It was 30 below with windchill here in Minnesota. I usually would have preferred running outside regardless. But I would have to admit that it does get too much sometimes. I was about to get a bit tired of all my Tangerine Dream songs on treadmill so I needed something different to listen to. So…I just listened to Arthur Lydiard lecture from 1983 clinic in Salem, OR. I was just putting together “Beginner’s Training Schedule” for our Certificate Presentation so it was actually refreshing to listen to it from the Old Man’s own voice…
It was the part where Arthur was talking about how he started out all those obese business people on the Jogging Program based on his “Lydiard Principles”… I couldn’t help but think, compared to all the technologies and flood of information on-line and magazines, comfortable equipment and supplement gel, drink and gummy bears…, training groups and “coaching” available…, yet I could not help but think that they must have done something much more “right”, for they have actually achieved far “better” results
It was after Rome Olympics where 3 of Arthur’s original runners, Peter Snell, Murray Halberg and Barry Magee, came back to New Zealand with 3 Olympic medals (2 golds, one bronze), he was invited to Tamaki Lions Club banquet. He shared the story of his own experience in the previous 20 years, and the logics behind it, to this group of business people – why Peter Snell ran near marathon distance relatively slow every day to prepare to run 2 laps around the track blazingly fast. The key to his sprinting past the world record holder in the final 20m was not in speed but his “developing plumbing”, his heart and vascular system. “Your heart is a muscle, just like your arms and legs,” Lydiard explained. “You strengthen it, and it’ll grow bigger and stronger…” This was the defining moment. Several over-weight businessmen, with history of a heart attack, came to him after his talk. “I had a heart attack so my doctor told me not to do anything strenuous or I’ll kill myself. But what you’re saying is; we should get out and work on it…” It didn’t take long for 20 of them to get together and started what is Auckland Jogging Club of today. The youngest was 50-year-old, the oldest 72. Every single one of them had a history of a heart attack; none of them could run a lap around a local school track without stopping at first… Eight months later, ALL of them were running 20-miles CONTINUOUSLY. No walking break, no GU, no camel-back, no Gaterade Energy drink… Eight of them went on to complete a full marathon. “What were their times?” I’ve asked Garth Gilmour, close personal friend of Arthur and co-author of all Arthur’s books, as well as the author of recent documentary book, “Running for Our Lives”; as well as Gary Lydiard, Arthur’s own son, both of whom were actually there to witness this phenomena. “Oh, around 4-hours…” they told me. The actual fact is; more than a few below 4 hours.
One of the quotes Arthur always said that I consider as “the truth”: “You keep within yourself and you’ll keep improving…” One of my favorite pages of our nearly 300-pages presentation for Lydiard Certificate I & II clinic is: “The Secret of Successful Training Plan à Do what you can!” Far too many people today put a cart in front of a horse. Another quote of Arthur; “There’s no short-cut to the top.” Or “there’s no short-cut to fitness.” You just cannot get off the couch and ambitiously try to run several 20-milers in a few months and expect to have a happy marathon experience. One of the most frequently asked question about our on-line training program, Running Wizard, is; “How can I expect to run a successful marathon with the longest run being only 12- (or 13- or 14-) miles?” Running Wizard caps the long run at 2:45. We felt anything beyond 3-hours would create too much muscle trauma to recover adequately to carry on a training plan. If you only cover 12-miles in 2:45, that means you’re running at about 14-minute-mile pace. Anybody who has to plod their 20-miler in about four-and-a-half hours would be in this category. Running Wizard, on the other hand, determines your “long run” based on the calculated “fitness-appropriate” training pace within the duration of 2:30~3:00. If it comes out as 12-miles, well, you may not be quite ready to tackle a 26-miler. Anybody can write a training schedule with several 20-milers to get you ready for a full marathon. But ARE you actually ready to comfortably manage several 20-milers? Nobody seems to ask that question. We believe Lydiard’s original “Beginner’s Plan” took that into consideration, based on Lydiard’s Five Principles (Response-Regulated among others).
Nobby Hashizume showing Lydiard’s “Run For Your Life” (left) and Bill Bowerman’s “Jogging” at one of the Lydiard clinics
Lydiard made running “accessible” to anybody – men and women, young and old, fast and slow, healthy and, well, those who are nearly in death-bed!! We have the ability and potential to grow stronger. And he had taught us, and led the way, that covering great distance CAN be a fun experience. As you get fitter, you can cover greater and greater distance with more and more ease. Back in the 1940’s, most “professional” runners (though the term “professional runner” didn’t exist back then) trained a few times a week, saying that if you work too hard – like more than 4 times a week – you’ll do some harm to your heart. Then came Lydiard. He ran and ran and ran…and ran. He ran 7 days a week, he ran twice a day…up to and beyond 100-miles-a-week. He found out, if done correctly, not to exceed it but go by how you feel (Feeling-Based) and move up as you get stronger (Response-Regulated), then you actually get stronger, not weaker. This had been brilliantly captured in a documentary movie, “The Golden Hour” (available on-line and well-worth watching). Unfortunately I can see the trend swinging backwards now. They rush to conclusion, as Arthur used to say back in the 1980s, and print misleading articles. The latter is particularly true unfortunately because of widespread of internet and any self-claimed “expert” can write whatever they want, trying to make themselves look impressive just by saying something contradicting. This is particularly true when you still see so many articles about how dangerous running can be – this is exactly a kind of thinking Lydiard had to fight back in 1960’s when he started the first-ever jogging group; the legacy that was carried on by great Bill Bowerman when he visited Lydiard in New Zealand in 1963 and brought the concept of “jogging” back to the US as he and his former pupil were working on a small start-up company in his hometown of Oregon. Their business bloomed though the root of the matter might have more or less diminished…
So here I am, seeing many people, young and old, men and women, running and/or walking on treadmill…or, if I go to Lake Harriet or Calhoun, despite Polar Vortex, we still see many hardy people running outside…and I could not help but think; how many of these people who enjoy benefits of running know, or even heard of, this man, Arthur Lydiard, who basically “made it all right” for any of us to lace up and go for a run and gave us practical information on how to start out safely and continue to improve. It is our mission to convey this gift Arthur Lydiard had left with us correctly and effectively and teach all his “children” what he had done for us – keep his legacy alive. And that is what Lydiard Foundation is all about.