I wrote a story about Lydiard and Bill Bowerman years ago (http://www.ontherunevents.com/news/0066.sht) and, in it, I mentioned my observation on these men and compared that with eastern thinking of, say, coach Nakamura. Coach Nakamura practiced more openly eastern philosophy such as Zen. I don’t think Lydiard knew much about Zen but, yes, what he was doing actually had a lot in common. What strikes me most is his thinking of development of overall individual. To Lydiard, being a good runner is only one aspect of a whole picture. If you’re not sincere, he’d cut you in no time. I guess one important aspect is enjoyment. Running should be fun. As grumpy as he could sometimes be, Lydiard was always a very fun-loving person. I guess that’s probably one of major reasons why he preferred not to be too explicit with numbers and science. You can argue that that’s still fun; that’s fine. Whatever turns you on. You can also argue that becoming an Olympic champion is not about having “fun”, well!
I hear your point on downhill running. Marty Liquori told me that, while he’s a huge believer of (up) hill running, he was one of those great middle distance runners who avoided downhill section. After reviewing my video, Lydiard told me that we should have a downhill part as well. Well, it’s actually already filmed; we need full-scale funding for actual production—I told him that we need to go a step at a time! Lydiard’s original hill circuit is a full-circle whole shebang set of (1) uphill exercise, (2) recovery jog, (3) fast relaxed downhill striding and (4) series of what Lydiard called “windsprints” at the bottom. The whole exercise will get you prepared for demanding “quality” track schedule. Downhill is an excellent “eccentric” resistance exercise as well as stretching out. If you choose not to do it due to variety of reasons (such as what Kim encountered), you need to accommodate that portion of exercise. Jonas Holdeman, one of enthusiastic Foundation staffs, asked me one time that, due to heavy rain, downhill section is too slippery and he didn’t feel safe to perform “downhill striding”. I suggested to him that it’s perfectly fine (to avoid it) but he should accommodate it with striding on the flat; exactly as Kim Stevenson did. This is why, if you can find a perfect circuit, it’s better to have the downhill section slightly less steep than uphill section. The key is to lean “into the hill” just like skiing, not to lean backward; for this would create more braking action. If you can handle the pounding, this is an excellent exercise for marathon. You DO need to learn to take poundings.
By the way, Kim, what did you mean by “East Germans questioned him”? Did you mean to say that they asked him a lot of questions on this exercise? My understanding was that East Germans adopted this exercise (downhill striding) to their sprinters for quicker leg turn-over.