Most training plans, whether or not they map it out, follow at least three general phases.
- There is a base training phase, where you establish the volume and habits you will generally follow throughout the training cycle.
- There is a fundamental phase, where you develop speed and aerobic endurance.
- And then there is the final sharpening phase, where you work more specifically on preparing for your goal race as well as taper to heal up in the days/weeks before that race.
(Some split that 2nd phase into separate development phases, one where the 1st part is speedwork-centered, and the 2nd is built around tempo and endurance with that tempo.)
Most people follow a pre-written training plan, which usually starts with a minimal weekly mileage that gradually builds throughout the plan. The base training may establish an initial pattern of speed/tempo workouts, but the volume typically is low and increases during the life of the training plan.
I do think we get it backwards.