We originally posted this in June of 2009.
Arthur Lydiard was a famous running coach from New Zealand who passed away in 2004 but his coaching principles live on.
Mick interviewed Coach Lydiard and took some of the kids from his team to meet him.
Photo Courtesy of Christschurch City Libraries
1) THERE ARE CHAMPIONS IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD
Lydiard trained a bunch of kids in his neighborhood and scores of them became national champions and record setters; even Olympic Champions and World Record Breakers!
2) ENDURANCE IS THE KEY TO ANY RACE 800 AND UP
The most important part of training is first building an endurance (aerobic) base. Without it, you will not reach your potential no matter what else you do. Very young beginning kids must do only what is fun and training should be mostly playing.
3) BALANCE ENDURANCE TRAINING WITH INTERVAL TRAINING
(Beginning at Age 15) You need the correct blend of both aerobic distance running with anaerobic speed training to race at your best. If you do one without the other, you will not see optimal results. An aerobic base is the "cake" and anaerobic work is the "frosting". We recommend 90% of annual training should be aerobic development. Athletes 12 and under should not do any anaerobic interval training.
4) BUILD AN ENDURANCE BASE FIRST
This is the most important phase of training:
-Do it for as many weeks as possible.
-Don't run too slow (jog) and don't run too fast (race).
-Do run at a strong pace.
-You should feel like you could have gone faster if you had to and you should feel pleasantly tired after each run.
5) VARY YOUR DISTANCES DURING THE BASE PHRASE
-Alternate shorter and longer runs.
-Do a long run once a week.
-Do a shorter fast tempo run once a week.
6) DO A HILL PHASE
A couple weeks of hill running will transition you or get you ready for the intervals you will be doing on the track in the next phase.
7) ANAEROBIC PHASE
(Beginning at Age 15) Do a few weeks of intervals on the track, such as repeat 400s to condition your body to handle the lactic acid you will feel in the race when you tire.
-Don't overdo it.
-Train, don't strain and stop when you feel you have had enough for a day.
-Goal times and number of intervals are just a guide.
-Don't carry this phase on too many weeks or you will break down.
8) WORK ON YOUR BASIC SPEED
-Do repeat short sprints of 50 to 100 meters to improve basic speed.
-Your natural sprint speed is primarily determined by genetics but everyone can improve their speed somewhat.
-Focus on running tall, high knee lift and relaxation.
9) COORDINATION PHASE TRAINING
(Beginning at Age 15) Coordinate or bring together your endurance training and your interval training by running developmental races or time trials.
-These are early season, unimportant races that you are basically just using for training.
-They are not run all out.
TAPER FOR THE TARGET RACE
-The last 7 to 10 days before your big race, cut way back on training so you are rested and ready for the target race.
"Arthur Lydiard is, with little doubt, the single most influential distance coach in history."
His methods are used in one form or another by most coaches around the world. He is also very controversial, in that his mantra of high mileage is very intimidating and misunderstood. He is the icon of distance running; for example, you hear many coaches say "We use a Lydiard System or a Modified Lydiard System." It doesn't even really matter what the program is. A coaching philosophy which includes long runs is widely considered a form of the Lydiard System. It's kind of a brand name; Coca Cola, Campbells Soup, Lydiard Training, etc.
There can be little doubt that an athlete who runs 20 miles per week will likely be fitter than one who doesn't run at all. By the same token, an athlete who runs Lydiard's recommended 100 miles per week will likely be much fitter than one who runs 20 miles per week. Lydiard preached that the ideal goal is 100 miles per week, which was based on 30 years of trial and error on himself. His goal was to get the athlete as strong as possible through distance running for as long as possible and use speed work to get race sharpened for a specific goal.
Although we will miss Arthur Lydiard, his message will be around, and argued, used and misused, forever. Arthur Lydiard was a treasure, and he has left us with a lot. Mick Grant
December 12, 2004 Arthur Lydiard passed away last night at the age of 87.
Coach Mick was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Arthur Lydiard recently at Regis College in Weston, MA, but he was even more excited to be able to take some of his kid runners with him.
Here's what some of his runners had to say about meeting Arthur:
What has stuck with me from Lydiard's lecture on physical training are the concepts of honesty and work ethic. The athlete that performs well is the one that is "best prepared." In order to prepare properly, an athlete must understand his or her own body, in order to do THAT properly, an athlete must put in the work, and in order to do THAT properly, an athlete must maintain control during training. "Always train how you feel," Lydiard said, and I can respect his word on that because, where it might mean a reduction in quantity or quality of work when coming from others, from him it's just an expression of how a runner personalizes his or her own approach to the sport....Jill
Going to see Arthur Lydiard taught me that it is important to do a lot of aerobic running for a long time and then to do hill training and speed work for several weeks before an important race. He also said that doing training at higher elevations has no advantage over training at sea level. Also he said it's good to take a multi-vitamin. ...Alison
After listening to Lydiard inform us on what seemed to be just about everything you need to know about running, I remember feeling overwhelmed with new ideas, goals, and workouts in mind. He told us about anaerobic vs. aerobic workouts, and many others that he knew about. He told me that he didn't see anything wrong with girls like me running 20 miles on one day of the week. Hearing his way of coaching and his ideas was inspiring. ...Ashley
One of the most important things I learned from the Lydiard lecture is that his method of training is based on (Strength and Endurance). In order to build up your strength and endurance you do not start out at 100 miles a week. You set a target at were you want to start and then you gradually increase your mileage. Secondly, in order to run to your potential you must do certain dynamics, such as (hill bounding), hill bounding will help your body be more familar towards the muscles you use during a race opposed to an everyday training run. ...Dan
I learned many tips from Lydiard's lecture that I will use to improve my running. But the two most important things that I learned were that running every day, without racing a lot and doing many speed workouts, will help you become a better runner in the long run. Another important thing that I learned were the hill techniques such as doing the high knees, bounding, etc. going up a hill. ( I've already picked out the hill to do these plyometrics on and they are making my leg muscles stronger!) ...Pat