>General Running>Increase speed, your experience
Yes, I know there are a ton of training plans to increase speed but I would like to hear from actual experiences. Perhaps you tried various methods and found some that worked well and others not so good. My usual goal was just to finish a marathon and my typical training has been to just increase weekly mileage and the long run distance. Doing this alone does make you a better and faster runner, but without doing any speedwork the results are limited. The other extreme is to do all your runs at race pace or better. This has been shown not as effective as just doing like 20% of training at fast pace and the rest being long slow distance.
Now I have tried a little speed training, not really intervals, but I will pick segments and run them at a fast pace similar to fartleks . I have also ran several miles at close to race pace, tempo runs. I also will just accelerate until I reach a very fast pace which I can only hold briefly before dropping down to a jog or walk, I think this is called doing "glides." When running fast I try to be aware of my form and make it as smooth and effortless as I can. I live in a hilly area and run up small hills of various slopes and distances in most of my longer runs. These have all proved effective at increasing my pace, but as the marathon approaches I have often run out of time and had to concentrate on increasing my distance just so I know I have the endurance to finish. I know I should start my training earlier to leave time to focus on getting my speed up which I understand is best done in the last several weeks so it peaks at race time.
By the way, my current long range goal is to Boston Qualify. I shall be 70 next year and the qualifying time next year is 4 hours 20 minutes, but I think you need to be at least 5 minutes faster to be sure of not being cutoff. My fastest marathon ever was a 4:10:44 back in 1998 and in 2017 I did 4:29:29. Obviously I have work to do and for medical reasons I do not expect to be able to run a qualifying race until perhaps 2022. I am thinking of a September 2021 marathon and experimenting with a plan of like doing a week where I focus on speed and alternating with weeks where I do increasing weekly distance, but with runs all close to the same length. I also want to have weeks where I do an extra long run, I like the idea of having a few runs of over 20 miles in before doing the marathon. The current wisdom is not to run training long runs of over 18 miles, but I had trouble coping with the 26.2 mile distance when I tried that. I think just for the confidence boost alone I need to do a few runs of 20 miles or more.
"My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
Since your goal is to qualify for Boston by next year at age 70, the key is going to be to build up your aerobic base so that you can endure lots of mileage without depleting your glycogen stores. To do this is going to require consistent training of long slow easy runs, building up gradually and then maintaining that mileage while continuing to improve. This base training phase could take six months or even longer depending upon your current state of development.
Only once you have adequately developed your aerobic base should you start adding perhaps 20 percent speed work in the form of tempo runs. One reason for not doing speed work now is the risk of injury. If you end up with an injury that takes you off the street for three to six months then there goes the consistent training that you need for your base.
But be assured that if you start going out every day a race pace and incrementally increasing your distances until you are hitting about 20 miles on a single run is not going to work for you and you are likely to get injured, burn out, become over-trained or just plain go crazy.
Here are a couple of resources that you can look at that may help you.
Floris Gierman's program is based on the Maffetone Method which includes a lot of Low Heart Rate training for base development.
The Hadd site gets a little technical but will explain why running every run at race pace will not work. It will also include a plan for Low Heart Rate Training.
I intend to live forever . . . or die trying.
Teger - Thanks for the input. I took a brief look at the links you provided and already they gave some useful information. I will comment after I study them further. Note that I may have to undergo a medical procedure next year which may interrupt my training for several weeks, so although I may run a marathon next year most likely my BQ attempt will be in 2022. Also, I never considered doing a 20 mile practice run at race pace. Perhaps a slow 12 miles followed the next day by 12 at race pace might work well. Experience with injuries has taught me the perils of too much too soon, but I have in the past ramped up my millage rather quickly going from a 30 to a 70 mile week in just 3 months. However, I am sure a wider base is more effective training. I listen to my body and hope I know when to back off the training.