By Scott Prater
First Lt. Clare Bar, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, capped off an active summer last week with a pair of achievements. First she claimed sixth place against national-level competition in the Pikes Peak Ascent Aug. 11 and then cut 10 seconds off her previous mark to set a new Schriever female outdoor track record for the 1.5-mile run Aug. 16.
Bar raced up Pikes Peak at a torrid pace, finishing the 13.3-mile course in 3 hours, 3 minutes, 27 seconds.
“My original goal when I started training back in April was sub 3 hours, but I had to modify that to a more realistic mark,” said Bar, who hit the summit just 10 seconds behind her fifth place competitor and 20 ticks out of fourth place. “My modified goal was 3:10, so I would have been happy with 3:09.”
Perhaps more amazing for Bar was the fact that this was the first time she had competed in the event.
She didn’t have much time to revel in her accomplishment, however, before she donned her Air Force physical training uniform five days later and hit the track in an attempt to break her own 1.5-mile run record.
One would think the ascent should have tuckered her out, but she said it really served as a type of training for the fitness assessment.
“I didn’t feel like I needed recovery time,” she said. “I ran an easy five and a half miles on Sunday and did some 200s Monday because I wanted to keep tension in my legs. For shorter distances you want to maintain that springy feeling in your legs.”
Bar would know the best way to prepare for a fitness assessment, she’s been an avid runner since childhood and grew up in an athletic family. Her father and oldest sister ran collegiately and her other siblings have been competitive as well. That’s one reason she’s slightly dismissive about setting the new female track record of 8:55.
“From my perspective, I grew up comparing my sister’s times to national bests in whatever event she was running,” Bar said. “That’s just always been the level of measurement. People can tell me how impressive my effort on the Schriever track is, but Schriever is a small base.”
Though Bar’s performance on Pikes Peak and at the track places her among the top runners on base, Schriever Sports and Fitness Director Seth Cannello said average runners can learn from her work ethic.
“She doesn’t prepare for her Air Force fitness assessment the month before she’s due like a lot of people I see,” Cannello said. “She’s dedicated and committed to running and working out. You have to make healthy living a lifetime commitment, which she has done.”
For Bar, enjoyment of the sport is important, but not mandatory for improving performance on the track.
“There’s no doubt, I like running, but I also like listening to music as I run,” she said. “I think that’s true for a lot of people and can ease some of the monotony of the activity. I also tell people that they need to run at least three times a week, with one of those runs being more than 45 minutes.”
She said interval training would be helpful to most runners as well. Her best tip: set a realistic pace goal for the 1.5-mile run and work from that reference point.
“Say you want to finish in 12 minutes,” she said. “That translates into 2 minutes per lap. So run two laps at the pace, rest for 2 minutes and then run two more laps at that pace. If you do that four times, you’ve run farther than 1.5 miles, plus you’ve taught yourself to run at the 12-minute pace. Hopefully then, as you get closer to your fitness assessment, you’re connecting those dots; you’re training your body to run at that pace.”
Bar is unsure of her running goals for this coming year, but she’ll maintain her competitive pace at least for the next few months. She’s signed up to compete in a local running series during the autumn months.
“After you finish something like the ascent, there’s a bit of letdown,” she said. “You’ve spent all those months training and preparing for a race and then, suddenly, it’s over. I’ll need something to shoot for to keep my energy level up during the next few months.”
Meanwhile, Cannello recommended anyone wishing to improve their fitness assessment run time to inquire at the Schriever Fitness Center and Health and Wellness Center for running and healthy eating advice.