Some entertaining/informative insight from High-Performance Training for Track & Field, authored by coaching legend Bill Bowerman & Bill Freemam.
The two greatest characteristics of champions have always been dedication and hard work.
The runner's equipment is almost as meager as the swimmer's, with one exception: the shoes. Every experienced runner should have three pairs of shoes, if possible. One is for wearing to and from the track and during roadwork, the second is for regular practice, and the last is for competition. For training clothes, lightweight materials that protect from the weather yet still "breathe" should be used. The running trunks and jersey should also be very light. Names or emblems can be silk-screened rather than sewn on, avoiding useless, weighty junk. The only necessary stripe across the chest is the one at the finish line. Stocking caps are good protection against the cold, but a sweatshirt with a hood attached is probably more practical because the hood cannot be forgotten or lost. All of the training clothing should be kept clean, washed as often as possible.
Some athletes can handle more work than others. Some show more improvement with intervals, others with fartlek. The two are combined with a little speed work until we learn what kind of fertilizer makes our flowers grow best.
One cardinal principle should never be forgotten: Variety is the spice of life. Every runner needs variety, if for no other reason than to prevent mental staleness. The system must always recognize that individuals are different. Schedules are only guides. Just as a balanced diet makes for a healthier, happier person, so does a varied and balanced training schedule make for a more efficient, eager runner. A continuous, non varied schedule usually makes an automatic, unimaginative runner.
An athlete who runs the opponent's race will have a very bad experience because it is a devastating way to run a race. An athlete should not offer him- or herself as a lamb for the slaughter. One should never try to fight an opponent on his or her own choice of battleground. Whenever an athlete is tempted to try to beat an opponent while letting the opponent use his or her favorite club in the contest, the athlete should remember one thing: Wisdom and judgment are a great deal more important than determination. There is more pleasure in being a wise victor than a determined loser.
The "15km, 1,200m drill" (10-mile, 3/4 drill) is a 10-mile run on the roads. At some point during the run the coach appears and has the athlete run a timed 3/4-mile (1,200m) at close to mile pace. This teaches the runner to combat a long, hard surge by an opponent or else to be able to drop an opponent by forcing the pace for a very long surge. Runners such as Steve Prefontaine sometimes ran the 1,200m in 3:05 or faster. Note that after the 1,200m, the athlete slows down only to the earlier running pace, not to a slow jog. That is what makes the drill very difficult. It is primarily a drill for runners of the 5,000m or longer distances.