What is the Difference Between Split Times and Lap Times? | Nutrition Fit

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A common concept when training in any sort of speed sport is that of lap times, split times, and overall times. These concepts are not relegated only to the realm of running; they are equally important in swimming, bicycling, automobile driving, horse racing and any other sports where the competitor covers a measured distance.

It can sometimes be confusing to tell the three apart, so here are some basic definitions so that you will know what somebody is referring during conversation.

  • Overall Time: Overall time on the face of things is pretty easy to define. It simply tells you how long it took to get from point A to point B. In a race, it will be how long it took you to get to the finish line. It can get a little more complicated, though, when you split your overall time into net time, moving time and gun time.

    1. Net Time: Net time refers to how long it takes you to run a race from the moment you cross the starting line until the moment you cross the finish line. It is usually measured by an electronic chip or tag worn on your shoe, ankle or bib number.
    2. Moving Time: Moving time refers to how long you were actually in motion during a run or a race. It could be as simple as stopping your watch at a cross walk or if you stop to relieve yourself, or could be time deducted during a race while you are at an aid station getting weighed. Very few races will track moving time to use as way to determine winners.
    3. Gun Time: Gun time refers to how long it takes you to cross the finish line starting at the sound of the gun, no matter where in the field you began your race and no matter how long it takes you to reach the starting line.
  • Split Time: Your split time is your overall time at any given point in your run. For example, in a 4 mile race you might have split times of 7:00, 14:00, 21:00 and 28:00 minutes at each mile if you were running at an even 7:00 minute pace. Your split time would be your overall time at each specified way-point if your run or race ended right there.
  • Lap Time: Your lap time is the time it takes you to run in between splits. In the above example, each of your mile laps would have been 7:00 minutes. The lap time is how long it takes you to get from one split to the next. The clock then starts over for the next lap.

Laps and splits will not always be for the same distance. For example, in a triathlon you would have separate splits and lap times for your swimming, your biking, and for your running.

In general, though, you will most often see mile or kilometer splits unless there is a more easily defined lap. On a track, you might have a 400 meter split, and in a pool you would have a 50 meter split.

During marathons, you may have splits every 5 kilometers, and during an ultramarathon your splits may be at specific aid stations throughout the course with no standardized distance between each one.

Tracking and analyzing your lap and split times can help you improve your training and pace yourself through a race, so I recommend keeping track of them during your interval sessions or for when you are going over your race strategy for or after a race.

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Source by Blaine Moore