Rather than telling me, 'hey coach, I'm a little dinged up today, so I'm going to run it a little less intense than what you're asking,' I've got to watch them self-freakin'-destruct. And it's not the track work that's killing them. It's what they are doing on the "easy" days.
Listen closely - if your easy days are approaching your race pace, then you are going too %(#-#!&^ hard. Easy days are what make you stronger, faster, and better...'cause you recover from the @$$-kicking workout from the day (or two) before.
I'm getting the first inklings of fear that my marathon is going to be a nightmare. Well, really, a four-week delay in base training isn't going to kill me. What's going to kill me is if I force the progression, go too soon into the next phase. It might mean sacrificing one race of three (5K in September, half-marathon in October, 10K in November) this fall and spending a little more time in cardio.
So, puppy...what IS the goal? For me, it's a Boston qualifier. For me, it's 3:30 - 8:00/mile pace. Smart running for 26.2 miles. As my old coach would say: It's not only PACE, but what fits within...PAtienCE.
It's not only pace, but also patience.