Great: 13 to 16 miles, with the first 10 to 12 miles at an easy pace and the last 2 to 4 miles at tempo pace (about 10K race pace or slightly slower)
For advanced runners who have a history of long runs on their legs, making the long run of higher quality will help you break past plateaus. While a long, slow run plays a valuable role in a marathoner's preparation, running at a faster pace trains your muscles to become more efficient with their selection of fuels, conserving glycogen.
Whether you want to run around the block or the Pikes Peak Marathon, how you train can have a dramatic effect on your performance. While running just to run may make you fitter, training gives you the plan for success. It's the difference between building a house by placing bricks here and there and having a blueprint laid out beforehand.
Good: Going out the door every day to run
For beginners, the most important part of running is to make it consistent.
Better: Adding one quality workout per week
Once you have developed a running habit and have a solid base, it's time to add some quality to your running to increase your fitness.
Great: Following a planned training program that highlights your strengths
Rather than follow a generic plan, look for one that is skewed to your strengths. If your strength is endurance, focus more on mileage and tempo runs and less on interval training. Run longer intervals, trying to get faster with training. Complete 1,000-meter repeats at 5K race pace, increasing speed to 3K race pace or decreasing the recovery as your training progresses.
If your strength is speed, focus less on mileage and more on interval training. Run shorter intervals, trying to hold the pace for longer with training. Complete 800-meter repeats at 3K race pace, increasing the distance to 1,000 meters or increasing the number of repeats as your training progresses.
More: How to Cheat Fatigue
Work your strong points and train using the whole continuum of paces, from slow running speeds to very fast speeds, to enhance both your aerobic and anaerobic abilities.
If you want to get the most from your training, it's time to make some changes. And if you train great, not only will you break past plateaus, you'll get rewarded with new personal bests.
More: How to Train for a PRSign up for your next race.