Triathlete Airman: integrating fitness culture as a way of life

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shen-Chia McHone
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
President John F. Kennedy once said, "Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."

One Airman who values the U.S. Air Force physical fitness program was inspired to incorporate physical fitness as his lifestyle.

Senior Airman Ronald "Les" Campbell, 445th Maintenance Squadron knowledge operations management, says basic training helped to improve his health.

"It is important to be fit to fight; you are useless to the Air Force if you don't take fitness seriously," said Les. "You can't deploy or gain promotions without passing the fitness standards."

When Les returned home after his training, he decided to compete with a friend in a triathlon.

"I've always liked to challenge myself and I wanted to stay fit to fight by participating in different activities other than running," said Les. "Being fit makes me feel energized and mentally stronger."

The triathlon fanatic learned to hone his skills by following a routine: a three-month training schedule to prepare for his first triathlon. Les' best time for a sprint triathlon for the 400 meter swim, 15 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run was one hour and 20 minutes. Currently, he has participated in more than 12 triathlons.

"For my first triathlon, I didn't know what I was getting into. I constantly used the training schedule like it was my bible, logging my workouts," said Les. "I improved with each sports event and felt a sense of accomplishment. I loved meeting new people and having great conversations with them during the events."

Competing an Ironman event was one of the toughest that Les had ever encountered. He committed more than just diet and exercise to his workout schedule. Going to the gym, swimming and riding his bike for more than three hours every day was a regular routine.

"After finishing an Ironman, I feel like I can do anything! I don't think about the distance or time anymore - my only goal is to finish the task at hand," said Les. "My wife has been to all the events I attend and my mother went to support me for the Ironman competition. Having a supportive audience or signing up for the events with a friend help motivate me to train even harder.

"Sometimes you just need to go out and have a good time, you don't have to be the fastest runner, swimmer or cyclist - you just have to be able to reach the finish line," said Les.