Turning All Runs Into Fun Runs, or How I Learned to Embrace the Running Suck, Week 5

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

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

A weekly commentary about the Scott Air Force Base Running Clinic

by Christopher Parr, 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After a horrible weekend, barely surviving the almost hurricane-like weather, Week 5 has been just a normal week at Scott Air Force base for the clinic.  Nothing to see, go back to your homes, nothing to see.  Wait, no, wrong response.  There is plenty to see and read about.  So come along and see what misadventures happened, not in San Diego, but here in the Midwest. Good old safe Midwest. 

Since I had some difficulties while I was in San Diego completing all the runs, I started off Week 5 on Sunday with doing my required 38 minute run.  Was a little slow on the return, but overall not shabby.  Figured I needed to keep trying to find that secret spot that will magically make running fun.  No luck finding it.  On to Week 5.  

Week 5: Monday. President’s Day, no running clinic.  I had a great extended weekend, mainly since I had started off the weekend in San Diego.  Was a great trip.  Not horrible.

Week 5: Wednesday. Back to hating Wednesdays.  Sprints were extra tough since I didn’t do them while in San Diego.  I did see some improvements again, but boy, were they tough.  It was fun chasing down Lt. Col. Appel on the 400mm sprints.  He just gets a little too far ahead on the 800mm ones for me to catch him.  I had a solid sprint finish on the last 400mm and beat him by a second.  Win.

Week 5: Thursday.  There was a bit of confusion if we needed to run 38 minutes or 40, so we went with 38.  I started off feeling pretty good. The weather was excellent, but later in the run I started getting gassed and even got a slight cramp.  Ended with a slower time for the 38 minutes, but not too far off track.  Can’t have the best day every day.  Did I just compare a good day of running to a good day in general?  Oh, wow.  I might be enjoying this, some.

Bonus: or homework: or self-motivated torture….all the same.  I just didn’t have enough running during the week, so I went for a 5K run on Sunday. Listen to me, what am I saying?  I did listen to some music and just ran.  Wanted to end under 24:00, and so I checked my pacing as I ran.  My final time was, 23:58, met my goal.  Barely, but I did it. 

Week 5 Summary: Another week in the books with some improvements, some pains and some mild enjoyment running.  I’m still not sold on this as something fun or something that I can see myself doing versus say something like mini golf or CrossFit.  Have I mentioned CrossFit?  I’ll save that for another blog. 

Let’s chat with the 3rd Group 1 leader, MSgt. Donald McLeod, Manager, Communications Plans Branch, 618th Air Operations Center (TACC), and see what motivates him to be a cruel mentor on the track.

CP:  How long have you been a group leader with the clinic and enjoyed watching people suffer? 

DM:  I was a participant during the July 2016 run clinic.  I became a group leader during week three of that session.  It’s more fun leading the suffering.

CP:  What is your running experience?


DM:  The first time I considered myself to be a serious runner was in 2011 when I trained and completed the Air Force Marathon.  After completing the Marathon, I took a hiatus from “serious” running, and stuck to PT and fitness tests.  The running clinic has reignited my passion for running.  I have a couple half marathons on the schedule.  I might run a full marathon this year…we’ll see.


CP:  What joys do you get from the clinic, other than watching people suffer?


DM:  Each participant runs a baseline 1.5 mile run assessment at the beginning of the running clinic.  We use the run assessment to assign each participant to a skill group.  One of my biggest joys is seeing members “graduated” from a slower group to a faster group.  I also enjoy the positive and encouraging atmosphere.


CP:  Any success stories that really stand out?  Have you seen a mass improvement from the first clinic to the last completed clinic?  Meaning is the success rate higher across all groups and have you had to adjust the standards as the clinic has progressed?


DM:  We meet three times a week, for seven weeks.  It’s truly amazing to see the transformation of the participants as they go through.  Week one, our group leaders are focused on pointing out running form improvements and building the confidence of each participant.  By week 3 or 4, we notice huge improvements in running form and endurance.  Each group has a weekly workout plan.  I can say that in group 1, depending on how the participants are doing, we have altered the plan to push them harder.


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


DM:  I’ve always had around a 10:30 1.5 mile run time.  Two weeks ago I ran a 9:25 during the mid-clinic run assessment.  It caught me off guard, because I honestly was not putting 100% effort into the run.  I’m confident that I can run in the 8’s.


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


DM:  I often use the Tortoise and the Hare reference.  The tortoise won the race because he was STEADY, and he wins EVERYTIME I read the book.  Anything worth doing in this life is going to take WORK.  It’s okay if you are struggling.  Stick with it, and be steady in your approach.  Don’t quit.  SHOW UP!  Go out there and do your best, be steady, and push through those mental barriers.  You can do it.


CP:  Any other thoughts that would like to add?


DM:  Yes.  We run this base…one mile at a time.


Thanks MSgt. McLeod and for not hitting me when I didn’t run fast enough.  I’ll do better, I swear!! I’ll be a good runner. 


Week 6 will be some at Scott, and some down in Orlando for the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium.  Might need to find a beach, or swamp.