Few things feel as good as a great aerobic training session on fresh legs.
When you are done, you are done. You feel like you can take over the world, you do NOT feel like you need a nap. Your mood is great. (If it sounds like I am operating on a reinforcement system of incredibly simple rewards and punishment, you are correct).
However, if you are used to “BEAST MODE” type workouts, aerobic training (keeping yourself in aerobic zone) can feel excruciating. It’s like foreplay forever. Can’t… Quite… Get… There… Back off, back off. Ramp up, slow down.
If you are used to that barfy feeling for stress management purposes, you may have a hard time also. You never quite get to HIT IT HARD. Too bad. Find something else to relieve stress. Aerobic workouts are not it.
You never feel like you are “grinding”. Instead, at any given moment, you have an incredible amount of power in reserves. That feeling of knowing that you can explode up the hill at any moment is fucking awesome.
So, you lightly jog up the hill, noticing that while the heart rate creeps up, you are still well within your aerobic range. Then you turn around, and allow yourself to open up just a tiny bit, as you speed up down hill, and observe your heart rate SLOW DOWN, even though you are now moving faster in space. Wheeeeee!
The upside of a strong aerobic base is then seeing the payoff over time. And then not only you are able to run faster, while still maintaining that comfortable “forever” pace, but you also get a pleasure of watching your heart rate plummet during recovery between anaerobic intervals.
Anaerobic intervals are often prescribed by time (e.g. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off), however, another way to do it is by recovery – 10 second all out sprint, then allow heart rate to drop to below 120 (or whatever), and then go again. (If your intervals/workouts/races/events take more than 30 seconds, there is no such thing as “all out”. You WILL pace yourself. Yes, you will. Whether you realize that or not. Your brain will do that for you.)
On a good day, when you are fed and rested, you get to reap the benefits of your training by watching your heart rate recover so fucking fast, it will make your head spin. Kinda awesome. Although sucks in the moment: “What? Time to go again? Seriously?”.
And then as you progress through two intervals, four, five – you notice how recovery starts to take longer.