In the world of cycling, the concept of Long Slow Distance (LSD) rides often prompts questions and, occasionally, skepticism. 

Today, we delve into the purpose and benefits of LSD rides.

What are Long Slow Distance Rides?

LSD rides are low-intensity, long-duration cycling sessions designed to build endurance and cardiovascular fitness. These rides typically take place at a comfortable pace, where you can maintain a conversation without gasping for air. This intensity corresponds to Zone 2 in heart rate training, which is about 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

Why Are LSD Rides Important?

1. Building the Cardiovascular Engine:

The primary purpose of LSD rides is to develop a strong cardiovascular base. According to Coach Devlin, these rides help lay the foundation upon which more intense workouts can be built. This principle is often structured around the 80/20 rule in training programs, where 80% of the training volume consists of low-intensity, long-duration work, and 20% involves high-intensity efforts.

2. Enhancing Recovery:

A well-developed cardiovascular system aids in quicker recovery between high-intensity efforts. During a race or a hard training session, the ability to recover rapidly from intense efforts, such as climbs or sprints, is crucial. LSD rides help improve this recovery capacity, allowing you to maintain a higher overall intensity during competitions.

3. Avoiding Overtraining:

Constant high-intensity training can lead to overtraining, resulting in fatigue and a plateau in performance. LSD rides provide a balance by allowing your body to recover and adapt without the strain of continuous high-intensity efforts. As Coach Devlin points out, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to push hard all the time, but this approach can be counterproductive.

4. Mental Benefits:

LSD rides offer a mental break from the rigors of high-intensity training. These sessions provide an opportunity to enjoy the ride, appreciate the surroundings, and reduce mental fatigue. This mental reset can enhance overall motivation and adherence to the training program.

The Right Intensity for LSD Rides

Maintaining the correct intensity is crucial for the effectiveness of LSD rides. Here are some tips to ensure you stay in the appropriate zone:

1. Monitor Your Heart Rate:

Use a heart rate monitor to stay within Zone 2. This ensures you’re working at the right intensity to develop your aerobic base without pushing into higher zones that lead to fatigue.

2. Stay Disciplined:

It’s easy to get carried away, especially when riding with friends or trying to log a Strava segment. Coach Devlin emphasizes the importance of discipline to stick to the prescribed intensity and duration.

3. Plan Your Routes:

Choose routes that allow for steady, consistent riding. Avoid overly hilly or technical terrain that might force you to push harder than intended.

Incorporating LSD Rides into Your Training

1. Frequency:

Incorporate LSD rides regularly, ideally once or twice a week, depending on your training volume and goals. These sessions can vary from 1.5 to 5 hours, depending on your level of fitness and the demands of your upcoming events.

2. Balance with High-Intensity Workouts:

Balance LSD rides with high-intensity sessions. While the majority of your training should be low-intensity, the remaining 20% should focus on intervals, tempo rides, and other high-intensity workouts to build speed and power.

3. Use Recovery Rides Effectively:

Recovery rides, similar to LSD rides but typically shorter, also play a critical role. They help flush out metabolic waste from muscles and prepare you for the next hard session. Don’t skip these rides, as they have a distinct purpose separate from rest days.

Long Slow Distance rides are a cornerstone of effective cycling training. They build the necessary cardiovascular foundation, enhance recovery, and help prevent overtraining. By staying disciplined and maintaining the correct intensity, you can maximize the benefits of these sessions. Incorporate LSD rides into your routine to achieve a balanced and comprehensive training program.


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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