In my work I am fortunate to spend a lot of time observing and talking to the most accomplished runners and running coaches in the world, and learning from them. Over the past several years I have naturally interpreted their training methods from the perspective of the new science of the running brain. Through this process I realized that most of the world’s best runners run by feel, and that running by feel is in fact what the new science of the running brain implicitly advocates more than anything else. Previously, I tried to identify a universal best way to train to harness the full power of the brain. But the most common feature in the training of the most successful runners is not a particular method but a reliance on mind-body communication to learn which methods work best for the individual, to choose the right workout to do each day, to pace optimally through hard workouts and races, to push through performance barriers, and so forth. The best runners listen and talk to their bodies more effectively than the rest of us, and that is one of the secrets to their success. Practice is always two steps ahead of theory in running. Science never reveals the best way to train. The best runners do. Science is valuable because it helps us understand why the best practices are so effective, which in turn helps us emulate these practices more successfully than we might if we did so blindly. If not for my understanding of the new science of the running brain, I don’t know if I ever would have realized what was really most worth emulating in the practices of the best runners: not their workouts but rather their remarkable capacity to run by feel.
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