Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Lydiard Way to Run Hills

Arthur Lydiard, the famed New Zealand runner and coach ( 6 July 1917-11 December 2004) is probably the most influential long distance running coach in history. 
His sane training methods produced Olympic champions such as Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, Barry Magee, and John Walker. His training methods have stood the test of time, and have influenced many of the top running coaches today.

Arthur Lydiard
Here is a video of Lydiard describing his hill bounding training phase with his commentary.

 Below is Lydiard's description of the importance of hill training to develop a runners speed and start to develop the anaerobic capacity to exercise at a high level.
"It is necessary to bring resistance to the leg muscles to develop the muscle fibers; in particular, the white (fast twitch) muscle fibers that are mainly responsible for giving better speed.
I have found that a form of osotonic exercise will develop white muscle fibers better than isometric
exercise and that quite quickly the speed can be developed. By springing up-hill, with a series of short and sharp resistance, you can use your body's weight as resistance for your leg muscles.

The up-hill springing will also stretch the muscles and tendons to the extreme experienced during
competitions and other training and assist in added flexibility and speed. It will also help to eliminate the possibility of pulled muscles and strained tendons later.

Ankle flexibility
is of great concern to the runner: and with strong and flexible ankles, the runner is able to increase stride length.
A good running technique is also important: and by learning to run with the hips comfortably forward,the runner is able to bring the knees up higher. This in turn allows the feet to follow through higher, in so shortening the lever and allowing for a faster leg action.

So it is important to develop leg power, flexibility, and a good economical running style. With good
speed development, the runner can run at relatively the same speed more economically. This is of great importance to the marathon runner as well as the track runner.
By using hill training, it is possible to develop all these abilities during the same training sessions so
saving valuable time.

The training that I suggest in the following paragraph is not easy to do and can be quite testing. A runner needs to be well conditioned to be able to do a 1 hr workout properly, A runner should also understand what he is trying to achieve by using the exercise, so as to apply it according to his/her fitness and capacity to train with respect to development and age.
Find a hill with a raise of near one in three, or a little steeper: on grass, forest trail, or the road that will give good traction so that it is possible to spring up-hill without slipping. It should be about 200 to 300 meters long or longer, with a flattish area at the base of approximately 200 to 400 meters where you can sprint, and an area at the top where it is possible to jog.
Lydiard's Boys (left to right) Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, Barry Magee and Alan McKight training on the 22-mile Waiatarua Loop in New Zealand.
If a circuit can be found with a steeper hill and a similar flattish area at the top as mentioned, that would bring you into a more gradual down-hill, leading to the flat at the bottom: it is better for the down –hill running and seems less tiresome psychologically.

    Approach the training this way: Warm-up for at least 15 minutes. This being sufficient; discard unnecessary clothes at the base of the hill so as to allow the maximum freedom of movement.

Then start springing up the hill with a bouncing action and slower forward progression.
It is necessary to use the body's weight for resistance; and the slower the forward momentum is, the more resistance will be felt. The Center of Gravity must be lifted up and down to gain resistance, not just lifting the knees.

Keep the upper body relaxed with the arms loose at the sides. Hold the head up; and do not look down at the ground which tends to throw the hips back. Keep your knees coming up high with the hips held comfortably forward. Do all that you can or feel capable of doing.

Should the exercise be too tiring to go all the way up the hill, then jog some yards before doing more.
Use it according to your needs and ability.

At the hill top, jog easily for near three minutes before running down-hill with a fast relaxed striding
action, this will develop the fine leg-speed and also stretch leg muscles for better stride length. Should the hill that you have selected be too steep for this exercise, then it is better to take it easily as you run down. Jog some yards before doing more.

The down-hill section should be such that it allows the runner to stride down fast without fear of losing control and falling.

At the base of the hill, some windsprints (sprint repetitions) should be done to gradually accustom your body to exercise anaerobically, varying the distances from 50 to 400 Meters with each circuit, If the circuit is short, do the windsprints only every 15 minutes.
 It is not advisable to suddenly go into a great volume of intense anaerobic training as very many people do. So it is logical that this anaerobic training should initially be not to intense, and in a reasonable volume.
By only doing windsprints on the short stretch at the bottom of the hill, and by only doing them every 15 minutes, it is not possible to do to much. Use whatever distance you like, but for best results, you try to use 50, 100, 200, and 400 windsprints.

Snell easily wins 1500 Olympic final in Tokoyo

Go through the circuit again, etc, until you have been out for an hour, or according to your ability to exercise this way. Then cool down for at least 15 minutes.

This training should be done three days weekly with the alternate days for leg-speed running, three a week. On the other day of the week a long run of 1.5 to 2 hours should be completed at an easy effort."
Note: Lydiard placed the hill phase of his training between the long distance and speed phases of  his training plan.

Lydiard's description of hill bounding has many similarities with the "100 up" described on this site


Thursday, July 17, 2014

These "Kids" Love To Run

When I heard about 44 kids that love to run in Maine, the running you tube video stars, we had to visit them on a recent trip to Maine.

The enthusiastic runners were both boys and girls, and they had a perfect place to train on Sunflower Farm and Creamery in Cumberland Maine. These runners, along with the farms owner Hope Hall were all glad to see us. The runners, of course were baby Nigerian dwarf goats.
Hope had run cross country in high school,  and she said she was hoping a cross country coach would see the video and stop by the farm.
 The 44 little cross country runners who ran daily with Hope and her two daughters were all destined to be sold, in pairs as pets and would soon be leaving the farm behind.
    The baby goats were all extremely friendly and social. While holding one baby, Maggie who put her head on my shoulder, others lined up to be picked up. They gently touched my leg with their paws to get my attention as if saying "I'm next."
The babies also gathered my their mothers when they weren't being picked up. Hope, "Besides being friendly and great with little children, they are also intelligent-- they look direct into your eyes."
Hope who knows all the kids and parents by name also said, "I really believe most people and animals were naturally born to run. When you watch the baby goats run you can see the essence of running and what an enjoyable, natural activity it is."
Long may they run in their new homes!

Here is a link to the farm and their great creamery: