I'm currently in my off season, which will last until January. I'm not completely taking off exercise, but I have cut back and am enjoying a little downtime. It is convenient timing since I've been busy at work lately.
In the early season, I typically do lots of easy miles. But this time, I will go about it a bit differently. Why? Well, part of that is a new training program I signed up for - the Track Shack's Five and Dime speedwork program, targetted to the 5K and 10K distances. This program is offered once a quarter, so either I take it now, or wait most of a year, because fitting it in the spring or summer would be too difficult. Plus, I'd like to see what organized speed workouts are like, and I should meet some other runners.
I usually wear my heart rate monitor while running and biking, but lately I almost never pay attention to it. I hardly even log my heart rate anymore - I just about only check my max and average after a race. That's my dirty little secret. Why is that? For biking, it is more important for me to keep up with the group rather than stay at a certain heart rate. If I want to target a heart rate zone, the trainer is a better way to do it. For running, I've gone from building endurance to run the distances I want, to wanting to get faster at those distances. So the HRM is only useful to keep me from going out too hard during my weekly long run.
I think that for shorter distances running events (half marathon and below) the way to go about hitting certain time goals is to actually train at that desired race pace. What is easier - to set a PR by figuring out what heart rate to keep, or by figuring out what pace to keep and stick to it? After many years of trying to break through my old half mary PR, I did it this year with simple math: my goal required an 8 minute/mile pace, so I stuck to that from the start. Granted, I have a larger exercise base and had been running at faster paces than I ever did before. The funny thing is, I set my previous PR the one time I didn't use the HRM - the strap was loose and it slipped to my stomach less than 5 minutes into the event. I ran that one by picking out other people and catching up to them.
Anyway, this is my philosophy as a self-coached athlete. I might crash and burn, but I should also notice that happening and make a tactical adjustment if necessary.
Later I'll add more on what I plan to do schedule wise.