We all know that there are many different ways to train. Although the Lydiard system, and variations of it, are recognized by most as a time tested and results verified system,there are other ways to go. Dr.Ernst Van Aaken, who has been featured in previous posts, has another way that is quite different from Lydiards'. When I read Van Aaken's system I think of the words,kinder,gentler.I realize that lots of people dismiss the easy distance running that comprises the bulk of Van Aaken's program as junk miles and a waste of time, but I always laugh when people rip Lydiard as being a purveyor of long slow distance.Comments like those always reveal a total lack of understanding as to his training principles. Critics have either not read or skipped over the words, "building a maximum aerobic threshold". But I digress. In some aspects, Van Aaken offers a less stressful way to train that is easy mileage based, and as I said,much different from Lydiards'. We all want to pick a formula that will work for us. The failure of many training systems is usually due to one of several factors: 1.Not following the progression of training as laid out in the system. 2. Racing throughout the training. 3. Going to the next level without physically accomplishing the goal(s) of the previous level 4. Not evaluating your training as you go and making the adjustments and modifications as needed. What follows is a condensed version of the Van Aaken method that was published in either a very old copy of Track and Field Technique or the Track and Field Omnibook. To those who dismiss the value of volume(miles) over intensity I suggest you Google the name Ed Whitlock for starters. His Masters records held at a variety of distances are simply incredible. From what I have read, the heart of Whitlock's training,is an easy 2 hour run a day around a park. It may have even said a 3 hour run. Obviously, most of us do not have the time to follow the volume of miles that comprise Van Aaken's Method but we can adjust it in spots while keeping the essence of the program. For the skeptics I say this,Van Aaken was a physician,athlete and one who had a profound influence on many notable athletes. Some of those athletes were: Manfred Steffney,Jacki Hanson,Joan Ullyot,Joe Henderson and Harold Norpoth.Here goes, Program For Distance Runners by E.Van Aaken. "The endurance training method for middle and long distance runners can be reduced to a simple formula: Run every day,run slowly and with walking breaks. Run many miles and always many times the racing distance.For instance: one who desires to race 5,000 meters should train 25 kilometers a day, 10,000 meters-- 30 kilometers a day. Perform tempo runs over parts of the racing distance with the speed not exceeding the racing speed. Get your weight down to 20% below the so-called "normal weight" and live like an athlete--don't smoke,drink no alcohol,or if you do,only in moderation. Eat moderately,bearing in mind that breathing is more important than eating, and that continual breathlessness during your training runs overtaxes you, destroying your reserves. The Training After a Preparatory Period of Two Years Should Look Like This: #1. 12 to 30 mile runs through forests or on level roads with or without walking breaks. #2. Runs of 6 to 9 miles through forests followed by 3x 500 meters at the racing speed on the track, example--a 5,000 meter runner who can cover 1500 meters in 3:42 may run 500 meters in 74 with 3 minute jogging or walking recoveries. #3. 5 miles warm up,followed by 15x700 meters at the 3000 meter racing speed with 100 meter walking recoveries,or 10 x 800 meters, or 10 x 1000 meters. (The 1000 meters not faster than the 10,000 pace).#4 In forests or on the track 6 to 9 miles with slight accelerations over 80 t0 200 meters with jogging recoveries of the same distance. #5. 800 meter runners warm-up over 10,000 meters,followed by 4 to 8x 200 meters at a speed seven seconds slower than the 800 meters average of their best performances.
The training ration of endurance distances in relation to the tempo distances is 20:1. The mileage is shortened or extended corresponding to the racing distance preferred." As mentioned previously in a post about Van Aaken, he believed the training he espoused was condusive to a long healthy life and that it was something everyone,young and old, could do. Hard training and racing year after year does not lend itself to a long healthy life,Van Aaken recognized this decades before Dr.Kenneth Cooper wrote about it. Part II will follow tomorrow morning.