The Long and the Fast of It

Anne Audain (left) and Dick Quax; both of whom were coached by John Davies and both setting the world 5000m record here

Jan. 23, 2021 — While chatting with Anne Audain, she pointed out that, as she was reading one of my posts on Dick Quax, she realized that Dick had the world 5,000m record as well as the fastest debut marathon time (2:11:13 in 1980). “I had the fastest debut marathon time (and the world 5,000m record), too!!” she said. She wasn’t particularly thinking about it but now pointed out: “So this means John (Davies: her coach as well as Dick Quax’s) had the unique record of having coached the men’s and women’s world 5,000m record holders as well as the men’s and women’s fastest debut marathon record holders!!” This is truly unique resume and hats off to John’s coaching skill!! But at the same time, not necessarily surprising.

Anne Audain, left, and Grete Waitz, right, with Fred Lebow after 1983 L’eggs Mini Marathon 10k through Central Park; which Anne won

One of the biggest advantages of Lydiard training is that it “covers everything” regardless of the target racing distance. Even if you are training for 1500m/mile or 5000m, you’ll be doing lots of long runs up to 2-hours or more. And even if you are training for a marathon, you’ll be doing intervals, sprint training and sharpening work like 50/50 (50m sprints followed by 50m float and repeat continuously). When I gave a prototype Lydiard Running Wizard plan to Mark (previous marathon PR 5:30 and brought it down to 4:50!), he actually said he enjoyed the plan very much simply because it had lots of “variety” instead of other more familiar marathon training plans with simply lots of long runs. When I got together with Toshi Takaoka, a 2:06 marathon guy from Japan, and talked about the Lydiard training — in particular, what Dick Quax did — he just laughed and said: “No wonder he made a good transition from 1500m to 5/10,000m and the marathon!” Weekly 20-milers and 100–150 miles a week of aerobic running…. He made an international debut as a 1500m runner in 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games; and in 1979, he jumped in the Oregon Track Club Marathon as his debut marathon against seasoned marathon runners and ran 2:11 — the fastest debut marathon in history at that point. Same with Anne. She went to her first Olympic Games as a 20-year-old and competed in 800/1500m (she was actually qualified for 1500m in 1972 but she was only 16 and NZ federation decided not to take her to Munich). But, since she started to work with John Davies, she would run 2-hours on Sunday and 18-miler on Wednesday. Made it easier for her to move up to 10–15k when she moved to road races and eventually her marathon attempt at Chicago in 1983 where she broke the debut marathon record held by the marathon legend, Norway’s Grete Waitz, with 2:32:05 (Grete ran 2:32:29 on her first marathon in 1978).

Mark and Anne Erikson finishing together in 4:50 chip-time

This concept actually works for everybody!! As I had pointed out earlier (with the example of Mark), the level of performance doesn’t matter. Doing long runs would help you run faster 5k; and doing leg-speed work as well as hills and intervals would help you run better marathon. Anybody who contact me, after their marathon training cycle and they are ready to go for the next marathon cycle; I usually tell them, if they have extra time, to go through with a Running Wizard 5k plan. A beauty of it is; even though you are doing a 5k plan, you’ll still be doing plenty of long runs so you will never get too far away from marathon preparation. Once they improve their 5k time, that’ll actually help them do the next marathon training cycle “BETTER”. With improved 5k performance, you’ll be doing comfortable aerobic run FASTER. Lydiard Running Wizard plan is based on TIME (=duration). It doesn’t have 18-mile run or 20-mile run. Instead, it has “2-hour run” or “2:30 run” whatever the distance they may be; the actual distance depends on what pace you’d be doing those long runs. If your 5k time improves, your aerobic run pace will improve; hence, your over-all mileage will improve.

Derek Bartlem, right, pushing himself for 6:00 mile

As I had shared with one of the earlier blog (HERE), one of the runners who practiced this is Derek Bartlem. Before his first sub 3:30 at Hokkaido Marathon in 2019, I got together with him. He did ask me what to do after the target race. I suggested him to try a 5k plan. He didn’t listen; but instead, he tried a 1500m plan to try a mile run for the first time since….God knows when!! With his newly run marathon PR of 3:28, the calculation estimated a 6:20 for the mile. He ended up running 6:00 flat. This would, in turn, calculate a 3:16 marathon. I’d be very curious to see what he would do with the next marathon…!! Years ago, I helped my wife’s friend, Kate, who was stuck at 3:40 marathon for several years. I worked her 5k time — she ended up improving her 5k time by almost a minute and a half. With her longest run 18-mile ONCE, she improved her marathon time down to 3:30. A year later, with Running Wizard prototype, she ran 3:24 at Chicago.

This is kind of a “extra” or, what I call, an “X-factor” with the whole scheme of the Lydiard training. Long runs will help you run faster — Lydiard had taught us that. And fast running will also help you run long race better — Lydiard had also taught us that. And by repeating the Lydiard cycles, because within the Lydiard program, everything is important and, hence, everything is in it, by alternating long race plan (half marathon or marathon plan) and shorter race plan (1500m or 5k), you’ll gain really nice synergy and start to get accumulative benefits. “What you do this year is really for next year,” Arthur Lydiard always said. “And you’ll really get the benefits in 5–7 years time.” Be patient and don’t go after a quick fix or instant gratifications. Take a long view and develop gradually. The more gradual the improvement is, the higher the peak shall be. — Nobby Hashizume

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