One million. That’s how many times I have seen or heard of a runner training incorrectly.
I can’t stand runners training wrong all the time. It bothers me on a deep level.
I’m going to give away a “secret” of training. Every runner should post this on his or her bathroom mirror. To be the best runner you can be, follow this in order:
(1) Build up your mileage slowly and systematically with easy aerobic running as much as you can physically and psychologically tolerate for as long as you can. You need to establish as strong of an aerobic capacity as possible.
(2) Include quality aerobic workouts like hills, fartleks, and lactate threshold workouts run at the correct pace. Lactate threshold pace is comfortably hard, at the upper end of being purely aerobic.
(3) Include VO2max interval workouts at the correct pace (for most runners, between 1.5- and 2-mile race pace; at or very near 100% max heart rate).
(4) Start reducing your weekly mileage as you increase the intensity with anaerobic capacity interval workouts at the correct pace (800-meter to mile race pace).
(5) Exponentially drop your weekly mileage, recover, and do only short, fast workouts.
How much emphasis you give to each of these 6 steps depends on (a) your strengths and weaknesses as a runner (always train to your strengths), (b) the specific length of the race you’re training for (the longer the race, the more important steps 1 and 2 are), and (c) how good you want to be (if you want to be the best you can be, you need to maximize each of these steps).
Now go run.