I used to be an average 8-9minute miler. Then, I started doing hills on the treadmill. I’m talking running at 6mph with a 6-10% incline for 45-60 minutes. After about 2 months of that, I became a 7-8 minute miler. I run “hills” at least 2 times a week and I’m still getting faster! (and I’m 35 years old!)

    • Okay…I am DEFINITELY going to try that! Sounds really hard…10% incline really?! Sheesh!

      • I know! It sounds crazy but I promise it’ll help your running. Maybe slowly work into it…20 minutes to begin at 6%. Bump it up 1% each minute and then go back to 6%. Get “comfortable” and do it again. Let me know if you notice a difference in your running. I think I should start a blog and call it “Don’t be afraid of the Incline”. HAHHAHAh

  28. Great post – I wish I could follow this idea more. My splits are so weird, they totally go back in forth. Lately my splits have looked kind of like this: 8:08; 8:25: 8:07: 8:20. And it goes on and on. It’s like I surge ahead and then I relax a bit, surge ahead, relax. I’m a weirdo runner.

    • Haha…no way. I think that is probably more normal than anything else. I do that too especially when I am running with music. If a few fast songs come on then I tend to speed up and vise versa. Honestly, what helped me get a since of pacing was treadmill running because it basically forces you to run at least even splits. Then once I got used to the feelilng of even and negative splits on the treadmill it was easier for me to translate that outside.

  29. Hey Kelly! Sorry I disappeared on you also haha, work got sooo busy the week after my race in Austin! It’s still quite busy but that’s a good thing. No worries though, I know I’ll take more trips to Austin. My race was fantastic! I finished in about 67 minutes and had so much fun doing it (recap on my blog). I’m actually running another earth day 10k tomorrow morning and I’m really excited about it, even though I think I’m doing it on my own :\ my friends are lazy, and my mom doesn’t even want to come out and cheer me on!! Oh well, I’ll make friends 🙂
    The negative splits thing is interesting. I don’t know anything about training, I should really start reading up on it since I’m still a beginner. But I think I actually do this naturally. Not all the time on training runs, but for the 5k’s I’ve done and the cap10k, I think I’m nervous about making it through so I start off by really pacing myself and then get excited to finish in the second half. And I always sprint towards the finish line! I also somehow ended up with a good playlist on my ipod that helps me with that. My fave upbeat songs are near the end so I get into it and speed up.
    My biggest problem is getting motivated to run on a regular basis, I’ve only done 2 runs since the cap10k, and it’s even harder to convince myself to get in the miles I want. How do you run over 8 miles every day?!
    Well, I hope you’re doing well, have a great weekend!

    • Oh I am so glad you had a good Cap 10K experience. I can’t wait to go read about it!! Goodluck this weekend and keep me posted!!!

  30. Negative splits…I try…oh I try. I mostly end up with even splits though. On the bike it is mostly determined by the weather. I don’t think there’s been a day when I don’t have wind going one way or the other. Great post, as usual!

  31. […] I was running alone, I pushed my pace a bit.  I kept thinking about this post by incredi-runner, Kelly.  She gives great information about running negative and even splits. […]

  32. […] this beast).  And… everything went just as it should.  No stomach issues, negative splits (Kelly would approve!), I had energy (oh the wonders of water and food), and I don’t feel like I need to nap for […]

  33. I’ve gotten a lot better at running negative splits, or even ones. My pace is a lot more consistent too (a variance of 10+/- secs is not a big deal between splits to me). However, at 5Ks, I think it is okay to go all out, even if that means positive splits.

  34. […] was around 7 miles or so.  Awesome. I even kicked it up at the end, quasi-negative split style per Kelly’s recommendation. I didn’t even think I had it in me to kick it out at the last half mile or so […]

  35. I usually try to do negative splits. But something I’ve noticed lately is that if I start out slow, it’s like I’ve been conditioned to run that slow for the remainder of my run. Starting out faster than usual has tended to help me lately. However, my running varies by the day. I never know until I start moving how I should tackle each particular run.

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