For some it is called the Long Steady Run or Long Slow Run (LSR) for others the Long Slow Distance (LSD). Personally I have always called it the Long Steady Run. Something about saying I am going for a LSD just doesn’t sound quite right, I’d expect people to give me a strange and suspicious looks.
But what does a LSR really mean?
Whether you are training for a 5km, HM, Marathon or Ultra, we should always factor in a slow run. Most days in our training programme we will be pushing ourselves both mentally and physically to try and get that optimum performance. This naturally starts to put a strain on your body and mind. The LSR then comes into its own for a couple of reasons:
The LSR forces you to run slowly, thus allowing your joints, muscles and ligaments to recover.
Because you are running slowly you are able to run further, seemingly with less effort.
Running slower for longer teaches the body that it is capable of exercising far longer than you expected.
Realising that you can run further gives a positive mental boost and helps break down some of those mental barriers.
Surprisingly a LSR helps you to mentally destress and gives you the time to really appreciate your surroundings.
Everyone should include a LSR into their training programme. It doesn’t matter what distance you are aiming for, a LSR is relative to your specific training programme. If you are aiming to run 5km, then 3km could be your LSR, likewise if you are aiming to run a 33 mile ultra then a marathon could be your LSR.
So get out there and experience the LSR. The fact that you are running slowly means you get the time and have the energy to really appreciate your surroundings. You can even stop to take photos without worrying about how it will effect your finish time. You will be amazed what new things you discover on a long run, not just environmentally but you will also discover deeper things about yourself. You are tougher than you think.
It is not very often when I get an entire morning to myself, so when the opportunity comes along I go out for a long run. I had no real idea how far I was going to go, but I knew I wanted it to be further than a HM.
I almost went out wearing leggings, however as I was just about to leave the house I realised the sun was out and the skies were blue. Quick change into shorts and how thankful was I for making that decision.
Whilst I was waiting for my Garmin to locate the GPS, I did a few of my pre running stretches such as ankle rotations, knee rotations and hip flexor stretches. I was feeling pretty good, nothing seemed to ache or feel sore.
I waved to a couple of runners but had nothing in return, usually I don’t mind but as I had opted not to wear headphones today I was rather looking forward to some interaction.
The sun was most definitely out and I was getting rather hot. I had left my camel bak in work so I was carrying two water bottles. The plan was to rehydrate every 5kms, or more often if needed. It wasn’t long before I hit my first 5km in just 25 mins, everything felt good.
The deer were out in the park today and there were a few up by the Copper Horse. I remembered my phone this time so I was able to stop and take some photos.
Initially I was trying to run and type notes out as I went along. This was quite difficult and then I remembered what Dean Karnazes used to do when he wrote his book, he would use a dictaphone. I grabbed my phone and started to chat into it. Must admit I had some funny looks but that didn’t bother me.
At 8.6km I said good morning to another runner and I was bowled over when he said good morning back. I had not so much as had a nod or a wave up until this point, and now I get a full on Good Morning. This will keep me going for ages.
At 10km it was time for a walking water stop. I took this opportunity to have a quick self assessment and my left knee was feeling pretty sore. Maybe my plan to run further than a HM was too ambitious for today? For the time being I would carry on and see what happens, see if my foot placement is aggravating my knee.
It is strange the things that go through your mind whilst running. I spent quite a lot of the time thinking about the run, how far had I gone, what was my pace, when is my next water break, why is my knee still sore, what shall I have for lunch when I get home, I still need to wash the babies bottles, its actually quite hot, no wait its cold now the sun has gone behind a cloud. Meanwhile the kms are slowly passing.
By 11.4km the knee pain had gone, I was feeling really good and was now contemplating on whether I should cover a marathon distance on this run. I had a quick stop to take a photo of the Totem Pole at the edge of Virgina Waters, before moving off to run around the lake.
At 12.2km I was still feeling really good and was now thinking what pace I needed to do in order to do a sub 4 hour marathon. I had now been running for about 64 minutes. I concluded that if kept this pace going I would achieve the sub 4 hour time. I felt good so lets keep going.
At 13.5km my left knee was sore again and now my left buttock was also sore. Amazing how things change within a km. Now having doubts about running a marathon today. What kept my spirits high was that I knew I was coming up to a lovely waterfall, or Cascade as it is called here.
At 15.2km it was another water break and I was starting to feel a little tired, my knee was still sore but at least my left buttock wasn’t too bad now.
By the time I reached 16.1km or 10 miles I was starting to feel slightly hungry. Thankfully I put a couple of mini sausages in my bag as I was leaving the house. Those little beauties went down a treat. Something so simple can be a great pick me up. Unfortunately I discovered my banana had been crushed by my water bottle in my bag. That really upset me because I was looking forward to eating that later. One second you are up, the next moment you are down again. I plodded on grumbling to myself for not protecting my banana.
By the time I got to 20km my knee wasn’t too bad, my buttocks were fine but the sole of my right foot was feeling sore. My pace had also dropped off and I was now not on track for a sub 4 hour marathon. I was also feeling quite fatigued so I decided I would still to my original plan. As I was on my return journey now I knew I was about 10km away from home, which would put me on or around the 30km mark. It was at this moment that I decided I would go for 20 miles so I needed to find and additional 2 kms from somewhere. I had just passed Savill Gardens and I was about to hit Cow Pond, which I could run around a couple of times to make up the distance. It turns out Cow Pond is approximately 600m around!
The next water break found me back at the Copper Horse, the deer had gone. From my calculation I was going to be 600m short of 20 miles so I will have to find a little detour. If I had know this earlier I could have done another lap of Cow Pond, although it was becoming a little boring after 4 laps. I was also getting quite hungry now so decided I would eat my banana and I didn’t care how squashed it was, I want my banana!
Right foot and right butt cheek are really sore now and i have 7km to go.
Really annoyed with myself, I must have stopped my watch when I had my banana yet I have no recollection of doing it. Here I was about to do my 600m detour and now I think I am about 2km short now! It could have been worse, thankfully I checked my watch and noticed it was about to go into battery saving mode! When you are starting to hurt the last thing you need is a stupid mistake like this. I never stop my watch on a run unless I am stuck crossing a road. I kept my watch running when I stopped for photos and water breaks, so why would I stop it for a banana!
I was now debating with myself on whether I should just head home and then add on the km I knew I have just run. I couldn’t do that, my compulsive obsession will not allow me to do it. Instead I reached a crossroads and turned left, instead of turning right for home. I ran 1km down the road and then turned round and headed back again. Annoyingly I had forgotten about the original 600m that I was already going to be short, so at the next crossroads I turned left for 300m turn round and came back again. When you are starting to suffer physically the last thing you need is extra distance and then mentally forcing yourself to do it.
By the time I hit 30km both my knees were feeling great, however my right foot was still sore and now my left hamstring was feeling like it may cramp. Time for some more water and it was the last of it. Thankfully I only have 2.2km left to go and for some unknown reason the theme tune to the Tweenies entered my head and would not go away!
By the time I finished I had done 33km or 35km if I add on the 2km I accidentally didn’t record! Both my knees were still feeling good, my left hamstring was ok again and my right foot wasn’t as bad as it was. Both my butt cheeks were aching but that was to be expected. Feeling tired and hungry, but generally in high spirits. I think it was a good call not to go for the marathon distance, this time.
It was about 3 weeks ago now when I decided to adopt a different running style. Hopefully I would increase my endurance and reduce the frequent injuries. After all if I could resolve those two issues it would mean I could enjoy my running even more.
So how am I doing?
Week 1: This was a steep learning curve. I went out for a few runs around from 6-8 miles. The first thing I learned was how much concentration is required to adopt a new running style. As soon as I switched off my technique returned to my old form. Quickly berating myself, I would start concentrating again. Mid foot strike, short quick students, keep foot, knee and head in alignment and remember to use those butt cheeks.
At the end of the first week I felt surprisingly good. No signs of and aches or pains in my shins or knees. The only issue I was suffering from was muscle ache. My calfs and butt cheeks were really aching, but then I was exercising muscles to an extent not previously used to.
Week 2: Unfortunately this was a complete write off due to work commitments and the little one being ill at home. In away this allowed my sore muscles to recover, but I was eager to continue.
Week 3: Everything was going so well. Managed to get out for an hours run early in the week, covering just over 12.5km. Felt really good, foot strike and form were going well and didn’t feel tired at all by the end. Disaster struck when I went out for my next run. I was feeling so good, apart from a little aching in my calfs and glutes, that I became ambitious and went for a HM stroll around the Great Park!
By the time I had finished my knee was in agony. Having slept on the problem and waking up with little improvement in the knee pain, I wanted to analyse what went wrong. The run started fine, felt good barring the aches and I was really looking forward to it. The scenery in the park was fantastic. At the halfway point my knee was starting to show signs of soreness, I was beginning to feel tired and my muscles were aching even more. At this point I should have probably listened to my body and walked the rest of the way, however my stubbornness meant I kept on going wanting to complete my HM. Another lesson to be learned!
My conclusion was that my painful knee was a direct result of my failings at maintaining the correct running form. As my calfs and glutes ached before I even started running, my form was slightly off leading to a greater impact on my knee. Rather than a mid foot strike, which would have naturally absorbed and taken the shock away from my knee, I had resorted back to a heel strike. Coupled with fatigue I failed to identify the issue and correct the problem.
Moving forward the first thing I need to do is give my knee time to recover. Next I need to address the root cause, which was muscle soreness. If my calfs and glutes hadn’t been aching so much, my running form would not have suffered. Therefore I need to reduce my distance and allow the calf muscles and glutes to strengthen. Once I have done this I will be able to retain the correct running form.
You know you are a runner when you get numerous gifts for Christmas that are running related. Not only did I get a new hat and a new armband, but I was also fortunate enough to get some of these bad boys:
The other great feature is that they are an MP3 so you do not need to plug them into your phone, iPod etc. It used to really annoy me when I was running and the wires would flap around. I also found that the headphone connection to my iPhone was becoming temperamental due to overuse so I wanted to move away from using it. I had already invested in a Garmin so I didn’t have to use my phone as a GPS tracker, these headphones now solve the music issue.
As this is an MP3 you can simply drag and drop your music onto the icon and it will download into your headphones. As all the controls are on the ear piece, it takes a short while to get used to where the buttons are located. It is all very straightforward, the volume control is on the left ear piece and the play/pause, skip buttons are on the right ear piece. Simples!
I tested my Sony headphones out the other day and I have to say I was really impressed with them. Some of the reviews that I had read stated the volume was too quiet, however I found them to be loud enough. I tested out the numerous earbuds that are supplied and found those that suited my ears. After running 10km the headphones were still comfortable and they did not slip or fall out once. The key test will be to try them out when it is raining to see how they perform.
Here is a photo from my early morning run around Windsor Great Park.
The clear sunny skies are misleading as it was freezing, however the scenery on my 10km run more than made up for the cold.