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I played competitive soccer for 20 years (age 9-30). I was injury-free well into my late 30s. Then some genius decided that for me [as a member of the California Air National Guard] to "prove" I was physically fit, I needed to run 1.5 miles in 13:30, since my waist was 35 inches, with a maximum 10 points for push-ups/sit-ups. From that day on, I’ve been battling injuries from trying to run faster at both 225 and 175 pounds.

I read the self-help brochures, attended the monthly squadron commander "physical training counseling," dropped training from 15 to six miles per week, and lost 50 pounds. My feet fell apart and what was the squadron’s response? "As soon as your injury-related PT waiver expires, you test again." We don’t do any sort of operations with so little support to our "wing man."

I got past my situation by taping my feet, running hurt and joining a local club (Tri Club of San Diego). I also learned that the mechanics of my run set me up for injury the moment I started running faster than an eight-minute-mile pace, regardless of weight, shoes or surface. This took years of my own failures, doctors and specialists’ advice to figure out. How many airmen do we have to hurt before the leadership realizes you can’t test an airman’s fitness by his sprinting capability? I pass the PT test, but now I have chronic plantar fasciitis in both feet and an occasional sinus tarsitis.

Don’t waste your time on-base. Go off-base for professional athlete services or local running clubs’ advice. Don’t run alone, or break the 10 percent rule — meaning, incrementally increase speed and distances, but keep changes to less than 10 percent to avoid injury. Finally, do not run "alone." Run your PT test with a known good runner for your pace.

John SchubertKabul

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