Airman shares passion for running

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
During the 2012 Air Force Marathon, the adrenaline felt from the crowds cheering on the sidelines allowed an Airman to not only complete the course but to carry his wife around his shoulders for the last four miles of the race after noticing her falling behind.

His passion for running allows U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Williams, 372nd Training Squadron Det. 9 instructor, to motivate himself and others around him to train for physical fitness assessments, long runs and compete in marathons.

"Running my first Air Force Marathon in 2010 is what sparked my running habits," said Williams. "I told myself to train harder and began running 5Ks and races here on base or local races to build my speed for future half or full marathons."

Williams begins his training by creating a race schedule. If the race falls on a Saturday, he establishes a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday race routine to allow enough rest between each long run.

"Usually I look ahead for races throughout the year that I'm interested in, so I can keep them apart for training sake," said Williams. "Between races, I stay fit by keeping Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays as run days."

After establishing a race routine, he makes up a 20-week marathon training plan increasing the length of each run every week before race day. As the race gets closer, he decreases the amount of miles each week to prepare for the marathon and avoid injury.

Since 2010, Williams has run multiple half and nine full marathons.

"My favorite marathon is the Chicago Marathon," said Williams. "There were thousands of people running and on the sidelines cheering so that you don't even feel the pain or notice that you're on mile 20."

Although running wasn't always a part of his lifestyle, Williams found running to be a better outlet and stress reliever than his prior smoking habits.

"I used to be that smoker or guy who drank every weekend for fun," said Williams. "I feel like the long term benefits of being healthy completely outweigh the risk of having breathing problems."

Not only does he stays fit for himself but for his two children who are eight and six years old. Williams said he wants to be able to run and play with them and instill healthy habits at a young age.

"Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be into running and fitness as much as I am now," said Williams. "When I was younger, my father tried to get me into running since he was a former track and cross country runner, but I wasn't interested and I wanted to do my own thing."

Born in the small town of Whitney, Texas, and raised in Houston, Williams joined the Air Force in 2002 as an A-10C Thunderbolt II avionics mechanic to see what else the world had to offer.

Since he joined, Williams has been stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. He has been at Moody since 2007.

"I make the most out of each location I'm stationed at," said Williams. "They all have geographical differences that allow me to do various outdoor activities like surfing, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, and camping.

"I guess not having cable television also pushes me to stay outside," he said jokingly.

Williams mentioned another favorite part about each marathon is meeting new people. He enjoys hearing everyone's story and uses them as an inspiration to motivate others.

Williams has also become deeply involved with the Moody Runners Group to help others increase their stamina and speed and decrease their time.

"We meet every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday," said Williams. "This group is meant for everyone. Sometimes people feel like they're holding you back if you run faster.

"We don't run to race. We run to better ourselves," he added.

Williams encourages beginner runners interested in completing their first marathon to stick to a training plan and ease into long distance runs.

"I know a lot of people who go out and do too much too fast," said Williams. "By sticking to a training plan, they can avoid injury."

In addition to a training plan, Williams mentions that having the proper training gear is the key to being a better runner.

"I recommend anyone to go to a running specialty store to get fitted for shoes that are fitted for their pace and stride," said Williams. "Most people that overtrain and have improper shoes are more susceptible to shin splits."

As far as training for physical training assessments, Williams recommends doing intervals at least once a week and to keep running throughout the other days of the week.

"You can start out doing as little as four 50 meter sprints and jogging 150 meters in between," said Williams. "From there, you can increase 10-20 percent every two weeks. The key is to keep moving.

"I like playing a game called 'meet it or beat it," added Williams. "It means you clock your first interval time and then on the next interval, you meet that time or beat it. Keep doing it until you complete your workout and watch how much the hard work will pay off."

 While helping others become better runners, Williams hopes to better himself as well. One of his running goals is to complete the 50 marathons in 50 states challenge. So far, he has completed five states.

"He has progressed well throughout the years and is now better than me," said Stephen Sparks, 23d Contracting Squadron base services flight chief and running partner. "He has become a good motivator to other young Airmen who want to train for long distance runs or just get back in shape."

Williams is looking to commission now that he has completed his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics. As far as fitness, he wants to stay active and is hoping to compete in an ultra marathon.