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Lydiard Based Running Wizard: How It All Began For Me

Posted Jan 28 2013 7:34pm


"There's no shortcut to the top..." ~ Arthur Lydiard
This story begins in May, 2012, when I attended an RRCA Coaching Certification Clinic in Denver. Now, there's lots and lots of running big-wigs residing along Colorado's front range, and I was lucky enough to be in class for 3 days with Lorraine Moller who was attending as a sort of expert in residence. Lorraine, originally from New Zealand, is a former runner with Aurthur Lydiard, Olympic Marathon bronze medalist in Barcelona (she ran in the first four women's Olympic marathons) and head of the Lydiard Foundation.

In class situations I'm pretty outspoken. I'm a college instructor, so I'm very comfortable debating and discussing contentious issues and theories. But often I am more comfortable talking in groups than one on one. At the close of the course, I worked up the nerve to shyly introduce myself to Lorraine.

A month later I received an email from Lorraine inviting me to attend a Lydiard L1 & 2 Coach Certification Course being held in Boulder. I jumped at the chance to accept this fairly exclusive invitation.

And so began my relationship with Lorraine Moller and Aurthur Lydiard. I always found myself gravitating toward a Lydiard based system, but it wasn't really based on a solid grounding of what that meant except as it is often filtered through other coaches and the systems they develop, often incorporating aspect of Lydiard's principles. After taking the course and the exam, I realized that things are a lot more complicated than we often believe...and I still had a lot to (a lot I wanted/want to) learn about all of this.

After the New York City Marathon was cancelled, I floundered a bit. I had trained and tapered to race on November 4th. The soonest I could schedule a replacement marathon was December 9th in Tucson. Lorraine scheduled a get together for local Lydiard coaches about 3 weeks before I was to run Tucson. It was on a Friday, and I had every intention of doing a last 23 mile training run the next morning. I hadn't run a "long" run since pacing in Chicago in early October, so I felt I needed just one more before Tucson. I bounced this idea off of Lorraine.

Her response, "No. I don't want you running any more than 2 1/2 hours."

I gasped. I panicked. Dang it, dang it, dang it. Why did I ask her. I knew what she would say...hmmmm. Yes, I did know what she would say...But...What had I just done?? "But...but" I stammered "I haven't run anything over 16 miles in 6 weeks. I have to..."

She smiled, gently, knowingly, and said again "No more then 2 1/2 hours".

"But...", feeling a little desperate, grasping for some hope, "...I may run it fast, right?".

Again, her smile, "Nope. I want you to run a smell-the-roses pace." she replied in a bit of a sing-song tone.
Arggg. I pleaded, I groveled a bit, I bargained...to no avail. I really had no leg to stand on and I knew it.

The next day I ran a slightly too fast 17.3 miles in 2:34 - about as close as I could get to what I'd been asked to do. And then another taper began.

And when I lined up at the start in Tucson, I had not run anything over 17 miles since Oct 6th in Chicago. I thought this would be a problem, mentally, for me. But as the gun went off and we made our way down Mt. Lemmon and through the desert, that thought never entered my mind.

And I have never felt so good, so strong, so solid, so in charge, while running a marathon. By mile 20 I felt shockingly good, and my last 6 miles were the fastest I've ever run during a marathon. 

I was sold...But still, I have a skeptical nature...So I need more.

After that, I told Lorraine that I wanted to make myself a guinea pig of sorts, and use the Running Wizard program for my Boston training. Running Wizard  is the fairly personalized running program offered through the Lydiard Foundation for anyone racing distances from 1500 meters through marathons. Now, this is tough for me, because as a coach myself, I have a hard time buying into any sort of  "cookie-cutter" plan. But I wanted to do it mostly to learn more about the principles (first hand and applied to myself) involved with a purely Lydiard based program. And so, after an insufficient downtime following Tucson, I embarked on my Running Wizard program.

Next, I will tell my story of the first phase of training...

"Train, don't strain..." ~ Arthur Lydiard
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