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Starting Lines 27: Big Miles - Joe Henderson

Starting Lines 27: Big Miles

LSD, Speed and Hills

RC 749


Joe Henderson’s Running Commentary

Joe Henderson is credited with LSD – Long Slow Distance – training.  He wrote a booklet in the early 1960s that is credited with popularizing this method of training.  Many followed his plan. To this day Mark Allen credits Dr. Phil Maffatone’s version of LSD with his Kona victories.  American Ultra record holder Stu Mittleman also touts LSD’s benefits.

I am a believer in the Arthur Lydiard approach to training.  But, unfortunately, as Arthur had said repeatedly, "No, no, NO! You got it all wrong!"  "You get faster by growing stronger," said the New Zealander. "You grow stronger, more enduring, more resistant to fatigue, by training for long distances at relatively slow pace."  The key point I believe, and Arthur repeatedly said, was to run lots of miles at a RELATIVELY slow pace.  Arthur also said, "Slow running is better than NO running, and it works fine for joggers. But my athletes do NOT run slow. They go as fast as they can without going into oxygen debt. And they do NOT run long all the time, but only during the endurance-building phase that lasts less than three months. They follow this with period of hill bounding, then sharpening with time trials and sprints."

The AGTC running workouts are designed to SUPPLEMENT your running.  I’ve repeatedly said there are only three running workouts a triathlete needs to do – Tuesday Morning Speed, Thursday Evening Hills and a weekend long run.  Long run means more that your race distance (except for most Ironman triathletes, but some IM triathletes would greatly benefit from running longer than the marathon distance on occasion) – sprint and Olympic triathletes should run 8 to 10 miles, half IM triathletes should run 15 miles and IM athletes should run 20 to 26 miles.  A good rule of thumb, for both running and cycling, is to cover at least the distance of your long workout during the rest of the week. So, if you are doing a long workout of 10 miles, you need to cover at least 10 miles during the rest of the week, for a weekly total of 20 miles.

What you need to keep in mind is what Arthur meant by slow long running.  Don’t go into oxygen debt.  Joe Henderson has been linked, wrongly, with the jogging movement of the 1970s.  Lydiard always argued with him about LSD.  Arthur’s idea of long runs was training, NOT jogging.  Run long, run strong, don’t race your long runs.  A little mentioned twist on Lydiard’s long runs was the sand dunes that he had his athletes run – during their 20 plus mile runs!  These were huge hills, and they were sand.  The amount of work needed to climb them was great.  The strength benefit was equally great.  Combined with more speed, the combination produced great runners – world record holders and Olympic gold medalists. 


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Neil L. Cook, 212-472-9281 or 917-575-1901 or Coach@SLB-Coaching.com or Neil.L.Cook@mindspring.com
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