top of page
  • Writer's pictureDoug Joachim

LSD Running Trip & Intervals

Long Slow Distance (LSD) running has been a popular method for improving cardiovascular fitness for decades. Some runners have even reported hallucinatory experiences during these runs, leading to comparisons with the effects of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). However, rather than a psychotropic experience, these vivid images and hallucinations can be attributed to chemical changes in the brain, increased body temperature, rapid sustained heart rate, glycogen depletion, and dehydration.

The Physiology Behind LSD Running:

LSD running, characterized by slow and steady aerobic efforts, has its roots in the 1970s and has been lauded for enhancing cardiovascular fitness. Recent research, however, indicates that short bouts of interval training can be just as effective or even superior for cardiovascular fitness and calorie burning. Nevertheless, LSD running remains a viable training option, especially when integrated with other techniques.

The Importance of Aerobic Base Building:

Aerobic training primarily relies on fat stores as a source of energy, making it an efficient way to improve endurance. On the other hand, anaerobic training (high-intensity exercise) mainly utilizes glycogen and sugars for energy. Chronically training in an anaerobic state can decrease aerobic muscle fibers and fat-burning potential. To optimize fat metabolism during workouts, it is essential to build a strong aerobic base.

The Maffetone Method for LSD Running:

The Maffetone Method offers a structured approach to LSD running by using a heart rate monitor to stay within a specific target heart rate zone. This method helps to ensure that runners maintain an aerobic state, allowing their bodies to burn fat efficiently. To calculate the target heart rate, follow these steps:

I recommend that you get a heart rate monitor and follow the “Maffetone Method”:

Step 1:  180 – your age

Step 2:  Change this number by selecting one of these categories:

  1. If you are recovering from a major illness and/or on regular medication, subtract 10

  2. If you are a novice or tend to get sick often subtract 5

  3. If you have been exercising successfully up to 2 yrs without injury subtract 0

  4. If you have been in exercising and progressing for more than 2 years add 5

Step 3:  The final number is your estimated max aerobic heart rate.  Example: A 40-year-old working out for 4 years would have a 145 max HR. She would try to stay between 140 and 145 without going over for the duration of her run.

Challenge: Find your max aerobic heart rate and run a mile while keeping your heart rate as close to that number (but not above) as possible. Write down your mile time – it will be slow.  Do your normal amount of runs for the next 4 weeks but don’t train above your max aerobic heart rate.  These runs will be very slow; I urge you to leave your ego at home and take your time; the results are worth it.  At the end of this period, re-test your mile and see how much faster you are.  It is not uncommon to observe a 10% plus enhancement in your time.  I’ve had some clients improve by 30% in 1 month!  In other words, the heart gets stronger and generates more speed with the same effort.

Benefits of LSD Running:

LSD running, when executed correctly, provides several advantages, including:

  • Improved aerobic capacity and endurance

  • Enhanced fat metabolism

  • Reduced stress on the anaerobic system

  • Increased cardiovascular health

  • Opportunities for introspection and mental relaxation

Combining LSD Running with Interval Training:

Interval training, a pattern of alternating high and low-speed efforts, complements LSD running to improve overall fitness. Integrating intervals into your training routine can help burn more calories without sacrificing the aerobic base. By adding short bursts of anaerobic work (e.g., one-minute intervals at an 8 or 9 intensity level) to your LSD runs, you can achieve a well-rounded workout regimen.

Here is a sample combo LSD/Interval workout (for a healthy 40 year old):

  1. Slow 5 minute warm up at a heart rate of 110-120

  2. Aerobic training 6 minutes at 145 HR

  3. Anaerobic training for 1 minute at 165-175 HR

  4. Then repeat two-step cycle until the end of the workout.

Long Slow Distance (LSD) running offers a time-tested approach to enhancing cardiovascular fitness and fat metabolism. When combined with interval training, runners can achieve even greater results without compromising their aerobic base. The key is to strike a balance between LSD and interval training, ensuring that both health and fitness are prioritized. Whether you choose to embark on a meditative LSD journey or incorporate invigorating intervals, a well-rounded routine, ample rest, and a healthy diet will undoubtedly yield the best results.

The average body may store over 120 hours of fat and approximately 20 minutes of glycogen (for prolonged high-intensity exercise). The human body preferentially uses what it has most of, fat. However, in an ‘alarm’ state (anaerobic training/high heart rate), it cannot convert fat to sugar quickly, so it utilizes its’ glycogen stores. Chronically training anaerobically decreases the number of aerobic muscle fibers and fat burning potential.  It is vital to build an aerobic base and (re)teach the body to use fat for energy during workouts.   To do this, you will have to slow down and do some LSD.


1. LSD Hallucinations: From Ergot to Electric Kool-Aid 2. Gaitanos, G.C., Williams, C., Boobis, L.H., and Brooks, S. Human muscle metabolism during intermittent maximal exercise. J Appl Physiol 1993;75:712-719. 3. Hargreaves, M., Finn, J.P., Withers, R.T., Halbert, J.A., Scroop, G.C., Mackay, M., Snow, R.J., Carey, M.F. Effect on muscle glycogen availability on maximal exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 1997;75:188-192. 4. Maffetone, P; Training for Endurance; David Barmore Productions; 1996.

Doug Joachim – NYC


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page