Friday, June 17, 2011

The Master Writes

What follows is a copy of a letter I received from Arthur Lydiard sometime in 1997. I should start by saying that I did not have some sort of friendship with him where we corresponded on a regular basis. That was one of the many nice things about Lydiard,he would write back if you wrote to him. I knew several other runners who also corresponded with him also. I can't help but wonder how many other coaches and authors on running these days would be as gracious as he was in responding to letters. In the early 90's, I was very fortunate to be able to attend an all day seminar he gave at Chesnut Ridge Park outside of Buffalo. It was there that he lectured and actually showed us the drills for hill work and sprint training.In addition, he also evaluated our form. Later in the evening he gave a talk and answered questions at a Buffalo area hotel. He begins the letter by responding to a question that was being asked by many at the time,why aren't U.S. runners performing better in world competitions? Lydiard wrote: "Unfortunately the U.S.A. has a dismal record in middle distance and distance running these past few decades and those who were successful were influenced by Bill Bowereman using his version of my training methods. Still; we are not in the sport to get accolades,but to gain pleasure in achieving optimal results for ourselves and others. I guess that training is really too simple to understand and a lot of academics try to make it appear too complicated to understand. The best runners in the world in these events do not have scientific laboratories for testing and experts in the various scientific fields to assist them but just run lots and mainly in bare feet instead of the GUM BOOTS we call specialized footwear that keep making millionaires out of podiatrists. The sooner the U.S.A. coaches get back to basics and learn how to use anaerobic training: then the better. They do not seem to understand that the performances are governed by the aerobic threshold rather than the anaerobic development. That champions are developed with aerobic training and excessive use of anaerobic training can destroy the young people's potential. Of course you understand this. I hope that you have a successful 1997. Every good wish, Arthur Lydiard"
I like the line where he says that "training is really too simple to understand" and then he references certain others who make it(training) appear more complicated then it really is. How true! Arthur Lydiard was a passionate and tireless spokeman, for decades he travelled all over the world teaching others about the greatest and purest of all sports, running.

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