There is more than one effective way to sequence workouts for the purpose of cultivating peak race fitness, but there is an optimal way for each individual runner. The best-known way was developed by the man regarded as the most influential theorist in the history of run training, Arthur Lydiard. A New Zealand born coach who reached his prime in the late 1950s, Lydiard developed the first major periodized training system for runners. Periodization refers to the practice of sequencing training stimuli in such a way as to produce a single peak race performance at the end of that sequence or cycle. Before Lydiard came along, runners periodized their training primarily by increasing their overall workload as their fitness and their capacity to absorb training gradually increased. But Lydiard was the first to divide the training cycle into distinct phases and establish a proper order for the different types of training emphasized within them. You are probably familiar with this order, because Lydiard-style periodization is still practiced by most competitive runners today. The Lydiard training cycle begins with a base phase, in which runners perform an increasing volume of mostly moderate-pace running. This phase is followed by a four-week strength phase, in which aerobic running is supplemented with hill training and other strength work. Next comes a short anaerobic phase in which short, fast intervals are prioritized. The final phase is a racing phase in which the volume and intensity of training are reduced to promote freshness, and fitness is sharpened through tune-up races culminating in a final, peak race. Lydiard-style periodization is known as linear periodization because the various major training stimuli (aerobic, anaerobic, strength, speed, etc.) are largely segregated from each other in the training process and arranged in a line in which each gives way to the next. This approach is distinct from nonlinear periodization, in which the various major training stimuli are mixed together throughout the entire cycle and only the emphasis changes from period to period.
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