Originally Posted by Zé Apelido
Things that will improve running time in order of importance. Just my opinion.
1. Pushing yourself in your training. Obvious yes, but if you gotta feel some pain to make progress. Pick the durations that work best for you, in terms of amount of time you have and what you like. If you aren't overweight and can't run a 5K under 20 min, your training can definitely improve.
2. Lose weight
4. Improve running mechanics.
5. Plyometrics. A little bit can help your "bounce" and improve efficiency. Not too much as it's a lot of impact.
6. Standard weight training....mainly to reduce injury.
Basically, most people just have to learn to train their endurance harder & smarter. Once you've hit diminishing returns on that, focus on the others more.
By pushing yourself do you mean in terms of distance or speed or both depending on the workout?
It seems like a sound recommendation, keeping in mind what Lyle says about volume being essential.
Still this needs to be assessed against one's mentality. It takes a special breed to run 40 miles or more LSD a week, month in and out. If you are never going to contend in your age bracket, I think it pays to enjoy what you're doing. Mixing in some speedwork - long intervals, fartleks or sprints to the finish - on a weekly basis takes the monotony out of it and can help with compliance with those people who aren't natural long distance runners - as the OP appears to not to be.