Upon being asked why he ran, Arthur Lydiard replied: “Because, if I don’t run, I’d feel like you do and I don’t like it!” This is one of my favorite Arthur Lydiard quotes!! This just captures his impatient, snappy personality and sense of humor as well as the essence of why most of us run. But, seriously, nice attitude, Arthur!! ;o)
My “injury” from my skiing vacation turned out to be a bit more nuisance than I had hoped (it was diagnosed as “aging”…!!). It took me quite some time for my right quad to loosen and, after the pain in my quad subsided, I started to get this tingling numbing sensation in my lower back and my right glutes and hamstrings – seemingly a beginning stage of a typical sciatica! I ran about 40-minutes with my wife last weekend and that was the longest I could manage in a month or so. This is quite annoying and frustrating – anyone who got injured and struggled to get over can relate to this.
When I was back in Japan last November for our Lydiard Coaching Certificate Clinic in Japan, a running magazine, “Courir”, filmed me demonstrating Lydiard Hill Exercises. They were quite clever and included a QR code in the magazine article so people can access to YouTube and watch the actual movement as well. I was horrified to watch myself!! I thought I looked decent – like I did 20 years ago??? Well, I thought I felt the same but surely looked different!! Perhaps getting back in shape would be a good start… My days of trying not-to-skip-a-day-of-training (although a running streak like England’s legend, Ron Hill, had never been my goal) has long been gone; my running has been rather sporadic in the last 5 years or so. But I never ever quite “stopped” running since when I started running when I was 13-year-old. Except for a period of about 5 years when I had a bad persisting Achilles problem (which, by the way, Lorraine worked on and fixed for me – this is yet another story…!), off and on, I had always run. When I was younger, for the sake of competition and improving my own running performance. And, even after my days of PRs are over, I had still always run simply because it just feels good to get out and, as Arthur would have said; “feel the vigour” (from “Jogging the Lydiard Way”, 1970). I guess I’d be classified as a “Jock” – just love the feeling of seating!! “What you didn’t sweat out in youth, you’d get it out of your system as tears,” the legendary Japanese marathon coach, Kiyoshi Nakamura, used to say. “Even if you don’t have time and only run for 15-minutes,” Arthur used to say, “you are still WINNING!” This also is quintessential Arthur Lydiard attitude!
So since I got home from Japan, and since it started to get cold here in MN, it was a perfect timing to get back to the basics and start lots of nice, easy aerobic running (incidentally, it was timely that Courir asked me to comment on Long Slow Distance training for their article during that time…I would write more about this later). This happens to be the time I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the basic Lydiard Training Principles. You do what you can – and you go as nice and easily as you can. First you try to get up to a half an hour; that’s always my very first goal whenever try to get back in shape (with Arthur’s original schedule, the first step is to run 15-minutes continuously). And, every third day or thereabout, you get that a little longer; making sure you then go back to the easy day the next day – Principle of Hard-Easy – and then you go the longest run over the weekend… It is amazing how well this simple formula works!! We employed this same format with our Running Wizard℠ Beginner’s Plans (Up-and-Running and Up-and-Racing). There’s no gimmick or no shortcut; what worked more than 50 years ago with overweight heart-attack patients still works fine today. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel.
I was back up to about 1:30 of nice easy aerobic running in no time and just started to feel very good. It was simply exhilarating to run through quietly falling snow flakes. In fact, I was eyeing on (to me) a magical 2-hour mark… With me, 1:30 is one step. Once I get up to a 90-minutes of continuous running, I can really start to feel the surge of energy. In Arthur’s original “Run to the Top”, which I always consider as THE Bible of Running, he said: “The first step to enjoying running…is to achieve perfect fitness…(It is) the ability to run great distances with ease at a steady speed.” As your body and mind get used to running continuously for a long period of time, THAT is when running all of a sudden becomes easy. “Now you are getting conditioned (hence the term Marathon Conditioning),” Barry Magee would tell you. “Now running becomes flying…” This, to me, becomes very apparent at and beyond 2-hour mark. This is when speed picks up NATURALLY. In “Run to the Top”, Arthur said: “…a progressive schedule, without calling for any excess speed, has conditioned their bodies to cope with these distances easily.” At Lydiard Foundation, we call this Response Regulated℠ Training, again, another principle we had incorporated with Running Wizard℠. In more up-to-date term, we’d say now you’ll be running at faster speed AEROBICALLY.
Only one week before his passing in Houston, he was in Boulder, CO, in front of over 300 audience in the auditorium of Boulder High School. After the presentation, one of them asked; “Sir, how did you handle ‘pain’ with your athletes?” “Pain? What pain?” snapped the Old Man. “My runners didn’t have pain. They always had FUN…!” It IS possible to train very hard and still enjoy it IF you do it correctly.