With their heart pounding, lungs burning, leaden feet and heavy legs, thoughts of wanting to stop cross many runners’ minds. To overcome these thoughts, being surrounded by others that give encouraging words can help.
We Have Your Pace is a program comprised of individuals who want to help others succeed at becoming better runners by creating a community of people who actively motivate one another.
“The part I enjoy most about running is when I’m encouraging someone else,” said Master Sgt. Marcus Sydow, 355th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Operations Flight superintendent and founder of WHYP.
From the very beginning Sydow knew he couldn’t operate WHYP by himself. He would spend time on the track running and take notice of people who weren’t only fast but also had a positive attitude.
“If I saw someone pacing I’d talk to them and tell them I’m looking at starting a group, and ask ‘Are you interested?’” Sydow said. “Being around people who want to do this is motivating, and running becomes more fun than it is a chore.”
It was at the start of WHYP where Sydow met Special Agent Nicole Suss, Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent, who soon became in instrumental member in getting WHYP underway. She would help get the word out and recruit others into the group.
“We all have a similar mindset, the same goals, and a desire to help each other,” Suss said.
To get the word out, Sydow sent emails to people who showed interest.
Airman 1st Class Marielle Verbeeck, 355th Communications Squadron radio frequency communications technician, first heard of the group through these emails and thought it would be a good opportunity to help improve her physical fitness test score.
“Having a pacer with me really made me forget about the pain and focus on just taking one step after the other,” Verbeeck said. “With their help, I was able to cut my run time by over a minute!”
Although WHYP was founded by military members, it’s open to the entirety of the Davis-Monthan community. Anyone who may want to seek WHYP’s help are encouraged to attend self-paced group runs which are held three times a week on Mondays at 6:30 a.m., Tuesdays at 4 p.m., and Fridays at 7 a.m.
“We want people to do more than just pass [their PT tests],” Suss said. “We want them to feel like they have a community of people who can get out there and help them improve.”