Running to the Top — Cross Country Training

This chapter is not what you would expect in regards to Cross Country training. This chapter starts Lydiard taking a hypothetical athlete and walking us through the New Zealand training year. I am not as much concerned with his Cross Country training as I am with other key details he points out…see below.

For all my athletes, whatever their racing distance — half-mile, mile, six miles or marathon — my basic approach is marathon-type training to produce in them the physical condition which will enable them to stand the subsequent individually-different schedules which they follow. All these schedules are given in detail later on, but to help you understand just why the various schedules are applied and how they are applied we will take a hypothetical athlete and put him through a typical New Zealand year. 

Lydiard then talks about his marathon-training, The programme of long steady distance running, which I term marathon training, is designed to bring about on alternate days a state of fatigue which is never so great as to interfere with the next day’s programme, which is deliberately designed to allow for recovery before the next fatigue day. 

This is the development of STAMINA.

The development of stamina is the key to success in middle and distance running. 

He later notes that this hypothetical athlete will start off the year with Cross Country and that the year for this athlete will involve a lot of running. The marathon training involves 100 miles per week for a period of 10 weeks; or 1000 miles total over this period of training. From there Lydiard would move this athlete to the hill phase, which would cover 360 miles in six weeks (60 miles / week); and then the track training phase which last 10 weeks and would cover about 800 miles total (80 miles / week).

The amount of training listed above does not include the ‘harrier’ or cross country training phase which would be about 800 miles over a 16 week period and the road racing period which covers 560 miles over 8 weeks.

This is a full year dedicated to training; we’re talking ~3,520 miles over the course of 52 weeks; or about 70 miles per week for an entire year.

To run fast — you have to train hard.


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