Spark: Training

Previously I mentioned I had been reading “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. Immediately after beginning the book I began running and soon after I was convinced by my wife, Tara, to join her running group, West Coast Road Runners and train for the Rock & Roll Marathon she ran last year here in San Diego. I agreed this was a wonderful idea and I’m proud to report that I’m two weeks in.

The training looks like this for the next week:

  Jan 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
“Marine Corps” Pace Group
4 miles


30 min

35 min


40 min


5 miles

The coaches incrementally increase the length of time you run during the week and add a mile a week, or thereabouts, with an occasional drop in mileage after longer runs. Participants are broken up into pace groups. I’m currently running in the slower pace group “Catalina” than the group above, but I intend to train for the above pace group get my average mile under 10 minutes. I’m currently running a 10:10 mile.

Ashby running on her birthday.

So, I must have been running for a while to have run 4.5 miles yesterday, right? Not at all. I haven’t run since I was 15-16 years old. In fact, I just began running about 4 weeks ago. When I first started running the idea of running 5 miles seemed insane. Completely mad! Indeed, when I first started I could only run for a mile without stopping. Now, 5 miles is no problem. I ran 4.5 miles yesterday and I could have easily done a couple more miles. Mind you, I currently have a terrible head and chest cold too. I’m writing this not to be braggadocios, but because I’m not any different than anyone else. Your body will amaze you.

For the first few weeks that I ran my knees where killing me. This is to be expected and it will correct itself as your leg muscles develop. For me, a new pair of good running shoes made a huge difference too. I was fitted at Roadrunner Sports where they assess your foot, arches and gait to establish the most appropriate type of shoe for you. Also, I had a lot of problems with my shin muscles cramping up. Rion, who is also training with me for the Rock & Roll, made some technique suggestions based on the book he read: “Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach To Effortless, Injury-Free Running”. This helped, but now it is clear to me that the primary cause was under developed calf muscles that needed to strengthen. Rest assured if you start a running program all those early aches and pains will abate as your develop your underworked muscles and develop your technique.

More important than how quickly your body adapts itself to running is how you feel. On my running days off I crave a run. When I run I feel amazing. Colors are brighter, smells more fragrant, I’m more focused and I feel generally incredible. There can be no doubt, our bodies are genetically predisposed to run. It’s amazing how quickly we forget the benefits of exercise.

7 thoughts on “Spark: Training

  1. Yes, it is amazing how quickly your body can adapt. I started running again at the end of last August after a 15+ year hiatus. I am 42 years old and was 210 lbs and could not run for 5 minutes straight. Yesterday, I ran 14 miles in 2 hours and am 189 lbs with a resting heart rate hovering around 40 bpm. Some things that have helped me are: 1.) Nike+ iPod which offers a great way to record your progress; 2.) a heart rate monitor so that you know when to back off or push yourself harder; 3.) read Chi Running or watch the DVD, I could not run the distances I do without modifying my form and technique; and 4.) join a running social network, such as, or which imports from Nike+ and has challenges, groups, and forums.

    Keep it up, Maybe you can create a Mindtouch team and have the rabbit run the marathon.

  2. i think i encouraged you to run as well. not that i am trying to take all the credit in this new fitness role you are taking. i am very proud of you and i know you are going to kick ass on marathon day. 🙂 GO DADDY!!!

  3. It's been working out well so far. Running in a group has been a boon to my performance as well. My pace and time is a lot better when I've got the incentive of running with a big group.

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