Was Arthur Lydiard the best running coach ever?

Arthur Lydiard was a very significant middle and long distance running coach coming from New Zealand and his legacy has gotten major affect on the training of athletes ever since. He continues to be known in making running or jogging popular in the late 1960's and early 70's. Many have suggested that he possibly even invented jogging. He trained several Olympic Games medallists from NZ in the 60s (Murray Halberg, Barry Magee and Peter Snell) and had a tremendous impact by way of some other mentors on some other prominent New Zealand athletes for example John Walker who was the first to run greater than 100 sub-4 minute miles and also run a mile faster than 3 minutes and 50 second. Arthur was born 6 July 1917 and passed on on 11 December 2004 at the age 87. Lydiard has had been given many awards in his own NZ as well as in Finland in which his training has been the reason for an increase of Finnish distance running in the early 70's. The publication, Runners World named him as the Runners World coach of the century for their millennium edition. As an athlete himself, he took part in the marathon at the 1950 British Empire Games, finishing 13th with a time of 2hr and 54m. His influence on running has become enormous and way beyond his own successes as a runner himself.

With regards to his training doctrine, he supported breaking up the season into unique training intervals or stages. The foundation or background period was the endurance period that was comprised of a minimum of ten weeks of maximum miles that the athlete can do in order to increase their aerobic foundation or background. This is where his well known 100 miles a week originated from because he deemed that to be the most effective. Arthur Lydiard touted for the longer runs should be approximately 20 miles. Most of these distances are run at a speed which was just under the anaerobic threshold and could be maintained as a steady aerobic speed. The aim is always to build the biggest endurance foundation practical for the following stages. The subsequent phase is the uphill training period which usually predominantly involve uphill bounding or springing exercises to create power in the legs that has been typically carried out 3 times per week. Some endurance aerobic work is still done during this stage which might continue for about four or so weeks. The following four or so week time period became referred to as the sharpening or speed stage in which some anaerobic interval and speed work running is completed so the runner may run faster. After that four week interval, the tough running is backed off and the concentration is then on remaining focused and fresh for racing.

Many think about it doubtful that any coach are ever going to have more impact on the training programs of middle and long distance runners than him. The program which he established totally changed middle and long distance training with regards to the level of work Arthur Lydiard thought a runner should really be undertaking. The running plans was comprised of a lot of working hard. Most training programs used by athletes these days will trace their origins back to that which was touted by Arthur Lydiard.