Long Runs

The Long Runimage

The long, slow distance (LSD) run is the cornerstone of any long distance runner’s training program.   (One reason why the term “LSD run” is so appropriate is that it is one of the most reliable ways of getting the “runner’s high”).

Why do long slow distance runs?

The LSD run has many benefits.  First, it helps to adapt your joints and muscles to give them the endurance for long runs.  Second, it improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply in the muscles; it therefore enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles.  Third, it enhances your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy.  Fourth, it teaches your body to store more energy as glycogen in your muscles. And finally, long slow runs teach the body to run efficiently, minimizing the energy expenditure needed to move you along.  Even if you are not training for a marathon, the long slow distance run is a key element in your overall fitness program.

How to do long slow distance runs

The LSD run should be run slowly to ensure that you are developing the fat-burning metabolic pathway, and to minimize the effect of fatigue and risk of injury. It should be around 20% slower than your marathon pace; or 25-30% slower than your half marathon pace.  You may be surprised at first how slow this seems.  If you use a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate within 60-80% of the working heart rate zone, or 70-85% of your maximal heart rate.

The distance of the long slow distance run depends on the length of the race for which you are training.  For a 5km race, the LSD need not be more than 5-10 miles; but for marathon runners it needs to be more like 20 miles (or longer for advanced runners).

For many runners, one morning of each weekend is set aside for the long run; and running clubs often organize Sunday morning long runs.  In the run up to major marathons, such as the London Marathon, there are also lots of organized races of up to 20 miles which you can use for your long runs (though you should resist the temptation to run these too fast).  If you are training for a half marathon or marathon, you can use your long run to practice some key elements of the big day.

Source: Running for Fitness