RUN – The Lydiard Way

Book weeding, appropriately termed  as it can be as difficult and dreary as weeding your back yard. I crawl around the shelves on my hand and knees pulling out the obvious ones and then going back and digging in-between for an unsuspecting victim. I then viciously condemn the book to death, removing it from our shelves and hence the collection forever, never to be picked up, thumbed through or read again. It is a sad job. But long before I decide a book is no longer of use, the boys at school have decided this, as it is they that have stopped reading it. This happens for a variety of reasons; fashion and popularity, new books come out that surpass it, its cover becomes old fashioned, it looks tatty and dirty. It is part of our job in a school library to keep the collection current and useful, and it certainly must have up to date information that supports the curriculum.

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Today, as I scanned the shelves I came across, Run The Lydiard way, written by Arthur Lydiard with Garth Gilmour. It was published  in 1978 and bought by the library on 1 February 1979. It looks really old!

I cannot possibly get rid of it. So are we in the business of running a museum? Partly, I do think that there are certain books that the College library needs to preserve and our collection of books on Canterbury history are particularly impressive and need to be preserved.

However, this book is a must. In fact I have just shown it to Henry Smith, one of the PE teachers and he visibly got excited.

If you have never heard of Arthur Lydiard ONZ OBE, he is lauded as one of the outstanding athletics coaches of all time. He is credited with popularizing running and making it commonplace across the world. He is also responsible for new records being set in every event from 800m to marathons.  At the time that the book was published, Lydiard had spent the last thirty years in testing the limits of human physiology against hard exercise, testing theories and formulating successful training methods from his own experiences in middle and long distance running.  The book also includes a guide to health, diet and injury cure and prevention.

Lydiard left quite a legacy. There is a marathon and 1/2 marathon named after him – taking place on the 12 September this year, if you are interested:

After he died in 2004 his running schedules were reproduced online by his co – author and friend Garth Gilmour. I have also attached them here for you:

Lydiard’s story is fascinating,

At the age of 27, when many athletes were preparing to retire, he started competitive running. He began with one to three mile races, continuing to further refine his training and increase the distances he was running. He became a provincial cross-country representative and his training frequently consisted of runs of up to 50km. Getting older but also fitter: he set his sights on the marathon. By the start of the 1950s, Lydiard was New Zealand’s top marathon runner. He competed in the 1950 Empire Games (finishing 13th, a placing he described as “poor”) and took the national title in 1953 and 1955. (

His basic theory was,

“…that long, even-pace running at a strong speed produced increased strength and endurance – even when it is continued to the point of collapse – and was beneficial, not harmful, to regular competition.”

My ‘weeding’ then, unearthed a gem and it has inspired me to carry on running – even though I dislike it! I would also like to point out that the book has been popular over the years and it hasn’t been sat there gathering dust.

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As a last word, I’d like to mention my brother, Tony, who on Saturday 12th June ran a 100 mile race across the South Downs Way. He came a stunning 39th out of over 400 runners, many of them a lot younger than he. I wonder if he trains the Lydiard way?

Lisa Trundley-Banks