DIARY: 53 Degrees North talks…

Tomorrow evening, awaits another visit from Tony Riddle and Ben Medder ahead of our talk on injury free running through natural movement in 53 Degrees North. With 30 minutes for questions and answers at the end, we can hopefully get into some real nitty gritty stuff. It’s a topic that’s often simplified or polarised around the issue of footwear versus barefoot when the true essence of the matter is so much more complex, interesting and eye-opening, so hopefully the discussion will take those turns tomorrow.

From Dublin to Cork

We’ve got some downtime on Friday in Glendalough, as I’m enjoying a day off work and Tony and Ben will be staying at our house, so we’ll be brewing on more of our plans going forward and hopefully I’ll get a chance to take them out and see a bit of hill scenery as I’ve only had the chance to show them the Lakes and parts of the Wicklow Way and there’s so much more on offer.

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Social time after the last workshop…

Before we know it we’ll be on the road to Cork for the second talk in the 53 Degrees North store down there. That’s going to be the first time we take our injury free coaching model to Munster, but hopefully not the last and we are being well accosted. Local ultra-runner Paul Tierney, who will need no introduction to most of my readers here, got us a good deal on accommodation, so it should be a pleasant stay and the facilities we will use in LeisureWorld look impressive as well.

Cork workshops

Saturday and Sunday will be full-day workshops. After the last workshop weekend in Wicklow, we decided to expand the running clinic to two days to be able to cover more ground. These clinics are, in a way, a feeder system for our Lydiard-inspired coaching model. Once people have perfected their technique and can run at least 60 minutes in barefoot-technology footwear, they are “ready for Lydiard” and there’s no looking back from there. Combine perfect technique, and thus lack of chronic injuries, with the best distance training programme in the world, then all we need do is control the worst influences of modern lifestyle. Then the real work begins, as Arthur said, 3 years to become a true contender is realistic with up to 10 years to become a world champion.

Apart from our coaching model with Tony, it’s important to have access to people with direct first-hand experience of the original Lydiard method so we can carry the legacy forward without any of the modern misinterpretations. So we’re planning to get Keith Livingstone over in September or October for a series of talks and help ensure we stay true to the Lydiard vision and principles in everything we do. In case anyone wonders how Tony’s method and Arthur’s method link together, well that’s the big trick, and I’ll present this coaching model shortly here and on ChampionsEverywhere. Traditional coaching models have only one weakness as I see them: they treat the systems relevant for athletic performance as closed systems when in reality they are all open.

A holistic coaching model

This means to have an all-encompassing coaching model, you need to map all major systems inside the human body (cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, regulatory etc.) and outside it (environment, society etc.) which can directly or indirectly affect performance. Just like with social sciences, the future of coaching lies in systems thinking, and not as today where most coaching is seen a linear process of cause and effect (do “x” to achieve “y”, do an interval to achieve anaerobic resistance etc.). Systems thinking tells us that you can only understand the parts in their relationship to the whole and their interactions with each other and the whole. Unfortunately, modern science, including exercise physiology, is still struggling with the challenge of shedding the legacy of René Descartes ill-judged scientific reductionism.

Give way reductionist coaching models

This is why we know it is nonsense to talk about a “glute problem”, because what is important is the interactions the glutes have with other parts of the body and what its function is in relation to the whole body. Training will benefit from the same. Incidentally, Lydiard very much adopted systems thinking which is evident when you read his books or listen to his talks. Workouts had to be understood in relation to the entire training problem and their purpose was the key. He considered all parts of life important and had strong opinions on technique, nutrition, footwear, mindset and pretty much everything else. He did not leave behind a firm written blue-print for all parts of his vision, so it’s up to us to pick this up where he left off. We need a generation of informed athletes who stop asking questions such as “what workout will make me faster” or “what’s best tempos or intervals” when such questions are symptom of focusing on meaningless detail rather than understanding the system as a whole and it’s principles and then applying it to each unique athlete and situation.

Anyway, I have gone off on a tangent, which is one of the benefits of this blog – it allows me to do so. Hopefully see some of you tomorrow…

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