Let me start with a couple of points of reference. When I say I had bad cardio, I mean that my cardio was as bad as a 3-pack a day smoker who never lifted a weight or ran a mile in his life. Seriously. Part of it was laziness, a big part is some permanent lung damage I have from an injury, and part of it was just being 35 with a full time job and a lot of commitments that kept my mind off of pushing my cardio too hard.
The fact that I would compete with that kind of cardio is silly, but I did it anyway. When I lost, it was often because my muscles would give out early in the match, or my cardio would be gone halfway through and Id just try to survive. Sometimes I was just outclassed, like at the last Pan Ams.
So I got serious by joining this Boot Camp type thing that is run by a former Olympic runner. www.olympicfitness.com. We begin the workouts every morning at 6am and end at 7am.
The first day I showed up, I warned him that I was a horrible runner. He had me run a few minutes, then rest a minute, then run another few, then rest...off and on for the entire hour. The next day was running on the beach for ten minutes, then a series of freeweight or bodyweight exercises (you can get some details on my blog www.andrehbjj.blogspot.com), then more running. The idea was to keep running no matter what. Basically, run, but if you get tired to the point you feel you have to walk, simply turn the run into a jog. Keep moving and resist the urge to just walk when possible.
I'm up to 3 miles now. For me, that's huge. Ive never been able to run more than a mile and a half without feeling like I was dying.
The rest of the workouts include sand dunes, running hills (detailed on the blog), long runs (5 miles), more bodyweight exercises, and some days where all we did was sprint 200 meters, jog the rest of the lap, then sprint another 200 meters, then repeat for 12-15 times. The sprinting seemed to do the most to improve my cardio, moreso than the long runs.
I find myself reading running mags and checking out running websites now. I even invested in some cool running shoes. I never thought that would happen. lol
If you have any specific questions I can answer, let me know. Thanks.