Wild Rockies Race Team LSD Training
Author: Fritz Stafford
Published: March, 17, 2016
LSD is an acronym for Long Slow Distance. LSD training is necessary to have energy reserves for races longer than ~1.5 hours. The weekly ~3 hour LSD training rides mentioned in the preceding Training Tips section are adequate for race lengths of up to ~2 hours. For longer duration “Marathon” and “Ultra Endurance Marathon”, longer duration LSD training rides are required, ~4 hours for marathon races, and ~5-6 hours for ultra endurance marathon races.
The purpose of the LSD training is to teach your body how to burn and store fat most efficiently. It will take your body ~4 months to learn how to do this optimally. Of course, fueling, hydration and recovery are also key focus of these LSD training rides, and these are not club rides, so no rest stops. Start with the ~3 hour LSD training rides for the first month, and then increase the LSD training ride length over the 2nd and 3rd months to the length required for marathon or ultra endurance marathon, if applicable. Get used to the full LSD training ride length over the fourth month, and focus on increasing the pace, as your body’s fat burning metabolism should now be more efficient. Back-off on the LSD training rides for the two weeks prior to the event.
There are several types of body fat, but for the purposes of this discussion, let us consider the two primary types, “starvation fat” (a.k.a., “organ fat”) and “muscle fat”. In addition to fat, your body also stores easily burned carbohydrates in your blood, but the amount is limited.
When you work out, your body initially burns the energy source that is most easily consumed, the carbs already stored in your blood. However, this only lasts ~45minutes – 75 minutes, depending on workout / fitness level. We attempt to replenish the depleted blood carbs with gel packs, and this certainly helps, but digestion processes are involved. The body evolved another strategy back in the days before gel packs, burning fat. Muscle fat is the next most easily consumed energy source, and it is located adjacent to the muscles where it is most convenient for use in physical activity.
The problem is that unless we do something like LSD training, our bodies do not learn to switch into fat burning mode very efficiently, nor burn fat very efficiently. Also, muscle fat turns into the more difficult to burn starvation fat after periods of non-use. Hence, the first month of LSD training is made difficult by multiple challenges, learning to switch into fat burning mode, learning to burn fat efficiently and clearing out the starvation fat from around your muscles. It is important to do LSD rides that are long enough (and without rest stops that allow the body to switch out of fat burning mode) to deplete all the muscle fat and clear out the starvation fat from around the muscles. This allows the body to learn to produce and store muscle fat efficiently.
After the muscle fat is gone, your body has to transition into burning starvation fat, but this does not provide energy at the rate needed to maintain a high level of physical activity. This is when the bonk occurs. It is best to finish the race before this occurs, and many endurance athletes have very little starvation fat, as there are advantages to being as light as possible for endurance competition. When all the fat is gone, your body transitions to burning muscle. It is best to avoid this!
In the days of old when most people performed physical activity all day long, diets loaded with fat were the norm. This is also how we evolved, as fats were always readily available, and carbs were only occasional / seasonal treats. Of course, now that we have become civilized, it is very easy for the couch potato to consume too much fat with deleterious consequences.
One other point is that it is best to not consume gel packs on the LSD training rides. Rather, save this for the end of the race, and consume real food such as bananas, peanut butter and fruit preserve sandwiches.
You need to roll the clock back, and (re)discover your caveman self.