By now you have probably started developing a nice routine of a certain number of runs or distance covered (mileage) per week. As you continue building towards the marathon, you have to recognize the importance of different sessions. When travelling with and seeing elite athletes train around the world, what struck me is how easy some of their sessions were. It is quite common to get drawn into the view that every run has to be at a gut-busting pace. This is simply not the case and it would almost always lead to injury.
Hard sessions that you may be including in your training programme now could be hill runs, interval sessions or even faster repetitions on a track. In order to truly benefit from these sessions it is important that the corresponding easy sessions are really easy. Even elite athletes will go out for a long aerobic run at little more than a slow jog.
The other reason for this training pattern is that the loading pattern week to week usually remains consistent. Research has now demonstrated that if you have too much variation of hard to easy weeks, the imbalance of load results in a 7-fold increased risk of soft tissue injury. Even when talking with elite athletes this can often be the blame for that niggly Achilles, painful plantarfascia or IT-band issue.
So remember – put your effort into a hard, intense and quality session but use the easy sessions to recover fully. The event on the day will be so much more enjoyable if you manage to get to the start line injury free!