FEELING YOUR PACE
"feeling yourself and NOT in that way...LOL!"
It's funny, being a runner for over 25 years, I can easily estimate if something took 1 minute or 3 minutes without a stop watch. I can recognize another runner's pace as well as my own without depending on my Garmin or Motoactv to do all the work for me. Feeling your pace is something that anyone can do and I truly believe that when you are ready to improve your running, this is one thing you really need to master and without a watch (especially in a race).
This process of "feeling your pace" can take several months to master, depending on how "in tune" you are with your body. For some, it can take about 3-4 months, while others it may take 6 months. When you start a new training program and you want to learn how to master your pace, make sure it is included in your workout once a week or even bi-weekly.
Here are a few examples you can use to get your started and on your way to a better race pace:
Using splits: Here you can use shorter distances like a 200m and even a 400m (1/4 of a mile) and run the distance 10 times at 10K pace. Try and maintain the same pace each time giving yourself a 5 second range to be either faster or slower at times. This will give your body a jolt of speed each time and allow yourself to feel that speed each time you run. Check your breathing, how your legs feel and your time will let you know if you can maintain that pace or not.
Progressive Pacing: I like this one for myself. Even though I still race (against myself), I don't like taking myself too seriously when working out. I would like to walk the next day. If I am going on a 5 or 6 mile run, I progressive start from a 9:30 pace mile to a 7:00 pace mile toward the middle or end of my run. It's an easy way to allow my body to work it's way into the run with less injury, better breathing and this is the time when I focus in on what my body is doing and how it feels.
Gadget Free Running: Once you start to get a few pace practices under your belt, go for a run without using your gadget. Yes, you will feel naked and cold but it can be done. You can take any of the examples mentioned above and "just do it"! This will allow you really tune in on what your body is saying to you. You will start to get an idea if you are running at an 8 minute pace or a 6 minute pace. Your body and brain will remember previous runs, how you felt and how your body responded when trying to work up or maintain a certain pace.
Music to Set the Tone: Earlier last year I tried something a bit different. I let the music set my pace. I took my top 10 songs that always get my heart pounding and played them in the middle of my run. If you have great music with a good solid beat to it, you can get your feet to connect with the music and move at a pace you NEVER thought you could handle. Why? because you are focusing on the beat of the music, you get lost in your favorite song and you tend to zone out. After you are done with that run, check your stats from your watch and see what I tell you. If you do that twice a week, you will definitely see a shift in your pace. After you have trained your body to go faster, you can ditch the tunes and practice with the music in your head. It's an easy and great way to get faster leg turn over in just a few weeks!