When training for an event, you will need to focus on several factors:

Aerobic capacity; muscular strength; speed; endurance; lactate threshold pace; running form; mental strength and recovery.

Once you have identified the areas you need to focus on, this table explains the intended effect your training should have on your body and the subsequent effect on your race performance, before suggesting what you should do to achieve this.

What you need to work on The physiological outcome How it affects your performance How to achieve this
Aerobic capacity (VO2 max)(well-trained runners may already be at their peak aerobic capacity and may not benefit from further work on this) Increases volume of blood pumped per minute – increases capacity of blood to carry oxygen to the muscles – more capillaries develop in the lungs and muscles – hence improves the rate you can produce energy wBetter running economy – run faster for longer especially over 5k-10k High Intensity training at 90-95% MHR Long Intervals (>500m)
Strengthen leg muscles Thicker muscle fibres -Increases power on toe-off; engages higher percentage of muscle fibres Greater stride length leads to increase in speed Hill work; Strength training; Plyometrics
Strengthen core muscles Helps keep you upright and relaxed – reduces rotation at the hips Less energy used Delays fatigue Reduces risk of injury Strength training
Strengthen upper body Keeps head up, reduces shoulder rotation, reduces fatigue in the arms Minimises energy leakages and delays fatigue Strength training
Speed Improves the neuromuscular pathway between brain and leg muscles; Increases cadence and stride length; decreases ground contact times You run faster! Plyometrics & strength training; Drills such as high knees and fast feet. Practise running fast; Short, fast intervals; Strides; Hill work; Change-of-pace and progression runs
Endurance Improves VO2 max, improves running economy; increases fat use at a given pace; increases glycogen storage; increases number of capillaries in the muscles; increases the number and size of mitochondria (energy producers in your muscle cells) You run further without tiring Easy paced long runs to begin with, gradually increasing in length until a set distance is achieved. Then increase pace at ~75% MHR, starting toward the slow end and gradually increasing pace, finishing strongly at LT pace (80-90% MHR). Extend the length of runs at goal pace.
Lactate Threshold pace Enhances efficient use of lactate during running Run faster for longer Run at, or slightly above your LT pace, with recoveries in between. Tempo runs; Change-of-pace tempo runs; LT intervals; LT hills
Running Form Run more relaxed, reducing energy leakages leads to more efficient running (use less energy) and improved economy (use less oxygen at a given speed) Delays fatigue – run further/faster before tiring Reduce the risk of injury Have your form assessed by a coach or personal trainer View a slow-motion video. Practise running fast and relaxed using correct technique Hill work
Mental Strength This is psychological! But you can train your “neural governor” to accept higher levels of effort. Teach/convince yourself that you CAN keep running when tired and your brain is telling you to slow down Run further! Gain in confidence that you can achieve your goal Resist the temptation to slow down or walk! Run at least 80% of goal distance before a race. During long runs, increase your pace towards the end of the run when you are tiring; Long progression runs
Recovery What many runners neglect! Adequate recovery cannot be underestimated. Proper recovery is as important as training itself. It allows your body to recover and adapt You come back stronger! Reduces the risk of injury. You are physically ready for your next session. Rest or very easy run; Stretching after a workout; Massage aching muscles; Good quality sleep