The Lydiard Letter

Holy moly! I’ve gotten close to the bottom of the barrel in the gradually emptying storage space in Weezie’s room. But the other day, Gold!

In the middle of a miscellaneous pile, a letter from Arthur Lydiard, in my mind the greatest middle-distance and distance coach in history, dated October 9, 1978, right in my wheelhouse as a runner. It reminded me of writing to the great man, a New Zealander, who had coached Peter Snell and many other greats, as the result of a small ad in Runner’s World. I told him what a difference his ideas had made in my training and results, and to ask if he thought I was worthy of his coaching me by mail.

He wrote (as I’m sure he wrote to all who responded): “I am prepared at any time, to correspond with you upon a regular basis. The overall aim being to teach you how to continue training yourself to gain optimum results.

“The results will depend upon your sincere application of the training in relation to your available time to train and potential.”

I remember being over the moon. My sincerity was total. My available time was considerable, since I was essentially unemployed. And my potential was reasonable, judged by recent results—achieved using the approach that I’d gotten from his book—that were almost unbelievably superior to anything I’d managed in college, ten years before. (It’s kind of cool knowing you would have kicked your own ass in what was supposed to have been your prime.)

His fee was a modest $240 per year. $20 per month. Less than a dollar a day. Unfortunately (see employment status, above), I couldn’t afford it.

I managed okay (I had that great book, after all) but wouldn’t it have been fantastic?

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