(by Mike Sandrock / On Running)
Lorraine Moller told a story about the late coach Arthur Lydiard when I caught up with her at the opening talk of her Lydiard coaching certification seminar earlier this month in Boulder.
Moller leads the certification program based on the ideas of fellow New Zealander Lydiard, one of the seminal figures in running history.
He rose to prominence when four of his athletes won medals at the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, ranging from 800-meter ace Peter Snell to marathoner Barry Magee. All were from the same Auckland neighborhood where Lydiard worked as a milkman.
“Arthur would say, ‘Champions are everywhere; you just have to train them correctly,” Moller, who has lived in west Boulder since 1981, told the group. ‘He’d say, ‘Go get ’em,’ and, ‘You can run with the best.’ And we did.”
Lydiard went on to coach many runners around the world, some of whom became coaches themselves, such as Tokyo Olympic 1,500 bronze medalist John Davies, who coached Moller. She was one of the next generation of black-uniform clad “Golden Kiwis” who brought excitement and fun into the running scene in the 1970s and beyond.
Lydiard gave Moller a short talk before the 1992 Barcelona Olympic marathon, telling her she was going to medal. She did, capping a career that placed her among the pioneers of female distance running.
How was Moller able to race internationally nearly injury-free for 28 years, in events ranging from the 400-meter relay (a 56.0 personal best) through the marathon (2:28:17)? By training the Lydiard way.
“I believed in the training, and I believe in Arthur,” said Moller, who describes Lydiard training as ” ‘accurate titration of speed and endurance,’ with the right doses at the right time.”
Moller and Lydiard student Nobby Hashizume formed the Lydiard Foundation to certify coaches in what is known worldwide as the “Lydiard method.”
The final certification weekend in Boulder is July 10-12; one key point Moller will likely bring up is that when an athlete trains properly, she does not need to break the rules.
“Those who do (use drugs) do so because they don’t believe in the training and so think they have to find something extra,” said Moller, 60, a former world record holder on the road. “Coaches who push unethical aids don’t believe in their athletes. It is not a good idea to give them, because it tells the athletes that their ability and training are not good enough as a standalone to success.
“This is a dangerous belief to impart to any young athlete and is unfounded. Lydiard proved time and again that correct training over time is not only safe but effective.”
Next month’s coaching certification weekend, which requires passing a test to get certified as a Lydiard coach, goes over the five principles of Lydiard’s training, as well as aerobic development, hill training, anaerobic training, peaking for a race and how to integrate it all into a yearly plan. Learning the Lydiard method is not just for coaches, but any level runner, Moller said.
“The majority of runners in this country perform way below their best because of common training mistakes that are easily corrected by following Lydiard principles,” she said.
We don’t have to look far for proof. Start up on campus, with University of Colorado coach Mark Wetmore, who worked with Lydiard for many years and knew him quite well. He is a prime example of a coach who gets his runners to perform at their best by following Lydiard’s methods.
“Training is a series of specific stimuli giving specific results,” Moller said. “The art of coaching is the timing and the prescribing of the right amounts, so that you are giving the training effect without breaking the body down. I strive to teach what is authentic, what is true and good, which is in danger of being usurped by the inauthentic. I found something true in the sport I love, and it is a legacy worth passing on.”