Thank you for your compliment on the video. I made it. In fact, I’m the one who was demonstrating the hill bounding (Arthur used to call me teasingly “the best hill bounder”) though I’m a bit out of shape at the moment. I had to argue with the use of my wife who also demonstrated various exercises because, he said, she doesn’t look line an athlete. I argued that this is the best way to show that even an ordinary runner (she’s a 3:47 marathon runner) can perform these exercises and get benefit. He agreed in the end. Besides, she has a better form (particularly ankle flexion and knee lift) than me.
This is a bit off the original topic so my apology to Snookie; I’d like to spend a bit to explain this hill training because it is a bit confusing and, as Dream machine pointed out, Lydiard really didn’t explain things too clearly. In fact, I think he made it even more confusing at some point.
It wasn’t until very late (perhaps late 80s) that he prescribed 3 distinct exercises for different purposes. There are 3 exercises: (1) steep hill running, (2) hill bounding and (3) hill springing. In most of his clinics (even way back in the 80s), he would talk mainly about bounding and springing (though in the beginning it was more or less “in-between”). Lydiard used hill training in mainly two separate purposes: (1) transition from conditioning to track work and (2) speed development, technique work, strength training (plyometroics). Unfortunately he never, to my knowledge, explained differences well enough to the audience.
We have written a script for the Lydiard training video—it will be a 3-part series (approximately 20-minute each) of explaining sequentially how to apply the entire Lydiard program. I had a difficult time deciding how to explain the hill training phase and in the end decided just touch it rather lightly in these videos; but make a hill training video separately and explain in more detail. What you saw at the last year’s clinic is only a demo tape. We discussed the possibility of selling that video as-is to start the process of immediate fund-raising but I voted against it because, without fully explaining, it could potentially create even more confusion. We would explain how the original hill training, fondly known as “circuit”, was exercised as an entire routine and how Lydiard had evolved into bounding/springing exercises.
Glenn McCarthy, a very good high school coach from Colorado, learnt the original hill training first hand from Lydiard when he was helping Lydiard as an interpreter in Venezuela—that would be steep hill running where you would more or less “run” up the hill with the exaggerated knee lift and “snap” in your ankle. I actually saw the best demonstration in a documentary of Toshihiko Seko in 1983, preparing for the LA Olympic marathon. He was training in NZ and, going up One Tree Hill, he would move slowly (slow forward momentum) and, what I call, “spending extra half a second on your foot at each foot strike”) with good high knee lift. This is what I call “original Lydiard hill exercise” as Ray Puckett, one of the original runners, showed it to me. Now Peter Snell showed it to me slightly different. He emphasized “kicking” or back leg extension a bit more. Either way, the idea is not to run “fast” up the hill, but “hard”.
HRE did a great job explaining bounding/springing “feel” to us but one thing is that the exercise is completely different from actual “skipping” movement. In fact, it is very important you land on the “alternate” foot because that really creates plyometric effect. If I’m not mistaken, Dr. Michael Yessis explained it as a “coil effect” of the Achilles tendon somewhere??? I have noticed that majority of distance runners, I’ve seen this more so in America though nothing derogatory intended, cannot perform this exercise well. They, more often than not, slide into skipping exercise. I’ve tried to introduce skipping exercise as an introduction but, to me, that tend to confuse them even more because they are so much more comfortable with skipping, yet, the goal is not skipping. I found it better to introduce first just simply running uphill; then tell them to lengthen the strides—even place some objects as a target; then gradually lengthen their strides longer and longer until they actually “bound”. As HRE explained, the emphasis is back-leg extension and knee lift. Lydiard always said “like a deer going over the fence.”
Hill springing is more or less the same as bounding except the accent is “higher”. Lydiard said the emphasis is the ankle flexibility—like a ballet dancer. Suppleness and springiness comes from this type of exercise. I would suggest using shorter but more steep hill for this exercise than bounding. At some other thread, somebody started the debate, because I was wearing spike shoes for the video, whether Lydiard “recommends” performing these exercises in spikes or not. The idea is “ankle flexibility”. If you wear spike shoes with minimal heel lift, your heel would come down that much further and be beneficial. Of course, if you do the exercise on the road, you shouldn’t (no, really!) and if you have a hard time striding down the hill with spike shoes, you shouldn’t. Nothing is hard-written on the rock, just understand the purpose of it and apply your best common sense. As with bounding, I would more opt to recommend starting with smaller steps to get the feel for it. Skipping is just fine and you’ll get the idea but eventually you need to master the movement of “jumping up on one leg and landing on the alternate leg” so whichever makes you easy to get there would be fine. I’d say; think of you going up the hill slow-motion (like kids always do); you naturally take a longer (or higher) leap because that way it takes longer till you land (though the speed of gravity will not change!). Forget the knee lift and straight back-leg first; just get the feel for the movement. Then introduce more accurate technique with knee lift, back-leg extension and straight ankle “snap” or “whip”.
The latter two exercises are excellent for speed development. You don’t have to limit the use of these exercises only for a transition; in fact, reportedly, Pekka Vasala did bounding up until a few weeks before the Olympic 1500m in Munich. I would not, however, recommend jumping into these straight after marathon conditioning unless you’d been running lots of hilly courses. These are very demanding—a discount ticket to injuries. My rule of thumb is to start with longer and slower exercise (steep hill running) and gradually move into shorter faster exercise (springing). The shorter and faster your race is (800 or 1500m), the more benefit you’re gain from springing and bounding. Doesn’t mean you don’t get anything from them if you’re a marathon runner; and vice versa.
With the same reason I mentioned above (or simply procrastinating???), I have dragged the idea of adding a clip of hill training video at the website (gotta do some self-promotion so, again, it’s www.fivecircles.org), but I will include what I call a “tease” of about 10 seconds or so just to give the idea in the next month or so, I promise! Please do note, however, this is just one of the exercises and doesn’t mean Lydiard’s original runners were doing it up the 800m up hill 6 days a week!
Here’s another misleading information; what do you do in between. Originally Lydiard recommended leg-speed exercise or some sprint work. Remember, however, when he recommended that, the hill circuit was still quite substantial. They weren’t mucking about; they were doing something like 12 miles just the hill circuit alone. If you do bounding or springing, I would expect the total mileage, which is not as important as many people think, would come down. Bounding and springing would be more or less glorified “speed training” and doing more speed work or sprint exercises on other days may be a bit too much. So depending on how much your legs can handle hill exercise and depending on how much overall running you’d be doing during this period, it may pay to have, for example, a long jog one or two days as well as other sprint work.
That is the very topic I’m working on the Part II presentation; “Application of the Lydiard Program”. It can be done and Lydiard has actually laid it out in his earlier publication. Ron Daws also adopted it to American collegiate situation and called it “Combination Program”.
Sorry, guys, I took up the entire thread!