Even though this 2009 race season for me was centered around a bike race across the country, I definitely learned a few things about running (but have plenty more to learn!).
This year, I did some jogging. Most people have no idea what a jog is. Easy run? Hardly - I'll get into that.
These jogs I was told to do had one rule - keep the HR under 130.
You: "So, what kind of pace is that?"
Me: "Somewhere between 11 and 13 minutes miles"
You: "Sounds painful"
Me: "You have no idea"
The irony was that it was supposed to be an easy jog, yet it was painfully slow.
I was assured that Coach has some of his professional triathletes do it, so I figured it's time to shut up (although, I didn't shut up for long, as he can attest to) and ship out.
These easy jogs were hard (as hell) at first (with "at first" being apx. two [freakin] months). There were many 60 minute jogs that were really warm up-jog-walk-jog-walk, etc because I just couldn't keep the HR down - in cold (by San Diego standards) conditions no less. Talk about frustrating. There were some cursing, without a doubt, and I knew it would all be worth it. "Build the aerobic engine" would come to mind. "This sucks" would follow shortly thereafter.
But, it added up.
Time of Day
I did quite a few jogs early in the morning before work, mainly to fit in another workout. As Deborah Schulman, PhD points out, doing a workout early in the morning when your BGL is low will help turn one into a fat burning machine. So, before work, I'd ship out, and do some easy (hard) 30-60 minute sessions. Nothing extravagant, or even blog worthy.
But, it added up.
Frequency vs. Volume
I didn't put in massive run volume - period - especially given my work/school schedule. I think my highest run week was about 5 hours. But one thing I did do is get out there often. More often than not, it was a short, easy 30 minute jog (seeing a pattern here?) before and/or after work. Because running is probably the hardest on the body (compared to swimming and biking), being able to withstand the constant pounding coupled with fatigued muscles is an absolute necessity - especially after having swam or biked earlier in the day.
Given my schedule, I could get more fit through frequency (with shorter recovery time) or distance (it has its place, but extends recovery time). In my little word - frequency ruled. Even these little jaunts helped in the long run (pun intended of course) because let's face it - jogging for 30 minutes is better than not jogging for 30 minutes.
It adds up.
And in the end, it all added up to the bottom line - the finish line, and taking 21 minutes off my previous half marathon PR (at WF, specifically).
ps- I gave blood last Monday, which was good for the mind and soul, but not good for doing hilly, tempo runs. Ouch.