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When to avoid negative splits

JUN 16, 2023

Minute 1: Do your heart rate zone training the right way

If you’re feeling lost and confused, Hallmark cards and RomCom movies suggest that you gotta listen to your heart. Bear with us, we aren’t trying to dish out relationship advice – we’re talking about using heart rate zone training. Just when we think we fully understand this topic, we learn something new, as we did in this new story from Marathon Handbook: “How To Calculate Max Heart Rate: 8 Ways To Measure Your Max HR.” Max heart rate is defined as the highest potential rate your heart can beat, and there are several formulas designed to give you an estimate of your personal max. But these formulas – that you’ve probably seen 100 times on a gym wall chart – can’t account for all the relevant factors, from age, sex, genetics, size, etc. That means a lab or field test will be far more accurate. While wearing a heart rate monitor, run a mile warmup. Then, increase the pace as fast as possible for the last 400 meters, aiming to be running all out in the last 100 meters. Look at your recorded heart rate, and the highest BPM will likely be your max HR. Once you’ve determined your max, you can adjust your training intensity according to your goals and aim to perform workouts in 1 of 5 “Heart Rate Zones | The Basics.” We should note that factors like the time of day, temperature, and your level of hydration can affect your heart rate, so be sure to “Adjust Heart Rate Zones with Training In Summer Heat.”


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Minute 2: Positive or negative splits: Which is best for you?

When you run a race, how do you like to set the pace? Hard out of the gate, even all the way through, or with a strong finish? While most people in your running club will advise you to run negative splits, there’s actually no right or wrong way to do things, and figuring out what works best will take a little trial and error. Strategy will also vary by distance. For some advice and perspective, check out: “Should you negative split your 10K?” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, running a negative split means you finish the second half of a race faster than the first. Some runners feel it gives them a mental boost at the end of the race, knowing they should still have gas left in the tank to end on a high note. It also lowers your chance of an early fatigue and subsequent burnout. The downside? Without a very strong understanding of your athletic capacity, it can be easy to start too slowly, robbing yourself of a chance to PR from the get-go. That’s why some coaches say: “You Don’t Need to Negative Split Every Race.” In this article, the author mentions the idea of the “controlled fade,” where you start the race fast and allow yourself a gradual decrease in pace toward the end. That way, it’s as if “you've met your goal and it's yours to lose,” motivating you to hang on and fight hard if it’s necessary as you approach the finish line.

Minute 3: What is zinc, and where can you get it from?

Every once in a while, we need a refresher on what each vitamin and mineral does for us. That’s why today, we’re going to think about zinc. Maybe you’ve been overlooking your zinc consumption, but it’s not something that should be taken lightly, because it plays a vital role in immune system function, cell repair, and more, according to: “Everything You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Zinc.” Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which means the body can’t make it on its own. Therefore, it’s recommended you consume about 11 mg of zinc a day, through food or supplements. Try some of the “10 Best Food Sources of Zinc,” which include oysters, lobster, meat, and poultry. Vegans and vegetarians are at a greater risk for zinc deficiency, but keeping plenty of mushrooms, kale, legumes, and seeds in your diet should help. You can also consider supplementation, but be aware of the potential downsides: “Why Do Vitamins Make Me Nauseous?” Each kind of supplement poses a unique risk. Multivitamins are acidic, which can irritate your stomach lining or cause acid reflux. Iron can cause stomach pain and constipation. Lastly, certain minerals compete with each other for absorption, which is why you should aim to take zinc, magnesium, and calcium at different times. As a general rule of thumb, it can help to take your supplements alongside or right after a meal to give your digestive system a natural buffer.

Minute 4: Book Review: “The Race That Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB”

Our favorite shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, has written a couple of excellent books on running and running gear. (You can find them at this link.) So when he raves about the work of another author, we pay attention. Instead of reviewing a new shoe this week, Brian is instead reviewing a new book from respected trail runner and author Doug Mayer: “The Race That Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB.” For fans of NPR’s “Car Talk,” Doug was the producer known as The Old Gray Mayer. For fans of coincidence, Doug was a high school classmate of our editor, who once admired Doug’s 11th grade essay about getting lost in a whiteout atop Mount Washington in NH. Even if you’re not a trail runner, UTMB is a legendary race and every endurance athlete will enjoy the stories behind the event. We’ve included a few excerpts from Brian’s review below, but for the full story, hit this link.

The trail and mountain running season is heating up around the U.S. and even if you’re mostly a road runner, you should check out events like the recent GoProMountain Games, this weekend’s Broken Arrow Skyrace, Leadville Trail Marathon, Salomon Spring Trail Running Series or even the Mt. Washington Road Race. (BTW, Team USA just scored 10 top-10 finishes at the world championships in Austria, including Grayson Murphy’s gold and bronze medal efforts in short and fast mountain races.) But even if you’re not a carry-a-backpack kind of ultrarunner who has any remote fascination about running 100 miles – and look, I don’t recommend it, even though it’s the most fun you can have on two feet! – you should pick up a copy of this new book about the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race in Chamonix, France. If you liked “Born to Run,” you’ll definitely love Doug Mayer’s new book about Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc: “The Race That Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB”.

What is the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, you ask? Well, “UTMB” as it is known in the trail running world, is a rugged 104-mile loop that starts in Chamonix and sends runners on an adventurous through-the-night loop around the Mont Blanc Massif, the highest mountain in Western Europe at 15,777 feet. While sending runners from France to Italy to Switzerland and back to Chamonix, the course traverses 10 highpoints in the Alps. Even though they are low by American race standards like the Leadville 100 (12,600 feet) and the Hardrock 100 (14,100 feet), those European climbs eat up runners’ strong muscles and positive mindsets with steep trails and cumulative vertical gain (32,900 feet).

There are several things that make the race (and the book) fascinating, not the least of which it has been a de facto world championship of ultra-distance trail running for the past dozen or so years. The best ultrarunners in the world have tested their mettle – physically, mentally and emotionally – on the UTMB course, and usually, as the Blue’s Traveler’s song says, “The Mountains Win Again.” But those who have succeeded and won the race have become legends of the sport. Spain’s Kilian Jornet, Frenchman Francois D’Haene and a large collection of American women Krissy Moehl, Nikki Kimball, Rory Bosio, Courtney Dauwalter and Katie Schide are some of the notable runners who have run well repeatedly and won the race. Other American legends, including Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka and Jim Walmsley, have yet to solve the mystery of running in the Alps.

Mayer is a two-time finisher of UTMB (and numerous races over there) and operates a running tour business called Run The Alps that helps introduce more and more international trail runners to the majestic Chamonix-Mont Blanc valley every summer. But Mayer has always been a great storyteller at heart and his previous role as one of the producers of the NPR “Car Talk” radio show led him into more journalistic endeavors as he became more immersed in trail running and life in Chamonix.

This year, the race is celebrating its 20th edition during the last week of August, and with Mayer’s book as a prelude, it will be one of the most exciting week’s the sport has ever seen. Even if you’ll never run the race, this book will make you want to be in Chamonix to catch all of the action live in person. You can get all of the details on Doug’s book here: “The Race That Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB.”

For Brian’s full review of the new book that belongs on every runner’s bookshelf, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • An unfortunate truth about athletic development is that the more progress you make, the slower your rate of improvement may become. At times, you’ll go so long between hitting new PRs that you’ll feel stuck on a plateau. If that sounds like your situation, you’re not alone and you can learn how others have gotten back on track with this new story from Trail Runner: “Are You in a Performance Plateau? Here’s What to Do About It.”

  • When you’re on a hike, the greatest rewards come from reaching new heights. Whether that means getting out longer, covering more distance, or bagging a new peak is up to you. But whatever challenge you decide to take on, it’s best to have a plan to keep moving when the going gets tough. Having the right goal in mind is one of the key tips to getting the most out of your hike, and you can learn about the rest in: “I Hike 30 Miles a Month, and This Is My Best Advice for When You’re Tempted To Turn Around Early.”

  • In a world full of high tech energy gels, nutrition tracking apps, and sports drinks, it can be easy to forget about the basics and staples of our diets. The reality is, they wouldn’t have ever become a staple if they weren't getting the job done, which is why we want to show our appreciation for the humble PB&J. The combination of bread, peanut butter, and jelly have a surprisingly great ratio of macronutrients for runners looking for energy and muscle growth, so click here to find out “Why PB&Js are an Underrated Running Snack for Endurance Athletes.” For years we made ours with whole wheat bread, but we switched to sourdough because of the taste and because of reviews like this: “4 Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

  • There is still time to get your dad a one-of-a-kind Father's Day gift. We are celebrating all of the rad running dads out there by giving away ten Six Minute Mile t-shirts. Winners will be messaged Monday morning and shirts will be shipped out next week. The rules to enter are simple:

    1. Make sure you follow us on Instagram

    2. Tag a running buddy in the comments of this post

    3. If you win, give the shirt to your dad, a dad who loves to run, or keep it for yourself and wear it when you run

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

How long do you plan to keep running? Into your 60s, 70s? Or maybe even your 80s? To some, that may sound unrealistic, but after watching the astounding performance of Betty Lindberg at the Publix Atlanta 5K, we’re inspired to shoot for the stars. Betty is 98 years old, and her time of 59:06 in the 5K has earned her a world record in the 95-99 age group. You go, girl! She offered a humble smile and wave to the crowd after crossing the line, and if we can maintain even a fraction of Betty’s mobility and endurance in our 90s, we’ll consider it a life well lived. Take a look at her finish in the clip below. (P.S: shout out to our sister company, MarathonFoto, whose photographer captured Betty’s finish line glory and even made it into the video.)


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