Arthur Lydiard, 87, a top New Zealand track coach in the 1950s and '60s whose methods revolutionized training for distance runners and helped fuel the worldwide boom in jogging...
Arthur Lydiard, 87, a top New Zealand track coach in the 1950s and ’60s whose methods revolutionized training for distance runners and helped fuel the worldwide boom in jogging, died Dec. 11 in Houston of an apparent heart attack.
He was in Houston as part of a United States speaking tour, according to an announcement on the Web site of Runner’s World magazine.
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Lydiard won several New Zealand marathons his best time was 2 hours, 39 minutes, 5 seconds by developing a training routine that became known in running circles as LSD: long, slow, distance. The regimen called for logging up to 100 miles or more a week, adding hill running to the mix after several months and then integrating some speed work as race day approached.
The favored regimen in those days as it had been for decades was interval training: basically short, fast runs, generally on a track.
His methods were considered controversial and, though Lydiard trained some of New Zealand’s top runners, he had to pay his own way to Rome for the 1960 Summer Olympics and buy his own tickets to get into track events. The men he coached trained with him outside the grounds of the Olympic Village.
But his runners had considerable success: Peter Snell won gold in the 800 meters, Murray Halberg did the same in the 5,000-meter event and Barry McGee won a bronze medal in the marathon.
In 1964, he received credentials for the Tokyo Olympics. Snell won gold again in the 800-meter race and added a top medal for the 1,500-meter event. Another runner trained by Lydiard, John Davies, won the bronze in the 1,500-meter race.
One of his converts was Bill Bowerman, track coach at the University of Oregon and a founder of Nike. Bowerman, who had been a believer in interval training, went to New Zealand in the early 1960s to study Lydiard’s methods. He returned to Oregon and helped spread Lydiard’s philosophy in the United States.
“His philosophy of long, slow, distance was much more transportable to the masses than interval training,” said Adam Bean, features editor at Runner’s World. “Arguably, there would have never been the marathon running boom without Lydiard’s philosophy.”
Lydiard is survived by his third wife, Joelyne, and four children.