ARTICLE: Turning 500 with Lydiard

While injured this blog has gone past 500 posts! (now here's a marathon, my fingers are sore!) so I thought it time to write something positive but let's get the moan out of the way first.

Moan of the Day
My second run of antibiotics are working well, the anti-inflammatories haven't killed me yet and I've had a few eureka moments doing my rehab clearly demonstrating why I managed to overload the pelvic bone (this should, technically, not be a running injury). "I'm lucky to keep catching this injuries quickly now and not having longer than 6 weeks lay-offs the last year," I told Aoife the other evening which caused her to comment on my definition of luck as slightly strayed. I suppose once your luck is that your injury "isn't crippling", you're running out, but anyway....

Go Lydiard!

But I want to spend this post praising the Lydiard Foundation and their launch of the new website The site is not yet fully functional (they are working on it every day) but features a whole new level of interactivity in online training programs. As if the news that one can now get Lydiard-based programs online wasn't good enough, even the sneak preview has a degree of interactivity and intelligence not usually seen in online programs.

Once you have created a profile you provide a recent race time as well as a few other personal details before choosing your target race distance and the date for the race. This generates a Lydiard-based program but unlike normal programs it doesn't simply tell you what to do and what but gives you feedback on how to customise it day by day and week by week.
The program also shows your expected times for classical distances both now and after you complete the training. This is really useful as you can chase realistic goals rather than pipe-dreams. The program shows me among other things that if I do the 24-week half-marathon program with 7-days running per week I will drop my half-marathon time to 1:20:25. Definitely within the realm of the realistic and probably even a bit conservative for a developing runner like me who is still learning just to handle the training needed to really make strides forward.
For each training week you get a lot of details; the standard fields are there so more interesting the new fields: rank (how difficult or important the workout is, I'm not sure) and "Help", a button that brings up more details about the workout. This includes:

  • Instruction: How to do the workout
  • Important Points: What to look out for in particular
  • RPE: How hard it should feel, there's a guide for how to measure this by either Intensity, Breathing, Talking or %VO2 max)
  • Adaptation: What improvements you are trying to achieve with the workout
  • Skill: Other skills you can practice while doing this (e.g. "pace judgement" for time trials)
  • Biggest mistakes: Just that and don't we need it!
The tool get's better from here: When you click the name of the workout you get an interactive menu where you type in your "Recovery Indicators": Today's resting heart rate, weight and hours slept. Not only is it great to track this but the tool will modify the duration of your workout. There's already flexibility built in as the program gives you the "Suggested Duration" but also a "Shortest" (if you're knackered) and "Longest" (if you're feeling great) durations and this data will adjust this further. And more, the system stores your average data for it's computations. Similarly, you get the slowest, suggest and fastest paces predicted for your workout. If I was to do a standard aerobic run today, the system suggests a duration range from 38-50 minutes and a pace range from 8:15min/miles to 7:10min/mile. Before you ask, the weeks get ever tougher as the program progresses.

Once the full version goes live there'll be further nifty features such as Arthur's voice actually describing the workouts to you instead of just reading them. There'll be videos available as well and a network of Lydiard coaches is being built that can be hired for further support (there's different packages available for this too).

And if you're not convinced, you know you're with people who have their priorities right when you read this update from Nobby:

This is the best "sneak preview" that we have. We will soon have 4-days-a-week and 5-days-a-week program and, for all these, anywhere from 12 weeks to 24 weeks (we only have 24-weeks, 7-days-a-week up right now).

Yes! They put the 7-days a week training up first, this is not your Runner's World program!

Lydiard Foundation Forum
I've been spending some time on the Lydiard forum recently. The internet is the most dangerous place to be subjected to misinformation simply because there's no way to know if people know what they are talking about and you know what they say about opinions....

So I read solely the Lydiard forum for training input as Lydiard's disciples, particularly Nobby, will answer queries quite regularly. Peter Snell and other notables hang out there as well and you are being taught one consistent message as well as can benefit from the wisdom of those who helped make the West great and coached Olympians.

This has been a very helpful process in establishing where to go from here and what to make of the season for me. I'm grateful for the advice and while I don't want to muddle this post with the insights they have provided me so far, I'll revisit that later down the line.

Suffice to say, this is a fantastic place to get substantive answers on very complex issues. I think I will conclude my tribute to the Lydiard Foundation with that and this first step into the final part of what will one day be a millenium of posts.