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The Mountaineer Online

Sustainment Brigade Soldier runs ‘just for the fun of it’

(Photo by Sgt. Michael K. Selvage)<br />Staff Sgt. Claudia Smallman, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Special Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, runs for physical training every day while deployed to ensure she is in shape for the next big run. <br />
(Photo by Sgt. Michael K. Selvage)
Staff Sgt. Claudia Smallman, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Special Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, runs for physical training every day while deployed to ensure she is in shape for the next big run.

Sgt. Michael K. Selvage

10th Sustainment Brigade Journalist

Sgt. Michael K. Selvage
10th Sustainment Brigade Journalist
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Running can be a great way to keep your body healthy, strong and prepared for the Army physical fitness test. For Staff Sgt. Claudia Smallman, a mortuary affairs noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Special Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, it’s just something she does for fun.
She said when she goes for a run, it’s not because the Army requires her to but because she truly enjoys every aspect of running.
Smallman said she wasn’t really in shape before joining the Army in 2007, weighing about 141 pounds. However, that all changed in 2009 during her first deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“That was when I decided to change up my lifestyle,” she said. “I became a vegetarian and started working out a lot. I was running and going to the gym every day.”
Some parts of Afghanistan can have great scenery, and Smallman takes full advantage of it while she runs.
“I just like how relaxing it is,” she said. “I also get to take in the beautiful views and clear my mind. It’s my time to think about nothing.”
Some may find it difficult to find the motivation to head to the gym and work out in a combat environment, but for Smallman, it’s a part of her schedule.
“I just have a lot more time to work out and focus on my physical fitness,” she said. “I run every day for PT. I don’t run on the weekend. That’s when I go to the gym and do my cardio and sit-ups.”
Smallman said she runs approximately 20 miles a week.
“The feeling after a nice long run is amazing,” she said. “I’m more awake and energetic. I just feel good.”
She has taken her running to the next level by twice participating in the Army Ten-Miler.
“I ran in the Army Ten-Miler for the first time in 2011 when I ran for the Fort Lee Team,” she said. “I was deployed in 2012 and was unable to compete. I ran in this past year’s Army Ten-Miler as a member of the Fort Drum Team.”
Her fastest Army Ten-Miler also was her first, with a time of one hour and 16 minutes. She said she added a minute to her time in 2013 because she didn’t train as hard as she did in 2011.
Running also has helped Smallman with her Army physical fitness test.
She said the fact that the Army requires its Soldiers to run is just a bonus for her, because she trains for marathons during PT hours.
Smallman consistently scores more than 300 points on her PT test.
“The highest PT test score I’ve received was a 337,” she said. “I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. I ran my two miles in 13 minutes and 55 seconds. I was blown away by how fast I ran; it was my fastest time in Afghan-istan.”
“I train pretty hard for each marathon I run in,” she said. “I just do cardio. I don’t lift weights at all. I stay away from working out my upper body all together. The first marathon I ran was the Boston Marathon (satellite race) while I was deployed in 2012.”
Since then, Smallman has run in other marathons, to include the Air Force Marathon, and she plans to participate in more.
“I’m excited to run in the upcoming Boston Marathon (satellite race),” Smallman said. “This will be my second time running in it while deployed.”
“It’s a challenge, not only for me, but for everyone who participates,” she said. “Once you make it to the finish line, you have that feeling of accomplishment knowing you just ran 26.2 miles.”
She ran her first Boston Marathon (satellite race) in 4:1:10.
“My goal is to finish in less than four hours,” she said.
Smallman also has motivated others to run.
When Soldiers have asked her for advice on how to improve their run, she told them to just get out there and start running.
“I feel that I can inspire Soldiers,” she said. “I always offer the opportunity to Soldiers to run with me.”
Spc. Lakeah J. Woods, a food service specialist assigned to HHC, 10th Special Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, was one of the Soldiers to take Smallman up on her offer within two weeks of arriving at Bagram Airfield.
Because of the higher altitude in Afghanistan, some Soldiers find it hard to get accustomed to the thinner air.
“I couldn’t believe I ran four miles as fast as we did here,” Woods said. “She is definitely inspiring.”
Diet also played a role in Smallman’s fitness. While some Soldiers don’t always enjoy the meals at the dining facility, Smallman does.
“I love the food at the DFAC,” she said. “It has everything I like. I am a vegetarian; I eat a lot of beans, rice and vegetables.”
With a strict diet comes the need to stay nourished.
“I eat a lot, three times a day,” Smallman said. “And I normally snack and drink about 10 bottles of water throughout the day. I need to keep my energy up to exercise.”
She also offered some advice for people who might lack motivation to run.
“Don’t think you have to go and run your fastest; find a pace you can handle and slowly work your way up to your goal,” Smallman said. “I run at about an eight-minute-and-15-second mile, but I step it up to seven-minute mile during the PT test.”
Smallman said she is always looking for a challenge.
“I want to keep running more marathons,” she said.
“I think I’d like to compete in a triathlon, at least once. I need to prepare for that, though. If I get into really good shape before we redeploy, I would like to try it out next year.”

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