There has been lots written and studies carried out regarding the difference between actual effort and perceived effort when exercising. Often people feel that they are exercising harder than they actually are.
To help counteract this people often use strategies such as listening to music to help them concentrate and so exercise at a harder rate.
I am not sure if this is a surprise but a study conducted at Northumbria University found that men, when exercising in the presence of a female, that their Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) dropped. However, if they exercised in the presence of a fellow male their RPE goes up!
With regards to my own running, I seem to be over my calf problems and have been able to get a few weeks steady running in - The aim now is to introduce some speed work and aim to start racing again by the end of the month.