Turning All Runs Into Fun Runs, or How I Learned to Embrace the Running Suck, Week 1

  • Published
  • By Christopher Parr
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A weekly commentary about the Scott Air Force Base Running Clinic

by Christopher Parr, 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

They say the first step to any change is accepting the need for change.  I needed to change my feelings about running.  Not an easy thought when running doesn’t come without some level of discomfort or pain.

I played sports pretty much my whole life.  I wasn’t the star athlete, but did play some in high school, some playground ball, soccer clubs, and various recreational college sports.  Point being, I played sports.  I had my share of minor injuries, but it wasn’t until I got into my adult years did those injuries get slower to heal or just downright worse.  The major ones that kept me from the love of running would be the two surgeries on my right knee. However, the one that really bothers me is the achilles tendonitis in my left foot.  Ouch.  Seriously ouch.

Now let’s just get past the pain and see what this whole running clinic is about.  What are my goals?  I want to improve my time, I think that is a very common goal for anyone needing to pass a military fitness test that includes running. But there is more to just improving my time.  I want to run pain free, or not hurt the next day like someone took a sledgehammer to my heel.  Maybe even run for something other than a passing score on my fit test.  I’ve done a few 5K runs, albite, two were beer runs, one was a donut run and a few scattered runs to feel good about giving back.  Charity 5Ks I can do. 

Goals are set. Now let the not-so-fun run begin.

Week 1: Monday, the 1.5 mile pretest and the time to determine which of the running groups I will be placed with, my torture buddies for the next 7 weeks.

Not sure what I did to deserve the honor, but I was placed in group 1, the fastest group.  I had a 12:05 pretest.  Granted, I’m on the slower side of the fast group.  This clinic just got tougher! 

Week 1: Wednesday.  Now officially the day of the week I hate the most.   We did 5x400m sprints that tested my ability to not vomit in public. Or cry uncontrollably.  I did surprise myself and did better than expected.  Still hate Wednesdays.

Week 1: Thursday. Goal was to work on pacing.  I think I did rather well with this one.  Started off with some discomfort that led to my thought of  oh, great, I’m going to be the first to start walking in the “fast” group.   We ran for 16 minutes, turned around and tried to make it back within 16 minutes, 32:11 was my end time. I can almost say I nailed pacing.  I’ll take it as a win.

Bonus: or homework: or self motivated torture….  all the same.  Spent 30+ minutes on the families low impact hamster wheel, a.k.a. the elliptical.  Didn’t feel I hated life enough and went outside and ran 2.7 miles.  Gold star for me.

Week 1 summary:  I can’t say it was an easy week, and feel maybe I should reconsider why we run. Unless being chased by a T-Rex or zombies, I could live without running.  Oh, wait, no I can’t.  Air Force likes me running, at least once a year.  I stretched my foot, I experienced some cramps, I drank more water, and I survived.  It wasn’t all bad.  I have some great support with my group and the outstanding leaders of the clinic.  When I’m not bent over gasping for air, I think just maybe I can do this. 

Part of this experience is getting to know more about the clinic and the staff that said, “not only do I like to run but I will force this will onto others”, but in a nice way.

I asked Heather Braundmeier, Running Clinic guru and super awesome person that works at the Scott AFB Health Promotion Flight, a few questions about the clinic and why she likes to torture people, and run.

CP - What is your running experience?

HB - I have been an athlete my entire. I began running, beyond prepping for the 1.5 mile fitness test, in 2004 when I ran my first 1/2 marathon in St. Louis with my fellow HAWC (Health And Wellness Center) staff members.

HB - Received my personal training certification from Coopers Institute in Dallas Texas.

CP - What joys do you get from the clinic?

HB - Watching the ultimate results of some members careers saved because of the participation in the clinic.

HB - The personal growth not only physically but mentally and emotionally in our participants. Some members have ran no more than the required 1.5 miles. When they finish a 5K is an easy task.

CP - What are some of the side effects of torturing people… I mean helping them to be better runners…?

HB - The confidence and fellowship amongst the participants during the clinic is outstanding. We need each other to push each other sometimes and that is okay..that is what part of being a "wingman" is about..support and motivation!

CP - Any success stories that really stand out?

HB - As previously mentioned, member's coming up to me after they have participated in our clinic.  They re-tested and passed their fit tests and cried to me while thanking me for saving their career’s.

CP - Do you have a personal success story about your running?

HB - I personally have continued to strive for an excellent for my AFPT and have continued that from 1993-current.

HB - My personal goal was endurance running- distance. Through proper training and conditioning I achieved that goal in 2004.  I continue to race not for medals but to push my body to limits that I know I can achieve.  If I believe I can, I train and I fuel my body correctly.

CP - Any advice for new runners or those that are struggling?


Only with time and dedication can progress happen. If you set a goal for yourself put all your heart into it and there will be no stopping you

CP - Any other thoughts that you would like to add?

HB - In 2016 I was awarded ICE Airman by Col. Lendermann,  the 375th AMW CC, for both the program and the impact that it is having on the members here at Scott AFB. Without the volunteer coaches we would no longer be able to sustain the clinic. I am very thankful for the selflessness of the coaches providing their personal time, leadership skill and motivation to allow this program to continue to be successful.

I want to thank Heather for her responses to my questions and for her love of running.  Someone out there has to love this stuff and if they do, I guess the best thing for them is to help others become better runners.

Week two, bring it on.  I think maybe I just might possibly not die, yet.