“The most common mistake that recreational runners make is running the same pace all the time. Occasionally making yourself run fast is the only way to make yourself a fast runner.” -- Terrence Mahon, coach of Ryan and Sara Hall.
Ryan just ran a 2:06 at the London Marathon, making him the second fastest American marathoner in history. He'll be fun to watch in the Olympics this summer.
NYTimes has a good article (may require membership) about how Olympic hopeful Sara trains and races at different distances. Maybe she and Ryan will step up to ultrarunning some day.
Chris Carmicheal is training Lance Armstrong for some lofty marathon goals this year. He says:
If your goal is a fast race, do at least one, but ideally two, fast-paced runs a week. ...The most effective workout is tempo intervals: two to four 10- to 12-minute repeats at 10k to half-marathon race pace with five to six minutes of easy running in between. These prolonged periods at hard but sustainable intensity train your aerobic and muscular systems to run faster and longer before fatiguing.
I downloaded a couple MP3 audio workouts from Carmichael Training Systems last year featuring Lance (and some heavy advertising for PowerBar). One is an interval workout, the other is a tempo interval workout similar to what Chris mentions above. Leading up to Hellgate last year, I did one of these at least once per week. The tempo workout is a 70+ minute workout that usually takes me over 10 miles, depending on whether I walk or jog my rest intervals. They are tough and they hurt a little (in a good way). But I think they really helped me run one of my best Hellgates.
It will be fun to watch Lance at Boston next week to see if his speed training pays off. I bet it does.