Bill Bowerman, Nobby Hashizume & Arthur Lydiard

© Copyright – Christopher Kelsall – 2011

UPDATED: March 3, 2012

Do you want to run or coach your very best?

The endurance coaching behemoth, Arthur Lydiard, or rather his training method and his vast legacy is now accessible to everyone. The famous method that has – and continues to – churn out stunning athletic performances across the globe using a platform based on developing a large aerobic foundation first, is now made available through a very easy-to-use and interactive virtual training partner previously named Master Run Coach (now Running Wizard).

This sensational new program’s original architect, Dr. Dick Brown, in partnership with the Lydiard Foundation created a home for Running Wizard at

Dr. Dick Brown is a former exercise physiologist and coach for Nike’s prestigious Athletics West. He has coached such notable elite athletes as Vicki Huber, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Shelly Steely and Mary Decker Slaney, during the 1980s and 1990s.

Nobuya ‘Nobby’ Hashizume who is a co-founder of the Lydiard Foundation and former coach with Hitachi Corporation in Japan took over as project manager along with co-founder and 4-time Olympian (Olympic marathon bronze medalist), Lorraine Moller (NZ).

A soft launch happened (Beta) in December 2010. After working out a few typical start-up kinks, Running Wizard is now available to everyone. Below I talked to Nobby Hashizume about the program.

The interview

Christopher Kelsall: Now that you have launched Running Wizard, can you give readers a bird’s-eye view of the program?

Nobby Hashizume: Our plan was to create and provide true-to-Lydiard schedules online that would be idiot-proof. We did this so that they could be widely available to everyone who may want to develop into a better runner or coach whether they are recreational or competing at the elite level.

We accumulated all sorts of questions people have asked us in regards to Lydiard training and answered them with Running Wizard. Our goal was to give people effective training in a very user-friendly way. For example one question often asked to us is: “We only have 15 weeks to prepare for the race (with high school program). We can’t spend 6-months (24 weeks) to apply the full Lydiard program. How do we go about making the best use of the time we have?” To answer this and similar questions, we have created 475 separate schedules each one of them having 3 different levels. So in effect, we have provided 1425 different choices. All the user needs to do is to:

  •  Pick your distance
  • Background of training (Plan A or Plan B)
  • Commitment level (# of days per week),
  • Current level of fitness (the longest run) and
  • The start day and the race day (how many weeks until the race)

At this point they receive the best schedule possible, planned within the time frame that they have available for running. Plus, using Dick’s original program, it’ll calculate each workout’s appropriate pace and pace range based on your calculated VO2Max.

CK: What if you don’t know your own VO2Max?

NH: Funny you should ask that. Actually the question should have been; “What if you don’t have a race time to calculate VO2Max from?” (laughing). The program is designed to calculate your VO2Max, much like McMillan’s calculator, but goes a step further and calculates all the workout paces based on that criteria instantly. Of course, some people, particularly beginners, may not have any race time to use. Dr. Brown actually had created a VO2Max interview. It’s a set of some 80 questions — some of them seemingly have nothing to do with running — but magically it calculates your VO2Max with surprising accuracy. He gave that interview to me this past spring and, during the test, I was very skeptical because, like I said, some of the questions had nothing to do with running, but the numbers came out within 1ml/kg/min! He told me that NASA had a very similar interview but his was actually more accurate. We will eventually incorporated this interview with our program on our site along with a 20-week beginners program.

CK: What is the investment required to access the program?

NH: $49.95USD for unlimited usage for a period of one year or $26.2USD for one program at a time.

CK: What about high school teams and coaches or corporate rates?

NH: Coaches and organizers can contact us directly to consult us for team and corporate packages.

CK: Can you tell me about the coaching part, where a runner of any ability can hire a Lydiard-method coach through

NH: We have coaches now who we have identified as Lydiard Coaches they range from someone who literally coaches as a volunteer as well as someone like Greg McMillan (McMillanElite) or Valeri Tomescu (Beijing Olympic Champion’s coach) who might charge more than $200 a month — and rightfully so. This information is on the bio of each coach on our site.

CK: I assume this is to be used as a tool for coaches or athletes and not a replacement of a coach?

NH: Yes it’s a great tool for coaches. Lorraine, Dick and I have all used it with runners and gotten great results. It saves us the time of sitting into the wee hours handwriting a schedule for each individual which is how we had to do it in the past.

One terrific feature is the “Recovery Indicators”, also developed by Dr. Dick Brown, which are built into the program. If used correctly they provide easy feedback for both the athlete and the coach to understand for gauging where on the catabolic/anabolic scale the athlete is on any day and thus makes adjustments that are appropriate to that individual. Master Run Coach will tell you to either follow the suggested workout, take it easy (mainly to pick the shortest duration of workout at the slowest suggested pace…or even less), or take a day off. This really is as close to “interactive” as you can get. If a runner has very strong discipline to truly adhere to the principles and Recovery Indicators, the training will work with or without a coach.

For the self-coached

This makes Running Wizard a great tool to use for those who are self-coached. As much as possible we have embedded the advice we think Arthur would have given and provided options into the program that customize it to the individual. This makes it superior to the one-dimensional schedules you presently find online or in magazines which typically are written for an average person and there is no such individual. So the combination of these choices with the Lydiard system make it hard to beat for someone who wants to go it alone.

But ANY training schedule is still nothing more than a guide. We have provided time and pace ranges to modify the program according to the individual; but which way you go — longer end or shorter end, faster end or slower end — depends on the athlete making the right decision and if you’re not experienced having a coach can still be critical, and even if you are experienced the objective eye of a good coach can still be invaluable. There are so many day-to-day changes, particularly toward the final 6 weeks of the program that depending on your own reactions to the daily workout — and, as we all know, everybody is different — and that’s where you really need a live coach.

CK: How would you like to see coaches use this program?

NH: Personally, I would very much like to see coaches use this program to coach their athletes. Say, if you have a young developing athlete, training for 1500m and you have 18 weeks before the target race, Master Run Coach can be used as the basis of training and the coach can then fine tune it to best suit him. Arthur did that in his book, “Run to the Top” with a 24-week program for each event; and later in “Running with Lydiard” a 24-week program for kids, youth and adult for men and women. Now we have provided 12-24 week programs, for both developing and experienced runners at 3 different fitness levels (60, 90 or 120 minutes being the long run) – all thanks to internet technology.

In addition the Lydiard Foundation aims to make the Lydiard Certificate Program more accessible so that more coaches become Lydiard-certified coaches around the country – and around the globe – who are conversant with Master Run Coach. As you know, the training program in itself is nothing more than an idea. Its effectiveness is in its correct implementation.

CK: What was your role in developing this program?

NH: I made sure that this would be the very best representation of Lydiard. For example, early on, Dick had a 90-minute long run on Tuesday followed on Wednesday by an almost 90-minute fartlek, which I thought was too long for fartlek and not quite ‘Lydiard’ (90-minute run 2 days in a row). Dick had used this program successfully and I had no doubt the program itself worked just fine. However, that was the time I was also working on a Lydiard clinic DVD (available spring of 2011) and I came across a chart of “3 long runs a week” and Keith Livingstone has a nice graph in his book “Healthy Intelligent Training”. I’m sure the program would have worked just fine but then it was Dick Brown’s program. So I had a lengthy talk with Lorraine and we decided to go through the whole program and to make sure each part matched what Arthur had said.

Dr. Dick Brown vs. Arthur Lydiard

Now don’t get me wrong, Dick is very true to Lydiard, but there were areas where we had different interpretations and experience. Lorraine of course had much to offer for the marathon programs and lots of practical advice from an athlete’s perspective. Dick has a lot to offer as a scientist and track coach, and I have my own area of experience as a coach and apprentice to Lydiard.

Dick was very open to changing it if we had good reason to. Collectively all of us had little bits of Lydiard’s wisdom to apply so we modified the programs and took them to a new level – applicable to the 21st century runner. At that time it had become a bit too much of a task for Dick to modify so I pretty much took over and had to learn the formulas for the schedules from Dick and rewrite each one — and I tell ya, it wasn’t easy because it was such a sophisticated program. What we have is something slightly modified even from original Lydiard to suit more of a today’s need you might say.

One of the things that’s interesting is that many people seem to think when heading for a marathon with “only” somewhere around a two-and-a-half-hour long run being inadequate. We went over this many times but we have concluded that, with today’s standard, most people are over-doing things. Lydiard always said that there is such a thing as running too much and we felt what is accepted as today’s marathon training norm is flirting with that fine line. Master Run Coach may not have a humongous single long run; but, once you get up there, you stay there for a few weeks while you start adding other elements to the program (hills, intervals, out-and-back runs), which is more true to Lydiard. We expect people to PR right and left by following Master Run Coach.

Staying true to Lydiard

Of course, the fundamentals are completely Lydiard. We believe that Running Wizard stays true to the principles and training structure that define Lydiard training. Arthur himself stayed consistent on these within his 60 years of teaching and coaching. We have made modifications but these fall in the category of what Lydiard called “window dressing”. Arthur was up for doing what worked and over the course of his years often made additions and changes to the training but not to the structure. He also believed that you do not change anything without good reason.

CK: How is that manifested?

NH: For example, for race distances below 10k, we included strides even during the Conditioning Phase. Lydiard’s runners did lots of cross-country running and running over hilly terrains to stretch their legs and worked on the range of motion. Most people today, particularly “ordinary” runners, don’t do that. So we included some strides to fulfill that development. Arthur never included that; but his runners were doing the very thing without planning for it. But, as you probably know, Peter (Snell) suggests it this way with good reason so we went with it.

Ed note – CK: *Dr. Peter Snell continues to be regarded as one of the best middle distance runners in history. He is now an exercise physiologist and works at the University of Texas in Dallas. Recently when asked what he would change about the Lydiard method he responded with, “very little”.

NH: In a way, I am responsible for taking so long to complete this program. I was quite picky. Originally, there wasn’t much difference between, say, 1500m and 5000m programs, or 10k and half-marathon programs. I modified it so each and every one of them is best suited for the event. After all, the user pays for the program for the specific event he or she is training for and we were not up for creating yet another cookie-cutter program, like many that you see on the internet.

CK: The Lydiard Foundation has quite the advisory panel. Were others involved in the development of this program?

NH: Well, the primary creators are me, Lorraine Moller and Dick Brown. We literally all sat down and went through the program item by item and after that Lorraine and I were in daily contact making decisions on every detail. If we weren’t sure we went to our Lydiard Foundation advisory staff for advice, people like Dr. Peter Snell and Dr. Dave Martin and Dr. Brown of course, who are on the pulse of all the best research. In fact, we have discussed issues like above-mentioned inclusion of strides with Peter and Dr. Martin. We also incorporated some of the peaking techniques employed by Japanese coaches and I spoke with Coach Watanabe on this matter. Of course, that goes around and back to Lydiard anyways. We drew from a wealth of knowledge and some of the foremost experts in putting this together.

CK: Who are the ideal users of Running Wizard program?

NH: We basically set up this program for anybody who can run comfortably for more than an hour. If you are struggling to run for an hour, we recommend you complete our 20-week Beginners Program which will be available soon — the program has already been written; we just haven’t quite figured out where to put it up. So once it’s done, pretty much anybody!

For recreational and elite runners alike

Then we added what is practical for today’s runners. For example, we offer 4, 5 and 6 day a week programs for the recreational runner with more time-restraints. After all by using Master Run Coach we wanted every runner to be able to optimize their training to get the most out of the time that they put in whatever their level of commitment. So if 4 days a week is all that you can do, we have provided a balanced program to, within those restraints, that you should still do the best you can. Bare in mind; still, the more you can run per week; and the longer you spend preparing, the better the results will be.

At any rate, the whole idea of putting this project together is with the mission of: Let’s come up with the user-friendly program to spread Arthur’s near 60 years of research and practical application and great successes to the wider audience. So, yeah, we would like to say everybody will definitely benefit. We even plugged in some elite runners — like (Chris) Solinsky — and the training pace was pretty much right-on. We plugged in Peter’s (Snell’s) interval pace and it came out pretty much dead-on (the interval pace chart will be available soon).

Advice from Olympians for everybody

When I started a non-profit organization, first Five Circles then moved on to Lydiard Foundation, I wanted to help others and not have to charge. Arthur never charged anybody. But later he acted as a Public Relations Officer and got paid helping others that way. But I can see things are changing and things probably need to change. Even I’m getting to a point now where I receive so many inquiries and I feel I’m being somewhat sporadic probably because I’m just doing it as volunteer. Lorraine is finding that out herself; she’s been doing a lot of “customer service” since we launched this program. I mean, you get this personalized program and Recovery Indicators and advice from Olympic medalist and former professional coach for a corporate team along with all these advisory staff for $49 for 1 full year? Well, it’s a launch special now that will end eventually. In fact, user should sign up now until 1/31/2011, they can get a year subscription ($49.95) for $26.20 so hurry up and sign up now!! (laughs).

*Dr. Snell gained a B.S. in Human Performance from the University of California, Davis, and then a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology. He joined University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas as a research fellow in 1981. He is Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine and also Director of their Human Performance Center. A member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Snell was honoured in 1999 as an Inaugural Inductee, International Scholar, into the Athlete Hall of Fame, University of Rhode Island.

Read another interview with Nobby Hashizume>>