TRAINING: Back on Lydiard's Horse

With my foot and achilles injuries seemingly back under control, training resumed this week. I have been so fortunate to learn more about different ways to practically implement Lydiardesque principles. First by reading "Advanced Marathoning" which when you analyze is just a slightly modernised and marathon-specialised version of the original Lydiard principles.


Similarly I'm now reading "Running with the Buffaloes - A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team". Coach Mark Wetmore employed and still employs Lydiard's methods and is arguably one of the most successful cross-country coaches in the world.

While the book should primarily be enjoyed for the well-paced story, the colourful characters, the devastating tragedy and the eventual drama at the pinnacle event at the NCAA Nationals, there's some great insights into how to train talented athletes the Lydiard way, how far you need to push yourself to truly be a successful runner (let's just say, these guys would not think much of the average training regimes seen by most today).

Particularly useful for hill runners is how Lydiard principles are welded around a cross-country style season and how utilising team effort galvanises athletes on to new height (the Buffaloes trained together 6 times a week).

My New "Week 1"
I stole the first week program from Chapter 9 of Advanced Marathoning: Marathon Training on 88 to 113 km per Week. It's exactly the schedule I need and the 7 week ramp-up at the start of the program allows me to do 7 really good weeks (estimated 710km in those weeks) and then have a taper week before the Wicklow Way Trail, a perfect race to test the full extent of aerobic development before moving on to the next cycle of training in preparation for the summer season.
  • Mon: Rest or cross-training
  • Tue: 65 min @ 5:02-4:47 min/km with 10x100m strides (base and speed)
  • Wed: 90 min @ 4:32 min/km (medium-long)
  • Thu: 45 min @ 5:46-5:02 min/km (recovery)
  • Fri: 90 min @ 4:32 min/km (medium-long)
  • Sat: 45 min @ 5:46-:5:02 min/km (recovery)
  • Sun: 110 min (55 min @ 4:32 min/km and 55 min @ 4:10 min/km) (long + marathon pace)
  • Total: 7 hours 25 minutes (approx. 89.5k/55.3 miles)

Note that all the above paces are aerobic and all are slower than current half-marathon pace.

Warm-ups and any really slow running I want to do in addition, doesn't count and should only be done if I don't think it jeopardises performances in these workouts. As possible, any volume that needs cutting due to injury or overtraining should go from recovery days first.

As 7 hours and 25 minutes is nowhere enough training to compete at an elite level (10-11 hours is closer to the mark), the extra time is filled out with core work (3 sessions per week), strength training (2 sessions per week), flexibility work (7 sessions per week, basically stretches), and running form drills (2 sessions per week).

The below are the two key aerobic week before tapering for the Wicklow Way Trail in week 8 (this week is week 6 and 7 out of 7):

Week 6

  • Mon: Rest or cross-training
  • Tue: Morning - 55 min @ 5:37-4:53 min/km (recovery) and Afternoon - 35 min @ 5:37-4:53 min/km (recovery)
  • Wed: 1 hr 22 min (1 hr @ 4:53 min/km and 5x1200m @ 3:37min/km with 50-100% interval time rest)
  • Thu: 1 hr 55 min @ 4:38-4:23 min/km (medium-long)
  • Fri: 1 hr 20 min @ 3:55 min/km (half-marathon pace)
  • Sat: 55 min @ 5:37-4:53 min/km (recovery)
  • Sun: 2 hrs 25 min (50 min @ 4:53 min/km and 1 hr 35 min @ 4:07 min/km)
  • Total: 9 hrs 27 minutes (121km/75 miles)

Week 7

  • Mon: Rest or cross-training
  • Tue: 70 min @ 4:53 min/km with 10x100m strides (base and speed)
  • Wed: 1hr 55 min @ 4:38-4:23 min/km (medium-long)
  • Thu: 1 hour @ 5:37-4:53 min/km (recovery)
  • Fri: 1 hr 35 min (40 min @ 4:53 min/km and 55 min @ 3:55min/km) (base and half-marathon)
  • Sat: 55 min @ 5:37-4:53 min/km (recovery)
  • Sun: 2 hrs 45 min @ 4:53 min/km
  • Total: 9 hrs 40 minutes (114km/71 miles)

I am retooling my daily routine, instating a 22:00 o'clock curfew for going to sleep, have bought icepacks and ibuprofen for the ready, and am implementing the dietary system from Racing Weight to shed all the blubber.

Time is running out and this time I must get it right. As coach Wetmore memorable says you need the right combination of four traits to succeed in running: talent, durability, determination and courage. If you don't have one it will kill you. I need to know and now is the time to go and test them for if anything the last few months have only shown a lack of durability, determination and more than anything - courage. Talent, I don't know, and I frankly don't care. If I can survive this sort of training and move onwards (the above training is by no means sufficient to compete at a top level) then I think that's the only talent I need.

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