Did you know that most runners start a race too fast and struggle towards the end with slower end splits? Most runners at the end of the race say something like “I struggled at the end” “I blew up”.
I was one of those runners and in 2016 I decided to change this and change my training up. For example, I would start a 10k and the first mile would be my fastest and the last mile would be nearly a minute slower than my first. I would be hanging on in the end desperate to try and get a PB. I would get sucked into going out fast with other people that did it. It was ruining my races and my times and it is probably doing it to you too.
So I decided to try and run negative splits. They do sound difficult but when you split it down it isn’t that difficult. I started by changing my training up during the winter; I forced myself to start off slower on speed reps and made sure that every rep I did got faster. This sounds hard and it is but it becomes easy and in races it comes naturally. My first rep in a speed session is much slower than the last. It is hard when you are forcing yourself to push that last rep as fast as you can. But you will surprise yourself. Not only does this make you run faster towards the end of a race but it also allows your body to manage and cope when your body is full of lactic acid.
So the first trick is to get negative splits in your speed session or to have the reps consistent then the last rep as fast as you can and quicker.
The next step is to practice going out fast on your last few minutes of your long run; this forces your body to deal with the lactic acid while you’re tired. When your body is slowing down as you’re getting tired and to the end of the long run a quick blast will do you the world of good.
Now comes the tricky part: pacing it right in a race, it is easy to go off fast as lots of people shoot off. I now know I will catch them later in the run, in fact these days people rarely overtake me in the last few miles of a race. I practised my pace in the cross country season where I started off slow, so I would be around the top 50 at the start and by the end of the race pushing into the top 10. I did a 10 mile race and I forced myself to go out slower the first 5 miles and was roughly around 17th place and the 2nd half of the race I was much quicker and overtaking people and nearly came 3rd and achieved a PB. My last mile was the quickest. I could have paced it a bit better and gone a little faster on the first part but this is the tricky part and it takes practice.
It will hurt towards the end of a race but in the long run if you master it you can run a lot quicker and can achieve a PB; but it takes time.
My conclusion is you should give this a go and be patient. Be disciplined and don’t get caught up with people going out too fast at the start. Know your race plan and race pace and stick to the plan, sometimes have a few plans ready just in case you need to change the plan up during the race.