ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Airmen learn quite a bit during their eight-week basic military training. They learn attention to detail, basic combat skills and more, but overall – discipline.
In 2009, as trainee Benjamin Glenn participated in mandatory runs at BMT, he learned something else about himself.
“(That’s) when I found out, when I was running with other people, that I was actually pretty good at it,” Glenn said. “From then on, I just continued running.”
Fast forward seven years to present day, and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Glenn is a 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron CV-22 Osprey crew chief and a dedicated runner. He’s running half and full marathons in elite-level times, and the Air Force Special Operations Command chose him to represent the command in this year’s Air Force Marathon in September.
Every year thousands of runners from all over the world travel to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to run in the competitive long-distance race. Glenn was chosen as one of six people to run the half-marathon for AFSOC, in hopes of earning big points in the Major Command Challenge.
He began competing in half-marathons at his first assignment, Dyess AFB, Texas, and has yet to run any more races in the U.S.
“It wasn’t until coming over (to Royal Air Force Mildenhall) that I realized I could use it as a travelling excuse. I’ll pick a place and go run there,” Glenn said. “My first full marathon was in Paris.”
So far, he’s run in 15 countries and completed two marathons and eight half-marathons.
“It’s really cheap to travel and do marathons – you just fly there with a pair of shoes,” Glenn said.
As a CV-22 crew chief with a highly active squadron, he doesn’t always have the luxury to train at his convenience or even in comfort. Besides working whatever schedule the mission demands, he goes on frequent TDY assignments all over Europe.
“It does eat into the running schedule, but I always bring my gear with me and I take any chance I get to run,” Glenn said.
As a crew chief, he spends almost all day outside on the flightline.
“I don’t even have to go TDY,” Glenn said. “Sometimes, just at work, I’ll have a crazy day and a crazy week of training where my body is just done.”
After being tired or worn out, there’s one thing that keeps him dedicated throughout his training – discipline.
“I find it extremely difficult to run after work. Not only am I depleted of energy, but my feet tend to get really sore from being on them all day.” Glenn said. “It’s difficult, but if it means enough, you’ll do it regardless”
Besides dedication, this much running requires diverse training. He uses a customized training plan that combines long, short, interval, difficult and easy runs, as well as weight training, cross-training, nutrition and well needed rest days.
“Maintaining that active lifestyle and running gives you more energy,” Glenn said. “And it gives you purpose. Everyone doesn’t necessarily find purpose in aircraft maintenance, but find something outside of work that you find enjoyment in. It doesn’t have to be running, try something different, but find something.”
Glenn found purpose in running and it shows. He’s recently taken up biking and swimming to compete in a triathlon in Spain a month after the marathon, but he stays committed to the Air Force Marathon. He hopes to run the race in under 1 hour, 20 minutes and bring home pride for himself and his unit.
“(It’s a few) solid hours of running -- for some people more -- so at the end, you’re tired, exhausted even, but you did it, and that feeling ... I chase that,” Glenn said.