She Can Be Taught!

Here’s my log entry from last week’s quality workout, which was 1-mile repeats on the road at Zilker:

1=9:03, 2=9:02, 3=9:12. I was so disappointed in the third one; I really thought I’d come in at 9:00 or faster.

Truly, I was running my little heart out. Felt like a sucker punch to the gut to look down and see that my big effort was slower that either of the other two miles. I’d thought I was sandbagging the first one. And on the track, my miles have been much faster, below 9mm.  This put me in a funk (of course, last week was all a major funk for one reason or another but that’s beside the point).

Mentally Battling Mile Repeats

Today, we headed back over to Zilker for quality workout but this week was FOUR repeats, not THREE. I had a little internal talk and pointed out to myself that I’d been quite unhappy to not achieve the downward progression that was part and parcel of the workout. This week, I would…so I had to be sure to actually sandbag the first one as directed.

We headed out and I was ‘way back in the rear, doing my thing, trying to be steady and strong without being too fast. Cathy and Malinda got far enough ahead that I often couldn’t see them. Oh, well — this wasn’t about how good I was compared to them but about whether I could achieve my own goals.

I made a point to check my watch at a landmark so I could compare for later miles, and I didn’t go balls-to-the-wall down the finish. When I looked at my watch, I started to grimace:  10:07! For a mile repeat?!? I immediately began to beat myself up but that inner voice said, “SHUT UP! Now you have to start to bring it down.”

For the next loop, I told myself to make only subtle pick-ups (counting my steps up the gradual incline, things like that) in the hopes that I’d be about 15 seconds faster, thinking I’d do that each one. I felt pretty good on that mile, like I was running strong but not too hard. When I checked my watch as I finished, I gulped — oops! Too fast; I’d brought it down to 9:27. As we took our recovery, Coach Amy told us to try to maintain for the third one, keeping in mind that the effort would be harder because it was the third and we were tired.

On this one, I made more pick-ups (counting steps more, pushing on the incline and uphill, and picking it up into the finish), keeping in mind that I still had one more to go…one more that I wanted to be faster than my fastest one last week. Watch said “9:20” as I finished.

Coach Amy said, “Make the last one count,” and really, the last one was the one that would make the workout a success or failure in my mind, and I didn’t want another disappointment.


I repeated “make it count” over and over in my head as I ran. I tried to use Cathy and Malinda as moving targets, staying close enough that they were never out of sight. When I came around the corner into the finish, Coach Amy yelled out, “Imagine you’re in the Ironman finisher’s chute and Mike Reilly is calling out, ‘You are an Ironman!'”

This ALMOST backfired, as I have determined that (excluding me racing the clock to be a legit finisher) I will enjoy EVERY MINUTE of that stretch, taking as long as I want. But today, I dug down and pushed hard. That made the difference between pride and disappointment.

Final mile was 9:01. One second faster than my fastest mile last week.

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “She Can Be Taught!

  1. You rocked out there today! That Ironman finisher\’s chute thing almost got me too, I giggled while sprinting because I too plan on milking that part (unless I\’m trying to beat the cutoff, of course).

    You and Malinda are the greatest workout partners ever…and of course we all know I love our coach.

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