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Fit to fight: Clinic improves run times, speed

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

Senior Airman Bodie Menchaca, 375th Communications Squadron, has a much needed rest in between running laps with the Run Clinic on May 8, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Throughout the eight-week clinic, runners average about 1 minute and 30 seconds off of their physical fitness assessment run time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

Members of the Run Clinic go through warm-up drills prior to the day’s practice May 8, 2019 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Warming up is an important part of any workout and should be done before exercising to help prevent injury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

Heather Braundmeier, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron health promotions flight chief, shouts the current lap time to runners participating in speed training with the Run Clinic May 8, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. During speed training, runners try to meet a time limit per lap with the goal of improving each week throughout the eight-week clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

Master Sgt. Danielle Batz, 73rd Airlift Squadron, runs along-side Master Sgt. Kiara Cruise, 126th Medical Group, to offer encouragement throughout a Run Clinic workout May 8, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Coaches and group leaders from the clinic offer tips of the week, and other forms of inspiration for members in hopes of keeping them motivated to improve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Garcia)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – For those who have participated in the run clinic here, you know it’s a killer workout—all designed to help Airmen improve their speed on physical fitness tests. 

What you may not know is that it’s also open to anyone who wants to improve their overall fitness as well.

The eight-week clinic is conducted by Heather Braundmeier, a retired chief master sergeant and the health promotions flight chief for the 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron.

The clinic is also staffed with volunteers who coach various ability groups that she designed over the years to more specifically target individual runners.  She prides herself on her team of leaders who prove time and again how much they care about helping Team Scott to improve.

For instance, Senior Airman Bodie Menchaca, 375th Communications Squadron, has been involved in the run clinics for eight sessions now because the coaches “motivate you the way you want to be motivated,” he said.

“They aren’t just there to make the front [of the group] run faster, they will run slowly with you in the back just so you don’t finish by yourself. They coach you through side stiches, or cramps and make sure you’re OK. It’s probably the reason I stayed for an entire year well after I had passed my PT test with a 90.”

At the beginning of each of the eight-week session, there is the  1.5 mile pre-test run to see which of the ability groups they belong to, and then each run day focuses a holistic approach to better health overall.

“On Mondays, we do distance intervals of three miles,” explained Braundmeier. “Some of these people have never run three miles in their lives, so distance intervals really impresses upon them the importance of the warm-up and the cool down.

“We do specific warm up drills that target muscles and tendons mostly used during running. Some people don’t realize it might take you a few laps to really get warm and will try to save all of their energy during a PT test for that run. We let them know during this warm up the ‘why’ of what they’re doing.”

Wednesday afternoons will find members of the run clinic at the James Gym track, doing their best impression of The Flash through speed training. Depending upon the ability group, members will run a certain number of laps, trying to meet a time limit for each lap. The goal is to improve their time each week.

Thursdays the focus is endurance to help erase some of the fear of the 1.5 mile during the PT test. How long they will run is dependent upon the group. One group might be tasked with running for 45 minutes, and another with 25 minutes.

“Every week, the ability group time goes up by two minutes, so it’s a nice slow progression. It’s not about speed—it’s about sustaining a nice, comfortable run. Through the various training techniques, most runners shave an average of 1 ½ minutes off their time.”

Along with quality coaching, runners say the like the camaraderie found between all ranks in attendance.

Menchaca said, “There was a man who give me advice, like a peer or friend would, for dealing with a  personal situation for an entire session, and I never knew his rank until the end. The [runners here] are all your friends and mentors for more than just running.”