Sunday, February 14, 2010

Arthur Lydiard's Preliminary Road Training


When a discussion starts about the hill training phase of Arthur's system most of the talk is about the uphill exercises, hill springing, bounding and high knee lifts. Next the talk will go to the downhill fast striding but then very little is said about the preliminary road training that he recommended. This training which was done on the flat section after the fast downhill section consisted of a small amount of short (50-700 yard) fast runs that could be done in a half mile or so stretch every 15 minutes (The original schedule is at the end of this post in a table). This preliminary work is just as important as the hill sections and in some ways is the key to getting the most benefit from your hard speed work.

Let's look at the major benefits that come from this work. After you have finished your Marathon training phase your muscles will act like the diagram below:


The rate of oxygen use has been low and the production of excess lactate and ions also has been low. The muscle fiber has been working in a low stress environment. Let say at this point you set out to run a hard speed workout, lets see what would happen; first the oxygen would drop very low on the inside of the fiber because the fiber wall has not been used to suppling oxygen at a high rate, second the mitochondria would not be able to process the lactate that is building up internally and finally the fiber wall which has not had to deal with lactate and excess ions struggles to get the lactate out of the cell so it can be used and processed by other organs and muscle fibers. A very unpleasant workout with the damaging effect of ruining the good aerobic enzymes that you have built up during the Marathon training phase.

Now instead you complete four weeks of preliminary speed as outline in the table your muscle fiber will look like this:



Now lets try the hard speed workout, now the oxygen has an easy time getting into the fiber which reduces the amount of lactate produced, the mitochondria which have been exposed to increasing amounts of lactate can now process much more of it and the fiber wall can transfer out the excess lactate and ions so other body systems can process it. Not only will this workout feel easier but the internal environment of the fiber stays hospitable to the aerobic enzymes.

Arthur always cautioned that "Even if you are well conditioned, it is not advisable to suddenly do intense anaerobic training, as many athletes do. Just as you carefully built the aerobic steady state, you must carefully raise the capacity to exercise anaerobically without sacrificing any of that condition. You must guard that condition carefully, as it the foundation on which you build all your future strengths." (Running the Lydiard Way 1978).

When working with athletes I have found that just by having them follow the schedule below (even without the hills parts) before they started hard speed work they performed at a much higher level. Some season give it a try you'll be surprised and happy with the results.

Original Preliminary Road Training Schedule
Set 1 Set 2 Set 3Set 4
Day 1 Week 1 440 ¼ 700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds) 440 yds. ¼

Day 2

3 x 220 yds. ½ Stride

4 x 50 yds. ½

440 yds. ¼



Day 3

2 x 220 yds. ½ Strides

2 x 100 yds. ½

100 yds. ¾

2 x 50 yds. ½

Day 4

1 mile (50 yd. dashes every 220 yds.)




Day 5

Off







Day 6

4 x 220 yds. Strides ½

100 yds. ¾





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 2 440 ¼ 700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds) 440 yds. ¼

Day 2

440 ¼

220 yds. ½

440 yds. ¼



Day 3

2 x 100 yds. ½

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)

220 yds. ½



Day 4

2 x 220 yds. Strides ¼

3 x 100 yds. ½





Day 5

Off







Day 6

100 yds. ¾

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 3 2 x 220 yds. ½ 3 x 100 yds. ¾

Day 2

3 x 220 yds. Strides ½

3 x 100 yds. ¾





Day 3

2 x 440 yds. ½

100 yds. Full Effort





Day 4

6 x 220 yds. Strides







Day 5

Off







Day 6

440 yds. ½

10 x100 yds. ½





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 4 3 x 220 yds. Stride 100 yds. ¾

Day 2

2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride







Day 3

440 yds. ¼

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)





Day 4

2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride







Day 5

Off







Day 6

10 x 50 yds. ½
2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride




Day 7

Long Jog