Screw Arthur Lydiard
Running is a simple sport. You need only two things to do it well, a quality pair of running shoes and a recent reading of Once A Runner.
This book is gospel for a true distance runner. If I had it my way, it would be required reading for every high school aged harrier and trackster. It accurately captures the essence of what the sport of running is all about.
The only end of year tradition I have is revisiting John L. Parker's classic. It fires me up for the coming track season. Especially Chapter 32. It is titled "The Interval Workout." I've read that chapter over 100 times. The heart of my coaching philosophy comes from this chapter.
I think those 10 pages are the most important ever written on the sport. After I read them, I knew clearly what it meant to be a distance runner. And upon every reread I am reminded. The sentiments expressed are my north star, brightly guiding my own running and coaching practice today.
There are two takeaways from Chapter 32 which are indispensable:
1) The difference between a runner vs. a racer
2) The transformative power of pursuing competitive excellence
Takeaway 1 is offered early:
Cassidy figured that a natural affinity for interval work was the difference between those who liked to race and those who liked to train. And there is a difference. Racers express little enchantment with training.
And takeaway 2 is near the chapter's end:
"Bruce. Sixty Quarters. Bruce. You can't be serious. Nobody recommends that kind of stuff anymore. Arthur Lydiard..."
"Screw Arthur Lydiard. Quenton, this is where you find out. This is the place and time. All the rest is window dressing."
"I don't know if I can do it."
"Quenton," he smiled for the first time all day, "you can do very nearly anything. Haven't you figured that out yet?"
"Look, runners deal in discomfort. After you get past a certain point, that's all there really is. This is no finesse here. I know you can do this thing because I once did it myself, when it was over I knew some very important things."
Here's to another season of the Trials of Miles; Miles of Trials.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm