So how can an individual that is not a professional get to that point? The same way that professionals get to that point. Practice. How do professional basketball players make a majority of their freethrows? It's because of the number of shots they've practiced taking. How do professional musicians get that good? It's because of every hour they've practiced on their instruments. How do straight A students manage to get straight A's on their tests? It's because of the times they've studied, practicing possible test problems. So how can an individual improve their speed in running a marathon? By practicing running at their goal pace.
What you practice comes out when it's time to perform. Just like everything else, for every cause, there is an effect. It's a simple equation that is understood by everyone. As for me, my goal is to run as an elite runner, to be able to race among the top runners of the world. If I slack off and stay at home doing nothing, will I be able to accomplish my dream? No, I'd end up gaining weight and getting slower. If I become a gym-addict and work out every day, would it be the right steps for me to accomplish my dream? No, I'd end up hurting myself from overexertion. For my goal, it's important to be able to balance working out with resting, so that my body can build itself up and maximize its efficiency; all so that I would be able to accomplish my goal. If I had gone out and run yesterday, not listening to my body, it would be counterproductive because I would be injuring myself. When you have a goal, you must go towards it with a fierce determination, eliminating obstacles, AND taking the right steps.
As for today, my practice was actually pretty fun. Every Wednesday, after church, I would head down to my old college (now a University) and play floor hockey. 2 hours of floor hockey is my speed drill. It's not exactly the kind of sprinting one does in track and field.... but there's just something about chasing a ball around the court that gets me going as fast as I could. I use my inner dog to practice forcing my body to use all my muscles as efficiently as possible to sprint top speed towards a ball and play a fun game with friends. Doing your best to go towards the goal shouldn't be just hard work, you have to mix in a little fun!