Running to the Top
Running to the Top
T he Oxford dictionary defines running as the act of progressing by advancing each foot alternately, never having both on the ground at once. Chambers says running is the act of proceeding by lifting one foot before the other is down. Neither definition is particularly complicated and neither places any limitation on the degree of forward momentum attained.
The art and technique of running and the processes of talking and writing about running should be equally as simple. Running, after all, is as natural as walking. Once a child has learnt to walk, no one has to teach it how to run.
This book, then, is written to be as uncomplicated as the principle of putting one foot in front of the other without ever having both on the ground at once.
Its purpose is simple - to enable you go faster, and get both feet off the ground if you want to, or farther, or both faster and farther, according to your personal aims and aspirations. If you want to be an Olympic or world champion, this book is for you. If you merely want to jog in comfort around your neighbourhood in the interests of your physical wellbeing, this book is for you, too.
We set out the guidelines, the rationale, the simple principles behind the art and pleasure of running better; we offer schedules upon which to base your own programmes of training for whatever you aspire to.
The rest is up to you.
Like none other, Arthur Lydiard's philosophy of running training touches everyone who pulls on a pair of running shoes. He devised the principles of training now employed by leading coaches and athletes all around the world, in track and field and in many other sporting spheres; he invented the pure and simple exercise of jogging which has infected millions with its benign bug.
First tested and found successful in the 1950s, the Lydiard system has undergone some subtle refinements through the years. But it remains the same elemental theory that first placed a small handful of ordinary runners, from Lydiard's immediate neighbourhood in an Auckland, New Zealand, suburb, at the forefront of world middle and distance running for more than a decade and then, as Lydiard advanced from being a coach of runners to an international coach of coaches, spread around the running tracks and training centres of the entire world.
Arthur Lydiard turned a simple, practical faith in himself into a world-wide nostrum for everyone seeking a method of running better. His name and his methods have won instant recognition in many nations speaking many tongues. As gurus go in the modern world, he ranks among the greatest and, almost certainly, the most physically and psychologically effective.
For several years from the mid-seventies, the late great Japanese middle and distance coach Kiyoshi Nakamura brought teams of his top runners to New Zealand to spend months training in the remote vastness of the South Island back country behind Ashburton.
These were the famous runners who, in a sudden spasm reminiscent of the explosion of the Arthur Lydiard-trained team into international running in the sixties, became a dominant world force particularly over the longer distances. The stars were the Soh brothers, then Toshihiko Seko, the legend who won three consecutive Fukuoka marathons, ran world track records for 25,000 and 30,000 metres in New Zealand and took the 1981 Boston marathon in 2:09.26.
Nakamura, one of the most respected figures in Japanese athletics, had an association with New Zealand that stretched back to 1936, when he represented Japan in the historic 1,500 m which saw Jack Lovelock race away with a spectacular record-making gold medal.
But why, year after year, did he bring his teams of distance runners to New Zealand?
The first reason, he told 'New Zealand Runner' magazine's Tim Chamberlain in 1982, on his seventh visit, was that Arthur Lydiard li