A highlight of the week is my LSD run, and no, it's not what you think. To a runner, LSD is "Long, Slow Distance." This is a weekly run that is at least 1.5 times as long as your average run. I'm currently running 4-6 miles on a given day during the week, but my long run is at least 10 miles. For some, this may seem masochistic. For others, my 10+ miles is just an average workout.
LSD is a must for a distance runner. The way to build endurance is to, well, endure. It's an incredibly challenging workout. You don't want to go for an LSD run more than once a week unless you're trying to run your body into the ground. There are probably some ultra-runners out there who would disagree, but one LSD run per week is plenty for us mortals.
The LSD run also teaches you mental toughness and patience. You must maintain a slower pace on an LSD run, or you simply won't last…or maybe you will last, but you'll wish you hadn't! At the beginning of an LSD run, I curb my enthusiasm, running purposefully and slowly. Yesterday I ran 11 miles. It felt like I was moving at a snail's pace, but once I hit 5 miles and realized I had 6 more to go, I was congratulating myself for maintaining a reasonable pace. Running an 11:30 mile may seem very slow. Well, it is very slow, but believe me, if you run at that pace for 11 miles, you'll feel it!
About 15 years ago, I was a pretty speedy runner, training mostly for fast 5K and 10K races. Even though I'm not nearly as fast these days, I'm able to run longer distances because I've learned the value of slowing down. Back then, I used a stopwatch so that I could push myself to run faster and faster. Today, I wear a GPS watch that keeps track of my pace. Instead of using it to push the tempo, I actually use it to slow down on my LSD run. If I find that I'm running faster than a certain pace, even if I feel strong, I'll slow down until I reach the pace that will allow me to go the distance. As I continue running, I'll naturally become faster as I grow stronger, but this year is all about endurance. One of my goals is to be able to run 20 miles by the end of the year, and I've already worked out a training plan.
The Long, Slow Distance mindset is part of my musical life, too. As a guitarist, I want to be able to play like Joe Pass, Frank Vignola, or Martin Taylor. The reality is that I sound good for someone who's only been playing seven years, but I'm nowhere near their league. All I can do is maintain my slow, steady pace and go the distance. Each day, I run through scales and patterns, practice sight-reading, work on improvisation, practice music for upcoming performances, review my solo arrangements work on new arrangements, and so forth. Every practice session is like logging another mile in my LSD guitar run. You never know, someday I might wake up and realize I can run with the big dogs. Until then, it's one step at a time.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.