Fun Things To Do With Splits
Sam Smith

1)      The average of the splits is the same as the average speed for the whole course. This is obvious once you think about it, and is why a bad leg affects your average. A good thing to strive for is a consistent average speed across all the splits (except for the finish chute). Taking a histogram of your splits helps visualize this.

2)      Short legs are very dangerous. There is a certain amount of time that is constant for every leg - time to punch, to fold the map, to plan a route, etc. Let us say you spend 30 seconds on every leg doing these tasks. If the leg is 800 meters long, then that 30 seconds doesn't affect your time too badly. If the leg is only 150 meters long, the 30 seconds can really screw up your average for that leg. We know from #1 that this is a bad thing. I have found that I have to really be quick on the short legs to compensate.

3)     The finish chute is even more dangerous. This is the leg from the last control to the finish. We know from #1 that this is just as important as the longer legs. Typically it is a very fast leg, as much as twice as fast, that can really help your average - don't flub it! It is easy to get confused, miss the chute, go the wrong way, etc. 

4)     Estimating time lost. You frequently hear people say that they lost 20 minutes on a control. If this were true, and they had nailed the control, their time would make them the world champion. Taking splits will keep you honest. Compare the bad leg with the rest of your legs and estimate how much time you REALLY lost.

5)      How much time do you spend standing still? Instead of taking a split at each control, stop your watch every time you stop running, then start it again when you start moving. When you finish, compare your actual time to the time on your watch to see how much time you wasted standing still - you may be surprised... Once you learn not to stand still, redo the experiment and stop your watch when you walk.