Leo Gervais: The 'G-spot'
Leo Gervais
Leo Gervais
teaches journalism at Concordia University in Montreal. He can be reached at

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 08.02.04


An old jock tries LSD -- and loves it

I tried LSD for the first time a few years ago, but now I'm really starting to like it.

Photos © 2004 Hetty Wezena

Before you get your knickers tied in a Leary-ian knot, be happy in the knowledge I speak of Long Slow Distance training, not the mind-altering substance of parties past.

One of the three main types of running (speed training and hill training are the others), it has had its advocates over the years but never really caught on in the minds of millions of runners until the aerobics boom in the 1970s.

Simply put, you run slower over longer distances to improve your recovery times and running fitness.

Long-time US runner and Running World columnist Joe Henderson has called LSD "gentle running." He's one of the most famous proponents of this relaxed style of running and has written an excellent book on the subject, as well as more than twenty other books on running.

Like many former jocks (in my case primarily football and track and field) that are hovering near 40 or above, we remember Marine sergeant-like coaches barking orders to "suck it up" and stop being a "pussy" out there. Few coaches at the time regarded constant hydration as necessary -- most thought it would just slow you down.

Water was often a treat rather than a staple at break times. I remember doing 100 up-downs one searing July afternoon at the Offense-Defense football camp in Connecticut. With each successive up-down over twenty a few people would drop off, leaving the rest of us to carry on up the Sweaty River, wondering on each vertical ascent and descent if we should just give up and join our fallen brethren on the dusty, sweltering field.

But then the bellowing of "Keep f*ckin' moving!" would echo across the gridiron and we'd continue like zombies with shoulder pads until we completed the century of up-downs exhausted and whipped.

This illustrates a common fallacy among some athletes and too many coaches: no pain, no gain or it isn't work if it doesn't hurt. With those credos burned in our brains, it's no wonder so many of us get pulls, sprains, and everything else trying to get back in shape and strut the machismo.

This is where LSD comes in very handy.

Two years ago at 36, I was 215 lbs, about 35 pounds over my ideal playing weight. I had gusted up to 224 during one particular binge-filled winter in 1994, so I was motivated to lose some pounds and get fit.

As we get older, life tends to get in the way of serious training unless we really make a commitment and have the inspiration.

At 20, most of our peer group is in shape and fit and we want to be that same way.

After 30, most of our peer group is out of shape so if we have put a few or even a lot of pounds on, we tend to blend in, which can seriously affect our motivation to run or lift weights four days a week.

Like many people, I had signed up for gym memberships I didn't use except for that painful first week after New Year's, or bought a home fitness centre that became little more than the most expensive clothes rack in history.

Thankfully, my good friend and marathoner Mike Wolfe lent me a terrific book (sadly, out of print now) by Joe Henderson called Jog, Run, Race that helped me turn things around.

In the book, Joe details several ways on how to improve fitness thru LSD, either by graduated monthly plans of walking, jogging, and running. I have used his workouts for over two years now and I can tell you first-hand they work. By gradually increasing my running times and distances, and alternating easy and less easy running days with plenty of rest, I have kept off twelve pounds and ran in my first race since high school, the Standard Life 10-km Marathon on Mount Royal in Montreal last June 26.

runnerIt was grueling, but I finished in sixty-two minutes, slightly ahead of two friends who had previous race experience and just short of my one-hour goal. The most important thing is that I enjoy running now, and will race again not to win, but to test myself and have fun.

And when anything is fun, you'll always want to keep doing it-especially with Sergeant Rock nowhere to be heard…

If you are interested in running or LSD, check