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Ironman: Triathlete encourages others to up their fitness game

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

Brig. Gen. David W. Smith will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in October. He encourages all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make physical fitness a priority. (Courtesy photos)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

As Brig. Gen. David W. Smith ramps up his training for the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October, he is encouraging all Reserve Citizen Airmen to make fitness a priority in their lives.

Smith is the mobilization assistant to the commander of 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) – the air component of United States Central Command responsible for air operations in USCENTCOM’s 20-nation area of responsibility in Southwest Asia.

At October’s world championships, he will be attempting to complete a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run alongside some of the fittest people on the planet.

Qualifying for the Kona triathlon is extremely difficult, and it’s taken Smith several years to earn a spot. He said he is relishing the challenge and is confident his training will have him prepared for the ultimate test of mind, body and spirit.

“It took me roughly 10 years to reach my goal to qualify for the Ironman World Championships, but I never gave up,” Smith said. “I had a personal goal of competing in one Ironman event per year and that forced me to remain committed to a regular fitness regimen. I would encourage all Airmen and Guardians to do the same – set a goal. It will keep you consistent and, more importantly, it will keep you committed to reaching that goal. We all know that life sometimes gets in the way, but if you have a goal, it forces you to manage your time effectively to balance your Air Force life with your personal life.”

The general said a regular fitness routine helps promote both resilience and comprehensive Airman fitness.

“Whether it’s Ironman training or any disciplined and regularly scheduled athletic fitness program, fitness contributes to not only our physical health, but also our mental and emotional health,” he said. “I equate my Ironman training sessions to meditation. It’s ‘me time’ where I’m completely isolated from outside influence and distractions – no TV, no personal device, no e-mail, no cell phone. It’s a focused period of fitness and mental isolation for my own health and well-being. A period of mindfulness during our day is healthy for all of us – physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Smith said taking part in a regularly scheduled fitness routine can help Reserve Citizen Airmen excel in their job and in their military service.

“There is no question in my mind a regular fitness routine has made me a better Airman, a better officer and a better leader,” he said. “One of the questions I often get is, ‘how do you find the time to train for an Ironman?’ My answer is it’s all about time management and setting a daily, weekly and monthly goal that forces you to prioritize your time to achieve a desired effect. What you learn is it’s all about time management and goal setting. Guess what, those same values translate into being a better Airman and a better Guardian.”

The general said it’s important to incorporate proper stretching, nutrition and hydration into a regular training routine, but he said the most important thing is to get started.

“We have the greatest Air Force in the world, not because of our capabilities, but because of our Airmen and Guardians,” he said. “Set a goal, make a health fitness program a part of your lifestyle. It will make you a better leader, but most importantly, it will make you a better person – physically, mentally and emotionally.” #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient         ■