A few years ago when I was really learning ‘how’ to run again, my coach began emphasizing the importance of negative splitting. Running faster at the end of a race that at the beginning. It didn’t take much convincing. I became a huge proponent of negative splitting in nearly every race, workout, or training session. I got pretty good at it, running at least, it became very natural, I didn’t really have to work at it and it felt great! Finishing a race or track session strong, passing people who were struggling, it made me feel like I knew something they didn’t. I rarely got passed the second half of a running race or leg. It got to the point that I’d have a really hard time positive splitting a workout when asked to. (Turns out there is some value to that as well.)
I still believe firmly in the negative split, I just seem to have forgotten how… or it certainly isn’t as automatic as it used to be! A few weeks back my friends Carole and Kyle dragged me off the couch for 10 mile trail race a few miles from my house. It was a great idea, I need a few of these things to spice up the offseason.
It was a two lap course. I didn’t know the route, but I knew the terrain. I’ve run the park dozens of times. Should be a pretty easy set up to go out easy, learn the course on the first lap, put the hammer down on the second. So what happened? I dunno.
I suppose not warming up was partly to blame. I felt like it tough to gauge my effort right off the bat. I did a descent job of letting everyone go for the first mile and a half or so, but my HR was probably still too high. Then I just started racing. Before I knew it I was in catch everyone you can see mode and by the time I headed out on the second lap I knew this was not going to end well.
Part of what I love about passing someone so convincingly late in a race is that its so demoralizing. You know that person is thinking, ‘no way can I hang on to that guy’ and you certainly try to pass them in a manner that makes them think exactly that. How do I know its demoralizing? Because it happened about half a dozen times on that last lap. There’s nothing like learning your lesson with 4 miles to go in a 10 mile trail race. Ouch, man did those last few miles hurt. Lungs, legs, pride…
All things said and done, it was a great time with my friends, a beautiful day, a helluva workout and a pretty good lesson to learn. That’s what the off season is for, right?