16. Negative splits

Well, I’m going to say something very heretical here, but maybe negative splits (and level pacing) aren’t for everyone. Perhaps I don’t yet run enough miles, enough 3/1 runs, or I’m still too heavy, but I wonder if slowing down in the later miles of a marathon is really that surprising.


My race experience is to start slow, loosening up to good pace by 10 km, running fastest from 10-20, still at good pace from 20-30 and starting to struggle home from 30 km. In Chicago I hit 20 miles with the pace team for 4:00, but with tired legs this ultimately left me some minutes outside a sub-4.

In an ideal world, I would be like Hal or Paula and able to keep the pace to the end, but in reality I know am going to be tired those last few miles. The slower we are, the more likely I think this is. Reading the race reports, I’m certainly not the only one. I’m convinced that even the elite athletes would be pretty tired if they had to run at their peak for 4+ hours …..

In Hal’s book ‘Marathon‘ there is a modified Myers table which accounts for this. There is a similar one on the Twin Cities Marathon site – try 4:20 pace chart.

My alternative strategy for Stratford then, flying in the face of much conventional wisdom, will be that to reach 4:00 comfortably, I may need to hit the half around 1:57. That might make a faster finish look theoretically possible, but more likely it could leave just enough room for tiring legs to stagger home on the day.

Related articles:
24. Things I have learned… #267
23. The uncertain glory of an April day: Shakespeare Marathon 2003
88. The Perfect Race – Sebastian Coe, Florence 1981
28. Thoughts on racing
4. GO British ! Chicago Marathon 2002

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