TRAINING: 2011– A Perfect Two Weeks

My new “Go2Lydiard” program starts every week on a Sunday with a long run, and today I successfully completed the longest run yet. As with everything else these first fifteen days since training started on January 2nd, I was a little bit faster and ran a bit longer than the previous week.

My program is built based on a half-marathon style training program with a few modifications for the hill races I plan to do this year. It is similar in many ways to my last three Lydiard-based programs (as you’d expect), but the level of detail and precision of the plan is better than ever and perhaps this has helped me have the best start to any training cycle since this venture started in 2007.

The Life of an Aerobic Week

A standard Lydiard-week for a half-marathon focused runner, training seven days per week, is simple in concept:

  • Sun: Long Aerobic (23% weekly volume)
  • Mon: Aerobic (9% weekly volume)
  • Tue: Aerobic (18% weekly volume)
  • Wed: Easy fartlek (11% weekly volume)
  • Thu: Aerobic (19% weekly volume)
  • Fri: Jog (7% weekly volume)
  • Sat: Out and Back (13% weekly volume)

The % of volume in  parenthesis are rough figures as these programs give you a broad range of both suggested paces and durations of the workout, allowing you to tailor it very specifically to your own needs and condition day by day meaning you cannot know exactly how much you’ll do in a week.

My suggested workout for the Monday aerobic run may be 37 to 50 minutes at an intensity of 3-5 (we have very specific descriptions of what this means) which should result, ideally, in a pace between 05:07 and 4:27min/km. Every workout has different duration, pace and intensity suggestions to go by as well as extensive descriptions of the purpose, biggest mistakes, points to notice and other details you’ll need to make every day the best you can.

Every week progresses, there’s no built-in “periodisation” (e.g. “easier”) weeks, instead you’re expected to control this based on your own and your coaches’ input. If you need an easier week in week 5, just do the slower and shorter workouts suggested rather than the faster suggestions. If you need it in week 6, do it in week 6, and if you don’t need it, just continue to move upwards for the duration of the Aerobic phase.


One of the unfounded “truisms” oft heard in running circles is “don’t add more than 10%”. Well based on my experience and looking at the Lydiard programs, there’s a good reason this is just a random guess: It seems to be much more than is necessary.

For a seven day per week runner, the mileage in a Lydiard program is challenging but not excessive (in my own opinion, having done something similar thrice) and the increase per week is actually less than 3%. Yet, you certainly feel that you are taking on a bigger load every week and after a standard ten weeks your volume will have increased by 27%.

I’ve never enjoyed my sport as much as I do right now. Every run is just right and the legs recover at a rate previously unseen in my world despite having run 65% more than after 15 days in 2010.

I keep up the hills almost completely for the first 4-5 weeks of aerobic conditioning, a feature I have introduced into the program to ensure the heart get’s trained properly first and the legs are strong enough to do proper work on the hills rather than plodding along as in previous years. The additional benefits this has to stride length and base pace, I’ll discuss later. This does not mean serious hill work will not occur later (after all, hill work is staple Lydiardism).

Like “Arthur’s boys”, though, I am blessed to live in an undulating area and do all my running on the trails, roads and tracks around Glendalough. This means that while I stay off the hills, my fifteen runs have still required me to do an average of 237m per day. This is the way, Arthur would have wanted it, but these are generally shallow hills on which you can really express yourself aerobically at this stage of the season.

The surprises

The big forgotten aspect of Lydiard Training is that there is no slow running (except the Friday Jog which I always look forward to as a chance to just breeze and let the mind flow). Every day requires a good work ethic and a solid effort, yet it remains comfortable aerobic.

This has been the biggest change, but I have been surprised just how much better it really is: Time flows fasters, my legs get stronger every day instead of just tired and weak from being pounded to dust without proper strength stimulation, and my heart pumps much happier with my resting heart rate having dropped to a new low of 36bpm.

I have executed my workouts very precisely and at the correct intensity level. From week 1 to 2, progression was nice and steady (meteoric would be worrying, in steady I trust) with my distance increased by 6%, pace by 1% on average and duration by 5%. These two weeks have been my fourth and seventh biggest in terms of mileage of all times; however, if the top-10 weeks were boxers, the pace of these two weeks means a quick knock-out to all other weeks.

The greatest challenge has been the two longer mid-week runs, which can be difficult to get in during daylight at this time of year. Luckily, I tend to work until later in the evenings, which often allows me to run in the morning, a great benefit.

Lydiard’s “Out and Back” has been the big positive surprise, this run is higher intensity than the others yet does not tip all the way into the anaerobic (for starters its much too long for that!). I expected this to be really tough, but find it to be a great stretch of the legs and a true confidence booster. Planning to come back faster than you go “OUT” also keeps developing my pace judgement.