Danielle Pfiefer Runs the 800m with Only One Focus - To Win

Danielle Pfiefer  McAuley High School 2012

Personal Bests

  • 1600 Meter Run  4:59.37
  • Three Mile Run  19:46.23
  • 400 Meter Dash  56.74
  • 5000 Meter Run  18:59.00
  • 800 Meter Run  2:08.84


OHRunners:  Congratulations on your early, indoor season, runs this year.  A first in the 800 at the new Spire Facility in Geneva in a time of 2:12.12 on Feb. 11th and a first in the 800 in the UK HS Invitational, in which you were the defending champion and meet record holder (2:08.84), in a time of 2:11.78.  What are your plans for the remainder of the indoor season?

Danielle:  I will run the indoor state meet in Akron, OH. I am focused on breaking 2:10, but more importantly, I am focused on the race… winning the race.

OHRunners:  When did you first start running?

Danielle:  I started running in sixth grade at St. Ignatius grade school in Monfort Heights. 

OHRunners:  Did you participate in any other sports when you were younger?

Danielle:  I played soccer most of my life up until my Sophomore year in HS. 

OHRunners:  Did you run in Middle School?  What events?

Danielle:  I ran for Saint Ignatius starting in the sixth grade. I ran the 400, 200, 4 x 200, 4 x 400. At that time, I was much more focused on Soccer.

OHRunners:  You have a PR of 56.74 in the 400.  How do you view the 400?

Danielle:  I’d like to say that I have good 400 speed, but there is always room for improvement. The 400 is tricky because you have to go out there and sprint – it is basically an all-out sprint for a full lap. I need to work on my third 100 in the race to improve my overall speed in the event. I like the 400, but there are some really strong runners in that event. 

OHRunners:  Why do you like the 800?

Danielle:  I feel like the 800 is the perfect race for a true middle distance runner. It deals with a lot of speed.  However, there is strategy that also goes into the race. I am always thinking when I am running out there. Unlike the 400, I feel like I have time to make up for a small mistake, even though there is no margin for error when you start racing the elite runners in the 800. 

OHRunners:  What would you consider your strengths as an 800 runner are?

Danielle:  Having run the 800 all throughout high school now, I consider one of my strengths is an understanding of  how to compete in this race. Of course, I owe a lot of that to my coach, Ron Russo, who is an excellent middle distance / long distance coach. As I said earlier, I am patient and know that I can compensate for the many nuances that this race can throw at me – again, coach Russo has worked on this with me. Running a variety of races has helped me learn how to not just go out and run an 800… but how to race. 

OHRunners:  How would you describe yourself as a competitor?

Danielle:  I would consider myself to be very competitive. When I see someone in front of me, instinct takes over and I immediately devise a plan to compete with them... to try to win. Not only am I competitive with the other field of runners, but I am also competitive with myself. I always try to push myself and ultimately compete with the previous time I’ve recorded.

OHRunners:  How comfortable with pace are you?  In other words, would you prefer to run out front and lead the first 400, setting the pace, or wait and let the race develop?

Danielle:  I would consider myself to be comfortable with pace. A lot of how I plan to run my race depends on the field of runners. 

OHRunners:  Do you use CC as base for endurance and strength for the 800?  Do you like running CC and the 5K distance or do you prefer shorter distances?

Danielle:  I have run cross country for three years now and I definitely believe it has created a base for my 800. It has developed me into a stronger runner and has definitely benefited me in the track season. Although, cross country is not my favorite thing, I embrace it because I know it helps me. However, I would take shorter distance races any day. 

OHRunners:  What is a typical week for you in the Indoor season with a race on Saturday?  Be specific about workouts M-F.  Include type of workouts, distances, speeds.

Danielle:  Because mandatory practice has not started yet, I have not been able to do timed intervals. Therefore, my runs consist of distance. 

Monday/Wednesday: Swing, 40 minutes 
Tuesday/Thursday: Crisp, 35 minutes 
Friday: Easy, 25 minutes

OHRunners:  Basically then, you are running the indoor season on base alone. You have not done any speed work?  Weather permitting, will you try to get some speed work in before the Indoor State meet?

Danielle:  That is correct. My indoor training has come solely from distance runs, ultimately creating a strong base.  My speed work comes from the races I have run. Although the indoor state meet is very important, I am very focused on the outdoor season and winning state. 

OHRunners:  Are you training indoor or outdoor at this time?

Danielle:  We do not have access to an indoor facility. I am training outdoor.

OHRunners:  Are you doing any weight training?  If so, what type?

Danielle:  We are doing limited weight training. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are usually the days I weight train. I mostly work on my arms and do bands with my legs. 

OHRunners:  The Ohio State record was set in 1996 by Candace Nicholson of Cle. Hts. Beaumont in a time of 2:07.14.  The State Meet and Owens Stadium record is 2:07.35 set last year by Taneisha Cordell of New Albany who now runs for the University of Miami.  I would expect that you have set as one of your goals for this year to break Nicholson’s State record?  What are your goals for this Indoor and Outdoor seasons?

Danielle:  Although I am fully aware of the times that have been recorded, my primary goal is to just win State, both indoor and outdoor. 

OHRunners:  Describe an 800 run for me.  Start to finish.  Can you break it down, i.e. 1st 100-200, 2nd 200, 3rd 200, finish?

Danielle:  The way I run an 800 varies from race to race. There are many factors that contribute to how I run each part of my race. The field of runners and the weather are just two factors that play a big role in how I choose to run every 200. 

OHRunners:  If I understand, you do not plan a race strategy with a specific pace in mind. No matter whom the competition is?  You let the race develop and just run each race to win, regardless of the time? Do you have a specific race strategy?

Danielle:  My 800 strategy depends on the race and is all based on the field. Basically, it is a race, and I want to win. If I know someone is going to give me a good race, then obviously I have to prepare myself for that. Coach Russo and I always go over the race beforehand.  He tells me who is in the race, their strengths, and what others might do based on my strengths and I adjust as the race develops.  However, if there is not someone to push me in the race, I will go out and run my own race. 

OHRunners:   Would you prefer to be leading through the 400 or just off of the leaders pace? What is a comfortable 400 pace for you? Would you like to control the pace of the race, or just run as the race develops?

Danielle:  Throughout the course of the season I have very few opportunities to run at a state caliber or national level. Consequently, I approach most races knowing I will be in control of the race, also being mindful that I'm running four races in a regular season meet. I try to conserve as much energy as I can, so I can win each race and get points for my team.

OHRunners:  Do you visualize your races?

Danielle:  Yes, I like to try to play all the scenarios in my head. I feel like when I visualize the races, I am better prepared and can react quicker to different situations while I am racing.

OHRunners:  Danielle, thank you for your time.  We will look forward to watching you run the remainder of the indoor season and in the outdoor season and know with your confidence and desire to win that we just may see you challenge the State records.