Hadd, Lydiard and Individualisation
In December last year I wrote about running faster by improving my speed over 200 metres. My short speed was improving, but with the end of the track season, and snowy winds blowing in from the south, I've become fascinated once again by Arthur Lydiard. Running fast 150s and 200s on the icy grass at Calwell isn't much fun in the depth of a Canberra winter.
The training ideas of Nic Bideau have also intrigued me since reading his article in Modern Athlete and Coach. I mean, Craig Mottram is running pretty well these days, isn't he? For crying out loud – 8:03.50 for 2 miles! Mottram runs a Lydiard-like 170 to 180 kilometres per week, more or less year-round, using five different types of running sessions. His recovery runs are extremely easy (white), with other sessions being hard (black).
Just recently I came across a blog article by Steve Magness (4:01 for the mile in high school) called 'Catering to the Individual'. He talks about how a training system needs to suit an athlete's individual physiology. One part of individual physiology is the way fast, intermediate and slow twitch muscle fibres react to different training stimulus. This explains in part, how two athletes, such as Ralph Doubell and Peter Snell, can win Olympic Gold in the same event (800 metres), using two contrasting training systems. Doubell, coached by Franz Stampfl ran intervals every day of the week, while Snell, coached by Arthur Lydiard, used base training (100 miles per week) followed by hills, anaerobic training, then tapering.
I'm fascinated by Lydiard, after reading once again, the document authored by mysterious coach John Hadd. He explains how to build a Lydiard-style base with controlled running at various low heart-rate percentages ranging from 72% to 83% of maximum. These heart-rates are purported to maximise mitochondrial adaptation in slow twitch muscle fibres as well as improving capillary density, resulting in an improved lactate threshold. This is very easy paced running. His famous pupil Joe, after 19 weeks of such training (nothing anaerobic), ran a half marathon in 71:43. Closer to home, another Hadd pupil, Robert Song, recently ran 3:18:26 in the Gold Coast Marathon - his fastest time since turning fifty.
I don't have any current plans to run marathons, but I think this type of running could suit my physiology, and wombat-like gleefulness to run slow and long – especially during a bone-chilling Canberra winter. I've been doing it since early June. In due course, I'll find out, and let you know.