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The Light

Let me take a second, more direct attempt address the debate, regarding essential long runs. I see the point of both sides, and don't believe any debate would end.

Lydiard believed that marathon conditioning was essential for improving in all races from 800m (880yds?) upwards. The "key" to successful conditioning was the high weekly volume. An important part of achieving the high volume, and one of the most important components of the Lydiard system, was the weekly long run.

So my limited, and very short, understanding is that Lydiard did not directly say that long runs were essential for mid-distance runners, except in the sense that the long run was an essential part of the Lydiard system, which he believed benefited all runners from 800m up.

Now, I agree it is debatable that one can still achieve a strong aerobic base, and high weekly volume, without weekly long runs, by replacing them with double sessions of shorter runs. The final goal is the aerobic foundation, and there may be many ways to get there (just like the many ways for doing repetitions to achieve the same goal - some details just don't matter).

I always thought 1 2-hour run was more beneficial than 2 1-hour runs, but for the 800m runner, what is important is maximizing the speed, and carrying as much of that speed as he can to the finish line. A good aerobic base helps both.

It would be hard for me to quantify the effect of replacing all 2-hour runs with 2 1-hour runs in a season, but even if one could show that one approach is superior, I imagine the difference is marginal at best. But then again, medals are lost in the margin.

So although I agree it is debatable, I can't see anyone deciding this particular point conclusively (there are too many variables to control), so I don't see the point of debating something without a foreseeable end.

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