Running with the force

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, trains for a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) race by running the Milne Stadium stairs in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 1. Houghton trains during his lunch breaks. He runs two miles to the stadium for his workout and runs back to work upon its completion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, poses during his training for a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) qualifying race at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 1. Houghton competed in the 2017 Marine Corps marathon and took fourth overall, but was the first active duty military member to finish. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, trains with Mica Comstock for a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) qualifying race at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 1. Comstock is a former U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant and is a three time CISM qualifier. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, trains for a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) qualifying race at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 1. Houghton competed in his first race at the age of three. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, trains for a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) qualifying race at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 1. Houghton was recently named to the 2018 All-Air Force cross country team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

The Air Force released selections for the 2018 All-Air Force cross-country team Jan. 22, and Capt. Kristopher Houghton, 377th Air Base Wing assistant staff judge advocate, made the team. In a short Q&A session, Houghton answers questions about making the team, training and his passion for running. 

Q: How does it feel to make the 2018 All-Air Force Cross Country Team, was it a goal?

Houghton: This is my third time competing on an All-Air Force team. I was selected to compete at the 2017 Inter-Nation Athletics Championships, which was held in Kaiserslautern, Germany in June. I won the 1500m there and was a member of the winning 4x400m team. Last October, I competed for the Air Force at the U.S. Armed Forces Marathon Championships in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to come away with the victory there against a field of talented runners. I feel very fortunate and thankful to have been selected to compete on the Cross Country team at the US National Championships. The Air Force usually sends a very strong team of runners to compete as a team at the cross-country championships, so I was honored to even make the team. I was also happy to have been a scoring member of our team that placed second to a world-class Army team. We were able to beat very competitive teams from the Navy and Marines.

Q: When is your next race and how have you been training for it?

Houghton: I will run a series of local 5ks and 10ks this spring in preparation for a fast half marathon in June. I am planning to run the half at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, which is known to be a fast course and host a competitive field. My goal there is to run faster than my personal best of 1:07:56.

Q: You come from a family of runners. How did your parents' passion for running impact you and WHY do you run?

Houghton: Yes, both of my parents were long-distance runners and inspired me to start running very early. I have a picture of myself running a road race at 3 or 4 years old. My mom always placed high in local road races and my dad was a school record-holder at his high school for the half mile. By the time I was growing up, both had started running marathons. My dad, who was in the Army and retired as an O-5, ran the original marathon from Marathon, Greece to Athens, Greece, while stationed there. Just watching my parents' love of running and ability to accomplish challenging goals inspired me to run. I finished the Honolulu Marathon at age 11 with my mom. Later I finished the St. George Marathon at age 13 with my dad. My time was around 3 hours and 21 minutes. I never stopped running after that. I ran in high school and college. I ran through law school on club teams. Now I have the great privilege and honor to run for the Air Force and serve as an assistant staff judge advocate in the Air Force Reserve. I continue to run because it has become a positive habit and an integral part of my life. Long-distance running is very meditative for me. It is a great stress reliever and gives me the proper perspective on what is important in life. Regular training makes me a happier and healthier person, better father and husband, and more productive worker. I have also forged lifelong relationships with my teammates and other runners over the years.

Q: The mile and a half run is a huge portion point wise in regards to AF PT test. Can you give our readers some tips to better their times?

Houghton: Running well, like anything, takes practice and planning. The more you do it, the better you'll be at it. It's unrealistic to prepare for your 1.5 mile test a couple of weeks beforehand. To improve your times, you need to run more regularly and further than you've run before. That, of course, is relative to each individual, so it's hard to give specific advice to everyone, but there are many amazing (and free) resources out there. A good place to start are Hal Higdon's free running programs at www.halhigdon.com. There, you can select your goal distance and your experience level, and get a program spaced over time that will hit all the different systems you need to run well (endurance, speed, muscle strength, etc.).

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

Houghton: I am incredibly proud to represent the Air Force and its members in this capacity. I am continuously impressed by the hard-working, smart, conscientious and brave people I have met during my brief time in the Air Force. To the people of the Air Force community, thank you for the important work you do, your commitment to serve our Country, and thank you for this incredible opportunity.