Lydiard Program For Blue Ridge?

So I’ve got 25 weeks to get ready for the Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon. I think I’m going to prepare the Lydiard way, unless someone convinces me otherwise. I’ve got time to gradually build the miles, but do I have the chutzpa to do three long runs a week in the winter? I’d like to think so. We’ll see.

I know the Furman method is very popular, but I don’t think it’s enough running for me. If my wife wants to go for a trot after I’ve got back from a tempo run, she’d have to go alone with the Furman plan. Lydiard actually encourages running easy all the time, so long as it’s enjoyable.

I’ve been gradually building back up to 30 mi/wk this month and am feeling pretty fresh. My races from here on out might not be as fast, but only if I’m smart. That’s always a risky bet. If I build the mileage gradually, I should be able to put quite a few under my feet.

Of course, the feet are really in charge. If my feet prefer Furman, Furman it will be.

Why am I faster?

I thought I would cover my bragging with a thin veneer of barefoot education. To the point: I’m older than I was as a shod runner, I’m less fit than I was as a shod runner (I used to do a lot of exercises, now I just run), I do less speedwork than when I was a shod runner, BUT I’m much faster than I was as a shod runner. I went from a 23:21 5k PR (age 26), a pace where I hovered for four years, then after a four year hiatus from running I come back barefoot to a 20:22 5k PR (age 34). Why?

Easy. I mean literally – easy. It’s so much less work to run barefoot. If I want to go faster, I lift my feet higher, bump up my cadence, and go. That’s it. The only thing slowing me down is a still imperfect form, my lung capacity, heart strength, and good old fashioned lack of willpower (I’m a wimp, remember).

In shoes, well, first of all I’m in shoes. My feet are weighted. I have to lift the weight, kick it forward, and leap onto that foot. All of my weight crashes down, then I have to push off to propel myself forward. This is the way most people run in shoes. That’s too hard for me.

I’ve started dabbling with speedwork for about a month now. For me that means a fartleky tempo/tempoish fartlek run through my hilly neighborhood. I have a local 3.5 mile route on which I try to beat my previous best time. So far I haven’t slowed down.

I’m sure some of it’s due to improving conditioning, but I think my slow runs are helping too, because on my slow runs I focus entirely on form. Posture erect, landing silently, fast cadence, 11 minute miles. I try to keep that easy feeling on my fast runs.

This might be it; I might be at my peak right now. You never know with these things. But I think I can go faster. And the faster I get, the sooner I can eat. I KNOW I’m not at my eating peak. With proper conditioning, I could eat much, much more.