TRAINING BY FEEL INSTEAD OF BY PLAN Coincidentally, as I set about experimenting with a more improvisational approach to training, the name of a rising new elite running coach was suddenly everywhere on the running Web sites and in the running publications I read. A former elite runner, Brad Hudson graduated from competition to coaching after the 2000 Olympic Trials Marathon and quickly made a name for himself as an innovative student of the sport. And it appeared from what I read that Hudson’s approach to training was highly improvisational, relying more on immediate adaptive responses than on advanced planning to guide the fitness-building process. What intrigued me about this approach was that it validated the course I had recently taken in my own training and a conclusion I had drawn from my recent immersion in the new brain-related research in exercise science. The novel brain-centered model of exercise performance that emerged from this research suggested to me that the training process should be guided by feel, for reasons I have explained in preceding chapters. To me this cutting-edge science made sparklingly clear sense of important experiences familiar to every competitive runner. It explained why we feel we can go faster or farther when we are in fact capable of going faster or fartherour bodies communicate this ability to our brains through chemical and electrical messages. It explained why there will never be a better indicator that we are fatigued and need to rest than that of simply feeling lousybecause dozens of different physiological factors contribute to fatigue and only the brain can effect a synthesized assessment of all of them. It explained why when we get a sudden hunch about what we ought to do next in our training, it’s probably correctagain, because our bodies know. So, I reasoned, if our consciously experienced feelings are such accurate sources of information about our physiological state and such reliable predictors of how our bodies will respond to various types of training stimuli, then it should be possible to train very effectively by feel. And since training plans never work out, I further reasoned, then perhaps runners really should train by feel.