Sometimes when I’m running by myself, I get so caught up in just trying to get done — because Micah needs me home so he can go to work, or because it’s cold and I want to be home, or because I’m really just enjoying the feel of the speed — that I forget that it’s actually supposed to be an “easy” run, and I should be going slow enough that I could carry on a conversation with a friend. But I’m not running with a friend, so who am I to converse with? I admit that on occasion I’ve found myself carrying on a “conversation” in my head while trying to be aware of my breathing, just to see how they match up. Um, it doesn’t really work that way, Lizzie. It only takes me a minute to figure that out. Maybe less.
I told this to Micah and he agreed that it was a tricky situation. I mean, you don’t want to start talking to yourself when you are already prompting judgments of craziness from random passersby simply because you are a) running (in the cold) and b) wearing animal shoes, but you want to do the right thing and go the right pace because that is just as important as not making people think you are crazy.
Thankfully, Micah also had a solution: hum while you run. I tested it out. Sadly, for some reason the song that came to my mind when I thought, “I should hum something to see if I’m pacing myself well for this run,” was “Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends.” I wish I knew why, but I don’t. So I hummed about how a duck could be somebody’s mother for a minute or so and decided I was probably going close to the “right” pace. Maybe a little fast, but it was cold out and I wanted to get home.
I suggest you try it. If you’re running alone and you want to see if you are pacing yourself well — either going easy enough, or pushing yourself enough — try humming a song. If you can hum a sentence worth without stopping for breath (“Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck maybe somebody’s mother” breathe), you are going at a fairly easy pace. If you can get through a phrase or short sentence (“Be kind to your web-footed friends” breathe “for a duck may be somebody’s mother” breathe), you are going at a good pace for a race. If you can only hum a few words worth at a time (“for a duck” breathe “may be somebod” breathe “y’s mother”) you are going going at a good tempo-run pace. And if you can’t hum at all, whether because you are too focused on running or because you are too out of breath, you must be doing speed work.
See here for more info on pacing from April’s Runner’s World.