What is the point of an LSD (long-slow-distance) ride?

What is the point of an LSD (long-slow-distance) ride?

Today's question on RIDE with CoachParry comes from one of our members in the CoachParry Training Platform - asking what is the purpose of doing long slow distance rides (LSD sessions)? Coach Devlin gives insights into why these types of sessions are so important and why we should not be skipping them. Devlin and Brad chat about what is the right intensity to do these rides at and why it is so easy to slip out of the right intensity.

If you're looking for some structured training for your cycling program, whether you're a beginner or advanced cyclist, be sure to check out the CoachParry Online Training Platform. Where you will get exactly this as well as a members only forum where you can chat to Devlin as well as our other coaches.


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Long slow distance training rides: why are they important?


Welcome on to this edition of RIDE with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. I've got our cycling coach Devlin Eyden with us, Dev, welcome on to the podcast today.

Thanks for having me, Brad, looking forward to the question.

Dev, it's a great question. And it's got to do with long slow distance training rides. So we've got a whole bunch of cycling training programmes on our online training platform over at coachparry.com/cycling. And there have been a few questions about the different sessions. There's obviously sort of high intensity tempo sessions but the one that's been asked about quite often, and it's one that people tend to miss, and don't really do it properly, is the LSD training sessions or the long slow distance rides.

Dev, tell us a little bit about the LSD sessions, like, why are they in the training programme? Why are they important? And why shouldn't you be, I don't wanna say missing them, because people are doing them, but they're not doing them at the right pace and right intensity. Tell us a little bit about your take on those long slow distance rides.

Alright, Brad. Yeah, you've got a good point. So it is something that a lot of people do miss., more often than not, and they feel, oh, well, it's lower intensity stuff so it's not the end of the world if I don't.The sort of whole idea of the LSD stuff is you're getting time in the saddle. So we're really trying hard, and we'll structure most of the programmes around almost an 80/20 principle, in the sense of 80% of your training programme, or the volume of your programme is going to be long, slow distance type of work slash recovery work as well. And the idea here around the long slow distance is to actually build your cardiovascular engine. That's where you laying the foundation, laying the base. It's on top of that, and what makes up the 20% of your training volume is where the high intensity, your power, your speed, your strength type of training, gets added on top of that. So if you sort of had to picture it as a pyramid.


Helping with recovery


Now, the reason for having that solid base or your LSD cardiovascular engine well developed is from a recovery point of view, as well. And not just between sessions and from day to day, but also within a session or in a race as well where you need to recover after a high intensity burst. So you might be in a race, you've been climbing a climb for five to 10 minutes, you completely poke by the top, it allows you to also just recover that little bit quicker so you can put the hammer down again, rather than needing another 20 minutes to try and get your heart rate down and to recover. So it is a vital piece of the training programme. And it's the reason we put it into the training as well.

So my suggestion would be, if you're not getting, I would almost sacrifice, and I suppose it largely depends on the level of rider that we talking about, but I would rather sacrifice a little bit of the high intensity quality type of sessions to actually get the long slow distance ride training in. And I speak about quality sessions, it's not to say that LSD is not a quality aspect to your training, we talk about that as laying the base foundation, the time in the saddle. I can understand it for most of us, and I think it's sort of our daily run in the mill, how busy we are in our lives that we feel well we might only have 45 minutes or two hours to train today, whatever it might be, so we need to go as hard as we possibly can to feel like we actually achieving something, breaking a sweat and feel dead by the end of it.

The problem is, when you've got a programme, and especially some of the more advanced programmes, where you see you training five to six times a week, when you do high intensity on top of high intensity on top of high intensity, you're building fatigue on top of fatigue on top of fatigue and the problem there is you're never getting a proper recovery in. And that's where we start playing around with risks of overtraining and falling. And when you fall into that overtraining pit, it's very difficult and takes a long time to come out of that. So I would, as far as possible, try not sacrifice this.

And what makes it difficult as well to actually stay LSD is when we start riding with other people. I mean, a programme might say a Saturday ride or a Sunday ride might be a three or four hour long, slow distance ride, those are zone two efforts and for most of us zone 2 efforts we kind of get bored doing it. But it takes a lot of discipline not to be chasing your buddy up the road, trying to log a Strava segment or whatever it might be. Because then we defeating the whole purpose of trying to build that cardiovascular engine, we now in completely different zone, and we're building fatigue again. So it does take a lot of discipline, a lot of self discipline, to try and just regulate that and stay in that intensity that prescribed zone for the allotted period of time.


Each training session has its purpose


Dev, you make a very important point there. And we hear it so often when people say if you're going to train make sure that each training session has a purpose. And for a lot of people, they feel that if they're not about to pop a lung, they're not doing it right. And the long slow distance ride has its purpose, like you've explained. And the reason we do it is for those exact reasons. So even though it feels like you're not sort of getting your heart rate, that it feels like your hearts about to pop out of your mouth, riding in those zone 2 sort of in that area is definitely helping and it's doing what it should be doing.

Yes, 100%. And I think tying into that, and on your point is, what has a purpose is things like a recovery, ride as well. So a lot of people will see a recovery ride and think, Oh, well, I'm feeling a little bit flat or no, my day is just too hectic and I'm going skip my recovery ride today. The recovery ride itself has a purpose. And you'll see in the programmes that we write for instance, is you'll have a recovery ride and then you'll have a rest day. Those are two different things. The rest day is a complete day off. And then the recovery ride is a day we typically trying to flush the system or just loosen the legs up a little bit before tomorrow's tough day riding again. So each of those also has their purpose. So it's the same with the LSD stuff. Don't skip on your recovery rides where possible as well.


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