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The controversy about Crossfit Endurance seems to stem from the fact that the program is stripped of low-intensity runs. The development of LSD is attributed to New Zealander Arthur Lydiard, who devised his method of training and coaching by experimenting on himself and his neighborhood crew of runners in the 1940s. Today, most distance running coaches continue to construct training plans that are a formulation of Lydiard’s methods: They start with a base phase—typically several months of easy runs and long easy runs—followed by a strength training phase, followed by a speed or racing phase, ideally delivering the athlete to a goal race, or series of races, in peak condition.
When Lydiard coached Peter Snell to Olympic gold medals in the 1960s, 100 miles per week was the standard he preached for the base-building phase. The aerobic-foundation method of preparing for distance races is at the heart of most popular variations on how to train. Pick up any book on how to train for a marathon, or a magazine that offers a training plan, including this one, and you’ll find a Lydiard-style program—one might be based on miles, another on hours or heart rates, others going by pace per mile, but within the infrastructure of the program you’ll find the late, great Lydiard staring you in the face.
Modern-day elite marathoners run between 100 and 140 miles per week at peak volume levels. You might find a great deal of difference in speed and strength-training ideas, but high mileage is considered a necessity to be competitive.
Because of this connection between high mileage and greatness, a runner and his commitment to the sport is often measured within the distance community by how many miles are logged on a daily basis. As romanticized in the cult running classic that drew from the Florida Track Club heydays of the 1960s and 1970s, “Once a Runner,” by John L. Parker Jr., the Trial of Miles has long been the image by which we judge how much a runner truly wants it. As Parker vividly portrayed, it’s one thing to do a few weeks of high mileage, quite another to log weeks, months and years of it and all the deep fatigue that comes with it. Two facts that continue to support the notion that high-mileage training programs are superior to all others are these: All the great long-distance runners of our time use it, and the lore of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners—the best of the best—reportedly spend their childhoods logging 12 or more miles daily running to school and back.