Running in a Winter Wonderland

We had some amazing weather over Christmas and the photos I’ve posted are running on the beach and sand dunes. It must be a decade since it’s been cold enough for snow to stick on the beach!

During the last 14 days, I’ve managed to run 112 miles. Combined with the two 50 mile run weeks before the holidays, that represents 25 hours of aerobic training purely in my running shoes. If things continue to go to plan, that’ll set me up pretty well for some higher quality run work in February and March.

I can feel changes taking place in my body, and with all this running, I’ve become a lot more aware of my pace and how it relates to my breathing. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how my body feels as I run, and being aware of my breathing rate. I’ve been running every day with my Polar S625X on, which shows me heart rate and pace, and with each run I feel like I’m getting a little bit more in tune with my body.

As a kid running with my Dad, I remember thinking it was quite magical that I used to be able to ask him how fast we were running, and he’d be able to tell me the pace just from how he was feeling – and when we got home, over measured courses, he was always pretty much spot on. I always assumed that when I was an adult, I’d magically develop this ability too – to be able to tell, to within 10s per mile, how fast I was running. It certainly never happened, as far as I’m aware!

This last week though, I’ve been playing a game where I try to ‘feel’ how fast I’m running, and what my heart rate will be, then look at the HRM – rather than the other way around. At first it was difficult, and I was always miles off (in either direction!) – but over the course of seven or eight runs I’ve been getting better at it.

I’ve found that by paying careful attention to the rhythm of my breathing, and how it coordinates with my footstrikes, I can quite accurately get my pace to about 7.30/mile, with my HR around 150. Time seems to pass by faster when I’m concentrating on what I’m doing as well. It’s got me wondering about whether it’s the paying attention to the running that really helps bring about improvements, and whether my days of running with the iPod shuffle on are behind me…