The Thursday Runs: Long Slow Distance

photo (37)

As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

Long slow distance shall now be refered to as LSD, and unfortunately, it is not some fun drug us runners do; we’re crazy enough without the drugs. True story.

I both love and loathe tempo and LSD runs equally. I love tempo runs because they’re over quickly and but they’re haaaard (TWSS); I love LSD runs because I can go out and take my time and run slowly, but they take freaking forever to complete.

From John Stanton and the Running Room (Toronto Waterfront Training Program):

Long Slow Distance runs are the corner-stone of any distance training program

  • Take a full minute to walk for every 10 minutes of running
  • These runs are meant to be done much slower than race pace so don’t be overly concerned with your pace
  • To increase capillary network in your body and raise anaerobic threshold
  • Mentally prepares you for long races

The Pace shown on the LSD Run/Walk day includes the walk time. It is walk adjusted!

  • This program provides an upper end (slow) and bottom end (fast) pace to use as a guideline
  • The upper end pace is preferable as it will keep you injury free. Running at the bottom end pace is a common mistake many runners make. They try to run at the maximum pace which is an open invitation to injury.
  • I know of very few runners who have been injured from running too slow but loads of runners who incurred injuries by running too fast
  • In the early stages of the program it is very easy to run the long runs too fast, but like the marathon or half marathon, the long runs require discipline and patience

“Practice your sense of pace by slowing the long runs down. You will recover faster and remain injury free.”
John Stanton

Contrary to what one might think, the vast majority of runs should be done at a slower pace, with only a few runs truly stressing the body.


I also should have included these types of runs in my intro post, but I didn’t, so I’m showing them now.

running actions

running actions 02

(All images from John Stanton’s marathon training program)

My personal running hierarchy (that determines if I will skip a run) is as follows:

  1. LSD
  2. Tempo/Hills
  3. Speed
  4. Steady

So, if I’m skipping a run, I do my very best to make sure it is not an LSD run. Where I am in my training, this means I’m up early on a Sunday to run for 3-4 hours before I plant my arse on the couch for the remainder of the day. Hey, no one said training for a marathon was going to be easy!

LSD’s also take the most amount of preparation when it comes to fueling and hydrating. I very rarely bring water on my weekday runs (I will for hills because I’m out there for over an hour) and I never bring gels for any run an hour or under; however, water and gels come along with me for my long runs. My personal rule is one gel for every hour or so of exercise, so once I hit 30km training runs, this means 3 gels are coming along for the ride, and for the marathon? Probably four. I’m gonna need some more pockets for all these gels.

For the past two weekends I’ve aimed to complete a 30km run, the first weekend I only ran 15km (ha! “only”) and this past weekend I ran 19km. It appears there’s a section of trail where the camber is such that my left ankle gets pretty cranky. It happened twice on the same section of trail, so next weekend I’ll be turning around before that section and I’ll be taping my ankle in advance.


Seeing as I’m a bit behind on my long runs, I’ll be modifying my marathon training plan as follows:

  • September 7/8 (it’s supposed to rain on Sunday, so I might move my run to Saturday): 30km
  • September 14: 32km
  • September 21: 25km
  • September 30: 32km
  • October 6: 6km (taper LOL!)
  • October 13: 42.2km. YIKES!


Half Marathon

  1:45 2:00 2:15 2:30 To complete
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:00 6:15 6:36 7:17 8:37
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:00 10:00 10:30 11:13 13:52
LSD* (min/km) 5:33-6:16 6:56-7:47 7:19-8:12 8:03-9:00 9:29-10:53
LSD* (min/mile) 8:53-10:02 11:06-12:27 11:42-13:07 12:53-14:24 15:10-17:25

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly


  3:45 4:00 4:15 4:30 4:45 5:00
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:24 5:44 6:05 6:26 6:47 7:07
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:38 9:10 9:45 10:18 10:51 11:24
LSD* (min/km) 6:00-6:45 6:22-7:11 6:45-7:45 7:08-8:00 7:30-8:25 7:52-8:49
LSD* (min/mile) 9:36-10:48 10:11-11:30 10:48-12:24 11:25-12:48 12:00-13:28 12:35-14:06

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly




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12 thoughts on “The Thursday Runs: Long Slow Distance

  1. I love that you’re converting to min/mile too. I know I said that in my last comment, but it’s still true!!

    Also, I just realized your marathon is the same day as my Halloween 10k. Which obviously makes you SIGNIFICANTLY more of a badass than me. 🙂

    • Actually, I think it makes YOU smarter than ME because I had fully intended to run a 10k that weekend until my running endorphins were all “hey, your half training rolls nicely into a full”.

      I should probably make sure I’ve ran more than 20k for a long run at some point too…

      • Hahaha, I know that feeling. Looks like you’ve got a good plan laid out though. I’d suggest more tapering, but I know how much you absolutely hate it, so nevermind. 😀

      • The actual plan has nearly a 2 week taper, 16km for LSD followed by 6km LSD before the race.

        It’s tough because I need to balance getting in my milage and tapering – I may just play it by ear. Having two of my scheduled 30k runs not go as planned has thrown me off a bit.

      • Hmmm, so looking at my plan, I could do 30, 32, 32, 25, 6 – that would be the same mileage and give me more of a taper than previously noted. ANd, I don’t think dropping to 25 is really all that necessary at this point since I’ve had two shorter runs (15 and 19) lately.

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