I think it is important after every marathon to take a look at your splits and see where there is room for improvement.
This chart is the side by side split comparison for all 26.2 miles of the last four marathons I have run.
At Boston Marathon 2011 I started out at what I would consider the perfect pace for my goal of breaking 3:21. It was 5 months postpartum. I was still nursing my son, which combined with traveling and not drinking enough resulted in dehydrated. The slow down at the end was a result of dehydration and not a bad pacing strategy. [I ended up in the medic tent if you want to read the Race Recap]
At Potomac River Run Marathon 2011 I had no goal time in mind. I was running for the pure joy of it and planned on being happy with whatever my legs would give me. It was 2 weeks after Boston so even though I think I paced this marathon perfectly I could not pick it up at the end as a result of dead legs. It was my 2nd fastest marathon at the time and I was over the moon with the result. It was also the first time I had done 3 marathons back to back [5 weeks].
At Columbus Marathon 2011 I again went out at a slow conservative pace with the overall goal of running 3:10 with an average of 7:16 per mile. At the time I thought I had eaten breakfast too late because I was burping peanut butter in the first miles, but after feeling famished at the start of Marine Corps, I think I may have eaten at the perfect time. I will be eating around 2 1/2 hours before my next marathon. 
In hindsight the 6:59 mile at mile 13 freaked me out a little bit. Instead of doubting whether I could have held that pace during a marathon I should have told myself that it was fine and kept running at that speed. I’m over the moon about the result, but still think I can learn from the race.
Marine Corps Marathon 2011 was 2 weeks after Columbus so I knew I was entering the race on dead legs. I had no idea what my body would give me that day but still wanted to attempt a 3:10 even though I knew it would be HARD. I started out at a 8:06 pace planning to average 7:16. I think my pacing strategy was great the only problem was my dead legs. It was mentally hard in the last miles when I started to feel fatigued to push through knowing I had already ran a 3:13. Subconsciously I think I gave my body a way out by thinking of my last race. I wish I had not thought about the 3:13 at all or voiced that I was dying. My body believed what my mouth said and slowed in the last 3 miles. I’m pleased with the result. It confirms to me that I pushed hard at Columbus because I did not have much left in the tank at Marine Corps.
Do you analyze your splits? If so why? If not why not?

Comments

  1. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List says:

    Dorothy, where did you get your triple stroller? Random question.

  2. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    I bought it used from someone else. If you click on Mile Posts store on the top there is a triple stroller listed. Finding a triple that isn't 1K is really hard :(

  3. Stephanie says:

    I'm curious as to how you interpret your pace on miles 9-12 on the MCM. Were they too far under your target pace, or did you think of them as making up for the pace on the earlier miles?

    Also, why did the 6:59 mile at Columbus startle you but not mile 9, which was a 7:03?

    Finally, have you noticed a trend in when your body shifts gears? My longest race distance is just 10 miles, but I've noticed for all races over 5K (over several years), my fastest mile is consistently mile 4.

    Thanks!

  4. I jsut did this with my last two marathons to try and plan my strategy for Richmond in two weeks. I wasn't sure if I was grabbing at straws for some hard evidence I can do this (I'm totally in taper crazies — "I'm losing my fitness! I should run 15 miles today! What am I doing!?"). Good point point, Stephanie about looking for where your body naturally switches gears. Might be able to harness some power by being aware of that.

  5. Dorothy do you incorporate any kind of strength training? If so, do you use free weights or do isometric type of exercises? Great posts by the way.

  6. fashionablemiles says:

    i haven't analyzed mine, but the benefits seem so obvious. interesting to see you splits and the explanations. i definitely think about this stuff post-races, but never did a by-the-numbers compare which is shocking since i'm an excel nerd. :)

  7. Andrea (Run. Learn. Repeat.) says:

    I've never analyzed my splits before, but after seeing that chart, it made me think maybe I should. It was interesting to see the mile splits in chart form like that and read why you thought each race went the way it did.

  8. Kayla says:

    I wish my Garmin (FR60) footpod was effectively calibrated (10 runs later and we are still working on it!) so that I had accurate splits. I have been DYING to do some analysis on them (why yes I was an economics geek that likes playing with, though not crunching, numbers :))

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Great analysis and I think this is an important exercise to learn as much as possible from past races. I always analyze my marathon splits and my best times were actually when I had very even pacing. I think I might be able to run faster with more of a negative split, but given all of my mishaps I haven't been able to test that theory. . .

  10. Celia says:

    I have analyzed my splits after but never side by side and with colors! Great idea! :)

    I still have yet to come close to an even split. I think like 6 minute positive split is my best? Coincidentally that is also my PR…you seen to be a big supporter of negative splits. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to best run the NYC course!

  11. Nice comparison chart. Do you also run by heart-rate? How would you rate the comparative effort between the marathons?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I know you get many questions and can't respond to all. But it seems like you leave many people hanging by not answering some of them. I noticed you have a comments section and offer people to ask any kind of questions. Maybe you should remove this option if you'd rather not answer. I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I just think maybe acknowledge that this is blog about your opinions and that questions most likely won't be answered.

  13. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Anonymous – I do not typically respond to anonymous comments but I will this time. Many people choose to leave their real email address's when they leave comments. When those people ask me a comment specifically relating to themselves I respond to them directly over email. Unfortunately blogger does not have an easy way for me to respond to comments other than leaving one myself. Yes some questions go unanswered. I am a mom of three children and while I love blogging, talking about running and helping as many people as I can – my children are my priority. Was there a specific question you had that you felt I did not answer? It would be awesome if you left a comment where you revealed who you were rather than hiding under the anon name so I could respond to you in email rather than through a blog comment. Thanks! Mile Posts

  14. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Ryan – I don't run based on heartrate – I do all of my training based on effort. I have a heartrate monitor and do use it from time to time but I prefer to run on feel!

  15. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Celia – I think negative splitting – starting out slower and getting faster is the best way to run a marathon. If you start out too fast you will slow down at the end, where as if you start out slower you will be able to pick it up at the end. I have yet to perfect this but am getting much better at it. When I first started running marathons I would start out at much the same pace I start out now and would die after mile 20 and end up walking most of the last 6.2. I've never run the NYC marathon, just the last 10 miles of the course. I personally think it is a very hard marathon because of all the waiting around you have to do at the start. I do however think that you should start out 45 seconds to a minute slower than your goal race pace and slower lower your pace as the race goes on. There will be some miles that are faster than your goal pace, which will then average out your slower miles in the beginning. Hope that helps and good luck at NYC!

  16. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Jeff – I do strength training! Mostly core work but I also lift free weights at home. I use my bosu ball a lot to help work on tiny muscles through out my body. Most recently I started taking a isolated active stretching class and I think that is helping me as well. I'm not a member of the gym so everything I do are things that can be done at home. Does that help?

  17. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Stephanie – the 6:59 freaked me out because it was the 1st time I had even seen a mile begin with a 6 in a marathon. The 7:03 at Columbus and 7:01's at Marine Corps didn't because they began with a 7. I know that sounds ridiculous but something about seeing a 6 made me think I should back off a little – even though I should have just convinced my mind that 6:59 was a comfortable pace. I really believe that what the mind believes helps control the body. When my mind is weak at any point my body follows that weakness.

    I think miles 9 – 12 at MCM were perfect – I had started out slower and was starting to pick up the pace. I believe had I not ran Columbus 2 weeks prior I would have been able to maintain that pace longer. I believe the only way to run your full potential in a marathon is to start at much slower than your goal pace, work into your goal pace and then go faster than your goal pace.

    I have not noticed when my body shifts gears – but I do find it VERY interesting that miles 6 & 7 were the exact same pace at both marathons….strange.

    Hope that helps!

  18. Lauren says:

    I always analyze my splits, and think about what I could do better to run faster next time. What is even more interesting to me is that our splits for MCM are different – even for the miles that we ran side by side! (goes to show that Garmins aren't always 100% accurate). I actually have a 6:59 split for mile 11. My first ever in a marathon!!

  19. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    That's crazy our splits are different! Garmin is not the be all end all as we know :) 6:59 – wooo hooo!!! 3:08:18 or bust!! xoxo

  20. Stephanie says:

    Thanks! It's definitely helpful to see how others approach racing.

  21. Another Mom on the Run says:

    I had the same experience of running side by side a friend during a race and seeing slightly different splits registered by our Garmin (she had us at 6:54; I saw 7:02). Could be that she just had a little more kick than I did at the end of it, but I agree with Lauren that Garmin's aren't 100% accurate. They do give clear feedback that helps me know if I'm staying within my targets (normally trying to do negative splits during training runs).

I love a good comment!

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