Kenyan Way program over the past several years I've repeatedly heard Coach Sean Wade's introductory comments to new runners. In each case he says with his greatest vehemence: "If you remember just one thing tonight, it should be this: You should negative split every training run and every race. This does not mean pushing the pace but rather starting out super easy and increasing the pace naturally as you warm up."
Additional elements of Sean's training philosophy are that: "The key to improved running is consistent steady training with a slow increase in weekly mileage. You need to know your different training paces (recovery, long run, threshold and 5K paces) and be sure to run easy on your easy days. Too many runners don't run slow enough or fast enough. Everything just blends together. Tempo runs, hill, intervals at goal race pace, and long runs are all important pieces of the puzzle. You have to listen to your body and take an extra recovery day or skip a hard workout if you are not feeling up to it."
Consistently achieving a negative split in all races and training runs requires a fundamental shift from a typical runner's approach. Particularly in races, with the athlete well rested and eager to begin their race, the jolt of adrenaline at the gun often overwhelms reason - with the predictable disappointing end result. Often erroneously described as "just a Rookie mistake", it actually afflicts nearly all runners - including unfortunately myself on countless occasions. Sean's antidote is for the runner to fully utilize their Garmin Forerunner in the early miles, then keeping their pace within their pre-established initial plan. When I have departed from this sound advice I have regretted it (as I have also when I ran ahead of my marathon pacing group in the first 20-miles).
Ultimately, Sean's emphasis of building a strong base of endurance, then negative splitting every run makes perfect sense by requiring the runner to begin their run at an appropriate pace, then to naturally speed-up as their muscles warm-up. Running faster while fatigued builds the required mental discipline for success, accelerates beneficial physiological training adaptations, and is very motivational.
When planning your next race or training run keep Sean Wade's 'Negative Split' strategy first and foremost in mind!