How To Run A Negative Split

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on July 15, 2010

Good morning!

Today is a rest day for me so I used my extra time this morning to work on a fun kitchen project that I am putting together!

Recognize any of these pictures?  :biggrin:

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I’ll be showing more pictures in my next post. Eric and I also need your help with a couple things!!

Then it was time for Vegan Overnight Oats!

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With Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve.

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Peanut Butter Crunch VOO Parfait:

  • Vegan Overnight Oats (I used 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/4 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Amazing Meal powder, 1 cup Almond Milk)
  • Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve
  • Gluten-Free Rice Crisp (the crunch)
  • Cacao Nibs (more crunch!)

 

It was unbelievably good…probably one of my top 5 that I have made so far!!! I felt like I was eating a blizzard!

Indoors and outdoors…

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The best is when it gets all swirly and mixed up. It is sheer bliss. I really don’t want summer to end! I am going to have to wear a winter jacket this winter when it gets cold in the mornings, just to make my vegan overnight oats!

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Many of you have been asking me questions about the negative splits I have been talking about in my running posts so I thought I would put together a FAQ post on the topic today. I am by no means an expert, so I source Runner’s World when needed and I am mostly speaking to my own personal experience.

How To Run A Negative Split

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“What is a negative split?”

  • A negative split is when the second half of your exercise (e.g., run, bike, swim, etc) is faster on average than then first half of your exercise. The object of a negative split is to conserve your energy in the first half, allowing for a strong finish during the second half. This strategy is also very useful if the second half of your route has a lot of hills.

 

For example, this 4 mile run IS a negative split:

  • Mile 1: 10:11
  • Mile 2: 10:24
  • Mile 3: 10:01
  • Mile 4: 9:04

 

This is a negative split because mile 1 + mile 2 = 20:35 mins and mile 3 + mile 4 = 19:05 mins. It is a negative split because you completed the second half of your exercise 1:30 mins faster than the first half.

This 3 mile run is NOT a negative split:

  • Mile 1: 8:30
  • Mile 2: 10:06
  • Mile 3: 8:50

 

You can easily tell that this is NOT a negative split because your 3rd mile is slower than your first mile (8:30 min/mile), really mile 2 is irrelevant here because your simply split it in half.

Mile 1 = 8:30 + half of mile 2 = 5:03 totals => 13:33 mins

Mile 3 = 8:50 + half of mile 2 = 5:03 totals => 13:53 mins

Thus, the second half of this run is 20 seconds slower than the first half of the run. Not a huge difference, but this would not be a negative split.

“How do you run a negative split? I have a very hard time finishing faster than I begin.”

Last summer, I could not run a negative split for the life of me. Almost every single one of my runs would end with a slow, dying crawl. With each mile I would often get slower and slower until I was finished. I longed to run negative splits, but I never made it happen.

I have been able to run negative splits lately and I attribute this to a few reasons:

1) Garmin 305

The Garmin 305 was one of the best purchases I have ever made. It allows me to see the time of each mile as I run and I can gauge what pace I need to maintain to run a negative split. Without a training watch it would be very hard for me to determine if I am running negative splits. It has also been helpful for me when setting a goal of running each mile faster than the previous mile. I got my Garmin 305 at Costco and it was significantly cheaper than other retail stores (although you can purchase it online for a bit less).

Of course, it is possible to run negative splits without a training watch (if you know the distance of your route and have mile markers), however I did not have the motivation until I got Dwight!

2) Decide you will run a negative split!

Negative splits just don’t ‘happen’, you have to decide before your run that your goal is to run a negative split and then you have to be conscious of this your entire run. If you want to zone out, I don’t suggest trying to run a negative split because they take a lot of focus and looking at your mile split times. Part of the reason why I love running negative splits is because I am doing math in my head and it is a great distraction on runs. The runs fly by when I aim for a negative split.

3) Start off slower than normal, between 1-2 min/mile less than you normally would run on fresh legs.

Normally, when I start a run I want to go fast on my fresh legs. I am happy at about a 7:45-8 min/mile pace at the start, however when my goal is to try a negative split, I try to make my first mile around a 9 min/mile pace. These times will vary for everyone, but you have to find what is comfortable for you. It will take some playing around with it until you find what works for you…this is part of the FUN of learning to run negative splits! Lots of trial and error. If you are having trouble achieving a negative split, you are likely running much too fast in the first third portion of your run.

4) Run slow for the first third, pick it up in the middle, and finish strong!

I love how Runner’s World puts it: “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.” [source].

5) Go out with a bang for each mile 

End each mile very strong and fast, just like you are finishing a race. When I do the math in my head sometimes I realize that I need to boot it in order to make my goal of doing a faster second mile than the first. This often leaves me running hard at the end of each mile to meet my time goal.

5) Take at break at the beginning of each mile and when necessary

I like to finish each mile strong, so I typically take a walking break at the beginning of each mile. This works for me because I get a breather and then it gives me energy to tackle the next mile. I take a break to walk at least once a mile, if not more. There is no shame in walking as much as you need to! When I first started running, I used to run for 1 minute at a time. Over time, you will build up your endurance. [For my running story see the post I did called ‘From 1 minute to 10 miles’]

6) Sprint the last few hundred metres of your run as you would in a race.

Finishing strong is one of the best feelings in the world. I only wished I had started doing it sooner!

7) Walk for a cool-down

This is crucial as you will be very out of breath after sprinting and your heart rate is soaring. I typically walk about 0.25 mile after my runs.

8) Stay Hydrated

I don’t know how I ever survived my runs without my Camelbak. I bring it on short runs and long runs. I always say I didn’t know how much water my body really needed until it was readily accessible!

“Why does it work?”

Runner’s World puts it nicely “The reason this works is because it can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, your muscles are charged, your joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood your system. You’ll find yourself running faster without feeling any more effort.” [source]

“What are the benefits of doing negative splits? Why should I do them?”

Negative splits are not for everyone, but they can be great for the following reasons:

1) They build running confidence

2) They improve endurance

3) They are a fun distraction while on runs and a great challenge

4) You improve your math skills (lol)

5) They will help you run strong in races

6) They force you to adjust your pace and give you motivation to run faster and harder than you normally would

7) Injury prevention (it allows your body to warm up properly)

Have you ever tried to run a negative split? Do you think you would try it out?

Updates:

There is a new shipment of Glo Bars at Ambrosia today! There are also more variety packs, Crave, Empower, and Adore Glo Bars in the shopping cart.

Have a great day!

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

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Danielle (Runs on Green) July 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

Thanks for the info. on running negative splits! I’m really bad about pacing myself…I tend to get “excited” and sprint for the first mile and then I drag and then pick up again haha. I actually think I’ll try it today :D

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 11:35 am

hahah I do that too…I am so pumped at the beginning of a run…!!!

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Sara July 15, 2010 at 10:47 am

I love the negative split FAQ, but my favorite part of this post was seeing your VOO parfait in the measuring cup! I always wondered what the actual quantity of food was that you were eating for breakfast, and now I know! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

haha VOO’ + BSSs are about 1 cup!

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Julie @ Pickley Pear July 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

I love your oats – they look so delicious and filling!

Great tips on negative splits. I’ve never focused on it, as I more or less focus on my feeling of the run and just finishing :) In thinking back to my last few runs – they were most definitely “positive” splits (is that a term?!). Oh…and my Garmin is my favorite toy ever!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

I wondered about the term positive split too! ;)

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Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries July 15, 2010 at 11:11 am

This just reinstates how desperately I need a camelback!

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Nikki July 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

Your VOOs always look so amazing! I love how creative you get with them. So many good ideas. I have a feeling all of those pictures are going to be turned into something spectacular! I always appreciate your advice on here. It’s nice to see things from someone who’s experienced it. I’ve tried to pick it up in my running and finish strong. It feels so good to end that way!

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Michal July 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

I’m so glad I read this and your Running Story today – the sun has come out, I’ve had a rest day, and I’m decided to go running after I hit the Farmers Market tonight! :-)

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Marathon Bound Girl aka Grace July 15, 2010 at 11:33 am

Love VOO, Love VOO!!! Had VOO for BF yesterday, yummy! I had mine with chopped up banana, unsweetened organic coconut, and cacao chips. YUMMY! Yippee, I have a happy tale, I ordered coconut butter and cacao nibs on line today because our all natural grocery store here, “Sprouts”, does not carry either of those products…wah! But I am excited I found those items on Amazon!

As for the answer to negative splits, woohoo, thanks so much for that info. I have a Garmin 305 and want to learn so much all of the ways to work it so I can start negative splits. I might have to try that with my first 15k being run this Sunday in almost 5 years. I’m on the Jeff Galloway program so I am hoping I can still do that during this race. I run with a group and I believe it’s doable. We shall see. I so want to spend an entire day learning more about this little Garmin thing!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

Goodluck with your 15k!

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Rosey Rebecca July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

I love that you ate your breakfast out of a measuring cup AND that you have a random picture of it sitting on a tree stump. HA!

Thanks for the negative split tutorial. I’ve been on and off with running and just started running seriously a couple weeks ago. I ran almost four miles for the first time yesterday (going to be asking for some MAJOR running advice in my blog post tonight). Does running on the treadmill count? I hope so. I need to start running outside. :-)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

hahaha I thought the tree stump was random and fun

yes treadmill running counts!

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tanya July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

Your breakfast looks so good, haven’t tried the chia seeds yet!

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Anne @ Chute Assis July 15, 2010 at 11:38 am

I’ve naturally run negative splits since I started ‘wogging’ (walk-jogging) back in my early days of running! I thought I was just weird until someone told me there was actually a term for being SUPER slow to start and quick on the return. :)

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

I can’t wait to see how your picture project turns out! Have you ever tried making banana soft serve in a blender? Do you think it would work the same as a food processor? The whole ‘blizzard’ idea has my mouth watering!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I have heard it can work in a blender but it takes FOREVER lol

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Lisa July 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thank you for posting this! I can never keep all these terms straight.

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for the info. I was wondering what the heck a negative split was every time you mentioned one. ;) I can see why they’d be really helpful for races!

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Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life July 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Great running tips, thanks for the advice!
Your VOO definitely puts the “OOO” in VOO – it looks fantabulous :-P

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Sarah for Real July 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for that info! I’m a new runner-ish so it’s all new to me. You made it so easy to understand!

For new runners like myself who may not want to invest in a Garmin just yet, I’ve had success with the Run Keeper Pro app for the iphone. It’s only $10 and does everything that the Garmin watches do (I think). It tracks GPS route, pace, calories, and altitude changes. It’ll interrupt your music to inform you of your pre-programmed workout prompts too. Probably the only drawback is having it strapped to my arm instead of my wrist.

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Megan July 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Great post! I have trouble with negative splits but I am going to take your tips with me on my next run and hopefully I can master it!

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Lizz @ Leading the Good Life July 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I love negative splits! The 1st 2 miles are usually some of the hardest for me, so it’s really rewarding to see my times get faster and faster as I get into the second half of my runs.

And I totally do math while I run! I actually love math. :) And I like how race distances and times offer complicated problems to keep my mind busy. I convert miles to kilometers, use a goal time to calculate what each mile should be, and vice versa. Whatever works, right?!

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Dee July 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Whilst I’m not a runner (yet?) I think this is a super helpful post. I knew what a negative split it didn’t occur to me that this:

This 3 mile run is NOT a negative split:

Mile 1: 8:30
Mile 2: 10:06
Mile 3: 8:50

was not a negative split! I learn something everyday from the blogworld!

ps. LOVE your photos!

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Michelle July 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I laughed out loud when I read this post – not because it was funny, but because I serioulsy JUST bought a Garmin 305 at the Running Room today! I was talking to the clerk and I mentioned how I really wanted to purchase one to help with my running, and she said that the Garmin forerunner 205/305 was on sale because it was being discontinued. I bought the last one, and here you are sharing how much it helps you during your runs! I am so excited to try it out :)

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Caroline July 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I actually try for even splits a lot of the time. I worry that too much of a negative split means I haven’t run hard enough! Then again, it’s nice to wonder how much farther you could have gone and still done negative splits.

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Jessica @ Rawtumn July 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Awesome and informative post Ang! Great tips! I always try to run negative splits, it makes me feel mentally better at the end of a run too. I’ve tried pushing myself too early on before and it never works out well. I have been wanting a Garmin 305 for YEARS though. I think once I’m back to running outdoors this Fall I’m going to bite the bullet and buy one. <3

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Laura (youngDCliving) July 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Ooh! A personal food photography wall in your kitchen or something? Or maybe to tell at the market? I wanna see!

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Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales July 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

For a relatively new runner this is quite an interesting read. At the moment I am just focussing on building up mileage and ‘time on my feet’. I aim to finish each run with a sprint at the end which I actually find fun, so when I’m a bit more accomplished I think I might enjoy trying to do negative splits. One for the future me thinks!

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Molly (Fuel Her Up) July 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Great post! Love neg. split runs. I do want to point out that you can make these as hard or easy as you want: You can just practice the feeling of speeding up and picking a pace, or, as a competitive runner, for a hard workout I start out at an already challenging pace and then really bang it out and basically use all I got to hit a pace when my muscles are already really warm. Love negative runs!

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Lisa July 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Wow – thankyou for all of that useful info!!!

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Leah July 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for the info on negative splits. I have been doing pretty well on negative splits unless I have a long hill at the end of my run…

Love the overnight oats… I make mine with apple juice and eat them straight out of the fridge!

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Lalla July 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm

haha it’s nice to read that COLD oats it’s something strange for some of you there, as here in Switzerland it’s strange to eat it HOT! hahaha :D
In an old post you asked who did “invent” the overnight oats”, well in Switzerland was Mr. Bircher-Benner (here wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muesli ). We prepare it the night before because the oats needs to become soft. ;)
Il love the way you do you Bircher-Müesli, but (sad) here we don’t have chia seeds. or better, I could buy it to plant in the garden, but 300 seeds for 7.50 SFr. it’s a huge prize hehehe ;)
PS: I love your blog! So inspiring! Thanks for sharing

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Liz July 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Thanks for the negative split explanation. I’m a new runner and this was insightful :)

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[email protected]://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ July 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Those pictures are really good, can’t wait to see what you are creating.

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Lana July 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I really want to start training with negative splits…I definitely need to invest a Garmin!!!
I run on a treadmill in the winter and know which songs on my iPod have the beat for a certain running speed. I’m able to judge my speed and distance that way.

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Emily @ Beyond The TextBook July 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for the info regarding negative splits! I thought it meant that each mile had to get faster, rather than just the second half. I also continue to find it motivating when you talk about running and mentioning how far you’ve come. I feel like I am stuck in such a rut and feel like I could never be a runner…thanks for continuously keeping me inspired! :)

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Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) July 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm

That parfait looks soooo YUMMY!

Jenn

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Chelsey July 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm

i just love your oats!!!!

I have never tried running a negative split, but I am intrigued. My HRM does not track mileage, so it would be tough to me to do if I wasn’t on a treadmill (which I hate).

Thanks for the info!!

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Jess July 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I really liked your post on negative splits.
I also read your From 1 minute to 10 miles
and it was so informative for me. I am just
starting to run and it made me feel good that
everyone has to start somewhere and that
it is okay for me to start by running a minute
and th walking a minute! I am a new reader
and I really enjoy your posts each day!!

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Lisa July 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I loved this post because it also led me to your post “From 1 minute to 10 miles”. I just started running and decided to use that approach last night. I really liked it because like you said, looking at the stop watch keeps your mind on other things. Also it seems like a great way to be able to gage your improvement. Previously I was just running to certain points then walking a bit but it wasn’t consistent. So thanks! I definitely hope I start to love running soon :)

I have been running/jogging on machines for years and it amazes me how much tougher outdoor running is!

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Lisa August 26, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Ok so this is really old but I had to chime in! I used to go out way too fast and die off in a 5K until I started training on a treadmill… it is just too hot to run in Florida in August every single day for me. It took some adjusting but I got used to it, and always forced myself to negative split, because on a treadmill you can do that! So I went from being a mile-sprint-then -die-out runner to awesome at being patient and let everyone pass me the first mile. Yesterday I got a PR of 28:27 and only went out in 9:45, so with a pace of 9:11 overall I did some serious negative splitting! The averages were actually just all a tad faster than what I set the treadmill too on a 3 mile run.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) August 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

nice work, congrats!!

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