Every now and then, you come across an old movie or documentary that stops you right in your tracks. “On the Run,” a 1979 documentary about New Zealand’s legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard and his training methods is one such treat. In this 19-minute short film, you are witness to some amazing footage as Lydiard’s champion runners show how it’s done– in their training and racing, You can watch the film here in its entirety.
The film link was sent me from my friend and colleague Max Lockwood who teaches running form at Vida Gyms in Washington, D.C. There are so many terrific highlights in the documentary that it’s hard to single out one. But I was particularly impressed watching Jack Foster hurdle a fence at the start of a training run. A former cyclist, Foster ran a 2:11 marathon at age 41 and 2:20 at 50.
For those who aren’t completely familiar with Lydiard, here’s a short passage about the influential Kiwi from the new book Tread Lightly, by Pete Larson and Bill Katovsky:
Arthur Lydiard was a formerly overweight rugby player whose “radical” training methods of combining long, slow distance runs with intense workouts seemed to reap great dividends for himself and his stable of top athletes.One runner, in particular, became an international track superstar. Peter Snell took Gold in the 800 meters at the 1960 Rome Olympics.In 1962, Snell set the world record in the mile; and two years later in Tokyo, he scored an Olympics twofer: winning both the 800 and 1,500 meters.
Two other Lydiard runners won distance medals in Rome. Back home in New Zealand, Lydiard became an instant national hero. And he wisely used that fame to his advantage. Jeff Galloway explains how in his book, Galloway’s Book on Running: “After the Olympics, he was frequently invited to speak to groups of sedentary men and women in their thirties, forties, and beyond. The people he talked to began to sense that they could run gently and improve their physical condition. Running not only could take off the weight, but could be fun. Lydiard transformed the public’s image of running from an intense, tedious, painful activity into a social, civilized component of the active New Zealand lifestyle. He got them out of their chairs and onto the roads in the early ’60s, and the underground running movement began.
It should be noted that Lydiard introduced University of Oregon track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman to easy running, or what he called “jogging.” This was in the mid-60s. Bowerman later co-wrote a book called “Jogging,” and which went on to sell over a million copies.
Over the last several years I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking with many of the runners and teachers of Arthur Lydiard’s principles. Last fall, I attended and spoke on running form at the first Lydiard coaches seminar. Retired four-time Olympic distance runner Lorraine Moller, who won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 1992 Barcelona Games at the age of 37, and I also spoke at this year’s Boston Marathon.
If you want to get to the highest understanding of Lydiard’s training principles and learn from the running legends, you can attend the Lydiard Coaches Certification Seminar in Boulder, Colorado on July 27-29. I will teach a session on running form on the final day of the conference. For questions or to reserve your place email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call Lydiard Coaching Coordinator John Perez at 303-912-6401.
Back to “On the Run.” This jewel of a movie will show you everything you need to know about healthy running:
• Build endurance though relaxed miles in an outdoor setting.
• Develop strength and leg spring through hill bounding and skipping
• Land midfoot by watching ultra-legend Max Telford and miler great John Walker
• Do speedwork if you want to race fast on the track, but build endurance first
• It helps to be raised on a farm and have to run to and from school.
• Run on varied terrain, jump over things, and have fun.
• You are not too old to run like a gazelle in your 40’s. Just like Jack Foster.