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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lorraine Moller replies to a question about Lydiard training for longevity and ultras

Hi Gary
My names Gary also from NZ!  I've been a dedicated long distance runner since October 2004 and loving it.
I've been pretty lucky with injuries and had very few of them(except a plantar faciistis which I have recovered from).Because of my job I'm pretty busy and I can't train and race the way I want to, but still manage every day to get out and do a run. My peak milage gets up to about 190km-200km .I'm planning to do 1 or 2 races April or May next year which is the peak season here in Japan for road racing and athletics in general.
After that I want to focus more on my job for the next 3 years ,doing a reduced schedule of around 100-120km per week then 3 years later get back into the long miles and competition again ,by that time I'll be 42 .I believe that my best running will be between 42-46 in marathons and especially the ultras.
I saw on U-TUBE an interesting comment that Lorraine made about the japanese runners in their first year of a 4 year build up for the olympics they do a lot of back pack hiking.
My question is - How much running are they doing during this period of their training?
Do they do 1 long hike one day,1 short run the next day using the Lydiard guidelines of 20 miles slow 1 day,10 miles faster the next? Or no running at all?
I thought this would be ideal for me as I could really go for it on the weekend's hiking and light running during the week .Also it would give me the longevity I need as I'm getting older .Plus If I train to race I'd rather run long milages to prepare for that.
Could you give me some tips on how to outline a schedule?
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Lorraine Moller replies
Hi Gary,
I am always partial to blokes called Gary so happy to give my input here.
From what I know about the Japanese training is that most of the top teams are dedicated Lydiard followers. Even back in the era of Seko his coach Nakamura took Lydiard's axiom "the bigger the base the higher the peak" one step further and started his runners out with a year of long hikes, 4 or 5 hours, with heavy packs and boots before they even began what we call base training. This way they not only developed superb endurance but also strengthened their connective tissue so that in the coming years they could sustain high volume training without injury. They called this "leg-building". He understood that the more aerobic running you can do the fitter you will be in the long run, however the limiting factor for most people is that their cardiovascular system develops more quickly than their mucular-skeletal system and their joints cannot take the huge mileages that their heart and lungs are keen for. With "leg-building" these Japanese runners progressed to running 30 or 40 kilometers per day in the bulk of their training without injury.
The beauty of Lydiard's pyramid is that it does not claim any one type of training is the magic bullet. Rather it recognises that all types of training have their place in the progressive challenging of the body so that you hit your peak on the day that counts. I suggest that if you have not trained this way previously then between now and your races in April that you go through each of the Lydiard phases (endurance, hillwork, intervals, speed coodination and taper) and get as fast as you can before you go back to base and start on a reduced schedule.
Even then you do not have to plan for reducing your pace. Once you have a good endurance base and your legs are strong then there is no particular physiological advantage as a runner to taking up hiking. You are better off spending your time running. If you want to try something true Kiwi-style then you might enjoy doing as the Lydiard boys used to do, back to back long runs on the weekends and a few shorter sessions of fartlek and a sustained run during the week to suit your schedule. That way you can maintain a huge racing range and continue to get faster even as you get older.
All the best, Lorraine
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Gary Moller:  Here is the link to the official Lydiard Foundation website.
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