Split in shorter distances

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  GTF 12 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #5666


    It seems a consensus that in distance runing races the best times usually are run with an even split (or close to).  Is this also applied to shorter track races, such as 1500m, 800m or even 400m?  If yes, then I am really puzzled by what I saw recently in a T&F event for middle and high school students. There the second half times are always significantly slower than the first half times for all three distances. For example , the leaders in 800m for middle school boys go with a 58-65 split, which is very uneven to me.  It cannot be due to inexperience, as the leaders all come from schools with well-organized T&F teams with full-time coaches, and many of the leaders have placed very well in previous years. So if even split is important, why the coaches have not worked on it?

  • #21838


    Well, it is a bit more tricky topic with the middle distances and with high school events in general.

    First, the high school angle. Even well organized teams with full time coaches often have athletes who bolt out early on in the race and then settle back into race pace. Very fast starts are the norm in high school. You see less of this as the experience and maturity of the runners increase.

    Second, the middle distance angle. Especially in the 800, it seems like running positive splits (first lap faster than the second) is the preferred way to run. There are a couple of ideas that I am aware of for why this may be better. First, it's a short and high speed race, which makes it hard to pass. If you have to get out hard to get in position, that may be better than running even splits and having to pass the whole pack at a sprinting speed in a very short amount of time. Second, some people suggest that you can take advantage of anaerobic fitness early in a short race like an 800 but you can't late. This means you can take off at a full sprint for the first 100, then settle back into race pace. The result of that strategy could explain splits where your first lap is 1-2 seconds faster than your second.

    Of course, as a long distance runner, I was never very good at the middle distance events and even splits always worked best for me. I know there are a few people around here who are/were middle distance runners who may be able to shed some more light on the topic (and maybe, while they are at it, tell me whether or not I was being fed a line of bull with the anaerobic fitness point).

  • #21839


    Races are primarily competitive affairs and time is typically a secondary concern, at best.  Splitting evenly requires a certain discipline in racing, which can feed directly from racing experience, something which young runners often have not developed. 

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