Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lessons From Lydiard,pt.1

One of the misconceptions regarding Arthur Lydiard is that he's an advocate of long slow running or what is most often written as LSD. People that attribute this to Lydiard seek to justify this assertion by citing his quote,"miles make the champions". People who are critical of Lydiard's training principles are as a rule those who have not read his books or listened to his interviews.One thing that he taught when I attended an all day seminar he gave back in the early 90's was that you adapt his system to who you are as a runner. This of course takes a person who is willing to devote the time to evaluate himself and acquire more than just a casual knowledge of running and training.In this MTV, sound bite,fast food nation we live in,people have a tendency to want others to give them a schedule they can simply pick up and follow. One of the first things I learned as a coach was that every runner has different strengths,weaknesses and needs which you have to be aware of when you set up their workouts. I can't tell you how many times I've watched H.S. coaches send their whole team out on a killer workout when it looked to me that a third of them didn't have the conditioning to finish it. It's a real shame when potentially good young runners give up because they are trained poorly by coaches who either don't have a clue or don't care.But I digress. What I'm about to write is training 101 for those familiar with Lydiard but bear with me. I have spoken to alot of people who weren't aware of this aspect of Lydiard's training.
What follows is a direct quote from Lydiard: "It is necessary to run as many miles as you possibly can at economic or aerobic speeds to lift your oxygen uptake to your highest possible level as the foundation upon which to base your anaerobic or speed training." I just marvel at the utter wisdom,truth and simplicity of that statement. He goes on to say: "To gain the best results for the time spent in training,it is important to run at your best aerobic speed." So much for saying that Lydiard advocates long slow distance. At this point I would like to recommend,once again, that you go online and pick up a used copy of his Running With Lydiard if you don't have one.I prefer his late 70's,early 80's editions to the one put out by Meyer and Meyer in the 90's called,Running To the Top. All these books will provide more detail as well as the rationale and benefits as it pertains to reaching your best aerobic speed.
For those who may not know,aerobic running is when you can run comfortably and don't become winded because you have not gone into oxygen debt(anaerobic) as you do from running fast.Simply put, this is what Lydiard recommends: begin by running out and back courses. Run out at an easy(aerobic) pace for say 10 minutes(time can vary depending on your fitness),when you reach 10 minutes, turn around and run back to your starting point.If it takes longer to return, then you realize that you went out too fast and so you were forced to slow down in returning to the start. Lydiard says," You will soon learn about your present capabilities and fitness and so adjust your running efforts accordingly. Progressively the running time daily should be increased so that as your oxygen uptake improves you will find the training progressively easier and your possibilities of increasing running time greater." I'll add two things right here,one,if there was ever a time that a heart-rate monitor was appropriate,this would be it.Obviously though, this is not a must have item to do this type of training.Secondly,and this is what I often don't see experienced runners doing during their aerobic training phase,they don't use several courses of different distance and terrain that they can run during the week and gauge how they are progressing as far as increasing their aerobic uptake. This is what the beginning runner should do once they have gotten into better shape and can move on from the out and back workouts mentioned earlier.I have always found that running different courses during the week and observing my aerobic progress makes my training even more interesting. The challenge for all of us though is to not go into oxygen debt during these runs because we are trying to "beat the clock." Doing this type of base,aerobic building workouts lays the foundation for what is to come.
More on what that is at another time.
Due to a computer problem,Something to Think About,pt.6, which was posted earlier today,had to be removed and will be put back up tomorrow.

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