Arthur Lydiard's lasting legacy
Witness to the birth of the running boom
The charismatic coach was readily recognizable.
"Do you have any tips for a hot day?" I asked him.
"As a matter of fact, I do," asserted Arthur Lydiard. He paused before continuing. "How much have you trained? Are you fit?" Lydiard's piercing eyes captured me, commanding candid answers to his questions.
Was I dreaming? Had I really asked the legendary coach of Olympic champions for advice prior to my running the marathon at the prestigious 1970 Drake Relays? I was here almost by accident, a product of a Wisconsin fitness program that emphasized jogging.
"I'm pretty ordinary," I confessed. "I've never run a marathon under three hours. But I've trained fairly hard for three years, and for the past five months I've run about 70 miles a week."
The renowned coach overlooked my mediocrity. "It's going to be warm under a bright sun," he said. "Have someone meet you every three miles of the race and pour ice water over you. I mean a copious amount. Enough so you can feel it down to your socks."
His appearance at the Drake Marathon on April 25, 1970, surprised me. But his willingness to counsel me, an ordinary jogger, defined Arthur his mission. If someone was willing to listen, he would teach. And that is what he did for the rest of his life; teaching and motivating thousands in countless appearances and lectures around the world. His tireless efforts resulted in a prominent running magazine voting Lydiard the "Coach of the Century."
The full story appears in the June 2012 print edition of Silent Sports. Don't miss an issue! Subscribe online here.