Italian periodization versus Lydiard periodization

by Angelos

What is the deal with the Italian periodization vs Lydiard ?

"Hi Marius,

Your marathon training program is well structured and so far I have been really enjoying it.

I have a question which is very important to me with regards to training periodization. In the Lydiard approach, it’s high mileage first(below or close to anaerobic/lactate threshold, then faster workouts above anaerobic threshold, then marathon specific workouts and finally tapering. In the Italian way, we start with faster 5K/10K training earlier in the cycle before going up to half-marathon-specific work and then marathon-specific workouts and tapering.

Lydiard says to start with slower aerobic training and get faster anaerobic training during later stages as he believes that aerobic build determines the performance level.

Could you explain a little more what the scientific rationale behind the Italian approach is?

Kindest regards,

Answer: Hi Angelos and thanks for the question.

To get into that scientific rationale would take writing a book ! Fact is though, two of the Italian coaches Arcelli/Canova did a quite large paper on this a few years ago in the IAAF scientific research paper for coaches. You can order it from IAAF publication catalogue : Marathon Training - A scientific approach" (Arcelli/Canova) if you really want to get everything explained.

It is well worth a read.

I've also visited the Italian coaches down in Italy personally and this paper explains their views quite well.

There are several reasons for this type of approach in the periodization (vs the Lydiard system) The main reason, without getting technical, is that you'll build the elastic elements of the muscles - work the nervous system and build "overspeed" before going into the marathon specific work. The Lydiard approach DOES work (and much better than no periodization at all) but the Italian way is just more powerful for most from my experience. And it is also more rational from a scientific perspective.

One problem with Lydiard is that you try to build speed-endurance "on top of" high mileage from the initial phase which can be hard - and for some lead to injuries. This problem does not occur with the Italian way of doing it.

Hope this explained some of your questions !

All the best,


Italian periodization and Lydiard to Marathon Training Schedule

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