© Copyright – 2008 – Athletics Illustrated
The legend and the legacy of Arthur Lydiard is alive and well. Perhaps the method he developed over a 50 year period is more popular today than when he coached Olympians directly or headed various national governing bodies of sport throughout the world.
From New Zealand’s greatest athlete ever, Olympic Gold medallist and world record holder, Dr. Peter Snell to Finland’s legendary Lasse Viren, Lydiard’s influence was widespread and the success of it was undeniable. Since his passing in 2004, while on tour in the US, 4-time Olympian Lorraine Moller and Nobuya ‘Nobby’ Hashizume, one of the most knowledgeable coaches on the Lydiard method, together created the Arthur Lydiard Foundation, mostly to perpetuate and protect the easily misunderstood method of training.
Any running chatline forum where the name Arthur Lydiard is bantered about explodes with interest and debate. Want to grow a thread? Feed it generously with Arthur Lydiard.
The Lydiard Foundation board and advisory team is a who’s who of international running. Headed by Nobby and Lorraine, they share an appreciation of all things Lydiard with the likes of Dr. Peter Snell, Alan Culpepper, Greg McMillan, Dr. Dave Martin, Rod Dixon, Steve Scott, Jon Brown, Nic Bideau, Yuko Arimori, Dick Brown, Steve Jones, Bill Squires, Kathryn Switzer to name a few. Yes the legend and legacy are alive and well today. Below is an interview with the co-founder Nobby Hashizume.
CK: Everyone knows you as the co-founder of the Lydiard Foundation. You were also a coach with Hitachi Corporation in Japan. Can you tell me about your time there.
NH: I met with legendary coach the late Kiyoshi Nakamura in the spring of 1985. I just came back from New Zealand, studying the Lydiard method. I had this hand-written Japanese translation of “Lydiard’s Athletic Training” which a friend of mine made copies of. I sent it out to several local coaches, high school, college and 2 of the corporate team coaches. Only 2 people responded and one of them was coach Nakamura (the other one, incidentally, was another corporate team coach, Isao Sasaki, who produced a 2:26 female marathon runner as well as several 2:10~2:11 guys. All local high school coaches basically ignored me). He (Nakamura) had a celebrity status in Japan at the time and it was quite surprising to have him get back to me. My mom couldn’t believe it when I received a card from THE Kiyoshi Nakamura! It was a hand-written post card; full of tiny letters on the back, the day it was delivered was a rainy day so some ink was smeared a bit. I still have that card from him. He invited me to come over to his place sometime and talk about running. He was a huge fan of Lydiardism and we had a nice visit (of course, I was all very nervous) and talked about running from 8AM till 3PM! Now, most coaches in Japan were decent runners themselves and had been “in the group” so to speak when they moved up to become a corporate team coach. I was completely an outsider, but because Nakamura recommended me to one of his assistant coaches, when he branched out and took over the head-coach’s job at Hitachi, he recruited me as a coach. Now in Japan, coaches are the main persons on the team—another preaching of Lydiard. When we started the team, we had him and me as coaches; we had one more guy who was a care-taker. Then we went out and recruited 2 runners for the first year. The team grew to 8 the following year. We had both director/manager level positions and got paid as such from the company. We were professional coaches; not volunteer helpers. We took our job as professionals and we took it that much more seriously. In this country (USA), I think in most cases, things are backwards. They have some good runners around and some organization try to stick decent local coach on him/her. That’s all wrong. I remember talking to Joe Vigil about starting a team. He said that; “any team would have to be athletes-centered and coaches-driven”. That is so true, yet in most cases, in other parts of the world, they are too busy paying already good athletes and neglect people who “teach others how to fish (=coach)”. In my opinion, the US has lost the continuity of great distance running tradition in the 1990s when they didn’t give people like coach Bill Squires or Bob Sevene a decent paid position to invest in the future.
CK: You spent a year living with Arthur Lydiard. Did he directly train you as a runner or were you learning about the application of the Lydiard method as a coach.
NH: Not really…he was in his last years of lecturing around the US and he was busy preparing for one and took off for a tour in the US in early fall (spring in northern hemisphere). Of course, then his wife, Eira, got very sick and he had to come home, but because she was dying, he was more concerned with her than anything else. He “coached” me by correspondence since 1981; then he wrote me a schedule. When I got to New Zealand; but they were more or less nothing but complete schedule out of his book. We got together and ran, when he was around, twice or maybe three times a week, up to an hour and a half (I don’t think we ever quite got up to 2-hours) but all the talk we had had during these runs really taught me a lot; not just about running and training, but basically history of athletics!It was absolutely priceless. Then one of his original runners, Ray Puckett, sort of took me under his wings and I used to go to his place every other weekend and he would take me out for long runs—up to 3+ hours. He really taught me basic principles of Lydiardism, how it should be done and what needs to be done, that Arthur missed out teaching me. I would have not understood Lydiard method if it’s not for Ray. Then before I left New Zealand, I met with Barry Magee, Bill Baillie, Jeff Julian and John Robinson. They really opened up my understanding of the Lydiard method of training.
CK: How did you and Lorraine come to the conclusion of starting the Lydiard Foundation?
NH: I had known Lorraine since early 1980s. Of course, she was coached by my high school hero, Dick Quax, who was coached by one of Arthur’s original runners, John Davies. So the Lydiardism circle just gets connected this way. And then in 2002, Lorraine’s brother, Gary, tried to start Lydiard Foundation in New Zealand. So naturally, Lorraine and I got involved in that. It didn’t quite work out, but Lorraine and I just carried on and stayed persistent about it. Then we received financial support from Jennifer and the late Brian Maxwell, co-inventors of PowerBar, as well as Bruce Johnson (inventor of Breathe Right) and Jerry Lee & Newton Running; which were absolutely critical for forming and firmly establishing the Foundation. And, I tell ya, even besides these people, there had been many who had always supported us, Arthur Lydiard, along the way; people like Larry Eder of American Track & Field, Tom Derderian and Rich Englehart of Boston, Eric Gierke and Al Reimer of Washington, yourself, and many many others who had supported what we do and keep the Old Man’s legacy alive…Without all these people’s support, we wouldn’t have been up and running.
Okay, I got a bit off track.
The thing is; we figured that Lydiard training is very much misinterpreted—particularly with so much junk in the cyber world where people who have NO idea, pretend to be an expert. Many people seem to know sort of what it is; but most of them don’t quite understand and they mislead others. Consequently they don’t get the best out of the program and don’t get to fulfill their potential. Even Arthur himself didn’t quite clearly explain how things should be done. I, for one, made lots of mistakes along the way simply because I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. I explained at the official launch of the Foundation in May, 2005, in Boulder, CO, that, I feel like there are a lot of “Nobbies” out there who struggle to “get it right” but nobody around to explain the program correctly. Our mission is to explain just what this Lydiardism is all about in a very easy-to-understand fashion.
CK: I understand the Lydiard Foundation and the USATF are coming into a partnership of sorts. Can you tell me what shape this partnership will take.
NH: Well, the President of USAT&F, Bill Roe, had agreed to be on the Foundation’s Board; along with Peter Snell, Dave Martin and Jerry Lee (introduced earlier). We’ve so far had the board meeting twice, in Boston this April and Boulder in May, and he’d been quite keen on supporting our mission of spreading Lydiard’s preaching. We had been working on introducing our materials within their programs; he has seen our presentation materials and been quite impressed with them. Of course, Peter Snell and Dave Martin approving them helped also!We are in the middle of collaborating with the appropriate people within USATF but, without any official direction, probably I shouldn’t say too much further.
CK: The foundation is traveling around spreading the word on the Lydiard method. You have been to Japan recently. I understand you had an outstanding reception bringing Peter Snell.
NH: If any place in the world where they adopted the Lydiard method quite successfully, it’s Japan. Just about any top-level coach and federation official I talked to, they said, “Lydiard made what Japan is (as the leading marathon nation in the world) today.”
I visited 2 of the best known and most successful coaches in Japan right now—which pretty much means 2 of the best marathon coaches in the world, period—this spring in Boulder, CO. One is Yoshio Koide who coached Naoko Takahashi (2000 Olympic marathon champion and the first woman to break 2:20) and Yuko Arimori (double-Olympic medalist); the other is Hideo Suzuki who coaches Reiko Tosa who won the bronze medal at last year’s Osaka World Championships marathon as well as Yoko Shibui both of whom will be competing at Beijing (Shibui for 10,000m). And of course, there’s another guy, Yasushi Sakaguchi who is another huge fan of Lydiardism who is now sending 2 guys in the marathon for Beijing (Tsuyoshi Ogata and Atsushi Sato) and has 5 sub – 2:10 marathon runners on his team. One thing about them, though I really don’t like to get into the argument of Japanese being more humble and all, but they really seem to pay credit to where credit is due. They still study Lydiardism with open-arm reception. Lydiard’s “Running with Lydiard”, translated in Japanese, which, by the way, I worked on with the actual official translator, Mifuyu Komatsu (what happened was that I had already translated the thing, which I showed to Nakamura when I visited him; but I didn’t have any connection with publisher; so I gave all that to her and she edited and brought it to the publisher); is still one of the best selling running text books in Japan (incidentally, along with Coe/Martin’s “Better Running” translation).
Peter and I had 3 gigs during a week-long stay in Japan—I talked for about an hour to explain what Lydiard program is all about (basically a short version of our Certificate Program) and Peter talked about his own training and physiological background of the program—in Osaka, Tokyo and one in Gunma at the annual meeting for Japan Running Academy. We had about 150 mostly college students in Osaka; then about 100 including national champion in 800m and 1500m as well as the bronze medalist marathon runner from Paris World Championships, Masako Chiba.
The one in Gunma was packed to capacity with 250+; we had to bring extra chairs. A question-and-answer session went on for hours. Incidentally, Peter’s winning 800m time at Tokyo Olympics back in 1964, 1:45, is the only winning record from that Olympics that no Japanese has surpassed. Even for 100m, Japanese national record of 10.00 is better than Bob Hayes’ 10.1 (actually now recognized as 10.06). Japanese national record for 800m is still 1:46. We had a one-on-one talk with Peter and Yokota who won last year’s national championships 800m and, right now, the closest to breaking the national record. He’s a speed oriented guy. Peter basically scoffed him by saying that, being close to breaking is not quite breaking it. He had been painfully close to breaking it as well as breaking the “A” standard this spring. He even came to run Pre Classic in Eugene, but never quite made it. Surprisingly, he does not have a coach. He’s still a college kid, but with an open mind to training. We hope he would come around and experiment with his training and actually break 1:46 and eventually 1:45. No doubt, he is a very talented runner.
CK: Dr. Peter Snell, Coach Hadd and others have come to the conclusion that you can use or activate fast twitch fibers during a long run, by running at 7 minutes per mile for near or over 2 hours. This is done by depleting the glycogen stores in the slow twitch fibers, thereby using the glycogen stored in the fast twitch. I can see this as a fuel source however, how does this actually call on the fast twitch?
NH: If you’ve hit the wall in the marathon, you should know how it feels; when the muscle fibers deplete of glycogen, they can’t fire up. In other words, only those with adequate glycogen supply can do the work. So as you continue your exercise (running) for a long period of time and, as glycogen level in slow twitch muscles go low and basically get tired to continue, fast twitch muscle fibers will get recruited to do the work. Only those muscle fibers that are being used will be activated to get stronger. In other words, IF you get to the point where your fast twitch muscle fibers are recruited—in other words, if the long run is not enough in duration, you will not get to this point—then you are, even though the running speed is significantly slower than that of fast twitch operated speed, activating fast twitch muscle fibers. This is not to say that you are getting faster by doing long runs; but you are not necessarily getting slower by hibernating those fast fibers.
Of course, you’ve got to realize there are a lot of factors involved in the mechanism of running fast. You need to activate fast twitch muscle fibers; then you need to work on range of motion, explosive power, anaerobic pathway…and you also need to have high aerobic threshold.
There is NO one single workout or a type of workout that would do the trick for everything. You’ve got to understand what you need to develop and how you develop it. When I look around, quite often the debate turns into whether doing high mileage is better than short interval type training or vice versa. As far as I’m concerned, it is absolutely pointless to discuss that. As Arthur used to always say, EVERYTHING is important. The key is to balance them all well.
One thing I feel very strongly about in what Arthur did and he didn’t quite explain fully is the fact most of running his runners did was over very hilly terrains. Famous Waiatarua 22-mile training course, where they now have a full marathon called, The Legend in honor of Arthur, has a 3-mile long uphill. When you go up and down the hills, you will be pushing close to, if not even beyond, your comfortable threshold level and you will be definitely working on the range of motion. Going up and down undulating courses for 2-hours is very much different from running flat course for 2-hours. I think you will gain so much more, physiologically as well as mechanically, from running 2-hours over an undulating course slow than running 2-hours faster over flat course. Rod Dixon told me that when he was a youngster, as a miler, he used to run 2:30~2:45 over very hilly courses in Nelson, NZ. I was a bit surprised and I asked him about it and he just simply said, “But it was only 12~15 miles…!” It actually makes a perfect sense.
CK: Lydiard developed a method and is known now for that method however, he was also a great coach in the application of it. You are one of the most knowledgeable people on his method; did he impart the practical coaching aspect to you as much as the theory?
NH: Well, once again, yes and no. I guess the biggest thing with me was that, while you hang around him and people like Ray Puckett and others who trained the Lydiard Way, you start to see the light. I have a couple of thick files that I call “A”-file (as opposed to “X”-file). I tried to get everything written by Arthur or of Arthur; various articles, interviews, even columns of Q&A from old Runner’s World magazines, even including some criticisms (because it’s important to know the opposite views as well). And, in certain situations, I try to think “What would Arthur have said?” Then you really start to see what’s written “between the lines”. For example, Arthur always said that, once you start to get in shape, you’ll start to run long distances faster. This is that thing about 70~100% best aerobic effort deal.
Today some people like to put it in the numbers and tell people to run at such-and-such pace, like so many seconds slower per mile than your “current” 5k time or marathon pace. When I talked to Bill Baillie, he told me that it didn’t work out that way with him. Then I got to know Trevor Vincent and Ron Clarke personally (yes, THE Ron Clarke) and, there was this story Arthur used to love to talk about how Clarke kept pushing the aerobic pace while Vincent and others stayed at 7-minute-pace and didn’t improve as much. Well, it turned out it didn’t quite go that way. So, after a while, you put all those stories together and then you’ll realize, in the end, what Arthur said is correct; you just go about how you feel and whatever the pace you feel “pleasantly tired” is more or less the best gauge to use. So, with that, I would say anybody who would tell you to run such-and-such distance at the pace whatever seconds slower than your 5k pace or marathon pace or whatever; you’ll realize it just would not work out that way. Arthur would NEVER give any specific numbers. Even his famous 100 miles a week is nothing but a general guide.
So, after a while, hanging around with people like Ray Puckett or Dick Quax or Rod Dixon or Lorraine, their knowledge and experience sort of rubs off on the person. Believe it or not, I consider myself quite religious. It’s the voice inside that speaks to you; whether the choice is right or wrong; good or bad. We all hear that. So the question is; do you listen to it or not. You see an old lady with a flat tire on the side of the road. You see her and, for a split second, think about stopping and help. Do you actually do that, or ignore it. Same thing, you listen to what they have to say; you read Arthur’s book and see “principles” between the lines or not. It’s all out there. It’s just a matter of whether you actually see or hear the message or not. So we’ve identified 5 principles of Lydiardism. Some people may look at them and say, BS. They might say, “there’s nothing mentioned in Arthur’s books”. Well, there had been a lot more than what’s been printed. He may not have said it in those words; but they are all in there as strong a message as can be. Most people just go straight to the schedule and worry about whether they should run an hour fartlek on Wednesday or 45 minutes; double workouts or single.
As far as actual coaching style is concerned, I guess there are quite a few different styles and Arthur definitely had one distinct style of it. It would work great for some type of people, but it certainly may not work well for some others. I felt he knew how to use different kinds of coaching approaches depending on the athlete’s personality. He can be quite hard-nose and push you to the limit; but on other occasions, he can be quite soft and caring. In short, he knew how to motivate the individual; some may get motivated from praise; others a kick-in-the-pants. He seemed to know when to use which.
Anybody who had been touched by him in person would tell you he is, foremost, a motivator. I had been fortunate to have known many great coaches around the world. I’m working on putting them all together in our Part III Lydiard Certificate presentation. There had been Bowerman, Sevene, Vigil, Squires in the US; Clohessy, Bideau, Cerutty from down-under, Sakaguchi, Koide, Suzuki and the late Nakamura from Japan. They are all quite a character and Cerutty is the only one I had never met in person. They are all great motivators and know how to make people (athletes) “move”. In the end, the athletes are the ones who would get up early in the morning and run, rain or shine, in sub-zero condition or high temperature and high humidity, day-in and day-out…It’s easy to tell them to do that; but how do you make them actually “want to” do that…Well, even if they didn’t want to do that, how do you make them at least realize that they should and they would actually get out and do that.
There’s a story of Nakamura, who had high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, removed 2/3 of his stomach from cancer. The old man at the age of 70 with all those physical problems; but when his runners are training, he never sat down. Even in the down-pour, he would be standing around the corner, without umbrella, soaking wet, standing and watching his runners run. I heard Seko say that, that’s when you really feel like you’ve got to train seriously, not waste even a day of training, and get some serious result to “pay him back” so to speak. Just to make him happy, to see him smile.
Arthur said the most important element in athletes would be sincerity. But that’s because he was also 100% sincere to his athletes.
You, as a coach, do everything you can possibly do and do it sincerely, or, in other words, from the bottom of your heart; and eventually the athletes will respond sincerely as well. They will. If you have doubt, you shouldn’t be in this business. If you, as a coach, can’t even have faith and hope in your athletes, who will? This is why I can’t see “coaching” as a job. It’s heck of a lot more than just a job. You do your job to get paid. Getting paid, to me, means you draw a line; draw a line of how much is enough. If you do it this much, it’s good enough because you’ll get paid anyways. To me, coaching won’t stop there. If you did, then you’ll only get mediocre results because “that’s good enough”. Of course, you’ll get hell of a lot more than just a piece of pay-check as a reward, in my opinion…This may sound corny, but the biggest reward would be the smile on your athlete’s face; regardless of how fast or slow he/she might be. That’s, as Arthur would have said, very gratifying. Did Arthur actually teach me that? Not really. But he did by doing it that way. He went above and beyond “the call of duty” to take care of you. He did to me. All I wanted to do was to “pay him back” for what he did for me. I guess going back to why we started Lydiard Foundation. I think he would have liked to see this.I think he would have enjoyed it.
NH: As a runner, just an okay runner with 2:44 for the marathon (pacing one of the female runners). There’s really nothing to brag about with my running career; but I struggled through to be better. That’s probably why I was even more keen to learn than other “good” runners. Looking back, I really missed out a lot because there was nobody around to guide me. That’s why I wanted to become a coach; to help other “Nobbies” around the area! I think, had I known what I know now and what I preach others to do, I would have been a much better runner—but it’s easy for us to say now after all these years, isn’t it!
So I became an instant coach, thanks to the late Nakamura, but I really think I had what it takes to be a good coach, more so than to be a good runner. I always get involved with people—probably more so for my own good than necessary, according to my wife! But, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no way around it. There’s no way you can “coach” someone without getting personally involved. It’s not nuts and bolts running; it’s a human being with feelings.
So I coached at Hitachi as a professional coach for 3 years. One girl was an 18-year-old as a 57-second-400m runner. We turned her into 4:24 for 1500 and later 34-minutes 10k runner. And, yes, we trained her Lydiard Way. In fact, one time, she and this other marathon runner did a 30k run with me pacing them; and she was ahead of a marathon runner at the end! This marathon gal is the one I paced to run 2:42 (when I ran 2:44 with sciatica). I think she ended up running 2:38 a year later. I still keep contact with some of them.
Since I moved to the US, I really hadn’t been involved in “coaching”. I “play” coaching. As far as I’m concerned, coaching is a full-time affair. I’m not there yet. I now “coach” 2 young ladies, one locally and another one in Albuquerque—she’s actually moving to Europe for a couple of years now. I run with the local one, Britt, several times a week. We do long run on the weekends, a couple of mornings (5AM) and one what we call ‘point workout’ in the evening. I prefer to ‘be there’ so any alteration I’d need to make; I can observe and do it. The other one, Susan, is an interesting case. Obviously we can only work out via e-mail, texting and occasional phone calls. It’s actually working out alright. She’s a 2:54 marathon runner but she’s already improved her 10k time by almost a minute and a half. It’d be interesting to see how she’d do a marathon next year. She sends me what she did during the week every week and we’re in contact almost every day via e-mail. I usually give her an outline of macro cycle, general idea for the week and she usually harasses me what to do each day, which is good! I’m usually behind and mean to email her at night and fall asleep, watching “That 70s Show” or something!
Some of the nuances are going to be missed this way; one time, I told her to do uphill running for 15 minutes; then downhill for 5 minutes and repeat this several times. What I meant was; something I did with Britt, we would do hill bounding up and down 3 or 4 times for 15 minutes and switch it to downhill striding for 5 minutes—usually do downhill 2 reps…And continue that until you do the total of about an hour. It turned out; Susan did it a continuous 15 minutes of uphill running. I guess they had a hill that long in Albuquerque! But it didn’t seem to hurt her.
Of course, technically, the first person I coached since I moved to the US was my wife, Megan. She was an occasional jogger and, after she ran her first ever road race (a 5-miler); she said she wanted to run a marathon. I put a 12-week program for her and she went out and ran it in 3:54. She’s very efficient with a very smooth stride. She’s actually a fairly good runner and has qualified for Boston in 2006. In fact, she was picked up by the officials at the airport and stayed at John Hancock building!!! (It’s because I was working as Reiko Tosa’s agent at the time but nobody has to know about that…!)
CK: Did you grow up playing sports and if so, what were you into?
NH: I played baseball like most Japanese little kids would, but I sucked at it! Then I played soccer like most kids in the rest of the world. When I was in high school, while running was already my main sport, I played rugby.
CK: As a master runner now, do you have plans to attempt to break your self admitted, modest 2:44 marathon time?
NH: How did you know I’m already a master? Do I look that old? Well, considering all factors, probably not. I enjoy 5k and my goal right now is to run faster than the last time. I like to run the 5k race with the girl I’m coaching. I can’t keep up with her on track—she’s too fast for me—but I can still push her and drag her along in 5k.I enjoy seeing her improve more than my own—‘cuz I know I won’t be as fast now as I once was. She’s like a raw talent and it’s quite gratifying to see her blossom.
CK: Are you helping in anyway with this new book, interpreting Lydiard, I think it is called HIT?
NH: Yes, I’ve been involved since 2 or 3 years ago. As a matter of fact, I contributed the entire hill training section; so there are whole bunch of pictures that should be familiar to you! We’ve talked about some Japanese runners/coaches stories, but I can’t remember if we decided to actually include that or not.
The book should be coming out pretty soon and we are planning on distributing it on our website as well as the actual clinic sites. Keith (Livingston) has done a marvelous job putting this together. He really tried to get into between-the-lines by talking to many Lydiard people and have us chip in bits and pieces. We feel this is as good as can be at the moment, until me or Lorraine put one together! Keith is in the hospital right now, undergoing a surgery. He really put his passion into completing this book and we totally endorse his work.
CK: There are many who copy the method and many pretenders out there, as well as people who thoroughly misunderstand the method and misinform people. One interesting version of Lydiard is by Phil Maffetone who seems to really emphasize Heart Rate and running within specific zones. Is running within specific zones too specific and defined and not ‘by feel’ enough?
NH: I’ve got his book but haven’t read it yet. Does he actually claim that it’s “Lydiard”? You can’t deny results and athletes like Mark Allen (triathlon champion) had great success with it. I guess emphasizing heart rate can be a good gauge for people who still can’t quite get their own feeling. I remember the time I used my HR monitor was when I was trying to get back from injury and tried to keep low effort and used it to keep a certain heart rate or lower. One thing I don’t like about it though is this; I love going up what I call “The Goat Path” in Boulder. Really tough uphill on gravel path at 5600 feet altitude. You go up that hill, you wheeze heavily and gasp for air… I’ll bet my heart rate would be way up close to my max! I love that feeling. It’s a lot of fun and you feel a sense of freedom; a sense of well-being, for being able to push like that and feel good about it. I guess the bottom line is; the root of Lydiardism is this sense of being fit; not being restricted by things like, “Oops, my heart rate is 6 beats per minute too high! I’d better slow down…” or “Oh-o, here’s a hill; I’d better walk…” To me, it sort of saps “joy” of adventure running out of it…
CK: I know of some older runners who like the Maffetone way because it keeps them injury free and keeps controls on their pace. Is this not a good thing? Or would Lydiard suggest that if you know yourself well enough, you don’t need the Maffetone controls?
NH: Well, you remember Arthur himself had that effort chart in “Run to the Top”. He said that’s because people back then tend to race their training so there was a need to slow them up. I guess there’s nothing wrong with giving some guide-line to keep them within a certain effort level and heart rate IS much better gauge than minutes-per-mile. I’m reproducing this booklet Arthur had written, “Jogging the Lydiard Way”. It was written in 1970 and it’s quite amazing how so much of it is still quite relevant today. In fact, I actually believe it’s even more relevant today than ever before. Today, with too much information out there, particularly on-line, so many so-called experts giving advice to people they have never met or whose background they have NO idea of.
Consequently the schedules they suggest tend to be too hard and, because they are all so gong-ho, they try to stick to it and start to strain instead of training. In that respect, it is probably a good thing to provide some guide-line that would most likely slow them down. If your goal is to just be fit, there’s nothing wrong with a program such as Maffetone’s low heart rate training. Now to prepare yourself to race well, you need to face some uncomfortable zone and prepare your body to go through that. To do that, and to stay injury free is the trick. Now, once again, I don’t know the Maffetone system well enough so I’m not saying his program is doing this; but if you stay low heart rate all the time and expect to race hard, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing either because, basically, you’re asking your body to go through some tough situation without being prepared. That actually may cause even worse injuries. I mean, the purpose of training is to get your body, and mind, prepared to face whatever you’re expected to face in the race. Remember, Arthur said, “If you give your body a certain exercise often enough, the body will become more efficient at it.” Even his 100-mile-weeks basically prepares your body to withstand more race-specific workouts and more racing; which most people seem to ignore. So you need all those elements in order to perform well. Any training program that doesn’t do that but tells you that it would be fine is like some informercial item that sends some false hope that you can lose weight by doing 5-minutes of easy this and that; and still lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Sorry, but that ain’t gonna happen.
Anything worthwhile takes some effort and takes some time. You get what you pay for. If you want to achieve something worthwhile, you need to put some effort into it; and it usually takes some time too—sorry, but you shouldn’t be thinking about running a marathon next month if you started running 3 weeks ago. To say that you can race well, race fast and set all those wonderful PRs by just jogging around and do nothing else, to me, is a false advertisement.
CK: Can you provide an outline or description of the 3 levels of Lydiard?
NH: Level I, explaining Lydiard program; Level II, application of Lydiard principles; Level III, “X” factors.
Level I, of course, is basically explaining what Lydiard program is all about, why we do each phase the way we do it, some of the tricks for doing each phase, things to consider, and sample weekly schedule (although we are actually debating whether we leave this one or not; far too many people just see the sample schedule and copy it).
With Level II, we try to show how the application can be made. It’s crazy, as far as we are concerned to think we can’t apply Lydiard principles to, say, high school situation. Many think that we absolutely have to spend 6 months doing the cycle, that sort of thing. We show some example of micro and macro program done by other ‘Lydiard’ runners and coaches. I guess the main thing is to show that it’s not 100 miles a week; or it’s not 4 weeks of hill training; or intervals every other day.
Then with Level III, we would like to cover ‘other things’ like nutrition, equipment, running form, injury prevention, race tactics. The main thing I would like to express here is coaching philosophy, so to speak, or coaching tactics. How do you motivate runners?I’ve been fortunate to have known some very interesting coaches around the world like I said earlier. I’d like to incorporate what they have done and share some of their stories as well.
CK: You watch “That 70s Show”. Are you re-living your youth with that program?
NH: Actually not really. That’s the American high school experience, which is quite a bit different from my Japanese high school experience. We certainly never had “the” circle!
CK: If you were a character on that program, who would it be? And don’t tell me it’s Kelso, I am thinking you can relate to Fez the most.
NH: I would have to say Fez (it’s I think actually supposed to be Fes=Foreign Exchange Student). ‘In my country…’ is always my line! I don’t dance like he does, though.
CK: Does Rod Dixon remind you of Kelso?
NH: Lady’s man, maybe! As you should know, he’s a heck of a lot more intelligent than Michael (I’ll make sure he’ll read this!). In terms of being somewhat rebellious, as were his other counterparts, Quax and Walker; maybe more like Stephen Hyde.
CK: Back to the business of Lydiard. Where might the Lydiard Foundation end up over the next year, spreading the method and teaching the three different levels of Lydiard?
NH: We need to firm up some dates and places for this year. We have about a half a dozen places, including Victoria, where we are planning on having the Certificate Program. We are hoping, once the word gets out, people would come to us to host it. This is where we are hoping to have USATF to get involved—they have a heck of a lot better connection. Japan, after Peter’s trip, has already expressed their interest in establishing Lydiard Foundation Japan; we got an invitation to South Africa and China; we are planning on going to New Zealand in September for the Legend marathon around Waiatarua and to have a seminar there as well. I get e-mails to express interest in Australia, England, Germany, Norway, but we need to still take baby steps; we have to be careful not to get over our head.
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