Marathon splits

When I started running/racing last year I fell into the habit of running negative splits in races (I hope I'm using the expression correctly) as I would run the first half of the race with my wife, get frustrated and blast the second half. This method has proved useful and I've adopted the habit quite naturally (i.e. not following any specific plan), even in races without my good lady.
I have a target time for the New Forest Marathon on Sunday (my first) but am not sure how to work out the split times. I get the feeling that I won't be able to run a faster second half, so should I just try to keep my pace consistent?
Your advice would be most welcome.


  • I think I read somewhere that elite athletes run negative splits separated by just seconds. So for the rest of us mere mortals, even pace would probably suffice.

    I'm pretty slow, and usually try to run the first 3 miles even slower than normal to fully warm up, then try for even pace after that.

    What time are you aiming for?
  • Between 3:30 and 3:40, so I figure just over 8 min miles should do it.
  • Wow, 3:30 after a year of running! Impressive. I could only manage about 2 miles at 8 minute pace on a good day.

    Good luck.
  • Cheers.
    The furthest I've run so far is 19 miles which I did in 2:43, so the 3:30 could just be pipe dreaming at the moment.
    I'll let you know how I got on. If I manage to do it, in fact, I'll probably let the entire world know!
  • GuyGuy ✭✭✭
    Very slight negative splits are supposed to be way to get a PB - the theory being that you retain just enough energy to pick up the pace a bit in the last few miles. If it feels too fast in the first 20 miles, then you are almost certainly going to pay for it in the last 6.

    That said, in 8 marathons I have yet to put that theory into practice - my normal technique being to go out too fast, blow up at anywhere from 16 to 20 miles, and struggle badly through the last few miles. (At London this year my second half was 24 mins slower than than my first.)

    Here's hoping for negative splits for both of us at New Forest on Sunday.
  • HillyHilly ✭✭✭
    Good luck on Sunday guys. I know a few people doing this one. I would have been there to cheer my club mates on but I'm doing my first triathlon.

    In my marathons I've always aimed to do the first few miles at a pace that feels too slow, picking up around 3/4 miles to marathon pace. I always find the last 6 miles tough no matter how I've run the first few. Mind they were certainly doubly hard this year from going too fast in the first 5 miles. It was pay back time!

    Go with how you feel, and ENJOY!
  • I reacon you loose approx 10% in the second half of the marathon so I always think of that for example if you want to do a sub 3.30 i`d hit half way about 1.35ish then when you get to the dredded 20/22 you can if need be drop a min or 2 a mile and just scrape in.

    You never know you may even stick the pace! The more long runs in training you do over 20 all helps towards the big day. Have you ever tried the high Carbohydrate gels? They work! Also bulk up on Baked potato`s and pasta all week and drink loads of water!

    I have done 3 marathons this year and this has worked for me everytime so far. Cardiff I hit 1.27.30 at half way and finished 3.00.08 so I only lost 3 mins in the second half! CARBO LOAD!!

  • GuyGuy ✭✭✭
    Jimmy: My gut instinct is that your approach is right, and I'd like to feel that I have a few minutes in hand when I get to mile 20 and beyond. If you got a 3:00 hour marathon out of it then it does sound as though it is working for you. However, all the advice I have ever read has been the opposite - that miles in the bank in the early part of a marathon will, in the last few miles, lose you a lot more than you gained in the first few.

    My fall back plan for Sunday is pretty much what you suggest for a 3:30. I aim to hit half way around 1:36/1:37, the plan being to hold that pace for the second half to go sub 3:15. However, if things go horribly wrong in the second half I hope to be able to hang on sufficiently to get in under 3:30 (which would still be a PB).

    I think the more sensible option would be to go off at 8 minute miles, which I know would feel very comfortable, and then pick it up from around mile 18/20 for something in the high 3:20's.
  • Cheers guys (sorry, Guy, no pun intended). As this is my first I guess I'll have to suck it and see what works for me.
    Jimmy, I have tried the gels and they seemed to give me a lift without any ill effects. I've stocked up a few for Sunday.

    Good luck everyone!
  • Bear, I'm aiming for 3.30-3.40 on Sunday. My number is 334. What's yours?
    I intend to try and keep my pace right down for the first half, eight minute fifteen second miles are just on course for my target. Then, if I feel good at fifteen miles, I am going to remind myself what happened last time and carry on at eight minute fifteen pace until twenty one miles. Then, in the unlikely event that I still feel good, I can up the pace for the last five and a bit.
    Good luck.
  • Wurzel, my number is 4, believe it or not! I entered very early. I acctually had race number 1 for the Gloucester half but couldn't make it due to injury.
    I'll keep my eye out for you. You'll probably have to pin it on your back for me to see it though!!

    Good luck, mate.
  • -ve splits is the best way to run , after all a marathon is a long way.(The textbooks say 20miles is halfway- after all we can all get there with the right training, ut if you've gone too fast the last 6 are murder).

    I'd agree its better to start slower, and get to halfway/20miles knowing you can pick the pace up by 15/20 secs a mile to get you in under target.
  • I'll think of you, Dustin, as I reach the 20 mile marker, completely tommy-tucked. Yippee, halfway!!!

    It's a sobering thought and puts the distance into perspective.

    I'll try to pay attention to all the advice I've had.

    Many thanks.
  • Just to add, my first marathon (aiming for sub 4) I ran halfway in 2.10 and got to 21 miles in 3.20, leaving me around 8min/miling to break 4. I felt great and upped the pace to finish in 3.58.

    This year aiming for 3.40ish I went with the RW 3.30 pacers until about 20 miles when they sped off into the distance.Some how I managed to maintain something like a regular pace and finished in 3.31 although the last 10km was slower than the rest.

    The most comforatble race was the former.
    However despite years of practice even pace running is still difficult, the closest I came was during the Great South a few weeks back , my 5 out/5 back splits were within 5 or so seconds of each other.

    I like Wurzels advice, which is more or less what i tried this year, Ok at 15, stick with it to 20/21, and if you feel good, try and up it , if not theres a long way to hang on for.....
  • Good Luck guy`s!! hope you all get your PB`s!!

    my next Marathon is Dublin in october so i`m hoping to crack the 3hr barrier!

    I hope all your taktics pay off! Let us know your times.

    Good Luck!
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