Saturday, April 11

Read your way to better performance: new book is the best ever written on the Lydiard system

Simply the best book ever on the training system that has probably transformed more runners into champions than any other.

I got a copy of Running the Lydiard Way in 1978 and it went everywhere with me, 24 hours a day for at least two years, while Arthur's way changed me from an average club hack into a county-class runner. I don't know where Keith Livingstone's book is going to take me, but I've already started carrying it around.

Finally, 30 years on, we get an update and a full explanation of what the Lydiard system really is and how it works. Very exciting!

Even better, Keith writes as a New Zealander born and bred right there in Lydiard land, being himself coached by Olympic medallist Barry Magee, one of Arthur's originals. So here is the true word on Lydiard, direct from original sources.

It's become fashionable to bash Lydiard these days; many of us who had direct contact with the "master coach" have tried and failed to correct the complete tosh that is often claimed as being "Lydiard training" - the most common myth being that he advocated a minimum of 100 miles a week at barely above jogging pace. Here at last is chapter and verse on EXACTLY what Arthur intended, with plenty of real-life examples of how Arthur and his runners adapted the basic system to individualise it for runners of different capabilities.

You'll see, for example, how to use sessions of long slow distance therapeutically, to help recover form. Keith has also done a great job of providing the missing science; although Arthur has been hailed as the greatest running coach of all time, Keith reminds us that Arthur was actually a milkman; he worked things out by experimenting on himself and then with trial and error plus intuition. 30 years on, and with the benefit of the latest research, we can see why Arthur's system works so well -- and also what we need to tweak to make it even more effective.
To that end, Keith brings in the research of Dr Jack Daniels on Vo2 and "V dot" pacing that clarifies what some of Arthur's sessions were out to achieve; he incorporates the "mass-specific" model of strength training developed by Barry Ross; and he includes contributions from Nick Bideau, coach of Craig Mottram, and NZ triathlon coach Chris Pilone, who guided Hamish Carter to 2004 Olympic gold.

A brilliant book, endorsed by Barry Magee and marathon great Lorraine Moller, co-founder of The Lydiard Foundation -- this is a must-have.

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