So, if you aren't familiar with how to get faster for running, one of those things is interval work. Interval training was actually not discovered until like the 1960's (don't quote me on that) and when the coach that realized this tactic started having his athletes beat the socks off of everyone else, the news of interval training started spreading like wildfire. It pertains in all areas of running from sprinting to marathon training.
As you are training for different events, if your performance is important to you then realizing that each specific component of the training is important is a really cool tactic to keeping you on track. Alex Viada always talks about how if something is not pertaining to your goals in any single one workout, then why are you doing it? For example, why would I ever flip tires even just for a fun fitness workout because flipping tires has nothing to do with the goals that I have. Also, recognizing that speed workouts, tempos, farklets, and long runs are all serving a specific purpose in the progression of your training towards a race is critical. Yes, you could skip these things, but if your coach is programming them and they are a good coach then they know the reasoning behind what they are doing. As the race gets closer, they are peaking you at a specific time based on all of these things, tapering you in a certain way so that you have the perfect storm of speed and endurance on race day.
The really cool part is when you have worked with a coach long enough that they have figured you out individually. There are themes that work across the board, but there are also specifics to each person (as usual) and I've realized that more than a 2 week taper for me is just awful. It's too far out. Sometimes, you figure those things out for yourself as well. Does that mean that you can't use a generic online program? I don't think so at all. All of these programs should be created with the over arching themes in all of them, and then you can tweek them as you go if you feel like something would behoove you better specifically to your own training.
Back to speed work--> I just wanted to give you some examples of speed workouts that you can try. I honestly like to do speed work on the treadmill. I find it easier to keep the right pace, and I feel pace is important during speed work. I change the grade of the treadmill to 1.0-2.0 to account for all of the variables that you would find out on the road (although I know this isn't a perfect one-to-one of course). If you can do your speed work on a track, that's awesome. I don't really have a track available but I'd say that would be the #1 place to do your speed work.
Garmin has features on their watches that you can set up interval training type workouts. I might have a guest blogger teach that because I honestly am not sure, but if you have a Garmin and the manual, make sure to look into that because it is a feature.
With interval speed work, it really is just changing between periods of high and periods of low.
1. Warm Up for 1-2 miles, 200m x 10 with 30 seconds rest between then cool down for 1 mile
2. Yasso 800
This is actually an awesome workout to determine your marathon prediction time. This speed workout has a warm up of 1-2 miles (this is always what you should do and not just start speed from the first step which can lead to injuries). Then, you transition into 800m sprints (2 laps around a track). You do this 10 times with the same amount of rest that it took you to run the 800m. So for example, I did a Yasso 800 and aimed for 3:00 on each 100m which means that I rested for 3 minutes in between each one, and then did another one. You repeat 10 times, and if you can complete it then that means that you should technically be able to complete a marathon in 3:00. HA...not yet, but maybe one day ;)
3. Warm Up 1-2 miles, 100m x 3 at top speed with 30 seconds rest, 150m x 6 with 30 seconds rest, 200m x 10 with 30 seconds between and 2 minutes rest between each one
4. Warm Up, Marathon Goal Pace 1 mile, Rest 1 minute, moving up 30 seconds for the next mile, Rest 1 minute, then one mile 30 seconds faster than the previous, rest one minute, cool down
5. Hill Repeats:
Warm Up, 6x1 AFAP (as fast as possible) going up a steep hill, rest until recovered, then cool down
There are so many different variations of speed workouts that you could try but the gist is that you are getting your heart rate up. As you continue in your training, your speed work times should be aimed at getting faster. If you are doing your own training and you typically set your speed work all out sprint at for example 6:30min/mile, then maybe as you continue forward in training, you work towards some of those intervals being at 6:20 or 6:15 so that you are really pushing yourself.
As your speed workouts and endurance increase together, you should be able to do faster in the short term and in the long term.