I come to this question: which one is better for a newbie runner, running longer then faster, or faster, then longer?
I asked this because I was a total normal runner by default. I started to join races because I felt my running needed to be disciplined and what's better to discipline than to have a proper training goal? When I first join races, my target was simple: to complete the race running. But after getting my first qualifying medal I began to feel the teeny weeny competitiveness bug snaking its way on my shoulder and into my head. I ran the Adidas KOTR determined to get the qualifying medal.
It was then I realized the importance of speedwork and tempo runs. Those things didn't matter to me before - my 'training plan' consist of only running as long as I could so I know I would have the mental endurance to finish any race I enter. But the last leg of KOTR had me picking up speed like you wouldn't believe and my heart were pumping and I felt like dying and I remember thinking, "Oh OKAY, so this is why people do speedwork!"
I usually run about 5.5km. I bought myself a stopwatch and I was obsessed with my time. I felt sucky if I went any slower than 7 mins/km.
But during Ramadhan running fast is the last thing I could do. So I was telling myself, maybe I should concentrate on running at a longer distance... on a much slower pace. And after Ramadhan, I could concentrate on speed.
Does that make sense or is it counterintuitive?
Whatever it is, I'm doing longer, then harder.