RANT: Wisdom of the Web

I see a lot of threads currently asking for some kind of fix to bring down your 5k or your 10k time usually with the added stipulation that the person only wants to run a certain amount of days per week, or doesn’t want to go over a certain distance. On the other side one or the other training mode, such as fartlek, intervals, etc., is usually put forward as a good answer.

If you’ve accepted that the Lydiard system is the superior one (and it’s hard to argue against it) then this line of questions and answers will be seen as what it is: A futile effort. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Lydiard saw that no single element of running is important, they are all important (strength, aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, speed). What is important is the order and the volume of each stimulus
  • If you a put a limit on the training you do, you may have to accept that certain performance levels are outside your reach. There are no shortcuts in running and our modern search for such measures may well be a contributor to the decline of Western athletics

One of the reasons I don’t comment on training questions on message boards except the Lydiard Foundation one is that it would simply take too long to first explain the Lydiard principles and then take any arguments that follow.

What Lydiard did best as a coach, in my opinion, is that he never asked to coach anyone. This should be the core dictum for every coach. You are giving up your time, for free, to help someone excel, so either they commit to your program or they don’t.

The Lydiard system has stood the test of time and debating with armchair physiologists is a wasted effort better spent watching and supporting the athletes we have that trust in the system. But my advice to any novice runner with a running question: “Don’t ask for simple answers to complex questions from people whose credentials are completely unknown. Go look for a good coach and do as he/she says. Then you’ll have a shot at lasting improvement.”

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