LSD (Long Slow Distance)

I have a confession. LSD has never been my favourite part of marathon training. First of all, waking up early (usually 5-6am), the long hours on the road, the boredom of listening to your own footsteps and breathing, the chafing, the blisters, and the fatigue for the rest of the day....these are just some of the reasons I shun it.

However, marathon training without doing LSD is like diving with only half a tank. You are just heading for trouble. And pretty soon, you will literally run out of gas. So, protest as I would, I still have to drag myself out of the comfort of my bed and head out to the open road.

Lately, after analysing my performance for the first half of 2011, It dawned on me that I need a lot of work on endurance. The pace of my second half particularly beyond 30km slowed dramatically in most of the races. The only plausible answer to counter this is to increase my LSD. I realize that since Tokyo Marathon and from March onwards, my focus had been on tempos and intervals; my longest weekly mileage did not even exceed 40km!

Having realized this, I have set myself to progressively increase my weekly mileage. The real challenge is finding the time to do so. So far, I have managed a 64km week. The target is at least to get to 88km week. I know this is nothing to you hardcore runners out there, but this kind of mileage is just about my utmost limit. Otherwise, I would have to run in my sleep.

After a few weeks into this "higher" mileage training, I am surprised to say that I am beginning to appreciate LSD. Beyond the 90-120 minutes on the road, somehow, the body seemed to switch to a different mode. Like some form of physiological change has taken place. The focus becomes sharper. The breathing, appears more at ease. The feeling that I get was: "Hey! I can go on and on with this..."

Perhaps my endurance has improved; But it is likely that LSD does have it's uniquely specific and crucial role geared towards marathon distance training. (As compared to the shorter 10k or half marathon training where LSD is almost unnecessary). Obviously, it serves its purpose in my case. 

The different 'mode' that I was referring to was perhaps the 'runner's high'. Or more scientifically, the endorphin release. I don't get this feeling when doing shorter distances as in tempo or interval training. Whatever it is, I welcome it. In the past, I frequently do LSD on a 15k or half marathon pace. I found this kind of pace too stressful for the body. And lately, after understanding a bit more about LSD, I realize that LSD is suppose to be long SLOW runs. At least 15-25% slower than the marathon pace. (Not too slow either!) If that's the case, I have in fact been doing a lot of tempo runs instead of LSD in the past.

Well, at least I am beginning to enjoy LSD a bit more now. Hopefully, I am proven right. And a higher weekly mileage would serve to improve my endurance. At least to last me through the final 10km of the marathon race.....we will see.


  1. Hi Francis... curious... do you re-fuel for LSD runs? What-about taking short break of, say, 5 minutes? Or you actually equate LSD to actual Marathon?

  2. Hi, YS. In my opinion, LSD shd simulate marathon race except at a slower pace. But working towards a race, some would practise running at marathon pace at some stage of the programe. I feel stopping would not be a good idea. As for fuel and drink, if I run beyond 21km, then I would carry along the fuel belt (and gels beyond 25km). Some people believe in doing actual marathon distance as LSD, personally, 35km is more than adequate for me...;)

  3. Sounds like I share the same problem as you! But we're always optimistic ain't we? And opportunistic too, as we grab whatever time we can find. Wishing ourselves best of luck!

  4. Jamie, in the marathon sport, to embark on it in the first place requires a certain personality trait. i.e. optimist/opportunist like what u rightly pointed out. Can't see how a negative person would want to haul himself through 42km! Haha! Here's to a life of marathon running!


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