When I started off running, I had no idea what i was doing. I didn't have a class (like ones sponsored by many a running store) or book to follow- I just hopped on a treadmill and tired to figure it out as I went. It worked out okay, although it would have been a lot better if I had known what I know now.
Anyway, my first marathon training was using the Galloway method, which involves long long runs (up to 28 miles) and walk breaks. After lots of training errors, injuries, and yada yada yada, I ran and did pretty well. At the very least, I was pretty satisfied.
The next time I ran that race it was more a hodge podge of training- I had speed work once a week because that's what my running group did. I ran the long runs (no longer than 20) and charted out a course to put in miles and not overdo. Tri training cut into the miles, but I didn't mind because it was another fun way to do stuff with friends. And I did well, cutting over an hour off my marathon time.
And now I'm doing base miles- average 9 to 9:30 pace, slowly building to a 70 miles/week average. Once that becomes old hat, I'll decide whether I want to push it up more or start doing speed training. It'll be hard, I think, juggling the new commitments of job and keeping an apartment and everything. I'm not exactly sure how to balance all that.
But this is a new phase- new way of training which I've never really investigated before. It's kind of exciting, and I've always enjoyed running for long periods of time. Last week's 60 miles was tough in some ways, and the traveling isn't going to make for an easy time getting my miles in this week or next. But the week after is my first ultra, so I can chalk it up to "tapering" and think of the miles I do then as base building, as well.