USAF Basic Training: Run to cadence

Staff Sgt. Robert George, a military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, marches his unit following the issuance of uniforms and gear. Recruits are molded into warrior Airmen through a recently expanded Air Force Basic Military Training program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

One of the things I expected to experience during basic training was running together as a unit and singing cadence. This was one of the things I did as I prepared to go train with the U.S. Marine Corps. Yeah, you may not know, I spent sometime in the Marine Corps delayed entry program (DEP) after I finished my Associates Degree. I switched branches due to a shady recruiter who didn’t give a fuck about me or my life. Fuck that guy.

Anyway, I figured that Air Force basic training would be along the same lines and provide the same style of training to a degree. I know the USMC boot is the most difficult, but I expected that we would at least run in formation and march in formation while singing cadences. It was one of the things I most looked forward to. But this was not to be. Our Military Training Instructors marched us solely by going “left, left, left, right left, hut, two, three, four, left, left, left, right left.” That was it, they never called cadence or had us sing or engage.

I think throughout my entire time in basic, one of my TIs may have called two lines of cadence. I got so excited and thought, “Oh man, here it comes, my real military experience.” But nope, I was wrong, it was just that one or two lines and never again. Thinking back on it, I equate it to teaching fitness. I don’t know if its a cultural Air Force thing because I can only relate and speak on my flight’s experience. But I’m inclined to think that this was just laziness on the part of the instructors. Similar to how some group exercise instructors put in more effort than others, I presume that the same happens here? I’m not entirely sure because I can only speak for my flight, I don’t know how the other flights drilled. But I never passed by anyone calling cadence, except some Navy boys once.

Since this is how my boot camp experience was, I didn’t come back with a host of running songs and cadences after boot camp. In fact, I don’t recall ever once running together in formation. We would get up early, go to a road, and it was basically every Airman for themselves. There were a bunch of us from different flights running and we were all trying to make some run time in 1.5 or 2 miles. I forget.

That was one of my most disappointing encounters during boot camp. Granted, I lost about 25 pounds, but that was because we marched everywhere, they put me on a diet, and we had a very controlled eating regiment. Also, I was made a road guard, you can read more about that here. In any case, since I didn’t have the boot camp experience I expected, I have to improvise when I go running now. See, I love to run to military cadence, and frankly, the only Air Force album I found sucks bad! There were like only two songs I liked, the rest were garbage. The USMC has the best cadences and the Army has some nice ones too.

When I run, I put on my headphones, I dig up my USMC running cadence album with “percussion” and I hit the pavement. It’s a bit embarrassing to me, and I feel like an impostor because I wasn’t a Marine. So if people are around me, I’ll replace “Corps” with “Force,” and any references to the Marines, I change them to the Air Force. I know how well guarded Marines are about that title, and not having earned it, I feel funny running and calling it “My Corps” when it isn’t. So instead I say, “My Force, your force, our force, Air Force.” Hey, they put it out there for people to use and I sure do love me some Marine Corps cadence. At least I have the decency to change the lyrics to reflect the branch I attended! Hah!

So what do you listen to when you hit the road?

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