Arthur Lydiard met the Tarahumara

The legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard met the Tarahumara before they were well known from their description in the book, "Born to Run".

There is an amazing nugget buried in "Running the Lydiard Way", where he writes about his international coaching experience in Mexico.

I did have one failure in Mexico. We were told there were Indians living in the mountains who could run 100 kilometers without stopping.

These were the guys, we decided, we could train to win the marathon for us. So we arranged a trial marathon for them and brought them down from the mountains. Unfortunately, the local officials knew nothing about organizing marathons.

When they were told that feeding stations were required, they happily went ahead and organized a complete banquet.

The Indians were accustomed to living simply, so when they reached the first feeding station and saw the food spread out for them, that is where they stopped.

p. 125-126. Running the Lydiard Way by Arthur Lydiard

Lydiard was only in Mexico for 8 months while training candidates for the Olympics. He left after realizing the hopelessness of the political situation meant that his runners would not have the opportunity to truly succeed.

Ironically, by leaving and broadcasting his reasons, he forced a resignation of the head of the Olympic committee who was causing much of the grief.

It's amazing that this man, who has had such a profound impact on the running community (and is instrumental in creating jogging), would have another yet another tie to our modern cultural works.

I wish his work was more accessible to the younger generation. There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the training methods he proposed. This is partially due to the fact that he knew that each runner was unique and should not follow a rigid structure, even if it worked well for another athlete.

The general principles of a strong aerobic base could be applied to each runner, but the specifics and implementation required an actual coach to tweak for proper results.

What an amazing man, I only wish I had the opportunity to hear him speak. Does anyone have any older audio recordings?

More reading on Arthur Lydiard and his training