The Lydiard Method


Experience From -
Dick V , Peter Bakwin , Kevin Sayers ,

Dick V

"Lydiard claims that repeats on a track are not the way to prepare our youth for running at the collegiate level. He advises *high* mileage during the teenage years -- not this "5k maximum daily average" that so many coaches advise (at least around here). The mileage produces strength and adaptation that is used for a base in the marathon -- and in shorter events like the 5k and 10k."
There is no doubt that Lydiard is a proponent of higher mileage, but understand that quality is also part of his regime. Like Percy Cerruty, Lydiard believes in laying down a long base of miles before going into the specific training period. He then believes in pointing for hills and strength for a period of time, then working toward a period of speed training, and then the racing season. The problem with the Lydiard system is that it is a well balanced system that incorporates lots of "work" and along with lots of endurance runs there is lots of speed. Taken from his book "The Lydiard Way" here is a sample of his workouts for "experienced runners" training for the marathon. This by no means totally explains his method, but it will give you some idea how Lydiard's method is not just "long, slow, distance" When I first heard about his training method, everyone said he was all about long, easy, miles. Then I tried his program and wow, was I surprised. Scroll down for a series of training blocks leading up to an important marathon race. Once again, this was for experienced runners.

For as Long as Possible

For 4 weeks

For 4 weeks

For 2 weeks

For One week (getting tired yet?)

For One week

For 1 week

For 1 week

For one week

For One week (Includes the marathon Race)

Now he continues on for a few weeks, including 3,000 meter time trails, 10 X 100 meter sprints , and a 5k or 10 k race in the second week after the marathon.

Peter Bakwin

As Dick V. points out, the devil is in the details! To benefit fully from any training plan one must really understand what the author of the plan is getting at with each workout.

I saw Lydiard lecture in Boulder just a few weeks ago, he was on a speaking tour of the US. Throughout his talk he kept using the phrase "you have to know what you're doing." This confused me quite a bit at first, what was he talking about? Then I realized what he meant was "you have to know WHY you're doing what your doing." What is the purpose of each workout? Are you prepared for that workout today? To blindly follow some training plan is the surest route to over training, injury, illness, and just poor results. Rest when you need to, but work HARD when you are ready for it. Lydiard gives a number of specific types of workouts to develop strength, leg speed, etc. He advocates a lot of drills (bounding, etc.), which I guess most of us never do.

I'll never be a great or even very good runner at any distance. But I still get a big kick out of trying to achieve my Personal Best (given constraints of having a real life).

An aside: As an event Lydiard's lecture was amazing! Here's this old guy (over 80!) talking about running and he draws an audience of I suppose 300! All the big boys & girls were there -- Lorraine Moller, Adam Goucher, Mark Plaatjes (sp?), Ric Rojas, many more that I did not recognize, even some ultra runners including Steve Peterson & Kirk Apt. It was great just to be there.

Kevin Sayers

More information on Arthur Lydiard's training philosophies can be found in the book "The Lore of Running" by Tim Noakes MD on pages 155, 157, 189, 209.