The LSD generation


Joe Henderson

So it turns out I’m part of the LSD generation. Who knew?

I’d never heard that 1960s drug acronym used as a running term til last year,  when I finally realized it’s an acronym for Long Slow Distance. It’s a specific type of training run. But apparently it’s also a term that old school runners apply to tortoises like me.

I just thought that’s how the average person came into running: You walk and jog, then you build up to a slow jog, and then gradually you run farther and slightly less slowly.

Apparently this method seemed bizarre to old-timers like Joe Henderson, author of Best Runs (and a bunch of other books), who writes that before the 1970s jogging craze — when I got my first taste of running, watching Dad give it a try — most runners were ex-track types who started out going hard from Day One. Speed was everything. Pain was just part of the process.

To those guys, watching the thundering herd of LSD-types showing up at races must’ve seemed as baffling as the swarms of European settlers felt to Native Americans. Their ways were weird and strange — and from their perspective, inferior — but there were just too many of them. And now they — we — have taken over.

Henderson, writing back in 1999, didn’t seem to begrudge the presence of us LSDers any more than the generation that came after: the walking runners, who not only don’t fret about walking every now and then during a race, but actually plan to do so.

As a member of the LSD generation — in spirit, at least, since that‘s when I got my first taste of running before taking nearly 30 years off — walking during a run, much less a race, seems weird.

But I say, the more the merrier. As I’ve written many times, I love running with the herd. And if it includes a growing number of walking runners, that’s fine with me. It makes me feel slightly less slow.

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1 Response to The LSD generation

  1. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now, particularly the runners who have planned walks in their training and in their races. Jeff Galloway preaches the run-walk method. He argues that the short walk breaks give your muscles a chance to recover and that overall you’ll be able to run farther and faster by taking walk breaks. If I read his marathon training book correctly, even Bill Rodgers took short (5-10 seconds) walking breaks when he was winning four Boston Marathons.

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