3 Secrets of Legendary Coach Arthur Lydiard
New Zealander, who passed away in 2004, forever changed the sport of distance running via his training methods and coached athletes such as Mile legend Peter Snell to the Olympic podium and running glory.
By Duncan Larkin, Competitor
It’s not hard to start a conversation about famed running coach Arthur Lydiard. The New Zealander, who passed away in 2004, forever changed the sport of distance running by way of his influential teachings. He coached athletes like Peter Snell to the Olympic podium and was a prolific writer in his own right. Lydiard was also a dynamic speaker who preached his training philosophy like a fervent evangelist, creating disciples who still quote him in a quasi-religious way.
Lydiard was a legend, but unfortunately he gets labeled as an elitist and “the long, slow distance guy” who preached rigid periodization in training. At risk of his important teachings being oversimplified and misunderstood, it’s critical that we dig deeper into three of Lydiard’s most under-acknowledged secrets of success:
1. Lydiard believed in speed work.
“Far too many people think Lydiard training is all about long, slow distance running,” says Nobuya “Nobby” Hashizume of the Lydiard Foundation. “How many people realize that he used to have his runners, even marathon runners, compete in a 100-meter dash in a local track meet?” Hashizume contends that many people who study Lydiard’s teachings come away thinking that a lot of long, slow distance is the answer to successful running. He calls it “the plodding zone” and says that Lydiard did believe in 100-mile training weeks, but only to build aerobic strength to prepare the body for race-pace work that followed.
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