My Way of Living + training

What works for you... . May not work for me : Positive Splits (2nd of a series)

Different Strokes for different folks. Horrible cliche, but when it comes to devising running strategies, training programs, shoe recos - you will get a plethora of answers that are oftentimes night and day in terms of theory and approach. The series would be dealing with the different strategies that runners utilize on race day, and the ramifications that arise from it. Hopefully, you will be able to deduce what is best from you.

The Runner's Taboo - Romancing the Positive Split The positive split. You hear it all the time around running circles in hushed tones, a seeming taboo approached with the same derision and mistrust as one would give the Illuminati. What's so wrong with it? Why do people view it with so much disdain? Let us take a closer look. Eat my dust, I'll see you later! - Newbie In plain and simple terms, a positive split entails that one would be running the first half of the race faster the second . C'mon, admit it. How may times have you see the relatively newbie-looking runner blast off from the starting gun, and you mutter "that won't last long" or something along those lines. Let's face it. There's an almost universal streak of vitriol against positive split runners. I always wondered why. If we are to continue using the boxing style analogy, the positive split would be the unorthodox, hard hitting puncher who is relying on that one big knockout blow to seal the match. It is most closely associated with being new and being amateur. Why is that the case? Under the Hood Most experts and experienced runners I know would recommend negative splits when running a marathon. Apparently, there are several things going on under your body's bonnet while running a positive split that you need to know : 1. You consume your glycogen deposits faster, meaning you'll be depending on fat far earlier in a race. As you may or may not know, this is far less efficient means of getting energy. 2. You hit your lactate threshold way too early, meaning you'll spend the majority of the race running anaerobically ( read: not good), meaning you'll hit the dreaded wall much earlier than usual (read: not good at all) 3. You'll have less margin of error to work around in case you overestimate your abilities on race day (happens a lot) What the Experts Say The experts aren't too crazy about it either. Running legend Sebastian Coe said in his book Better Training for Distance Runners that "deviating from your mean race pace by as little as +or - 2 % is metabolically more costly than remaining within this window" . In his book The Lore of Running, Tim Noakes categorically stated that "you should never listen to those who advocate running faster in the first half so you will have time to cushion your reduced pace in the second half. In fact, your fast pace in the first half is the very reason for your fade in the second half. It is always better to run the second half faster. It gives you the impression that your are faster than you really are. Bordering on the Controversial : My Take Okay, so the positive split was all but butchered by every Tom, Dick, Harry, and even Jane out there. However, as those who have raced with me know, I have a contrarian view on the matter. I have tried to neg split several times, and each and every time it hit me square on the jaw.Case in point - Botak Paa-Tibayan 21k. I had told myself at the time, okay why don't we try this negative split thing since it's a longer distance and everyone recos it anyway. So I ran the first 10k in 55:30, at a pace that is very tame in comparison to what I usually do. So no positive split there. So what happened? Did I break records? Nah. I totally discomombulated over the 2nd half. I had a finish time of 2:14, way off the sub-2 hour finish that I was targeting. At the time that I was supposed to pick up the pace, at the time where my bountiful glycogen deposits and lack of anaerobic effort should have reaped benefits, I had nothing more to give. I tried in vain to speed up, the best I could muster was a 6:30 effort, and even that I couldn't sustain. I felt like I would die at the finish line. So what went wrong? Why didn't the famed negative split work for me?

Nope, it didnt work. It's a mental thing So what happened? I'm guessing it's a mental thing. Perhaps I have a weird psychological makeup. Believe it or not, each and every race that I have run on a positive split led me to setting a new PR. I have honestly no idea why. As we know, the race is just as much mental as it is physical. Once you mind starts playing games with you, you're screwed. As for myself, I always felt more comfortable being ahead and hanging on to a lead rather than coming back from behind. I'd rather race the first half and make the second half a blood and guts game. I do a lot better from a position of control. Specially when there an inclines during the second half, coupled with the Manila heat I am unable to gain any sort of major ground. I would rather steel myself and hang on. Thus it boils down to : 1. You're tired, it's hot, your legs are killing you and you're protecting a lead OR 2. You're tired, it's hot, your legs are killing you and you're clawing your way from behind. Obviously, I choose the former. Mr. Coe said that even a 2% deviation from your intended race pace (if you start aggresively) will extract a "big cost" from your race. So why doesn't it work for me? Is it the debilitating Manila heat? Is that the "unintended variable" caveat that he put in when he wrote it? I just really want to know. Your thoughts and comments please? Let the debates begin.

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What works for you... . May not work for me : Positive Splits (2nd of a series) + training