I had another great run today, despite the fact that I woke up very dizzy!! My head finally felt somewhat settled by 12:30 today, so I did a quick 45 minutes on the treadmill at school. (I really should have run outside, but didn't bring the right clothes!)
Since the beginning of December, I have really made an effort to train smart when it comes to my heart rate and pace. I've been slowing myself down, and try to do the better part of my running in the lower working zones of my heart rate. (Check my post on "My Beating Heart" to read how I found my heart rate zones.) The general thought is that training in a lower heart rate zone (zones 1 and 2) teach your body to function at an aerobic level more efficiently by burning fat instead of glycogen, and also by increasing blood flow, over time, to the muscles you are training. Because you are burning more fat than glycogen, you are able to run longer. And because you have greater blood flow to your muscles, your muscles have more oxygen, which enables them to have access to the fat you need to burn to go longer. (This would be the my understanding of the benefit of heart rate training based on what my very unscientific mind gathered from a very scientific topic.) It's really an amazing cycle.
So in my last few runs, I think I am beginning to see the fruits of my efforts. I have been able to go faster (just a little bit, but still faster) for the same effort (heart rate) than I began at in December. For example, in December my Zone 2 pace was around 5.9-6.0 mph. Today I was able to run 6.2-6.3 mph in that same Zone 2!
If you aren't training with a heart rate monitor, I encourage you to check it out! It is definitely working for me.