Today the workout from Will (6 to 9 × 400 @ 90 seconds with 90 seconds rest) came while I was already running what ended up being practically 400s anyway, so I didn't feel too bad about missing his workout (I'll do it some time, probably over the winter while I'm still trying to increase my speed). Instead, I tried to do some fast (but short) intervals; I tended to start out too fast and not be able to hold the pace I was at. And when I started to slow down, I stopped.
Then I tried something different. I went back to the car, grabbed my watch, and set the timer for 41 seconds, repeat at end. I hit the trail again, which is marked every 10th of a mile. If I could run between each marker in 41 seconds, and make it through all 10, I'd finish the mile in 6:50 (410 seconds). I didn't make it through all 10 because this was my fourth attempt and not only did I start out tired, I became more tired as the intervals passed, but the timer thing definitely worked for me. If I got to the marker a little early, I'd try to slow it down a second or two. If I got to the marker late, I'd know I was off my pace and would stop, rest, and try again so that I would learn to run at a certain pace. Next time I'm setting my watch for 40 seconds and stopping/restarting the timer as soon as I hit the marker. That way I wouldn't know how early I was and I would stay at or under my pace. But doing Will's thing of running a certain distance for 90 seconds would have been about the same. He must finally be realizing how I like to train and what makes me feel like I'm improving.
It was kind of funny talking to him about it afterward, though, because he recalled how at this time last year, he had to fight with me to make me think I could even run a 7-minute mile, much less anything faster. Now I realize I'm not all that far away from my goal of a 6-minute mile and then adding more of the same to the end of that. I finally believe it, now I just have to achieve it and then build on it. Maybe I will have another breakthrough this winter when I won't be racing and it won't matter whether I'm ridiculously tired!