During the s, Lydiard formulated a systematic approach to athletic conditioning that propelled New Zealand to the top of world middle distance and distance running and produced 17 Olympic medallists. Lydiard discovered running for sport when, unfit and middle-aged, he struggled to run five miles with a friend. For the next 10 years during the s, he used himself as a guinea pig, experimenting with his training to formulate a system, perfected over the following decades, that would conquer the world. Central to his plan was periodisation — the importance of training in phases and peaking for races. For Lydiard, running to your potential was about having a substantial mileage base and not overdoing your anaerobic training.
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During the s, Lydiard formulated a systematic approach to athletic conditioning that propelled New Zealand to the top of world middle distance and distance running and produced 17 Olympic medallists. Lydiard discovered running for sport when, unfit and middle-aged, he struggled to run five miles with a friend.
For the next 10 years during the s, he used himself as a guinea pig, experimenting with his training to formulate a system, perfected over the following decades, that would conquer the world. Central to his plan was periodisation — the importance of training in phases and peaking for races. For Lydiard, running to your potential was about having a substantial mileage base and not overdoing your anaerobic training.
Most importantly, there were no shortcuts. It was a simple premise — the more mileage you got under your belt, the greater your stamina and aerobic capacity. Simple, but devastatingly effective. According to Lydiard, any successful training programme must culminate in a goal, race or event, that means planning months in advance, and dividing your training into sections for base conditioning, hill training, speed development, sharpening and tapering.
His programme is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but the principles are sound for runners of all abilities. So if you are serious about preparing for that 10K or half-marathon, start counting down those weeks with the Lydiard training system below.
Phase One 10 weeks Developing aerobic capacity The first phase in the Lydiard programme, and the most important, is about building an aerobic base, the foundation on which you develop your distance running. The week period is about getting miles under your belt, and as many of them as you can manage, in order to increase your aerobic endurance.
The capacity you develop determines the success of your programme. The goal is to return in the same time or slightly faster. If it takes longer for the second half of the run, you have paced yourself too fast. An ideal training week during this phase, or marathon conditioning as Lydiard called it, would include two or three long runs, and shorter, easy runs in between.
Start with times or distance you are comfortable with and gradually increase the length of the run until you can go for two hours without collapsing in a sweaty heap by the kerb. Lydiard used three different exercises — steep hill running, hill bounding and hill springing — in order to produce a more economical running style. Ideally, you should find a hill with a flat to metre area for sprints, a m slope for bounding and a moderate downhill section for recovery. Failing that, you can work out on a treadmill, adjusting the incline for each section of the circuit.
The slower the forward movement, the more resistance will be felt. Once you reach the top, jog easily on the spot for three minutes before running downhill with a fast, relaxed, springy action. This will develop leg speed and also stretch the leg muscles. At the bottom of the hill, include several sprints, ranging from 50 to metres. This marks the end of one complete circuit. Go through the circuit again until you have been working for an hour. Do this hill circuit three days a week with the alternate days used for leg speed running.
For leg speed training, Lydiard recommended 10 sprints of metres on a flat surface at three-minute intervals.
Run with a normal stride but try to move your legs as fast as possible. Warm down thoroughly afterwards for 15 minutes. However, as a practical guide, Lydiard advises fast running for a total of about three miles or 5, metres, i.
Perform these sessions at the track or on flat ground three times per week for four weeks. Use the remaining four days for a long run, leg speed work and sprint training drills to develop strength, form and speed. Phase four is about combining these three elements so that you can run distance efficiently and smoothly by simulating race situations. There are three workouts in this phase, as well as some speed work.
The first is an anaerobic session done at a greater intensity but lower volume. Lydiard recommended five laps of a m track, sprinting 50 metres, then easing off for 50 metres — effectively interval training with 20 sprints. The workout sharpens your anaerobic capacity and gets you into racing shape without exhausting your body.
The second workout is a time trial at the distance which you are training for — so if you are preparing for a 10K race, run 10K. Ideally, it should be done on a track where you can record every lap to determine your weaknesses.
Add sprint training sessions and a leg speed workout m x 6, after warming up and exercising on another day before completing the third workout at the end of the week, a long run, done at a nice relaxed pace. Phase Five weeks Freshening up You cannot train hard and race well at the same time. According to Lydiard, the 10 days before your race is when you should be freshening up — reducing your training load while preparing mentally and physically for the competition ahead.
The length of freshening up depends on the individual, so train every day but keep the faster running low in volume and the longer runs at an effortless pace. It is important to realise that you have trained for the race so you need to stay fresh and sharp.
Arthur Lydiard’s 10-week plan
Will your training plan respect your needs, or run roughshod over them? Will it keep you interested? Or will you find yourself daydreaming about the plan you did last year as your fingers itch to Google other plans after just a few weeks of exclusivity? In fact, I was 37 before I found the right training method for me, and from an unexpected source: the born Arthur Lydiard from New Zealand. Arthur Lydiard was amazing! I mean, I never met him he died in , aged 87 , but I just love a good underdog-goes-against-the-grain success story. His story is fascinating.
Training the Lydiard Way: 28 Weeks to a PR
Lydiard constantly clashed with unimaginative and officious athletics administrators in his native New Zealand and in the countries that called upon his strong personality and coaching expertise to establish national athletics programmes. All of the training elements were already there in the training of Roger Bannister , the first miler who broke the 4-minute barrier for the mile, but Lydiard increased distance and intensity of training and directed the sport periodisation towards the Olympics and not the breaking of records. Periodisation comprises emphasising different aspects of training in successive phases as an athlete approaches an intended target race. After the base training phase, Lydiard advocated four to six weeks of strength work. This included hill running and springing.
Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn money if you buy from a link. How we test gear. Lydiard, now 82, toured the U. He was as passionate as ever about sharing the methods he developed 50 years ago. His ideas work. Moreover, if you look carefully at the most popular and successful programs today, most have a Lydiard emphasis.