Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Thu, 6 Mar 2003 14:16:28 -0500

LSD Lives


My firstborn has reawakened from a long hibernation to find itself in middle age. Which is to say that Long Slow Distance, my first slim book that was published in 1969 and slipped out of print shortly thereafter, is again available for your reading. The book subtitled "The Humane Way to Train" isn't for sale, but you can see it for free.

It appears now on my website ( The introduction and conclusion are new, but nothing in between is missing except my original typos.

The book focuses on the experiences of six runners. Here are then-and-since notes on them from the last pages of the online LSD.

TRAINING TRENDS have gone through many pendulum swings, from high mileage at low speed to the reverse, between the late 1960s and the early 2000s. LSD, by an assortment of names, has come into and fallen out of favor several times over the decades.

I've made the case for this type of running and will let it stand as written. But I can't leave without updating the lives of the six profiled runners. We now range in age from late 50s to mid-60s. We live three on the East Coast and three on the West.

-- Amby Burfoot was then a recent Boston Marathon winner and the second-fastest marathoner in U.S. history. He peaked young as a runner, with his 2:14 marathon at age 22 standing as his permanent PR. His "Afterword" to the book hints at another latent talent -- as a writer. His first Runner's World article (about Bill Rodgers) appeared in 1975, and soon thereafter Amby was contributing regularly to the magazine. He's now its longest-serving editor and lives in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Amby celebrates his Boston win on each five-year anniversary. He regularly acts as a pace-team leader at marathons, reliably running within seconds of four hours.

-- Bob Deines was then a fourth-place finisher (at age 21) in the latest Olympic Trials Marathon. His training served him even better in ultras than in marathons. The year after LSD's publication, 1970, he won a national title while setting a U.S. record for 50 miles. Bob's life course then took him away from high-level running, and he wound up working as a carpenter in the northern California town of Willits. The physical labor added muscle, yet he still ran marathons in the 2:40s while weighing 30 pounds more than before. Bob now writes and photographs for an environmental-activist publication.

-- Tom Osler was then a sub-2:30 marathoner and national champion at several road distances. He moved deeply into ultras, running races lasting as long as 48 hours. His Serious Runner's Handbook is one of the finest instructional texts ever written about our sport. In it he became one of the first writers to advise breaking up long runs with brief walks. Tom has remained an avid racer, having nearly 2000 finishes to his credit. The math professor at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, suffered a stroke in early 2003 (see RC 455) but is expected to recover fully.

-- Ed Winrow was then winding down his own successful running career. He moved on to the most important and gratifying job anyone can do -- passing on one's experience and enthusiasm to the next generation. After coaching at Valparaiso, he led college teams in Brockport, New York, and Mansfield, Pennsylvania. His own son, Kip, ran at the college level. Ed "dabbled" in short triathlons in the 1990s until two serious bike crashes ended that phase. He now lives in retirement in Brooklyn, New York.

-- Jeff Kroot was then (and still is) my closest friend among the runners featured in LSD. He is now a prominent architect who has served as mayor of San Anselmo, California. Jeff improved his marathon PR to 2:45:00 in 1975, then eased out of racing when the Bay Area events grew too big for his tastes. He continues to run regularly and has remained a loyal fan of the sport he once photographed professionally -- track and field.

-- I was then a staff writer at Track & Field News, which published LSD. Within a few months of the book's release I became editor of the newly renamed and relocated magazine Runner's World. Many more books have followed the original, most of them containing variations on the LSD theme. I've lived in Eugene for more than 20 years and now teach running classes at the University of Oregon, urging the youngsters to slow down their training. This is as hard a sell now as it was in 1969.


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