From the day I started coaching I have always approached the middle distance and distance events from a speed and power perspective. Very quickly I saw that those who could run forever, but could not run fast were not going to be competitive in races. Remember the winner is the person who can maintain the highest percentage of their maximum speed for the duration of the race. If you have speed and you want to be successful, then you must learn how to use your speed. The only way you learn to use is to run fast, train speed in, don’t train speed out. Some fast running must be included during all phases of the training year.
Isn’t this all about preparing the athletes to race. In my opinion there is too much emphasis on pace. Pace is a misleading term. It is not pace it is distribution of effort. Distribution is what allows you to use the highest % of maximum speed for the duration of the race. Good distribution demands great & efficient running mechanics and the ability to change tempos (shift gears) in one stride. To learn race distribution you need to know your strengths and weakness and how you can run your race. You must become race hardened. That is a key element that is missing today, without dual meets and smaller meets the young developing runner is denied the opportunity to learn how to race and become race hardened.
Good running mechanics don’t come from drills. Drills are part of the picture. Greater improvement in running mechanics comes from proper strength training. You must strengthen the legs and hips; this is neglected in most middle and long distance training programs. Strength is the basis for speed and good running mechanics.