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Different muscles, different exercises: how Offutt’s Run Clinic is shaving off minutes

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

Last winter, a senior airman with the 97th Intelligence Squadron was in a panic. He had failed the run portion of the physical training test twice already, and if he failed it again he would be demoted to airman first class, losing pay he and his young family were counting on.

It wasn’t that he didn’t work out. He ran three to four miles every day. But something about the PT test itself – the anxiety, the speed necessary to pass – seemed impossible to master.

Out of desperation, the Airman joined Offutt’s Run Clinic. A month later, he ran his mock PT test, and passed. His run time dropped from a 14:02 to a 12:37 in the space of four weeks.

Airman 1st Class Crayton Noe, founder and lead instructor of the Run Clinic at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, said that stories like that are the reason the Run Clinic exists.

“We guarantee 30 seconds [off running time] in three weeks,” Noe said. “We mentally prepare individuals for their PT test. Showing up, being attentive and just being there really changes the mind, and the mind and body are obviously connected, especially when it comes to performing.”

On average, Noe has seen the Run Clinic shave a minute and forty-two seconds off a mile and a half run. While many assume the Run Clinic involves running tens of miles every week – which many would consider intimidating – Noe said attendees run barely more than a mile a week in the clinic. Instead, Noe relies on a combination of strength training, cross fit and sprints in order to improve run time and technique.

“The beauty of the program is that it’s not just a monotonous routine that you can just find online or follow an app for – it’s literally different day by day,” he said. “That’s how we get individuals to improve – you don’t have to improve your mileage by 10 percent every week, or you don’t have to increase your weight training by 10 pounds every other day. When you change it up, you allow your body to experience different muscles, different exercises. You start to find out what you’re really good at – Monday you might find that you’re really good at the cardio session, but Wednesday you struggle through the stability and core session and then Friday you flew through the sprint and interval workout that day.”

Noe created the Run Clinic in November 2016, after working as a physical training leader in the Offutt Fitness Assessment Cell for three months after arriving at Offutt.

“When I was in the FAC, it was literally every single day, we had two to three individuals failing the run,” Noe said. “People aren’t failing their push-ups, people aren’t failing their sit-ups, people aren’t failing their abdominal circumference – they’re failing the run.”

Noe decided to create the Run Clinic in order to help members of Team Offutt who needed an extra push to pass the running portion of the PT test, and for members who want to become better runners.

Senior Airman Hunter, a linguist with the 97th Intelligence Squadron, attended the Run Clinic for about a month before taking a mock PT test with his squadron.

“I shaved off a minute and 42 seconds,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of it – it was absolutely because of the run clinic.”

Airman 1st Class McKenzie, also a linguist with the 97th Intelligence Squadron, started attending the Run Clinic in June 2017.

 “I feel a lot more confident when I’m out running,” she said. “We’re learning new techniques and forms, so I have to go back and re-train myself how to run. A lot of the time concrete can be really harsh on your joints, but I haven’t felt pain after running around my neighborhood.”

The Run Clinic is open to anyone with base access, and is held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 -6 p.m. There is a two-hour session every Sunday starting at 6 p.m. The Run Clinic instructors also provide pacing for the running portion of the PT test for Run Clinic attendees.