Lydiard training and injuries

Aoife Joyce lost almost eighteen months of regular training due to a mysterious nerve injury and had to be eased back into full Lydiard training. Below she shares her views on how to use the system when returning from injury.

I’m just coming back from injury – can I use the Lydiard system?

 I first used this system when I was coming back from a long term injury which had the irritating habit of recurring, necessitating very careful management of my running in the comeback phase. 

 Left to my own devices, I suspect I would have either ignored the warning signals and most likely caused myself a lot more damage or been constantly afraid to run and never have pushed myself to get back. 

 As my coach (ed: Rene) knew my injury history and the low base that I was starting from, my programme was initially very conservative but still challenging enough to push my aerobic fitness and to encourage me to test the injury.  To my own surprise, I saw my fitness increase and, after 3 months of following the programme, from a very low starting point, I went on to my best cross country season to date. 

 Important points to remember:

  • be honest with the coach about your fitness, your injury – this is important so that your programme can be tailored to where you are now
  • listen to your body and communicate with your coach
  • be realistic, and perhaps conservative, about the numbers of days a week you can run

I’m injured – does this mean I have to drop my programme?

The answer to this obviously depends on the nature of your injury.  If it’s a serious injury which won’t allow you to run or cross train, you will have to listen to professional advice (physio, doctor, physical therapist) and should only start running / cross training as recommended. 

If it’s a set back – such as a niggle which you think needs a few days rest to work itself out then use the method below to calculate what to do. 

Aerobic run / long run – get on your bike – a long cycle will give you a similar effect.  Yes it can be hard to get the heart rate up and to feel as you would feel on an aerobic run but you are still getting out there and it’s better than an evening wallowing on the couch. 

Alternatives – spinning class, swim, hill walk, power walk

Interval session – this is where access to gym equipment comes in handy – translate your session to a time equivalent and use the cross trainer / stationary bike to do the session e.g. 8 x 800m with 800m recovery becomes 8 x 3 mins hard with 3 mins easy between (I know your easy 800m will take more than 3 mins but the mind can only take so long on a cross trainer; for this reason, recovery can be less than planned too). 

Alternatives – use a similar conversion rate on a stationary bike, on a real bike, swimming, pool running

PCR – more intensive cycle, swim, spinning class, cross trainer – convert your session e.g. 5k to time, say 20 mins – pick a pace that you can maintain for the required length of time and go for it.  Make sure to include your warm up and cool down also, possibly in a different method than your session (e.g. warm up on cross trainer, do session on stationary bike). 

Hill training – the goal for hill training is to build strength – this is a time you can use for weights in the gym or get on the mountain bike and get up those hills.  How you convert this depends on the hill available – if you are in the mountains and have a mountain bike available – just go with whatever hills are available.  Similarly on the roads – go with the terrain available.  In the gym, put the stationary bike / cross trainer at a high resistance and push for the recommended time. 

Races – ah, the big question, do I go and grieve for not being able to take part or do I stay away and miss the atmosphere, the team spirit and the camaraderie?  My solution – cycle there or do some other form of cross training around the event.  You’ll feel better that you aren’t letting your fitness slip and you’ll still get to experience the atmosphere.

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