ARTICLE: Lydiard Coaching– 2011

When I first encountered the Lydiard system, I had studied most other training systems at least superficially and many in detail. Arthur’s words stood out straight away as more common-sense and more authoritative and it was not long after, I learned it was also the most successful.

This did not mean it is necessarily the easiest: Firstly, I learned how physically challenging it can be, particularly at the outset, and next that the experience required to implement it successfully is hard-earned.

All this changed with the advent of the Lydiard Foundation’s new “Master Run Coach” interactive training system and the Lydiard Foundation’s openness to communicate with its members.

Nobby Hashizume answered my technical questions, particularly on hill and cross-country running, in academic detail and recently I came into contact with the great Lorraine Moller, now running the business side of the Foundation, when trying to get her acclaimed autobiography “On the Wings of Mercury” as a Christmas present for Aoife. Lorraine delivered: Not just a signed copy of the book from her home in Boulder, Colorado, but a lengthy email on the plans of the Foundation and the interactive training program.

The Training Group

My coaching plans for 2011 where bolstered by some late-arrivals to “my squad” which means I currently focus my efforts on one-to-one coaching of seven very talented individuals focusing on both hill, road and track. Between myself and the resources of the Lydiard Foundation, we can hopefully deliver the results their talent deserves in 2011.

Lorraine was delighted to gain contacts in Ireland and I am currently in the process of being signed up as a coach on the “Master Run Coach” network. After that, their Lydiard Coach Certification system will go online, which should allow me to gain certification here to further better my ability to safely guide my athletes to the safe shore of success.

I want to not only focus my efforts on the training group and my weekly sessions (below) but support Lorraine’s vision for the Lydiard Foundation as she explained it to me:

“What we want to do is spread the Lydiard training in an easy manner, preserve the integrity of the teachings, and be a resource for coaches. We don’t want runners to replace their coaches with their laptop, but rather provide the schedules so coaches no longer have to spend their valuable hours handwriting the schedules. The coach is important for the application of it especially for the serious runner. This is also a great resource for those who coach large numbers of people. The internet is the obvious way for these times. “ 

We are the first group in Ireland that I am aware of to make this move, but hopefully over time, we will expand and new groups will form and others branch off as my athletes become experts in their own right.

Weekly Sessions

My athletes will be the main priority in the new year but that does not mean the end of my free weekly sessions: In fact I will be expanding my efforts with regular sessions both in the Dublin Mountains and in Glendalough.

The new feature will be that my sessions will mirror the overall stage of the season that my athletes are in so that they can join up and benefit for the additional coaching and drills that accompany these sessions.

While not everyone in my group is starting or peaking at exactly the same time, this will be a compromise picture but roughly it means that I will be running aerobic style sessions in January-February (Fartleks, Out-and-Backs, Up & Downs and other Lydiard style workouts for this phase), Hill Circuits in March, Anaerobic sessions in April, Coordination in May, Taper in early June and a mixture of Racing sharpeners and anaerobic maintenance sessions for the rest of the summer.

We are attempting to run together as a group when possible as well and will try in most cases to invite others along for long runs and similar workouts as our group of eight (counting myself) cannot ensure that everyone has a perfect training partner for every run.

How we will start

Our training weeks run from Sunday to Saturday so some of our group, including me, kicked off the season with a long run together yesterday taking in some road into and out of Clara Vale as well as the wonderful main loop of trails in the valley.

I plan to start running aerobic sessions for the last few Saturdays of January and will likely run these out of Glendalough. In February, my consideration is weekly Wednesday Fartleks close to Dublin and Glendalough runs every second Saturday likely.

In March, hill sessions would ideally be Tuesday but I need to look at the clash with the Crusaders sessions and we have a few options for Saturdays. April will see the sessions moving to Thursday (which will be anaerobic) with more Saturdays in Glendalough a possibility.

The summer racing season will see Coordination sessions move to Monday with more runs being possible on Saturdays, a pattern I expect will continue until the end of summer and then we start thinking about cross-country training.


Barry Minnock said…
Good article:
Africans don't seem to use Lydiard approach, but still it's standard for most Europeans. Interested in your thoughts as a well read individual ...
Renny said…
Hi Barry,

First thanks for pointing that out, a very interesting read and indeed written by one of the Advisory Board members of the Lydiard Foundation (Greg McMillan).

Let me give that a good read and reply to you with an article (the topic and length of the article warrants that) it starting out with the official comments you will find on African training in the Lydiard books (he touches on the similarities and differences numerous times) and then moving on to look at the differences between the Lydiard approach and this (they may not be as large as they seem). Very briefly let me add that athlete background has a big effect on the specific composition of a program and there are currently significant differences between the average African and "Western" athlete, but it’s a bit simplistic to leave it at that.

Let me expand on it this evening or one of the coming evenings when I get an hour to sit down and read through it.

I’ll let that be the first shot in the discussion. I may continue this discussion afterwards on the Lydiard Foundation forum:, where Nobby, Kris Stevenson, Peter Snell and others who have known the program much longer than me are almost sure to chip in with their views.