Health & Safety

January 24, 2013

Hitting the dusty trail

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Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Running_pict
U.S. Air Force Capt. Collin O’Bryant, 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron EC-130 pilot, runs an average of 40 to 55 miles each week. Each session consists of four to five hours of running.

Capt. Collin O’Bryant, the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron EC-130 pilot trains and runs ultra-marathons that range from 40 to 55 miles each week.

An ultra-marathon consists of running more than 26 miles at a time.

O’Bryant began to realize when he moved to Tucson in 2010 from Columbus, Miss. how much he enjoyed running.

“After pilot training, I was stationed in Columbus, Miss. and I was tired of being in a place where there was nothing to do outdoors,” O’Byrant said. “There were absolutely no trails to run on, and people didn’t live a very healthy lifestyle. I was coming back out west and was really excited that I would have more time on my hands after living in Mississippi. I decided to get into running. Around the same time, I heard about ultra-marathon running and thought it was really extreme and kind of crazy. I was excited about the opportunity of trying something that would test me, and that would give me the chance to be outdoors.”

O’Bryant runs three times a week, averaging 40 to 55 miles each week.

“On weekends, I go out for a four or five hour run in the mountains, and I pretty much do all trail running,” O’Bryant said. “I usually average 20-25 miles within those four to five hour runs.”

As he ramps up his mileage, he tries to eat as much clean, non-processed foods as possible. He eats more than 3,000 calories a day to keep nourished.

“A huge part of running is incorporating nutrition,” O ‘Bryant said. “So, I’ve learned a ton about how to fuel your body over the course of a nine-and-a-half hour run, which is a 50-mile run. You learn a lot about the nutritional needs of the body. So, I learned to take in 300 calories per hour and 29 ounces of water per hour. It’s really become a science for me.”

As O’Bryant puts more work into his runs, he’s come to suffer many minor injuries while training.

“As I worked up the ability to run more and more, I had several small things happen,” O’Bryant said. “I’ve had runner’s knee, tendonitis flare up in my foot a couple of times, calf strain and a twisted ankle a couple times. The interesting thing is for the last year I haven’t had any injuries. I’ve been really blessed.”

He has ran in two ultra-marathons since living in Tucson. In March, he plans to attend one again with a goal of finishing the race in nine hours.

“I love the training as well as running the marathons themselves,” O’Bryant said. “I ran the Old Pueblo 50-mile Endurance Run two times in Senoita, Az. The first time I ran it, I came in 10th place out of more than 100 runners. It was cool for my first showing. The second time I didn’t have time to train much because I had just returned from Afghanistan, and I didn’t do much running while I was there. I pretty much just lifted weights.”

Determined to keep himself going, O’Bryant follows a mantra during his long runs.

“They say in a marathon you always hit a wall, and in an ultra-marathon you’ll hit a few walls throughout the course of the race,” O’Bryant said. “For each one of those, I have a mantra ‘Nothing always gets worse forever.’ So press through. It’s going to get better if you don’t give up.”




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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Jessica H. Smith and Airman Connor J. Marth)

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