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Possible to negative-split in ultras?

Spectro.Life aims to make it a reality according to CEO and Product Owner.

What is negative-split and why it matters?

The world records in athletics starting from the famous Kenenisa Bekele record in the 5000 meters to current Joshua Cheptegei record and to the current marathon distance world record by Kelvin Kiptum are all achieved using the negative-split strategy, meaning the second part of the race is run faster than the first. Hence, this strategy is proven and brings considerable benefits in athletic performance optimization once there is a performance basis to work with.

For those of you who want to dig deeper in the subject, we found an interesting and well written article on regarding the topic.

What is the physiological background for the negative-split?

In shorter races where most of the race is run above the Lactate Threshold (LT), the accumulation of the lactate is the preventing factor for achieving faster times. In these races negative-splitting means staying initially at an effort level that minimizes lactate accumulation, in other words taking care about the resources, working the metabolism at a sufficiently high, but still economical level and unleashing the full potential at the end.

As the length of the race increases the lactate accumulation becomes less of an issue, however there are also other limitations like musculoskeletal breakdown and nutritional limitations which are greatly emphasized in mountainous ultramarathons where fast downhill running particularly with backpacks takes its toll as well as individual adaptations to nutritional replenishment of the consumed energy during the race. In this case doing a negative-split would mean keeping a high pace well below LT, taking care about the muscle and nutritional status and understanding very well what the sustainable effort is for 20+ hours.

What is the current state of affairs of negative-split in ultras?

Flat ultras have seen a revolution in this space the last 2 years particularly due to Aleksandr Sorokin's world record achievements from 100 km, 100 mi and 24 hours, who managed to be close to negative-splits and demonstrated this strategy is viable in ultramarathons as well in terms of physiology and pacing strategy. His one digit % performance drop stands apart from the current state of affairs in mountainous ultras where the elites have around 20-25% performance drop in 100 mi races with about 10,000 m (33,000 ft) elevation gain.

Does this mean times are going to fall in mountainous ultras?

Zsolt Kovacs, Co-Founder and CEO of Spectro.AI, the developers behind Spectro.Life | The Ultra Race App, which has just been released today to 175 countries, gave his opinion on why there is such a big difference in terms of pacing strategies between flat and mountainous ultras.

The competitive nature of ultramarathons combined with the fact that it is not easy to measure even and optimal effort led to the fact that these races are started quite fast, while still well within athletes' limits, they bite off significant resources at the beginning, leaving less at the end. We realized this and introduced the "Performance Drop" measurement in Spectro.Life, as well as the "Steady Effort" race planning and following capabilities which utilizes this performance drop measurement. With this we hope that athletes of different capabilities will become aware of their performance drop on different distances and will alter their pacing strategies to achieve their full potential based on their training status. And yes, once some of them will start adopting these strategies, the performance drop numbers will start to drop and become close to negative split in ultras, others in the same category will inevitably need to follow to stay competitive.

Performance Drop measurement and Race Tempo analysis based on Steady Effort race plan
Spectro.Life measures performance drop during an activity and analyzes the same in the results of a different one.

The first-ever race optimization app dedicated to ultra-running.

Spectro.Life helps runners create and follow a race plan with constant effort in uneven terrain taking into consideration runner's desired finish time, their sustainable performance drop on the distance and their ability to run uphills and downhills.

According to Zsolt Kovacs

We are proud of the first version of Spectro.Life which not only brings a new philosophy and tools in the hands of coaches and runners in the ultra-marathon community, but we also pride ourselves with the technology we managed to create to work seamlessly for the runner starting from the fact that the app is designed to stay in the pocket after being armed few minutes before the start, the communication with the runner happens through their watch, the fact that unlike other GPS apps, Spectro.Life is able to work with 1 charge well above a day, making it possible for a mid-class runner to complete a 100 mi race without re-charging to the most extreme cases when due to cold or other resource-limiting factors the Operating System decides to shut down the app or the whole phone, our app still makes sure to protect the runner's activity and data and even continue the activity seamlessly when the phone and app state is restored like after a re-charge operation.

Spectro.Life offers in-app purchases that works flexible and adapts to both racing and training seasons. The Steady Effort flexible package contains activity planning and tracking services for 1 Race and 3 Trial Runs or 0 Races and 4 Trial Runs depending on user's choice. Trial Runs are best used for weekend Long Runs where runners evaluate their race preparation. Used in this way, the cost of 1 Long Run performed with Spectro.Life equals the cost of 1 Energy Gel.

Try before you buy. We make it possible for runners to experience the full services before committing to buy. It is important to go through the sequence of a short Demo Run to learn how the app works then a Long Run to experience the benefits of running with Steady Effort and measuring the Performance Drop.

Watch the trailer

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