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The lifestyle of a runner
Staff Sgt. Ioan Gaitan, 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron surveying and draft team lead, runs in the Breast Cancer Awareness 5K. Gaitan was not always a runner, but lived a lifestyle that required running which he attributes to why he now enjoys it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber R. Kelly-Herard)
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The lifestyle of a runner

Posted 12/9/2011   Updated 12/9/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Amber R. Kelly-Herard
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/9/2011 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- To date, there have been three morale runs at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, all with one thing in common: the fastest runner.

The first place male spot for two 5Ks and a 10K all went to Staff Sgt. Ioan Gaitan, 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron surveying and drafting team lead. Gaitan was not always a runner.

"I only ran when I had to catch the bus or when I was late for school while I lived in Europe," said Gaitan, who is originally from Suceava, Romania. "In Europe, most people walk and take the bus, tram or subway rather than driving their own cars. It is less convenient, but healthier, so I credit my running abilities to that lifestyle.

"When I joined the Air Force, running became mandatory and I started enjoying it," he continued.

Since becoming a runner, Gaitan has seen many benefits.

"Running relieves stress, helps me stay in top, physical shape and enables me to lead by example," said Gaitan, who is deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Besides his health, running has helped him in other aspects in his military career.

"Running has helped me relax and relieve test anxiety," Gaitan said. "I usually run 3 to 4 miles the day or evening before any important test in my career, including the promotion test."

To avoid monotony, Gaitan has started something new during his deployment.

"I try to maintain a six-days-a-week workout schedule," he said. "On this deployment, I usually do CrossFit, followed by a 2 or 4-mile run. On Sundays, I usually do an easy 6-mile run."

To compliment his workouts, Gaitan tries to maintain a healthy diet.

"I eat a balanced meal with plenty of fruits and veggies and I don't use any dietary supplements," he said. "If I decide to eat any junk food, I make a commitment to work out extra hard in order to burn it off the same or next day."

In addition to his 332nd AEW victories, he has also participated in a march in 2011 with approximately 6,400 other individuals who honored World War II prisoners of war and their families by completing a 26.2-mile course.

"Since I deploy almost every year, I have only been able to participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March," he said. "The event was bigger and harder to complete than any member of our five-man team could have expected. We completed the march in 8 hours and 8 minutes.

"It was significantly inspirational seeing wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan cross the finish line, even though they had affixed prostheses," he continued. "Runners should picture this when they feel exhausted and think about giving up a running competition."

In the future, Gaitan plans on running the Air Force Marathon and other major contests.

"My long-term goal is to put together a team and win one of the running competitions in U.S. Air Forces in Europe," he said.

Based on his experience, Gaitan has rules that have worked for him.

"A proper diet, frequent workouts, enough sleep and no bad habits, such as tobacco use, really make a difference," he said. "Using these simple rules, I discovered that even as I am getting older, my running time stays the same and even improves."

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