In running sports, LSD is short for Long Slow Distance (see wiki), and I am wondering why not saying Slow Long Distance instead of LSD.

I am not a native speaker, but I feel Slow Long Distance more natural and fluent. For instance, I have a slow long-distance running this morning.

  • 1
    Before 1960, the sequence slow long distance was in fact more common than long slow distance. Presumably a few non-representative Anglophones in a few sports governing bodies or similar decided to go with the slightly less natural form in "official" texts. It's no big deal either way, and neither form was very common before it became the focus of attention in the 60s, so the less idiomatic form could easily carry the day. Jun 21, 2021 at 11:27
  • 1
    'Slow Long Distance' may sound more natural than ' Long Slow Distance', but 'LSD' trips off the tongue more readily. Jun 21, 2021 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


This has been the use of the term whether or not it came from being used to the letters L, S and D. Quoting from Training Myths: Long Slow Distance at http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/smart/956-training-myths-long-slow-distance

"One of the primary bastions of endurance sports training concerns “logging in the miles”. Many call this LSD training – LSD standing for Long Slow Distance.

I always like to keep one phrase firmly in the forefront of my mind - “long slow distance makes for long slow [insert here: runners, cyclists, etc]”. The human body adapts to the training demands imposed on it. With that said, if you are training at a slow pace, then it stands to reason that you will get really good at running at a slow pace. I have yet to meet an athlete that was training to get slower."

To clarify; I would say that long and slow both modify distance less than they all modify running. For that reason either could be first or second.

In addition, perhaps primary after all this, in the case of Slow Long Distance one could only be describing their phone service: Long Distance. i.e whether my Long Distance is slow or fast. No searches I've tried come up with Slow Long Distance and I think for just this reason.

  • 6
    For British people, LSD was a well-established expression originally meaning 'pounds, shillings and pence' (our pre-decimal coinage). The symbols for these were £.s.d., from the Latin 'Libri, solidi, denarii'. Jun 21, 2021 at 7:27
  • 3
    It is inaccurate to say LSD was "a hallucinogen from the sixties." It was first synthesized in 1938, first taken voluntarily in the 1940s, and used by the CIA (nefariously) in the '50s. It would be accurate to say it was popularized as a psychedelic in the '60s.
    – Robusto
    Jun 21, 2021 at 13:19
  • I bow to both Kate Bunting and Mss, Robusto for their corrections and amplifications. I never knew such a thing as that. British coinage is as endlessly fascinating as the CIA has been nefarious.
    – Elliot
    Jun 22, 2021 at 3:22
  • 3
    Retracted downvote but the answer still doesn't explain the language issue: If long modifies slow distance what does the latter expression mean and does it exist beyond this training programme?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 23, 2021 at 6:12
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA's point is good. "Slow distance" is meaningless on its own, but I'm a slow long-distance cyclist
    – Chris H
    Jun 23, 2021 at 9:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.