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Lydiard or Lazy (High Volume Running)

Frank Pucher

by Coach Frank Pucher

Strength Guru Mike Boyle recently mentioned "that many athletes/coaches have simply forgotten to train HARD." We've become so focused on form, tools and program design that we've forgotten the essential element to improvement = OVERLOAD. A similar principle applies in the distance running world. Run more to become a better runner.

The summer is a perfect time to increase running volume for High School Athletes as they have (usually) more sleep available and less stresses to combat. Most athletes can safely increase their running volume by 10-15% weekly if they wish; without injury. I feel today's High School Runners are running too few miles and Cross Training too much as a means to boost fitness. I'm not saying there's no merit, but the fact is and always will be, if you want to be a better runner; you've got to run.

High volume running isn't a new concept or an unproven science. Legendary Coach Arthur Lydiard is perhaps the most famous name associated with the success of high volume running. In the 1970's a high volume disciple Tom Flemming (2x NYC Marathon Winner) famously had a sign in his bedroom that read "Somewhere in the world, someone is training when you aren't. When you race him, he'll win."

Modern coaches that are assessing their teams "summer running schedule" should ask themselves this question "Am I happy with my team's racing performance?" If so, keep doing what you're doing. But if your team has been stuck at a poor performance level for a while, and interval training or low volume running isn't giving you the improvement you want, think about having them run more miles. Not just on a day or so but on most days. Even HS Athletes can do it without getting hurt if they increase the distance gradually and run comfortably.

Intervals, hill repeats and tempo runs all have their place in a season but they all should be used when appropriate. Lydiard's system called for a high base mileage as a starting point, with hill repetitions and interval work to follow. Despite all the changes in the way our athletes train and prepare, it seems in building a successful runner "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

"I've never finished a run and thought that was a waste of time." - Frank Pucher