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Was Arthur Lydiard the best running coach ever?

Arthur Lydiard was really a very influential distance running coach from New Zealand and his legacy has gotten substantial affect on the training of athletes today. Lydiard has become recognized for making running or jogging popular during the later 1960's and early 1970's. Some have even implied that Arthur Lydiard possibly invented jogging. He trained numerous Olympic Games winners from NZ in the 60's (Murray Halberg, Peter Snell and Barry Magee) together a tremendous impact by means of other mentors on various other famous New Zealand runners such as John Walker who became the first to run more than 100 sub-4 minute miles as well as run a mile quicker than 3 minutes and 50 second. He was born 6 July 1917 and died on 11 December 2004 at the age of 87. Arthur Lydiard has received many accolades in his native NZ as well as in Finland in which his mentoring was the reason for a resurgence of Finnish middle and long distance running in the early 70's. The magazine, Runners World called him as the coach of the century as part of their millennium edition. As a runner himself, he competed in the marathon at the 1950 British Empire Games, completing 13th having a time of 2hr 54m. His influence on running has been enormous and way past his own achievements as an athlete himself.

As for his running school of thought, he advocated separating the season into several training intervals or phases. The base or background period of time is the stamina phase which was comprised of not less than 10 weeks of highest miles which the athlete can do to be able to improve their aerobic foundation or background. This is where his renowned 100 miles a week came from as he considered this to be the ideal. Lydiard encouraged for the longer runs would be about 20 miles. These types of distances are run at a speed which was just below the anaerobic threshold and is kept as a stable aerobic pace. The objective is usually to build the biggest endurance base possible for the next stages. The subsequent period had been the uphill running phase which usually chiefly consist of uphill bouncing or springing workouts to create strength in the legs that has been generally carried out three times a week. Some middle and long distance aerobic running is still performed during this period which may last for around 4 or so weeks. The next four or so week phase was known as the sharpening or speed cycle where some anaerobic interval and speed work training is carried out so the runner may run faster. Following that 4 week phase, the hard running is backed off and the focus is going to be on keeping focused and fresh for competition.

Many consider it doubtful that any coach is ever going to have more effect on the coaching practices of endurance athletes than Arthur Lydiard. The blueprint that he developed totally changed middle and long distance training regarding the volume of work he thought a runner should be carrying out. The actual programs consisted of lots of hard work. Most coaching programs utilized by runners ever since will track their origins back to that which was recommended by Lydiard.