HM pacing & splits

Apologies for asking a question that's no doubt been addressed many times before but I'd appreciate some thoughts on the perceived ideal splits for a HM, or a 10k for that matter. 

I'm relatively new to running and in previous sports (eg rowing) I've always adopted a gentle negative split across the whole piece but some of the training plans I've looked at do seem to suggest the first few miles being a fair bit quicker than the last.

I'm aiming for a sub-1:30 time at the Cheshire HM in Nov after a 1:34 at Wilmslow this year so my plan would've been to start off on 6:55/mile and gently increase the pace from there.  A mate of mine who did a recent 1:29 HM did two sub-6 miles to kick off with which I personally don't think my legs would manage.

Advice and thoughts welcome.



  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    The best approach does vary between individuals, but generally most advice I've seen is that the negative split is the best approach, but can be difficult to achieve.  An even paced approach is easier to follow, but might not be quite as quick.

    Your mate probably would have got an even better time if he hadn't done the two sub-sixes at the start, there's a few famous runners who've quoted things like "every second faster at the start means two seconds slower at the end" or similar.

    The other benefit of starting slower and speeding up is that you pass more people that have started too fast and are struggling, so your constantly chasing and catching the people in front.  Conversely, if you go too fast at the start, when you're tired and suffering in the later stages there is nothing more demoralising than seeing a steady stream of runners overtaking you. 

  • I decide what my target pace is, and start at that pace, resisting the temptation to speed up a bit. 

    Then, if things are going well, I can pick the pace up a bit as the race progresses, which leads to a negative split.

    Starting too fast used to be my downfall.

  • If your mate can do two sub-6 minute miles at the start of a HM and still hold on for 1:29, I'd suggest he's capable of quite a bit faster than that if he ran a more even race. I'm a 1:30 HM runner and I'd be needing to stop for a breather after the first two miles at that kind of pace! Even pace is the way to go I think, although a negative split might be even better if you've got the confidence to go for it - personally, I start to panic a bit if I get too far behind schedule in the early miles!

  • As you are a relative newbie I'd suggest starting out with even pacing, and then play from there with slight negative and positive splits. TBH most people naturally do the first mile or so slightly quicker before settling to a fairly even pace - most just do it naturally, not by choice. There is an advantage that you've got a few seconds to spare then.

  • I would have thought his fast 2 miles were more due to being nervous or overcooking it than actually intentional, regardless of what he told you! You should be reasonably comfortable to halfway, regardless of whether you are running the split or slightly positive or slightly negative. You have to be well-prepared and confident to go for the negative split, but when you're fit I find this works well, as you can settle in, get into a groove then gradually crank it up when you're feeling good without too much concern about going out too hard and the wheels falling off. If you are having a bad day though, it can result in a horribly slow time if you find you just don't have that next gear, but if that's the case the time may have been unrealistic anyway. 

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