Long Slow Distance – The secret to running faster!

Long Slow Distance LSD

The Science Behind Long Slow Distance (LSD) Running



Long Slow Distance running – Ah, the age-old question of whether slow and steady really wins the race. Well, when it comes to long slow distance (LSD) running, the answer might surprise you—it can actually make you a faster and better runner. Confusing – right! So, lace up your running shoes and get ready to explore the world of LSD running, where the only thing speedy is your progress!

Science long slow distance

“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” – Julie Isphording

Why Long Slow Distance Running?

Picture this: You’re out on a beautiful morning run, feeling the rhythm of your breath and the soft thud of your feet hitting the pavement. You’re not sprinting like Usain Bolt, nor are you pushing your limits like you’re in a race against time. Instead, you’re in the zone, running at a comfortable pace that allows you to chat with a running buddy without gasping for breath. That’s the essence of LSD running.

LSD running involves covering a significant distance at a slower, conversational pace. It’s not about breaking speed records or pushing your body to its limits; it’s about building endurance, both physically and mentally. So, let’s dive into how LSD running can turn you into a better, faster, and more resilient runner. Read about the mental health benefits here.

Endurance Is Key

One of the primary benefits of LSD running is its impact on endurance. Think of endurance as your body’s ability to keep going, mile after mile, without hitting a wall. When you run slowly for extended distances, you’re essentially training your body to become more efficient at using energy.

Here’s how it works:

Your body primarily relies on two energy systems during exercise: the aerobic and anaerobic systems. The aerobic system utilizes oxygen to produce energy, and it’s the star of the show during LSD running. When you run at a slower, sustainable pace, your body becomes better at delivering oxygen to your muscles, which in turn allows your muscles to work efficiently over long distances.
This improved aerobic capacity means you can run farther without feeling exhausted. It’s like having a bigger gas tank in your car—you can cover more miles before needing to refuel. And this isn’t just theoretical; it’s backed by science. Studies have shown that LSD running can significantly increase your aerobic capacity, which translates to improved endurance in races and training sessions.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that prolonged, low-intensity running (such as LSD running) leads to increased capillarization in the working muscles. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues. The more capillaries you have, the better your muscles are at utilizing oxygen, which directly impacts endurance. In essence, LSD running helps your muscles become more efficient oxygen consumers.

Mental Toughness

Running isn’t just a physical sport; it’s a mental one too. LSD running provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen your mental game. When you’re out on the road for an extended period, you’ll likely encounter moments when your mind starts playing tricks on you. It might whisper, “Stop, this is too hard,” or “You can’t go any farther.”

LSD running teaches you to push through these mental barriers. Since you’re running at a comfortable pace, you have the mental space to practice techniques like positive self-talk and visualization. You can remind yourself of your goals, picture yourself crossing the finish line of your next race, or simply focus on the beauty of your surroundings.
Moreover, LSD running also helps you develop patience and discipline. It’s not always the most exciting type of run, but it’s a necessary one. Learning to appreciate the journey, even when it’s slow, can be a valuable life lesson, and it translates well into other areas of your running and your life.

Numerous scientific studies have delved into the psychological benefits of LSD running. A review published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science highlighted that long-duration aerobic exercise, such as LSD running, promotes various mental health benefits, including reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, improved mood, and increased self-esteem. It’s not just about physical fitness; it’s about mental resilience and well-being.

Injury Prevention

Running, especially when done at high speeds or with poor form, can be tough on your body. The impact forces generated with each stride can put stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons. This is where LSD running comes to the rescue as a gentler alternative.

injury - distance long slow run
Running at a slower pace reduces the impact forces on your body. It gives your joints and muscles a break from the high-intensity pounding associated with speed workouts. This lower risk of injury means you can consistently log more miles without being sidelined by pain or overuse injuries.
Additionally, LSD running allows you to focus on your running form. When you’re not gasping for air, you can pay more attention to your posture, stride, and foot placement. Proper form can help prevent injuries and make you a more efficient runner overall.
In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that running at a slower pace and paying attention to running form significantly reduced the risk of overuse injuries in recreational runners. The study concluded that proper running mechanics and pacing play a critical role in injury prevention.

Building a Solid Base

Before you can fly, you need to learn to walk, right? Similarly, before you can tackle intense speed workouts and race at your best, you need a solid running foundation. LSD running lays the groundwork for more advanced training.
Think of it as the foundation of a house. Without a sturdy base, the structure won’t hold up well. In the context of running, your base is your endurance and overall fitness level. LSD running helps you build this base by gradually increasing your aerobic capacity and stamina. Once your base is solid, you can start incorporating more intense workouts like intervals and tempo runs to sharpen your speed.
The concept of developing a running base is well-supported by exercise physiology principles. It’s akin to progressive overload, a fundamental concept in training. Building an aerobic base allows your body to handle more intense workouts later, leading to improved performance.

Weight Management – Long Slow Distance

If you’re looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, Long Slow Distance running can be your trusty companion. While it may not burn as many calories per minute as high-intensity interval training, it makes up for it in duration.
Since LSD runs are longer, you’re spending more time in the fat-burning zone. This extended fat-burning period can help you maintain a healthy body composition over time. Plus, the slower pace is less likely to trigger excessive post-run hunger, which can sometimes sabotage your weight management efforts.
The science of weight management is well-established. When you engage in prolonged, moderate-intensity exercise, such as LSD running, your body taps into its fat stores for energy. This helps with weight loss and maintaining a healthy body composition. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that aerobic exercise, like LSD running, leads to greater fat oxidation during and after exercise compared to high-intensity exercise.

Enjoying the Journey

Let’s not forget the joy of running. While some runners thrive on the adrenaline rush of speed workouts and races, others find bliss in the meditative quality of LSD running. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, to immerse yourself in the rhythm of your footsteps, and to enjoy the scenery along the way.
In our fast-paced world, LSD running offers a respite—a chance to slow down and savor the journey. It’s a time when you can let your mind wander, listen to your favorite podcast, or simply relish the feeling of your body in motion. It’s running for the sake of running, and that, my friends, is where the magic happens.
The joy of running is backed by scientific research. A study in the journal “Frontiers in Psychology” explored the psychological benefits of long-distance running. It found that runners who engaged in LSD running reported higher levels of flow—a state of intense focus and enjoyment—and experienced positive emotions during their runs. This sense of flow and happiness is a powerful motivator that keeps runners coming back for more.

Variety Is the Spice of Running Life

Now, you might be thinking, “Do I have to run slowly all the time?” Not at all! Variety is key to becoming a well-rounded runner.
While LSD running is a valuable tool in your training arsenal, it’s not the only one. To reach your full running potential, you’ll want to incorporate a mix of workouts, including:
1. Speed Work: Intervals, tempo runs, and hill sprints help improve your speed and cardiovascular fitness.
2. Strength Training: Building strong muscles can enhance your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.
3. Flexibility and Mobility: Activities like yoga or dynamic stretching can improve your range of motion and prevent stiffness.
4. Cross-Training: Activities like swimming, cycling, or even hiking can complement your running routine and keep things interesting. Runners World can also use cross-training to rehabilitate injuries, improve fitness, promote recovery, enhance motivation, rejuvenate the mind and body during breaks from formal training, enjoy competing in other endurance sports, and even stay fit through pregnancy.
5. Rest and Recovery: Never underestimate the importance of rest days to allow your body to recover and grow stronger.

Incorporating these elements alongside your LSD runs can help you become a well-rounded runner. Remember, running is a journey, and like any adventure, it’s more enjoyable when you have a variety of experiences along the way. We will look at each of the above articles in future posts.

The Wrap-Up

So, there you have it—the not-so-secret secret of the Long Slow Distance run, and how it can transform you into a better, faster, and happier runner. It’s about building endurance, toughening up mentally, staying injury-free, and laying a solid foundation for your running journey.

But beyond the science and benefits, LSD running is an opportunity to savor the simple pleasure of putting one foot in front of the other and exploring the world one stride at a time. So, next time you lace up your running shoes, consider going slow and steady. You might just find that the journey itself becomes the destination, and the road ahead is filled with endless possibilities.
Happy running, fellow road warriors! May your LSD runs be filled with moments of reflection, joy, and maybe even a few unexpected squirrel chases to keep things interesting. After all, running is not just about the finish line; it’s about the incredible journey along the way.


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Now, go out there and let the rhythm of your feet be the soundtrack to your mental well-being.Go Slow! Happy running!



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