Blog Fitness Negative Splits Running – Start Slow, Finish Fast

Negative Splits Running – Start Slow, Finish Fast

Setting a new personal record is on the mind of many. Such a goal can take on different purposes: to acknowledge your ambition, boost general mood, as well as discipline the body. Sure, a personal record is not an easy deal, but there are certain ways to make it more attainable. Enter negative splits running – start slow, finish fast. A key strategy for any sportsman who is targeting a specific time in a race is to have a pacing plan. Once you set your desired goal time for the race you need to figure out your pace per mile. Some people choose even splits which means you run each mile at the same speed. Others prefer positive splits where you run the first part of the race faster and the second – slower. Nonetheless, a lot of coaches advise trying negative splits. This article covers the comparison between negative and positive splits, and which of them may be better for setting your personal record. Plus, you can learn how to train negative splits and implement them into a negative splits marathon.


What Are 7 Benefits Of Running? 

There are two types of fitness enthusiasts: 

  • Those who like running and even gain energy from them
  • Those who constantly avoid them 

This is understandable because any type of running scheme requires much effort. You not only need to find time for the run but also to get dressed appropriately, put on comfortable shoes, and get to your running path.  

Indeed, looking for motivation from the benefits is important. That said, here are the top 7 benefits of running. 

  • Improves sleep. Runners who run at least 2 times per week might fall asleep quicker. Running helps also relax muscles due to post-endorphin face after the exercise. 
  • Improves joint health. If you know how to run properly and use the right footwear you have little chance of getting knee joint damage. The pain in the joints can be provoked more by the additional weights used during the workouts at the gym or at home. 
  • Reduces the risk of death. Regular running may lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 50% and from the medical issue by approximately 29% (5).
  • Reduces anxiety and depression. When you run you get your endorphins released. They are produced to reduce stress and improve mood. 
  • Trims your calories. This one doesn’t need an explanation since we all know that the more we run the more calories we lose.
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases that include stroke and high blood pressure. 
  • Improves concentration and functionality. our brain is more activated during some movement. That is why the best ideas come when we do not concentrate on them but do physical activity instead.

Read More: Running For Weight Loss: Dos And Don’ts For Beginners

negative splits running

Are Negative Splits Good In Running?

As we all know, running gives more benefits to our body than we could ever imagine: 

  • Improves sleep
  • supports knee and back health
  • improves memory
  • enhances cardio health
  • boosts our mood and energy (4).
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However, some runners aim for more, therefore, creating personal records for themselves. Negative splits help them reach these goals.

Here is a simple negative splits running definition: 

The negative split run is when you run the first half of the race slower than the second one. People can have a negative split run in two ways:

  • The first is to run even splits for the most race and then speed up for the last mile. 
  • The second is to run the first half of the race slower and then pick up the pace for the second half of the race. This way might be easier for the beginner. 

Negative splits are good for running and here is why:

  • A negative split run allows you to start the race at a manageable pace.  If you start the run fast, you will slow down during the rest of the race. The more energy you use at the beginning, the less you will have for the final miles. 
  • Negative splits running may boost your confidence. When you start slowly and others blast off at a faster speed, you feel like you are going to lose. However, over some time the faster-starting runners become weaker. You, on the contrary, will pick up the pace and pass some of those debilitating sportsmen. Passing people in a race can enhance your mood and confidence. 

Even though a negative split in running sounds too good to be true, it has its flaws as well. 

  • It can be difficult for some runners to run negative splits, especially during long races. That means negative split training is vital because you need to be aware of the pace you are able to run during the race distance. Newer runners always struggle with this problem because they spend more time on their feet on longer races. Moreover, weather conditions also affect the race itself. If the temperature goes down or heats up it may become more complicated to increase the pace. 
  • This requires you to run slower at the beginning. You intentionally slow the time at the beginning of the run to have enough energy for the second half of the pace. Some amateur runners do not feel confident when they start slowly as other runners rush their pace. Unfortunately, this can negatively affect their motivation to keep running. This is understandable since watching other runners pass by can trigger you to speed up as well. As such, you won’t be able to complete a negative split. 
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Overall, the negative split is good for running because it allows you to execute at a manageable pace and give you more energy at the end of the race. Indeed, it is critical to train and practice it to understand the pace which is perfect for you.

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negative splits running

Should You Run Negative Splits In A 5k?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You can combine moderate and vigorous activity (3).

5K running is a good way to add interest and challenge to your exercise routine. A 5K run is 3.1 miles (1). This distance is great for a beginner. When there comes a question of whether or not to run negative splits in 5K, we should pay attention to the goal of a 5K run. If you shoot for a personal record, integrating negative splits into this type of run distance is a good idea. 

Here are a few quick ways how you can do it: 

Let’s imagine you would like to run 5K in 20 minutes. 

There are two ways you could run negative splits here:

  1. You run the first two miles at an even pace and then pick up the pace at the last run.
  • Mile 1: 6:27
  • Mile 2: 6:27
  • Mile 3: 6:20
  1. You could also increase the pace of each pace. 
  • Mile 1: 6:27
  • Mile 2: 6:23
  • Mile 3: 6:18

The negative split run is a good choice here because you need to start slow. There is no need to push fast at the beginning and lack the power for the finishing line. 

Should You Run A Negative Split Marathon?

Avid sportsmen rarely stop at 5K races but rather target bigger goals. That is why they make great efforts to train for marathons. 

Running a marathon is considered to be an extreme form of exercise. That is why people who aim to participate in one ought to build up a considerable amount of running experience before attempting a marathon challenge (6)

The most effective way to tackle the marathon is to run the second half faster than the first. This advice is justified on the basis of world records. For example, Eliud Kipchoge showed a striking performance at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. He ran the 1st half of the marathon in 1.01.06 and the 2nd half in 1.00.06 and finished it with a negative split of 33 seconds. Being the most dominant Kenyan distance runner, he ran one minute faster than the previous world record runner Dennis Kimmeto (2).

However, it doesn’t work like that with all runners because a lot of factors affect the run and results. Negative splits or even running strategies lead to favorable performance outcomes for long-distance runners. Research shows that a positive pacing strategy can bring better results (7).

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negative splits running

A positive split means speeding up in the first half of the pace and slowing down in the second half. Why is a positive split better? The answer is simple – the psychological factor and the lack of negative split training. 

Runners who start slow at the marathon and watch other runners pass them by already gain a sense of failure since they are behind others. When they blast off at a faster speed they already feel motivated to continue the run because they are equal with others. 

A negative split run can help you build stamina and awareness of your perfect pace but implementing it into marathons is not the best option. However, if you train it thoroughly enough you can use negative splits even during marathons. Remember, negative splits take time and patience. 

Please note that you are recommended to inform your doctor before you plan to train or run a marathon. There might be personal health concerns you won’t be aware of. The doctor could provide you with some treatment and give general advice on how to avoid injuries during training. If you don’t seek any medical clearance before running a long-distance marathon you can end up with injuries (6).

Read More: What To Wear Running In Winter For Comfort And Best Performance

What Is A Positive And Negative Split In Running?

Amateur runners usually don’t set any records. They start their training with positive splits. Running a positive split means you run the second half of the race slower than the first half. Recall the school gym classes. When you watch a running children’s competition you can notice how quickly every child strives to run at the beginning. It gives them some sort of illusional idea of victory. However, over the course they often lose energy and shift to a slower tempo. By the end of the race, only the enthusiasts who were invigorated enough pass the line on top. 

Beginners choose this pace since it is easier to get the hang of it. However,  positive split running can lead to a higher level of fatigue, increased oxygen consumption, and exertion rate. 

Hence, runners, who practice a positive split, fatigue far quicker than their even split or negative split rivals. A positive split runner can fail at selecting an appropriate initial pace and eventually decrease the pace as the race progresses. It is not always a successful tactic. Here’s where a negative split run comes in. 

A negative split means the runner picks up the pace in the second half of the race, running it faster than the first. This is one of the most widely used methods. Athletes who adopt this strategy improve prolonged exercise performance by lowering excessive oxygen consumption and reducing fatigue feelings.

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When you start slow you conserve more energy early on in the race. In this way, your body gradually warms up, adapts to the pace, and subsequently becomes ready to run faster in the second half. Many highly disciplined runners aim to train a negative split.


Is A Positive Or Negative Split Better?

Positive or negative split running – which is better? This question is wrestled with, in the head of not only an amateur but also elite runner.

First of all, It is essential to acknowledge the leading goal behind this. If you shoot for a personal record or plan to participate in the marathon, then it is important to train both strategies beforehand and figure out which one is more convenient for you. Amateur runners have better start off with training a negative split. Here is why: 

  • A negative split provides a warm-up and prepares your body for the race. 
  • A negative split in running gives you the opportunity to support energy for the quicker final stages of the race. 

The pacing strategy usually depends on different factors, one of which is your experience. Professional runners can often blast off faster and maintain that pace. They are aware of their capabilities and performance endurance. Recreational or beginner runners ought to get the hang of a negative split strategy. 

Different coaches have different perspectives on positive and negative splits. Some runners highlight that it is more beneficial to start slower, pick up your pace during the latter stages of the race, and finish the race strong. Others promote a positive split so you start off fast and pass by the runners,  obtaining the additional amount of energy to keep up with the pace. 

Either way, no matter which split you choose you should be aware of how to train properly.

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How Do You Train For A Negative Split?

Training in a negative split run is a good idea for everyone no matter their performance capabilities and strength. When you put enough effort to get your body in the habit of increasing the pace you will double the chances to set a personal record. There are various ways to integrate a negative split into your running. 

The interval practice was mentioned already. Other effective ways to incorporate negative split running training are in tempos or easy runs.

negative splits running


You can use two ways to train for negative splits while doing a tempo workout.

  • Increase the pace in the second half of the tempo. 
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Let’s imagine you run a 6 mile tempo. You can run the first 3 miles in 16 minutes, then you would try to run the second half in 15:59 or even faster.

  • Use a progression workout.

This means that for a 6-mile tempo, you increase the pace for each mile.

  • Mile 1: 9:10
  • Mile 2: 9:00
  • Mile 3: 8:50
  • Mile 4: 8:40

You gradually pick up the pace and have enough strength to continue your running. 

Easy Runs

When you do an easy run you move at a comfortable pace. There is no need to speed up, set a challenging timer, and strive to hit the wall. A combination of negative splits with recovery runs can be great practice for any avid runner. It is important not to overdo easy running because it has a recovery purpose.

Let’s take a 10-minute pace on an easy run. You could increase your pace to 9:35-8:45 for the last mile or two. 

This practice will allow your body to get used to increasing the pace at the end of each run. 

Have you decided to set a new personal record? Do not forget about negative split training and these golden rules:

  • Check the weather forecast. Wind, heat, or even cold can negatively affect your training and make it even impossible to run a negative split. 
  • Be aware of the pace you can run before the race. This works better for shorter races though since during the long run you can alter the pace automatically due to tiredness or dehydration. 
  • Integrate negative split running into your daily routine; let your body get used to the faster speed at the end. 
  • Know for sure when you will increase the pace during the race.

Each of these steps makes your negative split training more effective and possible to attain. Moreover, hydration is vital, so grab a bottle of water to fill your body with a natural source of energy.  

The Bottom Line

The impact of running may provide benefits if a person runs safely. People who aim to set personal records incorporate a negative split run that provides a slower speed during the first half of the race and a faster one in the second half. 

Indeed, most elite runners integrate positive split running during marathons which means speeding up at the first half of the race and shifting to a slower pace during the second half. 

However, it is up to people to choose which split they would like to use. 

Negative split running is still a better option as you don’t need to push yourself hard at the beginning of the race. Negative split training requires good weather conditions, enough hydration, and choosing the most comfortable pace to run during the first half of the race. Negative splits running – start slow, finish fast.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 5K run: 7-week training schedule for beginners (2022,
  2. Berlin Marathon Results: Eliud Kipchoge Breaks World Record (2018,
  3. Executive Summary from Step It Up!: Surgeon General’s Call to Action (2015,
  4. Health Benefits of Running (2021,
  5. Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk (2014,
  6. Running a marathon: how to survive the historic endurance race (2015,
  7. Running Your Best Triathlon Race (2021,
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