Proper split times for a race can go a long way in achieving your desired result, especially in a half marathon or marathon.
What are split times in running?
“Split” is a running term used in long-distance racing, referring to the time it takes to cover a certain distance. For example, if you are running a Marathon, each mile or kilometer is the amount of time you must complete each mark (mile or kilometer). In a marathon, you will have 26 such segments in miles or 42 segments in kilometers.
Using splits while running helps you control your speed through the distance in a race. There are different strategies for building splits, which will be discussed in this guide.
If you want to finish within a certain time, you must calculate the running split for the entire distance to understand at what pace you should run and reach the finish line at the right time.
Working out your split times
In order to calculate the split, you first need to know your target time or pace at which you want to run the entire race. For example, here are 2 options from the target pace and from the target finish time.
- If you know your target pace, then you need to know your finish time.
- If you are setting a target finish time for yourself, then you need to know the average pace at which you need to run the race.
You can use our Pace/Time Calculator to find out your target pace and finish time. Add the pace or time to the calculator and you will get the finish time or average pace you need to run the whole race.
- You want to run a marathon in 2:59:00.
- Add “Marathon” to the Distance field.
- In the Time field, add 2:59:00.
- In the Pace field, you will get the average pace you need for your run: 6:50 in miles per minute or 4:15 in kilometers per minute.
So, we learned that to finish with a time of 2:59:00 you need to run every mile (kilometer) at a pace of 6:50.
How to Use Split Time
During the Marathon, knowing the split times will help you understand how well you are running the race distance and whether you can finish within your target time. In order to control the target pace, GPS watches will help you, for example: Garmin, Polar, Coros, Suunto, etc. By checking each mile against the time you will understand how well you are running for the target time at the finish line.
How to choose the right split for a race
There are several split strategies for long distance races (Marathon, HM, 10K):
- Even split.
- Positive split
- Negative split.
Using an even split, you know what pace you need to have for every mile. But running with even splits is a very difficult strategy for many runners, as fatigue builds up over the course of the race and the runner can no longer maintain the target pace. Secondly, because of the different terrain of the race, it is difficult to keep the pace even, for example, if you are running uphill.
A steady pace is appropriate in two cases:
- If you are racing on a flat track and can maintain a steady pace at all times.
- If you are an elite athlete and are willing to endure the pain of running uphill at your target pace.
Positive split is when the speed at the beginning of the race is higher than at the end. Most often, a positive split in the marathon is for beginners and for those who succumbed to euphoria at the beginning of the race and ran faster than planned, but due to fatigue in the second half of the marathon, they significantly reduced the pace of running.
Positive split is not the best strategy for overcoming a marathon, you will not be able to show your best time in a race with such a strategy.
Negative split when a runner starts the first half of the race at a low pace and runs at a faster pace for the second half. The speed in the race increases with a gradual progression.
The negative split running tactic is best for beginner runners and elite athletes. The negative split allows you to save energy to increase the pace in the last miles of the race.
Use our Split Times Calculator to correctly distribute the negative split for a race.
- Add your race in the Distance field: Marathon.
- In the Time field, add your target time: 2:59:00.
- In the Lap Length field, add 1 mi or 1 km split segments.
- In the Pacing field, you can select the degree of negative fusions:
- Negative split 3%.
- Negative split 2%.
- Negative split 1%.
- Below you will see the calculation in the table:
- Split Time.
- Lap Time.
In order to run with a negative split, it is very important at the beginning of the race to keep your pace and not run fast. Training with a progressive pace helps to train a negative split. Try to use a negative split in shorter distances: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon.
All world records in long distance races were set with a negative split.
How to Improve Split Time
In order to improve your split time, you need to increase your average running pace. Here are a few tips to get the best results in your running.
- Regularity and Consistency: You shouldn’t skip workouts.
- Improve your running technique.
- Include interval sessions and tempo runs in your workout plan.
- It is very important not to neglect recovery.
Remember that a carefully planned race and split times will help you achieve the best results.