I believe there is a magic that happens on race day.

If you asked me to hold the pace I can run 26.2 miles in on a long training run, I am not certain I could do it. That’s the magic of race day.

I do believe however that the magic only happens if you practice what you want to achieve.

Want to not walk an entire race, practice not walking on your runs.

Don’t think you can complete the run without walking?

Slow down your pace to a pace slow enough that you can complete all the miles with out walking. 99% of the time you can finish faster if you slow down your pace than if you ran/walked. {no this is not an actual stat}

Before I had kids I walked on every single run. After Chloe was born I decided it was the perfect time to start fresh and make a change. I don’t walk on runs anymore, ever. The only reason I will stop on a run is if I need to use the bathroom, or fill up my water. I don’t stop to stretch, I don’t stop to chat, I don’t stop to take a break. It’s one of the many reasons that I often do better running my long runs alone. I can control all the variables.

Want to finish a race feeling strong?

Then practice finishing your runs strong.

I’ve been doing this for so many years that my body literally just does it without even thinking. The last mile of almost every run is usually the fastest mile. The exception to the rule is if I am doing speed work and the last mile or miles are a cool down, but other than that almost every single run I go on, I finish fast – feeling strong – visualizing the finish line and how I will feel when I cross.


Here are examples of three different types of finish fast runs:

Finish faster long run: {Saturday 6.22.13} {no breakfast, no fuel, no water}

  • Mile 1: 9:02
  • Mile 2: 8:17
  • Mile 3: 8:41
  • Mile 4: 8:23
  • Mile 5: 8:04
  • Mile 6: 8:08
  • Mile 7: 8:26
  • Mile 8: 8:30
  • Mile 9: 8:48
  • Mile 10: 8:32
  • Mile 11: 8:19
  • Mile 12: 7:43
  • Mile 13: 7:35
  • Mile 14: 7:09

Negative split run: {Monday 6.24.2013} Goal of this run is to have each mile progressively faster. It requires you to not only push yourself a little bit faster each mile but to also account for the terrain – if the mile was hilly you may need to push harder than the next mile if it is down hill – it’s all about connecting your mind with your body and analyzing on the run.

  • Mile 1: 8:33
  • Mile 2: 8:28
  • Mile 3: 8:16
  • Mile 4: 8:11
  • Mile 5: 8:03
  • Mile 6: 7:46
  • Mile 7: 7:01

Fast finish easy run #1: {Tuesday 6.25.2013}

  • Mile 1: 8:25
  • Mile 2: 8:12
  • Mile 3: 8:20
  • Mile 4: 8:18
  • Mile 5: 8:00
  • Mile 6: 7:18
  • Mile 7: 7:12

Fast finish easy run #2: {Wednesday 6.26.2013}

  • Mile 1: 8:36
  • Mile 2: 8:30
  • Mile 3: 8:31
  • Mile 4: 8:42
  • Mile 5: 8:32
  • Mile 6: 7:28
  • Mile 7: 6:59

 June 26

Fast finish runs also help you adjust to starting out slower than you might want to on easy runs, something that I recommend {many runners run their easy runs too fast}. I believe that for 95% of the population {again not a real stat} that starting slow and finishing fast is the only way to not hit the wall during a marathon. The biggest mistake you can make in the marathon is to start out too fast. This also applies to races of shorter distances. You can not “make” the race in the first mile but you certain can “break” your race in the first mile.


Do you practice starting slow and finishing fast? What has helped you NOT hit the wall during a marathon?

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I don’t post on Mile Posts every day but you can find my ramblings on twitter, facebook or instagram daily!

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Mile Posts Endurance – Dorothy Beal – P.O. Box 2242, Leesburg, VA 20177


  1. I know that this was not the point of your post… and I did like the part about negative splits/fast finishes!!… but what spoke to me today was your sentence about seeing your runs post-baby as a new start. I’ve recently stopped running due to some fertility issues, and have been struggling with “Will I every run again?” syndrome. So, thanks for the reminder that I WILL run again… and be better than I was before!

  2. I have beem practicing strong finishes since I started training for my last 10k and now no matter what distance I run I always sprint the last few blocks. So even if it was a less than impressive running day, I feel awesome sprinting home. :)

  3. That is so true Dorothy! I need to get better about negative splits. I always feel SO POWERFUL when I do achieve them! It’s hard sometimes during a race to not start out too fast, all of that adrenaline just gets going and I forget to reel it in! Your times are amazing, so inspirational!

  4. This is something I am currently working on. I tend to run my long runs a bit too fast and I am dying at the end.

  5. This is exactly the post I needed to read. Lately, I have realized that even though I am getting faster, I am STILL walking bits of each run. And I need to just STOP. Because I know I can if I just slow down, but I’ve been prioritizing faster splits when I’m NOT walking, but to actually get better, I need to stop walking. THANK YOU for this motivation – I need to just run super slow I guess. I also need to work on negative splitting – Katie has my goal splits set up that way, of course, but I still haven’t mastered it!

  6. Great minds……xo!

  7. I completely agree! I ran my first marathon this March, and fast finish runs were an integral part of my training. I mainly did them on long runs, every other week, speeding the last 8-10 miles up to race pace (or faster!). I firmly believe this is what caused me to NOT hit a wall at all during the marathon, run a negative split, boston qualify, and generally feel like I had an awesome first race. A lot of my friends declined to try the same tactic, saying it was too hard, and had much harder races… I think it works!

  8. Guilty. I try to run negative splits on a regular basis but I struggle with starting slow. I think it hurts my ego to see a mile that I wouldn’t want to see as an average. It’s good for me to see that you ran a 9-minute mile and came down to a 7. For me, it’d be OK to hit a 10 and then ease into the 8.

  9. Hi Dorothy,

    Love your posts. I agree about practicing with negative splits and finishing strong. I don’t agree with the never walking, however. When I switched to walking 30 seconds at the water stops I got significantly faster. I also did a better job with hydration and nutrition and it made a huge difference in my after race recovery. And flying past people in the last few miles of the race — talk about a mental boost. Of course my times are a lot slower than yours, so I am out on the course a lot longer, which could be part of the difference.

  10. I used to be so good about doing fast finishes at the end of my runs – but not so much in the past month or so. I haven’t done a progressive run either and they are my favorite way to do long runs! My mind has been so pre-occupied with the stresses in the rest of my life that I’ve just been slogging through most of my runs – ugh.
    Thanks for the reminder on the importance of holding back in the beginning to finish strong at the end!

  11. Really great post! I have really been focusing on faster finishes as well and can definitely tell a difference in how I feel when I am done. I am curious to know why you didn’t fuel or hydrate during your long run. Honestly just being nosy; y’all would find me in a puddle on the ground if I didn’t hydrate or fuel on a long run!

  12. I loved running reverse splits…. Starting out steady and warming up completely, getting in my zone for miles 10-20. At mile 20 picking it up and picking off runners one-by-one as I finished the race strong! These days I run halves and shorter, but use the same game-plan and try to finish strong.

  13. Love the fast finish runs! They are so important for your body to learn pacing. I think that’s one of the reasons I like running early in the morning, I’m still wiping the sleep from my eyes in the first mile so it is naturally slower and them my body slowly warms up and I pick up the pace. The hardest part for me is that my house is on the side of the hill so most of the time my last mile is uphill to my house, such a challenge to keep dropping the pace on a steep hill. But I know it’ll make me stronger on race day!

  14. I love the rush I get when I finish a run strong!

    Even if I don’t have negative splits, it’s nice to see my pace drop for the last mile or so. There’s a nice, straight stretch at the end of my favorite running route that’s about a quarter of a mile long and I love sprinting to the finish.

  15. I always try to finish a run faster than I started, even if it’s just a little bit faster. I think it’s really helped me on race day to push that extra bit at the end.

  16. Katrina says:

    I started slow during my recent half marathon and finished 5 minutes faster than I thought my “A” goal was. I’m definitely a fan and an advocate of starting slow and finishing strong. But I’m curious, when you’re racing and have a goal in mind – do you break down beforehand how fast you want to run each mile? I’m struggling with figuring out what paces I should be running each mile to reach my overall goal.

  17. I am going to be running my first 5k next weekend and the name of the run is negative split! For me just running 3 miles is an accomplishment since I just started running in the middle of May. Your blog has given me a lot of inspiration for running!!

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