TRAINING WITHOUT A PLAN Beginners need training plans because effective improvisational training requires experience. Only by drawing upon a substantial body of running experience can you consistently make accurate interpretations of your body’s messages and develop good hunches about what you should do next. Experience also teaches you what works and what does not work for you. Training without a plan, as I define it, is not exactly training without planning. It merely replaces a detailed written schedule with a minimal set of definite parameters that are carried inside your head. These parameters include a typical weekly workout schedule, a peak workload, and a definite duration for the training cycle. Improvisational training is therefore not truly winging it. The improvisation occurs within a specific framework, and that framework is defined through experience. For example, you will train more effectively if, instead of having no idea what kind of run you will do later in a day, you decide, for example, that in the next training cycle you will run six times in a typical week, with high-intensity workouts on Tuesdays and Fridays and a long run on Sundays, and then wait for your body to give you reliable hunches about what is best to do in successive weeks. Only past experience can tell you that a typical weekly schedule of six runs per week with high-intensity work on Tuesdays and Fridays and a long run on Sundays is the best weekly schedule for you. And for that matter only experience can give you good hunches about the specific form each run should take as you come upon it. Therefore, as a beginner you must rely on conventional training plans initially and then gradually wean yourself off them as you gather experience about what works and what does not and you develop a mind-body connection as it relates to running. Improvisational training can be likened to jazz, an improvisational musical genre. Most jazz is not completely free-form. It has some structure. Improvisation takes place within a few basic parameters, such as a tempo, a key, and a refrain (or a core melody that the song returns to repeatedly between solos). Without such parameters, the music is so chaotic that it is not even music.