About a month before my first full marathon, a friend of mine sent me this challenge – the Strava Back Half challenge. The challenge was to run a USATF-certified marathon between October 9th and December 4th of this year. Easy enough, right? *Insert eye roll* (kidding)
On top of that, you also have to do it with a negative split. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would I accept such a challenge? Well, because the reward is a brand new spanking pair of New Balance shoes. FREE SHOES. AND you can pick whichever one your feet desires. That’s a freaking sweet deal, right? Damn right, it is.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, running a negative split requires you to run the second half of the marathon faster than the first. There are some articles (here’s one) suggesting that you’ll improve your time by running a negative split. Your muscles are still cold at the beginning and slowly warming them up will help you later. You’re also saving your fuel for the second half. There are also articles that say the opposite. Negative splits are difficult to achieve and doing it for a marathon is like asking for a miracle to happen because the second half is where most runners hit the “infamous wall.” It happens when your body runs out of sugar (glycogen) (which it prefers) to burn and as a result of that, you slow down a LOT. Thanks STRAVA. Just give us an impossible challenge, will you?
Little do they know, I am always up for a challenge. Well…ALWAYS is a strong word. Let’s say, USUALLY. If it’ll give me a good story to tell people, I will usually convince myself to do it. Side note: I will also do a LOT to get a good picture. 🙂
Anyway, two weeks before my marathon, I did a few practice runs with negative splits and HOLY CRAP, IT WAS HARD. The longest negative split I ever did was a 10miler before my marathon and after that run, this was me –
So I put it in the back of my mind and resumed normal training.
Flash forward to me at the start line of the NYC marathon thinking, “Okay. Why not? Let’s give it a shot. If I don’t get it, no big deal. At least, I tried.” I don’t know what it was, but something in me clicked. Mind over matter? I had on my apple watch and was constantly checking my pace. It also helped a LOT that my Nike Run app also announced it as I passed each mile. (For a more thorough re-cap of my thoughts during the marathon, click here.)
I started off painfully slow. I made sure to high five as many people as I could during the first half of the marathon. I took pictures of the scenery and texted friends who were tracking me during the race. It was my way of making sure I slowed the eff down. Then, as I made it into the second half of my marathon, I started slowly picking up my pace. It was tough, but because I started off painfully slow, it felt easier to run at my normal pace. I even managed to avoid hitting the wall. Towards the end of the race, I ran like all hell broke loose. The adrenaline was rushing through my veins and since I had saved so much energy from the first half, I was able to race like Flash to the finish line. Okay not really, but I did pass a lot of people towards the end. 🙂
After checking my splits on the official NYC marathon site and STRAVA, I couldn’t believe it. I had run a marathon AND on top of that, I had miracously managed a negative split. Hooray!
Have you ever tried running a negative split? How did it go? Was your time faster or slower than usual?