It is quite likely that the nine athletes on coach Shannon Jackson’s cross country team at Coast Union High School aren’t out there running up to 30 miles a week to get younger. It is no secret that teenagers generally wish to get older, not younger.
Recent research shows that not only does daily vigorous exercise reduce the chances of heart disease, cancer and other health problems, but also “the act of exercising may actually protect the body against the aging process,” according to professor Tim Spector of London’s King’s College (Washington Post, 2008).
Spector conducted empirical research on 2,400 British twins, and discovered that exercise slows the “shriveling of the protective tips on bundles of genes inside human cells.” Bottom line: when a Bronco cross country athlete runs 30 miles a week as part of the training, he or she is, at least putting off aging and maybe even getting younger (not in years, but in body age).
Meanwhile, Jackson emphasizes running in one’s own “zone” — finding the fastest pace you can comfortably maintain on any particular day, a pace that leaves you a bit of “fuel in the tank” when the workout is finished.
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The cross country team focuses on building flexibility and “core strength,” according to Jackson. The training is five days a week after school, and folks in Cambria will be seeing cross country team members running all around the community this fall.
Wave and give a “thumbs up” when you see a Bronco flying by with the wind. The first challenge for the Bronco runners will be Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Morro Bay Invitational.