Senior NCO makes fitness contagious at 39th IOS

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Heather Alden
  • 39th IOS
Master Sgt. Charles “Tom” Rados was, by his own admission, “the guy in the squadron who wouldn’t run more than 1.5 miles unless someone was chasing him with a bazooka.” His lack of motivation toward running and physical fitness showed as he squeaked by his 2004 and 2005 fitness tests.

Feeling sick and in pain for a week after running just a mile and a half for his 2005 test and not wanting to fall into the “who cares if I can run, I don’t have to do this again for another year” mindset, Sergeant Rados decided to change his attitude. So he and his wife signed up for the 2006 Disney half marathon. His goal was to begin training in October to be able to run the 13.1 mile half marathon in January.

Today, the master sergeant runs for fun and has completed the Disney half marathon, Pensacola Double Bridge Run, Pensacola Half Marathon, Hurlburt Field four-mile Poker Run and the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K. He is in training to run the 10th Annual Air Force marathon this September and the Disney Goofy Run and a Half, a marathon and a half in two days, in January 2007.

But getting this comfortable with running wasn’t easy and it wasn’t done overnight. Sergeant Rados began his running program with a little help and advice from the professionals from the Riptide Fitness Center.

Plagued by sore legs and breathing trouble when running, Sergeant Rados began working with Brian Lewis, 16th Services Squadron personal trainer, in August 2005, to improve his leg strength and cardiovascular endurance.

“It was hard because I still didn’t ‘want’ to do it, but I knew what was coming,” said the master sergeant. “My first week of run training was in October, and I needed the legs to stand on.”

“Tom was successful in his training because of his enthusiasm,” said Mr. Lewis. “I see people in here all the time who know they need to improve their fitness levels, but if they don’t have the drive or enthusiasm to make a true commitment to their physical health, they don’t get very far. Tom was ready to make improvements straight out of the gate.”

To prepare his body for his running training, Mr. Lewis worked with Sergeant Rados to develop a circuit weight training program to strengthen the master sergeant’s legs, abs and upper body.

“Once my running schedule kicked off, I was able to complete my short three-mile runs at a comfortable pace,” said Sergeant Rados. “What is funny is my first short mile run was a three-miler, which is further than I had run since high school. It wasn’t until after I finished it that I realized that ‘Hey I just ran three miles and I’m not dying!’”

The enthusiasm that Sergeant Rados displayed toward reaching his personal running and fitness goals was contagious. He inspired 14 of his coworkers and students to run the Pensacola Double Bridge run, a 15K race, and ensured all who wanted to run were physically and mentally prepared for the run. He constantly encouraged others to sign up for races and make those events more team-building events than grueling physical training.

“He has introduced and reinvigorated the idea of running for enjoyment to members in the unit, whether it be people wanting to run more, farther and better, or people who were losing touch with the fun and relaxation of running,” said Tech. Sgt. “Spyke” Szeredy, 39th IOS PT leader. “He is a great role model for inspiring and motivating those who think they can’t do it.”

“Tom’s contagious attitude is great,” said Lt. Col. Ted Settlemire, 39th IOS commander. “I’m looking forward to running my first marathon with him and a few other squadron members this September at the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.”

Today, his run times for the fitness test are not Olympic-medal-winning, but his general health and feeling toward physical fitness have improved tremendously.

“I’m really proud of Sergeant Rados,” said Colonel Settlemire. “This is what the fitness program is all about; it’s not just a once a year test but an all around improvement in our level of fitness.”