Monday, 11 August 2008

White Man CAN Run--Jon Brown Interview

Lydiard Foundation Blog

In: News Releases -- Posted: 8/11/2008 11:08 PM -- By: Nobby Hashizume

Chris Kelsall had interviewed great Jon Brown of formerly Great Briton, and now Canada, twice for FloTrack. They are definitely a must-read...

When I first came to the US, I was really excited to read all the articles about all the great runners in various running magazines. The very first English running magazine I picked up was "The Runner" magazine with Kenny Moore on the front cover. I still remember; there was an article about running economy/form written by none other than Frank Shorter! The more I read, however, the more I realized that perhaps the most variable articles we can find are interviews or ones written by the actual athlete/coach. Often articles written by reporters can be dramatized or interpreted wrongly. I remember one interview with Ron Clarke; he was talking about training 3-times a day. He said something like; "I tried it once and didn't like it so stopped doing it..." In Japan, the source said, gloriously, how Clarke trained 3-times a day, everyday... This is why I loved legendary books by Australian, Brian Lenton; he's published several books, all interviews, such as "Through the Tape" and "Off the Record". These are absolutely priceless--these are "their own words".

Today, this is what Chris Kelsall of Victoria is attempting. He's been interviewing many coaches and athletes; many of our own Lydiard Foundation people like Lorraine Moller and Rod Dixon. I particularly enjoyed the ones with Jon Brown (Part I and Part II).

We came to get acquainted with Jon when Rod Dixon and myself flew to Victoria, BC, to conduct Lydiard Part I Certificate Program last November. Jon Brown of England had been spending quite a bit of time in Victoria, training, and Chris, as forward as he is, "dragged" Jon to come join us for thte clinic. A big running enthusiast like myself knew all about Jon Brown--in my opinion, Jon Brown is probably one of the most unrecognized and unappreciated athletes around. Having finished fourth in thte Olympic marathon twice in the recent years; that itself is as great of a feat as it can be! May not have brought a hardware; but it takes a very special individual to peak so right, twice, and fought his guts out against some of the best African runners (in Sydney) as well as some of the speedsters (in Athens). He was also one of the finalist in the epic 10,000m in 1996 at Atlanta where Gebriselasie of Ethiopia and Kenya's great Tergat fought the Titanic battle. Jon, in my opinion, deserves hell of a lot more recognition and appreciation.

At first, I was somewhat spectical to invite him to the Lydiard clinic. I didn't want to bring a Big Name just because he/she is a big name. This is Lydiard Foundation event; we need someone who would represent Lydiardism. A few weeks before we were to fly up to Victoria, Chris called me up and said that I'd be on the radio with Jon Brown. I was in New York for the NYC marathon/U.S. Olympic marathon trial. So I was to call in and my talk be recorded while Jon would actually visit the studio and they will put our talk together. That was the first time I actually learnt details about Jon Brown's training (though we have exchanged a few e-mails to make sure he's not particularly "against" Lydiardism). I could not believe how "text book" Lydiard his training philosophy was! Trust me, we did not do any rehearsing to "be politically correct" or do "ne-mawashi" to make sure we'll say the right things. On the clinic day, the same thing, I was actually amazed, aside from how down-to-earth and such a gentleman Jon is, how straight forward same principles his training was with Lydairdism. Long aerobic running first to build the foundation--hill training to develop power and flexibility--then limited but well-calculated quality training (anaerobic/speed training) to sharpen up and peak on the right time... There's nothing magical about it. Lydiard has already laid it all out for us. All we need to do is to understand the principles of it and excute it; and the results will follow.

There are people out there who get all bent out of shape and say, "But look what Bekele is doing, or Abera was doing--that's nothing Lydiard!" Their thinking is; so Jon Brown "only" finished 4th in the Olympic marathon. Therefore, we need to follow what Abera was doing--less mileage and high quality (though none of us really know what those Ethiopians are doing). Well, all the power to them. Lydiard always said that, we don't need to look at what those champion runners are doing today. What we really need to learn is what they were doing 10 years ago. The story of Jon Brown is, once again, text book success story, as far as I'm concerned. He was already a very good runner at 19 with 13:30 for 5000m. Then he shifted his focus to more "physiologically sound" training principles. He not only ran 13:19 and 27:18 for 10,000 as well as sub-2:10 marathon, he also improved his 1500m time as well! This says something. If you still think you need to run 60-second 400m repeats (like Bekele does, some claims...) day after day after day; all the power to them. But I'd rather look at the sound training program so we can improve upon where we are today. "If you want to find someone very talented, it's not that difficult," Lydiard used to say. "You can go do some local races and pick the kid who finshes first." No brainer. "But to make something greater out of ordinary runner, it takes sound training program and good coaching." THAT is what we are interested in.

By the way, we have the recording of Jon Brown's opening statement at last November's Victoria clinic as well as Nobby/Jon Brown radio gig on our audio-library. They will be added to soon-to-come audio library on this website; so stay tuned!

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