As someone who is always seeking to learn more about our sport, I have a number of resources among my regular reading that I consider to provide great value of my time. I've posted a number of Jay Johnson links before, but Jay has made a number of references to another great resource - Vern Gambetta - and incorporated some of his knowledge into the advice he shares. So needless to say, I started following his stuff too a while back, along with the other folks that are part of the EliteTrack group. Topics cover a variety of sports, but many of the concepts are similar. Posts are typically short and sweet, which is good for quick consumption. But there are always worthwhile nuggets of information that have me constantly coming back.
This post is one of those short and sweet ones, but there is a lot of good insight crammed into one paragraph:
"Most people agree that speed wins, then why if that is the case isn’t it
made a priority. You must work on speed first and foremost. You must
incorporate some elements of speed from the first training cycle through
to the peak competition. That is true if you are training for a
marathon or 100 meters, basketball or rugby. It must be part of every
training cycle. I find it quite amusing when I hear a coach say that we
have been working on base work, but I have not started speed work yet.
What are you waiting for? The problem with that approach is that they
are not training to be fast, they are training to endure, and then
magically they hope that the fast will come. They are essentially
training speed out that is easy. The inevitable result is undue soreness
and greater risk of injury because of the abrupt change in the training
program when they do start to emphasize anything fast. The key is to
never get too far away from running fast. Always train speed in. It
should be part of the first training cycle of the year and be a part of
each subsequent training cycle. Speed development work can be as simple
as sprint drills, light acceleration drills, or for a distance runner
simply finishing each run with 8 –10 x 100 meter fast strides, but it
must be there all the time. Speed first to be first."
In other words, periodizing your training is still important, but that doesn't mean that you need to eliminate all speed workouts just because you are in "base training". There is a huge misconception out there regarding base training, that it is strictly doing LSD runs to "build your base". You can still do the same thing, while incorporating a bit of fast, such as the options presented above, whether it is an occasional 3k-5k speed pickup in the middle of some runs or strides. Training only one part of the equation by running long and slow leaves you exactly that - able to run long and slow.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you want to run fast, you have to run fast. No amount of slow will ever make you run fast. You have to make it happen.