The Runner’s LSD- High on Mileage

MRD_2505

Sounds like we are getting into some pretty exciting stuff here?  Au contraire, LSD stands for long slow distance running.  Although for most runners I know this is their drug of choice (besides ibuprofen and ice baths).

A long distance run is considered to be anything above 90 minutes.  For someone who runs 7 minute miles, this is going to cover a lot more mileage than someone who runs 10 minute miles, but it is a long distance run either way.

Besides earning bragging rights or justification for eating that double cheeseburger and fries, these types of runs are really helpful in training.  The LSD is done at conversation pace, where you are able to hold a conversation without gasping but not at the same level you would if you were out for a walk.

These long slow runs help your body learn to improve its glycogen storage and handle decreases in energy as you lose glycogen.  In simple terms, you are basically helping your body to change its chemistry to be able to use its resources more efficiently along with being able to run well on less stored energy.  You are turning yourself into a fuel efficient vehicle!

LSD

LSD’s also help you run more efficiently with your oxygen uptake getting your lungs to do their thing much easier.  This will also prepare you on a mental level to be able to handle a few hours on the road come the big day.

Most athletes who choose to partake in a half or full marathon will find LSD’s in their running program.  These are often scheduled once a week during a training period.

One of the most important rules to remember when doing long distance running is: slow it down!  I will be the first to admit that when I was training for a marathon I looked at these runs as a challenge.  I would get my 20 miles in, put my time in a pace calculator and then pat myself on the back for running a fast pace.  Bad Sarah!

The LSD is not a dress rehearsal for a race.  It is not there to help you prove to yourself that you can beat a PR or hit a certain goal time.  These runs are simply to help you prepare for being on the road for long periods of time, training your body to handle the rigors, and mentally prep for what is ahead.  Remember, when you are doing a training program you have speed workouts, tempo runs, hills, intervals, and strides in your training plan for a reason.  The LSD is not a speed work out, so relax and enjoy the change of pace.

I know a runner who trained really hard for a marathon and made it to the 18 mile point of her long runs and suddenly got injured, sidelining her from the race.  She had been so proud to be running ahead of goal pace on the long runs.  Looking back and having discussed the true purpose of LSD training, she realized that going out too fast may have actually aided in her injury.

Don’t let the LSD get the better of you.  Fuel up in the morning with something you know will work to keep you going, take it nice and slow and settle into your pace.  Put on some music or a podcast, take your time and enjoy the training process.

LSD2

One more important rule of thumb; you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%.  The LSD is something to work up to.  Don’t be a hero if you have only ever run a 10k and decide to go try your hand at 20 miles.  Take your time and enjoy your high mileage!

16 thoughts on “The Runner’s LSD- High on Mileage

  1. Running long run is a love hate relationship for me. I love that it makes me stronger mentally and I love getting out there and just running, but I also hate the toll it takes mentally while you are out there and you have to keep telling yourself to keep going. And I hate when unprepared-like yesterday. First time doing a long run in 20 degree weater. 🙂 Good luck in 2014
    Happy Training!
    ~Joshua

  2. LSD is my favorite. I don’t do intervals, even though I know I should. I do it for the Zen. I’m using the treadmill a bit and hope you use that to gain speed with intervals. I do trails for my speed runs and use a hilly spot for any combo that I run. I wish you fun miles for 2014!

  3. Love this article. I’m not new to running, but returning after 10 years. I’m up to 1 mile and was wondering what my next goal should be. I love the idea of a long, slow run, perhaps down the road (no pun intended). My husband does them, but I don’t know if he pushes himself or does a slow pace. I should show him this article.

    Thanks for the motivation and inspiration on continuing my trek.

  4. Great post…. I am with you with this statement…. Bad David!
    One of the most important rules to remember when doing long distance running is: slow it down! I will be the first to admit that when I was training for a marathon I looked at these runs as a challenge. I would get my 20 miles in, put my time in a pace calculator and then pat myself on the back for running a fast pace. Bad Sarah!

    • Glad you were able to find this helpful. You can use a tempo run during the week to test your half marathon pace. For example, a 1 mile slow warm up, followed by a 2-3 mile half marathon pace, and finish with a 1 mile slow cool down.

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