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Marathon Running: Inspiration for Soldier’s Fitness

By Maj. Ebony Malloy | 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment  | March 5, 2018

FORT LEE, Va. —

For Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Betty, an Army Reserve Senior Advisor to 1st Brigade Commander and a 12-year New York City Transit Authority Superintendent, assigned to the 1st Brigade, 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment, he found comfort in running which he initially used as a sleep aid and a means to remain focused on the mission at hand while in a deployed environment. Betty’s running regiment and distance ran would continue to flourish in years to come.

“It was always a bucket list item,” said Betty. “During my last deployments I used running to stay focused and help me sleep at night. One mile turned into two miles then before I knew it, I was running the 10 mile perimeter of Camp Victory in 2005. I also would run the post 8-10 mile perimeter while in Kuwait and at Bagram Airfield in 2012. Once I returned home, my running continued. I started entering half marathons and 10 milers to stay physically fit and ready to serve.”

Upon Betty’s dedication to his continued running regiment after his last deployment, he felt that he would take a crack at his very first official full marathon (26.2 miles), the Hampton Marathon in Hampton New York in 2015. He explains just how painfully grueling his first marathon experience was.

“It was the hardest thing physically I have ever attempted and completed in my life. It took over 6 hours for me to complete this race. There were so many times when I had to stop and quit. In fact, I might have cried a little at the 20 mile mark after being completely fatigued and realizing that I still had 6.2 miles more to go,” said Betty.

Over the years, Betty’s marathon time gradually improved as he took part in the New York City Marathon in 2016 and 2017; one of the United States largest marathons. In 2016, he completed the marathon, crossing the finish line in 4:59 followed by a 15 second faster time in 2017 as he finished the race in 4:44. “Both races were great runs,” said Betty.

Preparation for any event or activity can be a bit taxing. Betty conducts fundamental exercises that whip him into tiptop shape for marathons. Despite Betty not considering himself to be a real athlete, he does not have a specific regiment that he focus on, per se. He believes he has been fortunate to find time to train given his daily home and work responsibilities. Betty stated that he has many duties that takes precedent over his running hobby to include his civilian job 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., 24/7 BDE CSM duties and, husband/daddy duties 5:30 p.m. until.

“My family is a big supporter of my running,” said Betty. “My wife and kids compete in Spartan runs, family 5k and try to get into the gym or run 4-5 days per week. I run whenever and wherever I get the opportunity. I also use Soldiers to motivate me as I am training. I challenge Soldiers to beat my weekly running distance on my run app, which is approximately 30-40 miles per week with at least one run being 10 miles or longer.”

Betty’s staple exercises consist of: 

  • Running 1 mile as fast as you can (6:32 fastest time) then walk a quarter mile.
    Repeat for 4 miles. 
  • Core training using body weight
  • 150 meter dash/ walk 50 meters/ 150 meter dash. Repeat for 2 miles or 8 laps. 
  • SLEEP

    Betty shares his secret on how he consistently remains in marathon running mode. “It’s like everything we do, practice makes perfect,” he said. “You must have the discipline and commitment to train when it’s cold, when you’re tired, when you’re sick, when you really don’t have the time but you squeeze in two faster paced miles over a normal paced 10 miler is key to maintaining a marathon ready body."

    As a result of Betty’s years of pure devotion to running, he has racked up an impressive 30 medals throughout his marathon journey. His medals consist of 3 marathon medals (26.2 miles), 18 half marathons medals (13.1 miles), (8) 10-milers medals, and (1) 39-miler medal.

    Betty also use his marathon running as an outlet to encourage his Soldiers to be more active while improving their physical fitness. He has participated in the Army Ten Miler (ATM) event for the past 6 years and challenged his Soldiers to participate as well.

    “We were able to encourage and motivate 18 Soldiers to run in the ATM wearing the battalion t-shirts. PT scores soared during the training, prior to the event and after the 10 miler,” said Betty.

    Physical fitness is viewed by Betty as the key and foundation to build on for a healthy lifestyle. He preach to Soldiers that readiness is the most important aspect of being a Soldier. He is also a strong believer in looking presentable as well as being prepared for your duties and responsibilities.

    Betty stated that Soldiers will always try to emulate good leadership which starts with your appearance. “When I stand in front of a formation, I often challenge the young Soldiers to beat me on the 2 mile run which they are often very motivated to do so,” he said. Watching them train and groom others to beat the CSM is an amazing feeling. Not only are they getting fit and healthy, they are also building team cohesion and lifting the moral for the unit.”

    “It does not cost anything to stay fit,” said Betty. “Make time for yourself at least 3-4 times per week to do some type of physical training. Do not wait for two weeks before an Army Physical Fitness Test to start training. The biggest show stopper for promotions and career advancement is a failed APFT and being on the height and weight list with no signs of improvement.”

    Aside from using marathon running as a quintessential method to enrich his overall health and Soldier readiness; Betty has also relied on his discipline, vigor, and tenacity obtained through his marathon running to aid him with challenging obstacles during his military career.

    During the surge period of Betty’s last deployment, his commitment to running and physically fitness was key in keeping up with the fast pace requirement of war. “Running cleared my mind and kept me focused,” said Betty. “My body was also able to tolerate long work days with minimal rest.”

    “I attribute my great health to running more than 120 miles per month and being ready and available to participate in a marathon at any given time. I am also ready and available to take an APFT any day of the week and score 80 or better in each event. I empower Soldiers to be as committed to their careers as I am with mine and my commitment to excel in whatever the Army asks of me.”