Early on in any race plan it is good to remember the #1 training principle of: Stress + Recovery = Adaptation. We get better at running by applying a stress to our body, which then reacts with fatigue before eventually making us stronger to prepare for another future stress. The biggest adaptations are a stronger heart to pump more blood with each beat. The blood (rich with oxygen and fuel) can travel through an increased network of blood capillaries, and eventually arrive to bigger and more dense groups of mitochondria, the energy production plants in our muscles. Our body's musculoskeletal system also becomes more durable and efficient at running.
It is important to note that the adaptation occurs during the recovery process. So a stress is any run, skip, jump throw, lift etc that we do in training. After we get tired, we should recover with light exercise, rest, sleep, hydration, food, stretching, foam roll, etc to reap the benefits of the exercises we do.
The most effective way to train is to do appropriate levels of exercise, with sufficient recovery, and to do that consistently without interruption. Training errors occur when exercise intensity or volume is too much or too soon, causing too much fatigue or even sickness/injury. On the flip side, exercise intensity or volume could be too little or not often enough to improve. At the beginning stage of this training cycle, it is better to play it more conservative to not have any true setbacks, especially if you're coming into with less fitness than you had hoped. Consistent long runs that are just a few miles less than "ideal" are infinitely more valuable than a few weeks of longer ones followed by missing time with an injury. Our training plan is a framework in which you should run given the fitness you have and the miles you can do now. After a few more weeks, it is easier and safer to make bigger jumps in intensity or volume. So be patient, listen to your body, train smart, and communicate with the coaching staff!
Here is a cool graphic to illustrate the balance of good and bad stress in training and effective recovery methods https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-TyftWXTs3QUUlQZzNtWk9TeUk/view?usp=sharing
and this a more detailed article on the topic as well: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zFopZePBtABxBqYWK4CbLKyRxv9u4CmylPgSWhqrh9o/pub
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