The 5 principles of Lydiard Training

1. Maximize Your Aerobic Capacity

Bigger Oxygen uptake = More Energy = Better performance

Is your training program Pisa or Giza?

Tower of Piza Pyramid

Would you consider building a house without a solid foundation? Of course not! There are laws against it for good reason – the building would be unstable. Take the Leaning Tower of Pisa for example. I remember standing at the top of it frozen with the fear of falling. My point of reference was all askew because it lists precariously. All because the ground beneath it cannot support the structure. By contrast the Great Pyramid of Giza, with its wide base, is much higher but not in the slightest danger of falling over.

This is the principle behind building a base in training. Without it your capacity to recover and do the successive training phases is limited. The greater your oxygen utilization ability the greater capacity you have for both work and recovery and the more efficient your training.

Lydiard said, "The greater the base the higher the peak!" Consider building a base as making a long term commitment to achieving your potential.

2. Develop Your Internal Feedback Systems

Once developed your internal feedback systems become a reliable central reference point for gauging optimal training. This comes through experience and is a learned skill. Every successful athlete has these developed to a high degree so that they can trust and rely on what their body is telling them.

How do you do this? Simply by paying attention to your feelings and learning the language of your physiology. Sure you might be a bit rusty to begin with. So by all means use the advice of others more experienced and your technological devices such as stopwatch, heart rate monitor and GPS to help you get a handle on what your body is really telling you. But, a word of caution – do not become so reliant on them that you are bypassing your own inner technology. These devices are limited to specfic information for which they are programmed, whereas, given practice, the human mind has an unlimited capacity to synthesize multitudes of data very accurately and instantly into a "knowing". This knowing gives you the confidence to race on the razor's edge – maximising your effort to precision.

Always keep in mind – Ultimately the most accurate feedback comes from you!

3. Balance Workouts With Recovery

Adjust your training daily according to your recovery responses.

Did you know that your fitness improvement actually takes place when you are resting? Yes that’s right! Most people mistakenly think that it is during the hard work-out that they are getting fitter. Not true!

Your body is actually broken down with the challenge of the workout and it is only afterwards – during the recovery phase – that you adapt. You see it takes time for your body to become more enduring, stronger, or faster in response to the stimulus you applied to it. Your biology ensures you are better able to meet the challenge next time.

Imagine that! You improve while you are resting, but only if you have done the work!

There are three common mistakes that athletes make:

  1. Too much workload
  2. Not enough recovery
  3. Inadequate challenge

So how do you know how to pitch the correct volume and pace in training for you? Your schedule is designed to give you accurate guidelines. But you will fine-tune it to precision by monitoring your responses. This is called Response-Regulated Training.

We will tell you exactly how to do this with scientifically-validated Recovery Indicators. (Three simple checks each morning will tell you whether to adjust your training up or down.)

Good training, then, is dependent on carefully balancing the two phases of adaptation – WORK and RECOVERY.

4. Sequentially Develop Energy Systems

Progressively train to run your fullest range of paces efficiently

There is a correct order to good training. We’ve already talked about building a solid endurance base. All the while you are learning to read your body and understand how you respond so that you can balance the training challenges to the necessary recovery.

Next you need to understand the sequential development of your training tools.

Using the pyramid as his working model Lydiard had his runners ascend it in segments of increasing intensity, each phase of training building on the preceding phase of training.

General overall fitness training – the aerobic part – is done first.

Strength, gained from hill training, is then built upon your endurance base.

Once these are established training that is specific to your particular event takes place.

  • Your capacity to tolerate oxygen debt and the build-up of lactic acid.
  • Your capacity to maintain a particular pace over a particular distance.
  • The development of speed.
  • All elements are then put together in the final training phase of Coordination.
  • Finally you get to Taper in preparation for your race, or series of races.

5. Apply Correct Timing

Success is a carefully timed process that begins on the first day of training
and ends with your personal mastery over time and distance in your chosen race.

Shakespeare summed it well up in three words – "Timing is everything." He would have been a good coach.

Correct timing is the essential element of knowing

  • When to work hard
  • When to pull back
  • How to pace yourself throughout a run
  • How long to maintain a type of training for maximum effect
  • How to peak for an important race

Here are some of the biggest timing mistakes runners make:

  • Running hard, intense workouts way out from competition – Unsure if he still has the speed he stepsonto a track, in the middle of the winter, when he should be doing a build-up.
  • Making a big training effort right before the important race – She tries to reassure herself that she can go the distance by running 22 miles at race pace 1 week before the marathon.
  • Running hard in a race when not ready - "because my friend asked me to accompany him..." or "it was in my hometown..." or "they had a nice-looking T-shirt..."

Timing mistakes are a sure-fire way to miss the mark. You can have all the talent or fitness but with poor timing you can eaily blow your training and the race. That’s why it is important to follow a program where you understand not only the what, why of each workout but the when. Without the element of correct timing the yin/yang rhythm of effective training cannot be harnessed.