Sport, 1940-1960

Page 2 – Lydiard's legacy

Training the best in the world

The cult of masculinity had one positive spin-off: Arthur Lydiard. A runner of iron will but limited natural ability, he discovered that as he ran further he got fitter. Lydiard found that 100-mile weeks could be tolerated by healthy athletes; indeed they thrived, especially when hills were included in the training regime.

Lydiard made himself fit enough to win two national marathon titles in his late thirties; he transformed those with greater innate talents into world-beaters. On 2 September 1960 two of his athletes, Peter Snell and Murray Halberg, won track events at the Rome Olympics, outlasting European athletes who had run fewer miles in training. Lydiard was later to have almost equal success with female runners. He also inspired the jogging movement of the 1960s and 1970s by preaching that ordinary people could not only improve their health but also become their own sporting heroes.

How to cite this page

'Lydiard's legacy', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 22-Feb-2023