The Lydiard Method and Gazelle Sports Training Programs

By Allison Land

When it comes to training, there are a lot of different methods out there. You could follow the Galloway Method, the Daniels’ Method, the Hanson’s Method or any other training plans that are built off the aforementioned models. Every year, many runners pick a plan (or an amalgamation of plans), follow it as best they are able, and then go out and run their race. For some, it is enough to simply finish upright and uninjured. Others seek to push themselves – to chase that PR or time goal. This season, in training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon and the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, all five Gazelle Sports locations tried something different. Not a new concept, but one that has helped to build many different training programs over the years. The program used? That of the legendary Arthur Lydiard – a New Zealand coach whose training method revolutionized running as we know it today.

Both Jane Clark and Annie Dandavati, two of our Run Camp participants in Holland, completed their first Lydiard training followed by their seventh and second marathons, respectively. Despite tough weather conditions on race day and some initial reservations about training, both women found success with Lydiard.

Lydiard is a pyramid style training. You start with an aerobic base-building phase and work your way up through hill training, anaerobic training, integration (putting it all together) and finally race day. The program is individualized to each runner’s level and physiology.

“I did the most running I’ve ever done,” Annie said. “But I never felt like my body took a beating.” One of the key elements of training is proper recovery – something many runners seem to neglect. “I’m almost 55 years old,” Jane said. “This plan was so much easier on my body. I ran last year’s marathon with plantar fasciitis, and then had to visit the orthopedic doctor afterward to be sure I didn’t have a stress fracture. I didn’t set out to PR this year – I just wanted to finish happy – and if this training method could get me to the finish line without tearing my body apart, that would be enough. It did.”

Annie ran in Chicago. “It was very hot and crowded,” she said of the race. This year was the Chicago Marathon’s 40th anniversary which drew extra runners and spectators onto the course. There was a lot of anxiety surrounding her race. “People were like, ‘How are you going to do this?’” Annie’s training had not had her run any 20 mile training runs. But she felt comfortable. “I told myself not to start too fast. The first 12 miles were at an even pace, and then I sped up,” Annie said. The fruit of all of her hard work? A PR of about 13 minutes under her 2016 Chicago Marathon time.

Jane ran in Grand Rapids, where this year it poured rain nearly the entire race and the wind howled. “I was a nervous wreck, checking the weather forecast the 48 hours before the race. I was so scared it would be black-flagged because of thunder. I went so far as to see if there was another marathon scheduled that same day that I could drive to with a better weather forecast,” Jane said. Despite the weather, the race went on. Following a 4:29 pace group deemed the “Oprah Group,” Jane stuck with them all the way until mile 20. “Then it got hard. Really hard,” she said. “But at that point I was doing a lot of math in my head and knew that even if I slowed down, I would still PR.” And she did, by about 10 minutes under her previous time. “It rained the whole way and there were big wind gusts, but that was all part of the shared experience we all were having that day.” And, of course, the fear of the unknown also followed her. Jane’s training also did not take her to – or past – that ever-exalted 20 mile training run. “I think we were all waiting for that first running friend to have their first race and we were all rooting for them to ‘prove’ that the plan worked,” said Jane.

With any training plan, it takes trust and hard work to get to the finish line. It is no different with Lydiard training. In Arthur Lydiard’s own words, “It’s just a matter of understanding what’s necessary and discipline yourself to do it.” Jane and Annie are just two examples of runners who benefitted from Lydiard training with Gazelle Sports this season. There were far fewer injuries and many more successes out there this season. Be it crossing your first finish line, setting a new PR or finishing a race upright and smiling, Gazelle Sports is here to help!

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