IN GOOD COMPANY Winging it is not a radical training approach practiced by a small lunatic fringe of coaches and athletes. Many of the best coaches and runners have abandoned the use of training plans in favor of an improvisational method. I have already mentioned Brad Hudson. Another is the great Alberto Salazar, the success of whose athletes should provide all the confidence you need to determine that winging it is worth trying in your own training. One of Salazar’s top runners, Kara Goucher, told me: “I usually find out the night before that I’m having a track session and then I show up to the track session and I usually find out then what the workout is. In my old situation, when I was training under coach [Mark] Wetmore, we had our workouts laid out about a month ahead of time. But now it’s done on the fly based on how I’m feeling and how I’m responding and things like that.” On the fly means on the fly. Salazar does not secretly plan ahead and wait until the last minute to share his plans with his runners. “It’s not that he’s trying to keep it from me; he still doesn’t even really know which workout he’s going to give me until the next morning,” Goucher said. “And sometimes we’ll adjust it at that point as well based on how I’ve warmed up.” Goucher confessed that she found Salazar’s approach somewhat harrowing in her early days under his guidance, but as it yielded results, she put more and more trust in this method, and now she is not bothered by not knowing what next week’s runs will be. While you will not be so fortunate as to have Alberto Salazar as a coach, you can learn to trust yourself as much as Kara Goucher trusts him. SEVEN HOW RECORDS ARE BROKEN Most of us make the mistake of going medium-hard all the time. Michael Sandrock WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN the first timed running race occurred, but whenever, wherever, and however it happened, this race was a seminal event. While there is surviving evidence of formal running races taking place as early as the eighth century B.C., the first footrace timed in the way we are accustomed toin hours, minutes, and secondsprobably did not happen until sometime in the sixteenth century in Europe. Clocks capable of keeping time in such small increments did not exist until then, but human nature being what it is, it was likely not long before someone thought of using these new clocks to time footraces. Running became a popular betting sport in England in the seventeenth century, and there are abundant surviving records from that era of winning times and of record times for races of various distances. For example, we know that by the 1690s, runners challenged themselves to run as far as they could in one hour. Times for the mile run began to appear in the 1700s.