Turning All Runs Into Fun Runs, or How I Learned to Embrace the Running Suck, Week 6

  • 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

Week 6: Monday. Talk about kicking some booty.  I didn’t start off with a very clear goal for the running clinic, just wanted to see some improvement and maybe not hate the idea of running.  I think I met an unofficial goal.  I ran a mile in under seven minutes.  6:57 was the official recorded time.  I think I can do better is what I thought as I finished, not knowing what my final time was and having just fought the wind.  I was pretty pleased, but did feel I could do better in better conditions.  Like maybe a wind at my back the whole time. A funny note for that day was the warm up mile.  We were told that we need to do our fast mile in under 8 minutes for it be a good run, as we are Group 1 and have some expectations to go fast.  We did the warmup mile in 7:59. Double win.

Week 6: Wednesday.  No SPRINTS!!!  After a great way to start off the week, I felt I needed some time away.  I went to Florida.  Granted, it was a planned trip, and not vacation.  But if I’m going to be away from Scott and not able to do the clinic runs, make it a vacation destination and try to get in some running.   After a great day of sitting in on the Air Force Association Reserve Council at the AFA Air Warfare Symposium held in Orlando, I went for a 3 mile run. I wanted to finish the 3 miles under 24 minutes.  Seems to be my goal when running 3 miles lately.  Very pleased with my first Florida run, 23:24 for 3.01 miles.  I like Orlando, good place to run.

Week 6: Thursday.  Ok Florida. you got me.  My first failed run.  Wednesday, gorgeous.  Thursday, windy.  I should stress, it. was. windy!  I will start by blaming the wind. I did spend all day at the symposium, lots of walking and sitting.  Did hear some great info from the top Air Force leadership, and I felt motivated.  So, I thought I would do the usual Thursday clinic run, which for this week would be 40 minutes. Started off going at great pace, perhaps too great, given that I had a tailwind pushing me along.  I knew it would be close to a 5 mile run, so I was ok with an 8:30 first mile, but then wanted to speed that up some.  I did.  Cut 15 seconds off the next mile.  Got to the 20-minute mark, and turned around.  That nice tailwind turned into a not-so-nice headwind.  I felt like I was running in molasses.  Got to 26.29, 3.1 miles and just had to stop and walk. Fail!  I was exhausted.  I fought the desire to walk, but was just hurting.  I walked a small amount and then started off like it was a new run.  The second leg was 1.4 miles at a 9:40 pace, yuck.  Wait, am I complaining about not getting in a good run?  Wow.  Who am I?

Bonus: or homework: or self-motivated torture all the same.  No homework completed.  Had an AF Reserve weekend and opted to take off from running.  Will be heading in the final week soon, curious to see how I’ve improved.

Week 6 Summary:  Like I just mentioned in the wrong section, I’ll be curious to see how the final week of running clinic turns out and if I made serious progress.  This Week 6 was both great and not so great.  I understand every run won’t be the best, but was a bummer having to stop and take a break.  Orlando was a great time overall, not San Diego great, but still great. Looks like I don’t travel the final week, so that should be good.  Finish out with no excuses.   Bring on Week 7 and the post 1.5 mile test.  Test anxiety is already setting in. 

This week I spoke with a Group 2 leader but also the influence for me to do the running clinic.  Please welcome my bully Liz Wszalek.  Ok, she’s not a bully.  In fact, she’s an extremely amazing person and friend. I can’t vouch for what she was like in high school.

Liz not only volunteers as a group leader but she’s the Executive Officer for the 932nd Airlift Wing and occasionally puts on the uniform as the the Manpower and Personnel Flight commander for the 932nd Force Support Squadron. 

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

LW:  About 18 months

CP:  What is your running experience?

LW:  I have been running for just over six years; I started running more upon my selection for commission in 2011 and then I participated in my first official 5K race (Coverdell Dash) just after I commissioned in 2012…that race sparked my true love of running and I’ve been challenging and enjoying myself ever since!

CP:  What joys do you get from the clinic?

LW:  I truly enjoy helping the participants; I love motivating and encouraging them.  My favorite thing to do is slap fives with them and let them know how great they’re doing.  My heart is so full as I watch them progress every week and then see how excited they are when they knock time off their original test score during the post test.  While they tell me I inspire them, they are actually inspiring me!

CP:  Any success stories that really stand out (don't need to say any names)?

LW:  The average time that participants shave off their original tests is an average of 1:00 to 1:15; in the last clinic I saw several participants exceed that average…specifically, one participant shaved 1:30 of his previous run time and another shaved more than 2:30 off his previous run time.  Absolutely awesome!

CP:  Have you seen a mass improvement from the first clinic to the last completed clinic?

LW:  I’ve consistently seen improvement throughout all groups in every clinic I have been a part of since I started in 2015.  As I always brief the participants I administer pre-tests for on Day 1, participants in my group, and folks who are considering joining – you get what you give.  If you put your heart into the clinic workouts and treat your body well, you will experience positive results.

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

LW:  Prior to my selection to commission in 2011, I did not maintain a healthy lifestyle; I did enough to pass my Fitness Tests and that was pretty much it.  In 2010, I lost my father to Cancer; as time passed I decided I need to start treating my body better and started getting a little more active.  Then, in 2011, I was selected to commission and things were put even more into perspective…how was I supposed to lead by example if I wasn’t truly setting and living the example?  So that’s when I started running and really working toward getting healthy; since that time I’ve run several half marathons, ran my first full marathon in December 2016 (never again! Lol!), and just this past month ran my fastest 1.5-mile time of 11:09 during my fitness test.  I feel like I’ve come along way and the work has been worth it.

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

LW:  Don’t give up!  It takes 21 days to establish a habit (or so I’ve heard), so once you start, you have to establish your routine and stick to it.  When you think you can’t go any further, you can and you will!  Set mini-goals – when you are running and feel like stopping, pick a landmark just little further down the track and go for it.  Also, remember to eat well, hydrate, and stretch – you have to nurture your body to be effective.

CP:  Any other thoughts that would like to add?

LW:  Every time I attend a running clinic session, I am reminded of how grateful I am for Heather Braundmeier encouraging me to become a group leader; I’ve met some awesome people and made some great friends throughout the different clinics.  If anyone out there is struggling with running, I encourage them to try the clinic; every person that gives it their all will see results.  Believe in yourself…you are stronger than you realize!

Thank you Liz for sharing, and sharing, and sharing.  Seriously, why did you make me do this?  Next week is the final week and the post test 1.5 mile run. We'll see if all this torture gets me a better score or just more love for running.  Wish me luck.