Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: Keith Livingstone’s Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard

I picked up Keith Livingstone’s Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard in order to read a bit on Arthur Lydiard. For those outside of the formal running community, this coach built a group of world class distance runners during the 1970’s and his methods are still researched and incorporated into training models today. In this text backed by Lydiard’s foundation and family, Livingstone works to describe the training methods and the necessary information to understand them and in doing so he writes a standard book on running and run training. Nothing in this text is a surprise, especially if you have knowledge and experience. 

Lydiard the coach, practiced the ever popular pyramid, an approach backed up by most science, in which one builds a base of aerobic capacity before introducing a training load that forces you to expand upon the aerobic capacity to include threshold/tempo work, anaerobic work, and finally glycolytic work. At the same time, short, periodic analytic work must be carried out year round, all in an effort to encourage neuromuscular growth. Basically, Livingstone describes a
system based method, the very style that nearly every training philosophy follows in some capacity. 

That said, what this book is missing is Lydiard himself. The information is great, especially for a novice who doesn’t fully understand the systems based mantra of most training blocks, but the style is a hot mess. Outside of scientific explanations, Livingstone bounces here and there and struggles to give concrete explanations to even some of the simplest drills. His descriptions at times vary from incomplete to nonexistent. Many of the training comes second or third hand. Coaches who studied under Lydiard executed this plan and others that one, and at times he differs from the mantra and enters into heart rate based training and Jack Daniels tables. Each facet holds tidbits of knowledge that engage the reader and aid in understanding, but they are cobbled together and hard to digest, making the reading experience jagged and incomplete. 
While the text has acclaim, if you want to improve your understanding of running and training, you might be better served reading Jack Daniels and calling it a day.

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