August 9th 2012, and Kenyan David Rudisha breaks the world record to win the 800 metres at the London Olympics. In this article I want to cover a lesson about different ways to achieve goals…
The scheduling at London 2012 meant that it was impossible to attempt the famed double of 800 and 1500 metres, which is a shame as one of Britain’s Olympic legends is Seb Coe, who headed the London organising committee!
I’ll come back to Coe later, but let me go back to the last person to do the double at the Olympics, New Zealander Peter Snell, who did it in 1964, having won the 800 in 1960.
The coaches behind the athletes rarely get the same credit, but it’s Snell’s coach I want to talk about here – Arthur Lydiard.
At that time, his view was not accepted by the New Zealand authorities, who viewed short interval training as the way to go, and they didn’t even send Lydiard as a coach to the 1960 Games. He had to travel himself as an independent travelling coach.
Funnily enough, after Lydiard’s charge won gold, the authorities made him an official coach.
To say Lydiard was dogmatic would be an understatement – he refused to accept there might be more than one way to train, and would not take anyone on who wasn’t prepared to do those 100 mile weeks.
Let’s look at Sebastian Coe again, whose 800 world record stood for 16 years! He did not believe in Lydiard’s mass mileage idea, and, coached by his father, Coe would run fast 800 metres, have a small break, then go again.
He believed this would get his body used to high turns of speed, with the strength coming naturally from those short sprints with no need for marathon runs.
Considering Coe’s world records and two 1500 Olympic golds, which all came on the back of his sprint finish, you’d be tempted to agree with him and his father.
So, does this prove there are different ways to train for the same event? Well, yes it does, and that’s the clear lesson here. Running 100 miles a week or short repeated sprints are quite different choices, but they both led to same result.
There are other factors to be taken into account, of course, but do look to your own goal – if you’re getting the progress you want, then great, but if not, think of legendary coach Arthur Lydiard, and ask if maybe there is a different way?
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‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
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