The most dangerous time in event preparation lies during the tapering period. Coaches like Forbes Carlile learned that a tapered decrease in effort before an athletic event permitted the athlete to regain energies lost during extended bouts of hard training. Even an enforced time away from the pool, or track in the case of Emil Zatopek in 1952, can help. Often times the energy restored is physical; sometimes it can be mental.
One of the things I missed the most during the two months I walked around in a sling after my humeral fractures was the smell of chlorine in the humid pool air, & the aroma of the blossoms in the bushes along the trails near the track where I train. My body knew it would be time & time & time before I could get in/out, but my mind was the most injured part of the equation. It had energies to spare, as you can tell by going back into those months...I was writing every day, & not all of it was quality.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste. It controls the emotions & works to parcel out the needed energies; sometimes it helps to do what the Red Hot Chili Peppers & Robert DeNiro do (at least they said it in interviews) to prepare for their labors...steer clear of people, places & situations that suck out your energy & upset you emotionally. The Kenyans are masters of spending time doing nothing. When they work, they work. When they rest, they rest. Maybe that's how more developed running nations can defeat the Kenyans & Ethiopians; send every last one of them a high-definition television & two seasons' worth of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars & Lost. Plus wi-fi internet access.
As the individual athlete grows older they have to become more attuned to how their body works; how many times they can race hard, how long it takes to recover. In my humble opinion, I'd rather race well at three or four races, compared to toeing the line every weekend & nursing a boatload of injuries. Hey, it's my money I'm paying. If I want to stay healthy & race until I'm like that old guy who ran the London Marathon at 100 years of age, I'll have to pace myself.
I owe it to my achilles' tendon & my wife. Not necessarily in that order.