He has made the greatest contributions to long distance training and racing in history. Period. His training practices and theories have produced numerous Olympic medals beginning with the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympics. 50 years later his training theories continue their impact amongst coaches from youth to professional ranks. His promotion of cross country and marathon based training found application from 800 meters to the marathon. His followers include the entire international sport. He training schedules have been validated by modern day research. Personally I apply his training theory each week while coaching runners today. I do my best to apply his theories to my own training. Who is he? Arthur Lydiard.
Arthur Lydiard was a pioneer. Someone who studied the sport. Someone who ventured into areas that were unknown. He believed in developing an aerobic base that serves as a foundation for distance training and racing from middle distance to the marathon. While there have been small adaptations that have emerged over the past decade, what I find impressive is that he did not have access to the physiology labs and research results you and I have today. Most of what he advocated he learned through his personal marathon training and application with coaching the likes of Murray Halberg, Peter Snell and Barry Magee.
His lab began in country of New Zealand. I credit him with the initial idea of individualizing training schedules. I also give him credit for developing different training cycles embedded within a competition year. Today we call these; Macro, meso and micro training cycles. He was a master of knowing how to adjust both training volume and intensity.
Erroneous training titles have been given Coach Lydiard. The most notable is he is the father of long slow distance. Nothing is farther from the truth. Take a look at the pre-competition phase in his training cycles. Plenty of speed work to choose from!
Of all the running books I own, this is by far my favorite. As you can see by the worn and tattered cover, this book has seen a lot of use. Lend it out? Well, maybe not. This book remains in my personal collection.
If the name Arthur Lydiard is new to you, I encourage you to grab one of his books and begin reading. As you read through the pages, his impact on the world of distance running will begin to come into focus. I like to give credit where credit is due, so thank you to Coach Lydiard for the impact you have had and continue to have in the sport!
Until next time – enjoy the run!