Go Low And Go Slow. The Secret Behind Negative Splits


I heard this line on Dr. Oz and I thought it was so appropriate because “GO LOW AND GO SLOW” is definitely the way to tackle goals. In marathon training, one of our goals is negative splits. That means we train so that on race day, we start running at a slow pace and as the race progresses, we gradually get faster so that with every passing mile, we are actually speeding up.

Negative splits might seem counterintuitive because it seems that as the race goes on, and we get progressively more tired, we won’t be able to speed up. How can a person run faster as they get more tired? The reason it happens is that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made and as we exercise, we actually get energy boosts from the activity and are able to do even more exercise. You know that feeling when you leave the gym after a one-hour workout and you should be exhausted but instead you feel so energized that you could practically run home? The scientists in the room might use Newton’s First Law of Motion to explain – unless something interrupts it, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, kind of like the long-sought evidence of perpetual motion. The concept of achieving negative splits builds on this basic idea. Start slow to allow your body to establish a normal baseline and get accustomed to it, and then just keep pushing to faster speeds. 

Negative splits work for marathon training and racing… as well as with achieving every other goal.

Take the 21 Day Sugar Detox for example. Before I started the sugar detox, I started just reducing my sugar intake. I had gotten concerned about my sugar intake from watching a presenter on TV (Click here to read that original post) and I started reading labels and being aware of sugar content in foods and calculating my total sugar intake to keep it at or below 24 grams of added sugar per day. Then my friend Paul introduced me to some delicious herbal teas which I amped up by adding grated ginger and lemon wedges and omitting the sugar. And then when my blog-friend sent me a Sugar Detox cookbook, I decided to amp it up even more and give the 21 Day Detox a try. I haven’t always been successful with the detox but I tell you, it’s been a lot easier than previous attempts just because I established a baseline first. That delicious sugar-free tea gave me something to drink other than water and the natural herbal, caffeine-free teas and the lemon and ginger additions are doing wonders for my metabolism. So I feel like I’m enjoying my negative splits because after I made one change and got used to it, it became easier to build on that success.

ImageOne of the reasons diet fail, and indeed the reason many non-food-related goals fail, is that we try to do too much too soon. If a person who is used to eating 5,000 calories per day moves suddenly to a 1,200 calorie a day diet, they will likely feel deprived, and without a strong support system, they might quit just as quickly.  So GO LOW AND GO SLOW. Start by making one healthy choice. Instead of a cup of salad dressing, limit yourself to two tablespoons of your fav dressing, then switch to a spritz of oil and apple cider vinegar. If you don’t eat vegetables at all, start by stirring in some frozen spinach or broccoli florets with your favorite main dish. Swap baked potato wedges for french fries. If you typically eat a lot of refined flours like white rice or white bread, swap one serving of rice for a vegetable stir fry. Take it slow! Because if your body is not used to handling a lot of fiber, you can and WILL suffer from gas and bloating. Trust me. I’ve been there too.

GO LOW AND GO SLOW! Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise probably didn’t experience negative splits but he respected his speed and he just kept going. The tortoise wins because constantly plodding along will always get you to the finish line and if you’re not focused on speeding all the time, you’ll have time to smell the roses on the side of the road.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. So true, great post.


    1. runwright says:

      Thanks for reading and validating it.


  2. gwencicone says:

    I’m always amazed how much I learn about life and myself by running. Did negative splits for the first time last week and was amazed how great it felt just as you described.


    1. runwright says:

      That’s something to be proud of. Keep it up! Thanks for sharing


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