I'd have to admit; Arthur knew enough about exercise physiology to be dangerous (phrase stolen from Dave Martin which I agreed). He wasn't a scientist so his explanation was perhaps somewhat half-correct; but not fully. Arthur always said that, with his green-finger approach, he figured 4 weeks of anaerobic training is enough to develop his runners' anaerobic capacity to maximum. Bear in mind, he never "tested" his athletes so how did he know? Well, if he gave more than that, his athletes went flat. Now, bear in mind also that this is the runner(s) who ran 10 weeks of 100MPW plus 4 to 6 weeks of hill training (6 days a week); in other words, very very tough runners. They would do anaerobic type repetitions 3 days a week. He claims East Germans said 5 week (instead of his green-finger 4 weeks). What he meant actually is not to do more anaerobic training necessarily; but they would take longer recovery days in between so they might do twice a week instead of three; hense, taking longer to develop it fully. He always prefered doing anaerobic training less than more. If it's not fully developed, fine. All the races that would follow would further develop it so just let it be. That was his "green-finger" approach. Now, some people would peak quicker than others. Arthur was always sensitve enough about that. Some would not run as fast in training; therefore it may take longer to develop it fully. Some of you might be more of a speedster and you may come off the edge quickly and you may not even take full 4 weeks. So you, as a coach, would have to watch them carefully. How do you know when they had it enough? Well, mainly I'll check how their legs feel. When you come off over the edge, your legs feel very light. Now, as some Japanese coaches would say, you need to put the lid on. Arthur used to say the athletes get edgy and irritable. Those are, as he would put it, physiological reaction from lowering of pH level. Again, you need to check individual reactions and learn that from each athletes over a couple of seasons because everybody is different. Don't try to produce the Olympic champion in the first season; I think it'll take at least 3 cycles (not 3 years)...to get to know the individual!
For each workout; I think Kim put it beautifully. As a coach, yeah, I timed my athletes. I even timed myself (ah, those were the days...). Of course, I was doing the reps over a strech of about 520m (measured by my "walking"); the only thing I checked with my timing them was; is it vividly slowing even when I was putting more effort? Same thing. You're timing your athletes with, say, 400ms. Let's just say, for the argument sake, 72 seconds. Then it goes, 72, 73, 71, 74 even, that's okay; back to 72 for the next one... Then all of a sudden, you'll know it; he would be struggling at the backstretch, head rolling, teeth gritting, arms start to swing all over the place... Yet the time comes out as, say, 76. Stop him. He's not straining, not training. It could be in his 10th 400. Could be 16th. May not happen till the 24th one. You, as a coach, may have written down 20X400m. But should you stop him? Absolutely. With this type of "anaerobic training" as described by Arthur, you would want to "lower your blood pH level down throughout your body" to affect overall chemistry. If you do them too fast in the beginning; or take too short of recovery that you may end the workout prematurely, then you may only affecting the blood pH level of the working muscle. Arthur used to use the exmample of, say, push-up or chin-up. Your arms get tired and you'll have to stop the workout. It's not because YOU are tired; but your arms are tired. Same thing. If you sprint flat-out; your legs get tired and you'll have to stop the workout. For now, you'll need the volume of anaerobic workout. That's why he prefered simply run one fast, jog one; I kinda like this 0.2 mile markers because 400 is a bit too far for me. 0.1 is a bit too short. I just run two posts fast; jog two posts. I'll pack up when I get "stuffed". Depending on what I did the day before or days before, that could be x8, or x12, something like that. I actually like ladder too. Arthur didn't. But that's personal preference. He never liked fish. As you know, I love it raw!
As for Tokyo Olympic marathon; I think the problem with Julian and Puckett (the third guy, Ivan Keats, I don't think was coached by Arthur) was not so much of a marathon distance trial a month before; but all the training. This is the Olympics; this is the important race. So you need to train twice as hard... Julian, as you know, won Pre-Olympic marathon in Tokyo in 1963 and Japanese regarded him as the favorite. They called him "King Julian" and followed him around instead of Snell. Puckett, as you know, Kim, was probably the toughest runner in NZ at the time. I know, because he was the guy, at the age of 45, really taught me how to knock yourself in shape. Puckett unfortunately had some nervous problem and used to get stomach problem running overseas (didn't go to well with fish or rice, I guess...). Julian, I heard, simply trained like a mad man... Magee, for 1960, just carried on the same workouts as the nationals and did well (Julian and Pucket had the same problem in Rome). Of course, those were the days that it's rare to compete overseas... It would be hard to believe anybody would have challenged Abebe in both 1960 or 1964. But I'm sure either Julian or Puckett would have done much better had they carried on regular program. I'm not quite sure how much hands-on coaching Arthur was doing for 1964. Magee had developed plantar fasciitis back then to run marathon (he ran 10,000). Injuries were more deadly back then; John Davies had to hang up spike shoes before he had a chance to move up to 5,000m with a bad case of Achilles problem. Of course, Arthur always had to fight against situration/environment. The only compnay that was willing to help him and his athletes was a cigarett company. He was probably more involved then with jogging program than coaching elites.
I think it's easy for us to say that he really didn't coach anybody after Tokyo. Sure, he didn't coach "everybody". But he didn't have a chance either. Nobody paid him to coach. He did what he did, as Kim pointed out, because he was NEVER short of helping others. He NEVER turned down anybody. But he only coached people who came to him. He never went to some talented kid and said, "Here, let me coach you." Producing champions, though he got kick out of it, no doubt, wasn't necessarily his goal. He got real gratification from simply "helping people". He didn't coach every sigle Olympic champion since 1960 nor influenced every world record holder. He didn't claim he did either. He was very firm with his principles; but was amazingly humble as well. He helped me immensely; athletically as well as professionally. His training method makes sense to me. I believe that it's a very sound program that, applied correctly, can help anybody. He was a good man and I loved him. I have every intention to keep his legacy alive. And if somebody don't give a damn about his training or him as a man; I don't need to twist his arms to make him believe. Arthur never whipped his athletes to do something. His philosophy was always, "Explain why". If he doesn't get it, or insist on not getting; what more can you do?