Taking a quick break from LSD

Long, slow dis­tance, that is. It means exact­ly what it says—running for dis­tance rather than speed. It’s what I’ve been doing since I start­ed run­ning again this year. Even when I’ve done short runs I have still lim­it­ed the inten­si­ty. I believe that long slow dis­tance is the way to become a bet­ter run­ner; as a coach once told me, «just focus on doing the miles and the speed will come.»

On the oth­er hand, even the most stri­dent advo­cates of long slow dis­tance agree that build­ing in some vari­ety to the work­outs is ben­e­fi­cial. Since yes­ter­day was a race day, I did­n’t want to go out and rack up a lot of miles today.

Also because yes­ter­day was a race, I’m very aware that I want to increase my speed. There aren’t any short­cuts, but oth­er than just doing the miles it can be help­ful to do intervals—alternating short bursts of high­er inten­si­ty with peri­ods of slow, easy run­ning to recov­er. Yet anoth­er thing I can do is do a bare­foot run and work on improv­ing my form. Since today should­n’t be a high-mileage day, I decid­ed to do both.

I went over to Jack­son Park and alter­nat­ed laps around the perime­ter with diag­o­nal sprints across the field and back. I ran a two laps first to warm up at about three min­utes each—about a 10:45 per mile pace—and then see how fast I could go across the diag­o­nal and back. I did­n’t have mea­sured start and stop points but based on the GPS the dis­tance between my two turn­around points—the edge of the shad­ow of the trees on one side and a patch of white clover on the other—is about 470 feet. The first time across I com­plet­ed at a 6:26 pace but the trip back I slowed con­sid­er­ably to an eight minute mile.

I took a lap at about a thir­teen minute mile pace and took the diag­o­nal again, this time at a 7:30 pace out and 8:00 pace back. One more lap at 12 min­utes per mile and my third set of diag­o­nals was at 8:00 and 8:20. You can see that I was get­ting slow­er, so I made my plan at that point. I would do two more laps, anoth­er diag­o­nal, and then two more laps, the last one clock­wise (I had been run­ning coun­ter­clock­wise) and come home.

The first diag­o­nal I got done in a 7:35 pace but com­ing back I dropped to a nine minute mile. That’s still faster than I’ve been run­ning but I could tell that it was just about enough. I did my two final laps and came on home.

The point of this kind of exer­cise is to give my body a taste of the shock of push­ing hard­er, and also to devel­op the rhythms of run­ning the faster pace. It’s sup­posed to expand the «enve­lope» of my com­fort­able run­ning pace so that when I go back to long slow dis­tance my def­i­n­i­tion of slow has the pos­si­bil­i­ty of being just a lit­tle less slow. It’s some­thing to intro­duce a lit­tle at a time while the rest of what I do is all LSD.

High points from this run: it’s a beau­ti­ful day today. Get­ting out there and get­ting my blood flow­ing in the sun was, by itself, a plea­sure. The dirt around the base­ball dia­monds had been fresh­ly groomed, so I got to see my own bare foot­prints in the dirt where no one else’s prints were. I briefly spoke with a woman who came out to do some (very impres­sive) yoga in the grass. She had an uncan­ny resem­blance to Sarah Michelle Gel­lar (of Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er) both in her face and her voice. As I ran my laps I thought how good it was to know that I was safe from vam­pire attacks.

Low point: the worst thing was hav­ing to clean out a bro­ken blis­ter when I got back home. That’s anoth­er argu­ment for get­ting a pair of Vibram Fivefin­gers. Dirt under bro­ken skin is not a good thing.

2 Replies to “Taking a quick break from LSD”

  1. Thanks for giv­ing a name to
    Thanks for giv­ing a name to what I’ve been work­ing on. I’ve been build­ing my dis­tance and not wor­ry­ing about time, though I have found that I’ve been get­ting faster. Ulti­mate­ly, though, the chal­lenge I’m on (50 miles in 6 weeks) is about dis­tance, not time.

    1. Dis­tance, dis­tance, distance

      There’s a say­ing amongst endurance ath­letes of all types: you can’t fin­ish first unless you fin­ish. Which is anoth­er way of express­ing the idea that became my mantra when I did my first (and so far only) triathlon: DFL beats DNF every time.

      DNF is a term that gets print­ed in the race results for par­tic­i­pants who Did Not Fin­ish. DFL stands for Dead F***ing Last.

      I’ve been fol­low­ing your progress as you’ve been increas­ing your dis­tance. Great work! Are you still most­ly going on the tread­mill? I ask because you must have real­ly great oppor­tu­ni­ties for walk­ing and run­ning right in your neigh­bor­hood. I can def­i­nite­ly go far­ther on the road or a trail than I can on a tread­mill. The monot­o­ny real­ly gets to me indoors.

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