One technique I use for myself and my runners to gauge both short-term and long-term improvements as well as assessing how well our peaking is working is “VDOT Development Chart”.
Generally, the chart will show you starting each season at a slightly lower performance level than the previous year but building to a higher peak as you hit the summer (that’s what’s supposed to happen if the Lydiard program is applied correctly).
While injuries mean that my graph is not as linear as it should be (overall trend is upwards but the graph is “too flat”), in general this holds true. This year, with the injuries hitting just as the peak was about to manifest, it is easy to spot the “missing peak”:
Notice how my progress from the 5k in 2007 has been limited, although consistent, due to the constant step-backs. Had the program been executed as planned you should have seen a jump of 2-3 VDOTs (my required performance level was 58 to hit 1:19:59, so I would have needed to increase my previous best level by only one and my early season race performances by only two). It’s safe to conclude that the program would have worked had it run its course.
Below you will see the progression curve of one of my runners which is much more in line with the level of improvement you will see if the athlete stays injury free (although, you’ll notice the earliest race is three years prior to all following).