Giving “THANKS” on Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving 40 years ago; the first time I got together with Arthur Lydiard

Nov. 27, 2021 — Maybe not necessarily THE first time but certainly one of the early memories of my ever hearing about this American “Thanksgiving” custom was from the movie, “ROCKY”, in 1976 (HERE is my blog on this particular topic). Remember; Apollo Creed was supposed to have a heavyweight title match on Thanksgiving Day but the other guy was “injured” so he decided to give this title match to someone totally unknown. While Apollo was searching the contender, Rocky was taking Adrian for their first date on Thanksgiving evening…. I was in high school — very impressionable — and, ever since, to me, Thanksgiving is associated with Rocky. But also, to me, it triggers a very fond memory of Arthur Lydiard. I got together with Arthur for the first time over Thanksgiving weekend while I was going to school in Washington State. Recently I was digging through all my “A-file” (“A” for “Arthur” and as opposed to “X-file”) I came across the first letter I received from Arthur. It was dated August 20, 1981. Only a few months after this first letter from him, I travelled to Seattle to meet him. But it dawned on me that, this year, it marks the 40th anniversary for me since I got to meet Arthur Lydiard for the first time.

Some of the letter correspondence with Arthur Lydiard over 2 decades

I was going to a small community college in Moses Lake, WA, at the time. I wrote to him in the spring of 1981; to the address Joe Henderson had given me at Lilac Bloomsday Expo earlier that year. But Arthur had written back to me during the summer break and his letter was slipped under my dorm room door and left there for a several weeks. In the first package I received from Arthur was “Arthur Lydiard’s Athletic Training”. Since then, pretty much right up to 2000s (he did use e-mail toward the end but not as frequently…or fluently), we have exchanged many letters; some training related of course…, but many more personal things as well. Some hand-written, some his famous two-finger type-written…. Some on Winstone Limited (he worked there as a Public Relations Officer) letterhead, some on the stationary of a hotel he was staying during his busy international traveling, most of them on a single-page aerogram (or, in New Zealand, “aerogramme”) letter paper. I have lots of fond personal memories of these letter exchange with Arthur Lydiard over 2 decades.

Arthur Lydiard talking about his lacing the night before 1981 Seattle Marathon

After a month or so of receiving his first letter in Moses Lake, Arthur told me that he was coming to Seattle for the 1981 Seattle Marathon over Thanksgiving weekend. “Would you like to come see me then?” he asked. I jumped the occasion and took the all-night Greyhound bus from Moses Lake to Seattle. I got on the Greyhound at around 11:30PM and arrived Seattle before 6AM. I killed some time and then walked to the hotel he was staying from the Greyhound Depot, dragging a duffle-bag, and got to the hotel a little after 7AM. I called him in his room and he came down in no time, fully dressed, in the brown suit and tie. He told me to join him for breakfast — he had his favorite breakfast; oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins (I seriously thought about going to Quaker Oatmeal company for sponsorship for his 1999 and 2004 US lecture tour!!). It must have been Friday morning because the 1981 Seattle Marathon was held on Saturday, November 28 (thanks to Google calendar!!). I came back to the HQ hotel that evening to attend his clinic. I remember Arthur talking about the famous Richard Tayler story (on his anaerobic interval training), prospect of the US distance runners for the upcoming 1984 LA Olympic Games…and pre-marathon diet!! “Don’t eat fish!” he said. Someone in the audience asked him why. “Because I don’t like it!” Then he explained: “Even if it’s the best food in the world, if you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to eat it.” He also talked about how to lace your running shoe “the Lydiard Way”. I remember people trying it out right there and then with the Master Coach, Lydiard, overlooking.

At 1983 clinic; Lydiard (center) leading the high knee exercise at the age 65

I would come back to see him the following morning — it must have been Sunday morning because I have no recollection of the marathon itself, which was won by Thomas Howard of British Columbia in 2:19:01 for men’s, and a local runner, Linda Edgar, in 2:42:58 for women’s race (thanks again to Google search!!). The HQ hotel would have been very hectic and so must have been Arthur. Harrison Ford’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” just came out and that was the movie that’s talked about at that time. During the “down-time” that weekend, I remember actually going to see that movie with my friends in Seattle. For the longest time, Sound Track from that movie was my go-to-run tune. I remember many of my lonely evening long runs under the stars… Moses Lake is a small town and, for my long run, I would literally get to the near the end of the town, overlooking I-90, while songs like “Chase” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” being played in my head. When I got together with Arthur, I had some sit-down talk with him early in the morning so that must have been the day after the marathon (Sunday). I do remember some runners stopping by to shake his hand. I still have the cassette tape I recorded our conversation (as well as the clinic the night before the marathon). The photo of me and Arthur at the top of this blog was taken then.

On his final US lecture tour in 2004 — in Spokane, WA

It was quite refreshing to actually hear him talk and talk to him directly, sit down and ask him questions…. I’ve read his book, “Run — the Lydiard Way” (predecessor of “Running with Lydiard”), and read a few articles in the magazines; and I thought I understood “Lydiard”. The Richard Tayler story was already in his book but it had already slipped my mind! I never even thought about trying the Lydiard lacing until I saw him actually showing it to the audience (of course, it would be until 1984 I finally got convinced to do it this way…) even though, once again, it’s already in his book. I was only vaguely aware of his involvement with the Jogging Movement until I sat down with him and Lydiard himself pointing out to me that weekend. No wonder his training is so misunderstood!! I would go back to his clinics several more times in the 1980s — Arthur would tease me: “I’d talk about the same things!!” But this is the very reason why I want to help others who seek the key to running well, just as I did, to show how I got to learn — as the late Coach John Davies used to fondly call it — the “Lydiardism”. To pass it forward…I think that’s the only way for me to thank Arthur for everything he had done for me. As he had said to me bluntly after our run through Manurewa bush track one day in New Zealand in 1984; “You can’t thank me enough…but do the same thing to other people…”.

The last message from Arthur — what he signed in his biography, “Master Coach”

Arthur Lydiard had definitely expanded my “circle of friends” with running (as Barbara Bowerman used to call it). And many had helped me and shared what they have along the way — Rotorua coach Kim Stevenson is always eager to share many of “Lydiard stuff” with me; “Arty08” shared this priceless piece of “Jogging the Lydiard Way” which I had ever seen before or since; people at “Speed City (=Bud Winter)” sent me the recording of Lydiard’s talk in 1963 over 3-hours long (!) which Bud Winter organized back then; Anne Audain shared her training diary in 1982 including day-to-day training leading up to her Commonwealth Games gold medal (I need to put it all together so we can share this priceless document!) as well as many of her photos; Loa Olafsson of Denmark also shared hand-written/typed training plans by Arthur (same as Anne’s…) and many personal photos; and recently Larry Wiechern had sent in the collection of many personal photos with Arthur (check out all these on the Photo Gallery page)…. I have video clips, recording of clinics, other literatures and photos related to Arthur Lydiard many more people had sent to me over the years. I believe these also need to be shared in order to continue Arthur Lydiard Legacy. As for Lydiard Training Method, recently Coach Bob Dyer of Running Niche in St. Louis shared with me that one of his runners, Marie, ran 2:46 at Chicago, a 3-minute PR and her 4th marathon PR with Lydiard Running Wizard. And another runner of his, Stephen, the first time Running Wizard user, just ran his first sub-5, a 48-minutes PR with 4:58 last weekend!! I had put together Running Wizard formula, always thinking…“what if Arthur wrote a training schedule for YOU…”. I think it’s working really well so I feel I’m doing an alright-job! I think the Old Man would be “gratified” to see it. So this one’s for you, Arthur! Passing it forward means giving “THANKS!” to you and all the others who had helped me along the way. And I hope you would think I’m doing an alright job with that, too. — Nobby Hashizume

Arthur Lydiard and me in New Zealand in 1984

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