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Kadena Airmen get RIP’d

Participants in the first session of Kadena Air Base’s running improvement program perform lunges as a warm up exercise before beginning their cardiovascular workout at the Kadena High School track, Aug. 5, 2015. The running improvement program is an eight-week program designed by a certified natural running coach that aims to improve participants’ run times while educating them on proper form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

Participants in the first session of Kadena Air Base’s running improvement program perform lunges as a warm up exercise before beginning their cardiovascular workout at the Kadena High School track, Aug. 5, 2015. The running improvement program is an eight-week program designed by a certified natural running coach that aims to improve participants’ run times while educating them on proper form. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

A small group from the first session of Kadena’s running improvement program finishes a light run through a neighborhood together on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 5, 2015. After an initial one-and-a-half mile timed assessment, the 136 participants were split into smaller groups by ability level, allowing those of comparable skill to push each other and help each other improve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

A small group from the first session of Kadena’s running improvement program finishes a light run through a neighborhood together on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 5, 2015. After an initial one-and-a-half mile timed assessment, the 136 participants were split into smaller groups by ability level, allowing those of comparable skill to push each other and help each other improve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

Several small groups of participants in the first session of Kadena Air Base’s running improvement program work out and perform post-run stretches on the Kadena High School track, Aug. 5, 2015. The running improvement program is an eight-week program designed to improve particpants’ run times while educating them on proper form. Historically, participants average a 1 minute 45 second improvement on their one and a half mile timed run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

Several small groups of participants in the first session of Kadena Air Base’s running improvement program work out and perform post-run stretches on the Kadena High School track, Aug. 5, 2015. The running improvement program is an eight-week program designed to improve particpants’ run times while educating them on proper form. Historically, participants average a 1 minute 45 second improvement on their one and a half mile timed run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than a hundred Airmen gather at the dimly-lit Kadena High School track, up and at 'em before the first rays of morning sun are even peeking over the horizon.

Master Sgt. Derek Allar, running improvement program creator and head coach, checks his watch and decides it is time to get started. After a quick roll call, the Airmen break into smaller groups and begin performing warm up drills. Although working in small groups, everyone here shares the same goal: they want to become better runners.

That's why they joined the running improvement program.

"Running is probably the only thing the Air Force doesn't train you on," said Allar, who is currently serving as the 18th Contracting Squadron's commodities and services flight section chief. "For push-ups and sit-ups you get a little video before your PT test, but for the running portion you're just told to run."

Allar, who is certified through the U.S. Olympic Committee as a natural running coach, created the running improvement program six years ago while stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Although this is the sixth year he has led the program, it is the first time it has been held at Kadena.

On day one of the program, the 136 participants completed a one-and-a-half mile pre-assessment run. Based on their finish times, they were split into ability groups of roughly eight runners per coach. From then on, each group completed the same workout at a pace appropriate for their skill levels.

"Prior to the program I was unable to usually complete the one and a half mile run due to pain I had been experiencing," said Airman 1st Class Kalina McCrory, 18th Medical Support Squadron women's health technician and RIP participant. "Now I can run with hardly any pain."

The program focused primarily on improving the run times of the participants, but also included full gait analyses for all 136 runners. Participants were filmed one by one and were shown how their form could be improved. The first session focuses on improving run time and if participants choose to attend additional sessions, they will work on improving their gait.

"With this first session, we were very standard across the board," Allar said. "The next session, previous attendees who have had gait analysis will be able to split off and work on their form and their transition process."

The next session is scheduled to begin in the first weeks of September. At the end of the eight week program, participants had improved their run times by an average of 1 minute, 37 seconds.

"I dropped three minutes off my usual one-and-a-half mile run time," McCrory said. "My favorite part of the program was the support from coaches and participants along with the major improvement in my run."

Allar said after participating in the program, he hopes runners are able to see running as an exercise that can be fun and easy if done correctly.

"The run is 60 percent of our PT test, so the Air Force wants us to be cardiovascular-ly fit," Allar said. "There aren't a lot of ways to improve on that other than running. There's swimming and biking, but we're tested on the run so we have to be strong runners, we have to be ready to execute the mission.

We have to be fit to fight."