Arthur Leslie Lydiard ONZ OBE (6 July 1917 – 11 December 2004) was a New Zealand runner and athletics coach. He has been lauded as one of the outstanding athletics coaches of all time and is credited with popularizing the sport of running and making it commonplace across the sporting world. His training methods are based on a strong endurance base and periodisation.
Lydiard competed in the Men's Marathon at the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland, coming thirteenth with a time of 2h:54m:51.6s.
Lydiard presided over New Zealand's golden era in world track and field during the 1960s sending Murray Halberg, Peter Snell and Barry Magee to the podium at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Under Lydiard's tutelage Snell went on to double-gold at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Athletes subsequently coached by him or influenced by his coaching methods included such luminaries as Rod Dixon, John Walker, Dick Quax and Dick Tayler.
In the New Year Honours 1962 Lydiard was appointed an Officer of The Order of the British Empire (OBE). On 6 February 1990 Lydiard was the 17th appointee to The Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest civil honour. He also became a life member of Athletics New Zealand in 2003.
Lydiard had a profound effect on the world of distance running and indeed he was awarded high honours by Finland for influencing their great athletes of the 70s. Lydiard's philosophy of building a strong base has been adopted world wide and indeed many of the Lydiardisms used by the great man have been repeated in every athletic club, training ground and changing room to describe training philosophy at any given time.
The great stories of 100 mile weeks are echoed globally by mere mortals and experienced athletes alike, but it is the Lydiard principles that are key if development and progression are to be made. Lydiard training theory is not a one size fits all approach. It is about an athlete setting out on a developmental process to peak condition. Lydiard believed this journey always started with a period of marathon conditioning.
There have been many misinterpretations of the Lydiard way. Many believe LSD to be long slow duration, but this is not the case. Lydiard clearly states that the development of the athlete is affected by the ability to withstand running long periods of time at the best aerobic pace. This development is influenced by a feeling based approach, whereby the athlete determines the feeling on any given day, so not to move into a state of over training. Slow running is seen as complimentary and required at particular times, but essentially Lydiard's athletes were definitely not slow! However Arthur was a big advocate of jogging for people requring a change of lifestyle or in rehabilitation.
Today the voice of Lydiard lives on through the work of the Lydiard Foundation which was set up by Nobby Hashizume and Lorraine Moller ( Barcelona Olympics1992 Marathon Bronze). The legacy continues through their work and by the coaches they train from their base in Boulder, Colorado.