Sorry for not having a post up yesterday, my dad took a while to answer these questions. Here’s a look into what it’s like to stay in shape when you have little resources and only a small amount of space to workout in.
Running in Hell: Staying Fit in Afghanistan
For those of you who don’t know, my dad has been serving in the United States Army since the day I was born some 20 years ago. He is currently a Lieutenant Colonel and after over 5 overseas deployments and 9 moves across the country, he is in the homestretch of his military career. Only 15 days left in a ONE YEAR “VACATION” to Afghanistan and just a couple months of service remain before he can finally retire and move to Canon City, Colorado this summer to teach high school ROTC and coach high school cross country.
My dad has always done his best to stay fit and it was actually because I got tired of having to spend my childhood Saturday mornings watching my dad do 5k’s that I started running from a very young age. I was curious to know how he and the rest of his soldiers stay in shape when they’re deployed. So I sent him a few questions and this is what he responded with, enjoy!
WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO TO STAY IN SHAPE IN AFGHANISTAN?
We work out everyday, we make sure all our troops do. Most work out twice a day, normally cardio in the morning and lift weights in the afternoon.
WHAT KIND OF RUNS DO YOU DO, WHERE DO YOU DO THEM, AND HOW FAR?
When its dangerous we land up running a lot on the 4 treadmills we have here. But when it is calm, we can run around our helicpoter pads, 8 laps around is two miles, pretty rocky course though. There is also a hill you can run up, its 5 miles up and 5 back.
SO ONE OF THE THINGS YOU DID FOR THE BASE WAS GET A BASKETBALL COURT SET UP, HOW’D YOU DO THAT?
It took me about 7 months to get the court built, I had to say it was a “exercise pad” to get it approved, which it is anyway, took about a month to get the goal, we play every weekend.
DESCRIBE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO STAY IN SHAPE IN AFGHANISTAN:
Its actually not that hard to stay in shape here, many troops have lost a lot of weight and toned up, and we probably have more time here than at home to work out. Plus the food isnt that great, so we really are never that hungry. There is something unappealing about getting your food from big green boxes called mermites. Also drinking more bottled water than I do back home helps a lot. Plus I cant let the younger dudes out-do me, I’m too competitive like my son and daughter.
Can you tell me why people in the States should be greatful for all the resources we have for exercising while you guys have to make the best of the stuff out there?
People in the states are free to go whever they want to work out, we are confined to a small area, we have to be creative to make our runs longer, plus even though I like our gym, we do not have that much equipment like at home. So you have to again come up with different ways to lift so it doesnt get tOo routine.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ABOUT WHAT IT’S LIKE LIVING ON THE BASE:
Living on a FOB (Forward Operating Base) is tough, its great to be round these Warriors, but day in day out sometimes people get on your nerves because you are really never alone. As a leader, I have to always make sure they are all ok and doing their jobs and I never have a minute to myself other then when working out or sleeping. I only average between 5-7 hours of sleep a night when the bad guys are not attacking.
Tell me how y’all get to watch the games and what factor sports play on the base (bonding, free time, getting to keep up with whats happening at home):
Watching sports is a huge stress release and is great for bonding here. The only bad thing is that most games live start at 1030pm and the games go all through the night until about 6am our time. So I had some pretty late nights or really early mornings to watch games. I was able to see most of the bowl games LIKE MICHIGAN-GO BLUE and BAYLOR and UT play, so that was awesome. I was also able to watch track and field and XC on the internet, so I got to see you run a couple of times and it was great, I saw you win the Florida State Relays Steeple, Penn Relays, and of course the XC Championships again. They were on here very late but thank goodness for technology….. I’m very excited to come home and then go watch you run in the Big 10 Indoor Championships in Nebraska, will not miss it for the world… LOVE YA!
Yesterday my dad received his SECOND BRONZE STAR, the fourth highest medal awarded in the military. Congrats Dad, thanks for always being my biggest supporter and come home soon, we miss you!