Half Marathon Positive Split Workouts

By Rick Morris

I’ve always thought that positive splitting gets a bad rap. Sure, negative splits are the best strategy in the majority of your distance races, but there are always times when a positive split is the way to go. Some examples of good times to consider running positive splits are when the weather is going to be very hot in the last half of your race, when your main competitor is a slow starter or if you simply feel more comfortable running positive splits. Some race distances are also more conducive to positive splitting.

Shorter 2K to 5K races are good candidates because you have a shorter distance to hang on when fatigued. The marathon is another good candidate for positive split workouts because of the nearly inevitable slowing in the last half of the race. Now, how about the half marathon. I don’t usually consider the half marathon a good time to try positive splits because you end up running a fairly long distance with a quickly fatiguing body and mind. You also don’t need to worry about carbohydrate depletion slowing you down in the half marathon distance.

While the half marathon is generally a poor choice for positive splitting, there still may be those rare occasions when positive splits are called for. The above example of extreme weather conditions in the last half of the race or the characteristics of your fellow competitors are still valid in the half marathon. Even if you have no intention of attempting positive splits in your half marathon, positive split training is still a valuable tool because it trains both your mind and body to deal high levels of fatigue over long distances. That attribute will especially become valuable if you need to throw in some mid or late race surges.

Here are a few positive split workouts for the half marathon. Try these and come up with some of your own. I would suggest doing a positive split workout at least once every two weeks or more throughout your training cycle. Perform a thorough warm up before beginning these workouts and cool down with some easy jogging and static stretching afterward.

Positive Split Compound Sets

Run 4 x 200/400/1600/200 meter compound sets. Run both 200 meter segments as fast as possible. Run the 400 meter segment at 5K or hard pace and the 1600 meter segment at half marathon pace. Take no rest between the segments. Rest for 2 minutes between each compound set.

Corner Killers

Run on a 400 meter track, alternating between all out pace on the corners and half marathon pace on the straights. Take no recovery and keep going until you are no longer able to hold your half marathon pace on the straights.

Stamina Strengthener

Run for 30 minutes alternating between 3 minutes at 5K or hard pace and 7 minutes at half marathon pace.

Surging for Success

Run about 6 miles or 10K at half marathon pace. Through in a one minute surge at 5K pace or faster about every half mile or so. This is a form of a fartlek run, so there is no real structure. Just through in the surges whenever you feel like it, but try to do a least 6 surges.

Half Marathon Front Runner

OK, this one is for your front runners out there that plan on performing positive splits in your half marathon race.  Run 2 x 6 mile or 10K repeats. Run the first 3 miles at 10K pace and then slow to half marathon pace for the final 3 miles. Take no rest within the repeats. Rest for 5 minutes between each repeat.