Where Your Dreams Become Reality
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Poster: Northern Star
Subject: RE: Renato Canova - Arthur Lydiard Coaches Roundtable
I continue to be baffled by how people are so willing to tear down Canova as being "unappreciative" of Lydiard's work.
Let's get a few things straight:
1) Renato Canova has repeatedly spoken at length (right here on LRC in fact) about the great advances that Arthur Lydiard made in training. He understands that he owes a great deal to him, but he also pains to point out that he ALSO owes a great deal to some of the other "greats" in running history, some of whom are not given their proper due because they didn't write or speak English, or worked with more obscure athletes. Mihaly Igoli, some of the Russians, and other eastern Europeans fall into this category. I myself am guilty of not giving them their proper due!
2) Renato Canova is also honest: things have changed a lot since Peter Snell thundered to victory in 1960. It's silly to look at Canova's training and say "well it looks a lot like Lydiard, so clearly he hasn't really innovated." That's hogwash. Most training programs are comprised of the same pieces, and on paper they look fairly similar—easy running, intervals, fast running, etc. But what matters is the PRINCIPLES WHICH DICTATE the workouts. And while Canova incorporates some of Lydiard's principles, others are completely different. Indeed, those who criticize Canova as not having innovated anything are really just ignorant to his methods.
To that end, I suggest you educate yourself a bit. I've done some writing on his methods myself:
Just because Canova's runners do fast intervals sometimes and long runs sometimes and Lydiard had people doing the same thing does NOT mean they are basically the same training recycled again.
3) Canova's athletes regularly do training sessions unlike anything Lydiard ever prescribed. While "Run to the Top" prescribes a 10-miler at "3/4 effort" (which I always interpreted as something close to marathon pace) once a week, Canova prescribes a much broader variety of long and fast running. Furthermore, his long-fast runs (whether they are at 70%, 85%, 90%, or 95% of 5k pace) are intended to accomplish very different things than what Lydiard was attempting to accomplish with his 5k and 10k time trials. The periodization is also completely different. Lydiard never prescribes any structured interval workouts for several months at a time (conditioning and hill phases), while Canova dedicates several months' worth of time to race-specific training (special and specific phases).
4) Canova and Lydiard had completely different attitudes towards race specific workouts. Lydiard believed "anaerobic" workouts (i.e. track intervals) were "icing on the cake" and only served to enable you to put your aerobic fitness to work. Renato Canova believes (and correct me if I'm wrong, if you are reading this!) that THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK YOU DO is your race-specific training. All other training (including the aerobic development) exists ONLY to support this training. Canova has said that "80% of training is TRAINING to TRAIN" while the other 20% is actually training to race. Lydiard was quite carefree about interval workouts—as long as they were reasonably challenging, he did not worry so much about how far or how fast each one was. Canova, in contrast, is VERY specific about the speed and distance of various repetitions in interval workouts and what purpose they serve
For example, according to Canova, 500-1000m intervals at 105% of 5k pace (~3k pace) serve a completely different purpose than 400-600m intervals at 110% of 5k pace (~1500m pace).
Don't get me wrong: I love Lydiard's training ideas. I've written a booklet on them. But I'm also a realist. It's laughable to think that Canova is just imitating Lydiard without realizing it, and if only Lydiard's boys had been racing marathons today they'd be busting 2:05s. Canova is a true innovator, as anyone who has even a partial understanding of his ideas can attest.
Craig's got it right: The Einstein:Hawking analogy is very applicable.
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