The 1st Infantry Division Army Ten-Miler team has been training for the Oct. 8 competition in Washington, D.C., since July.
On Sept. 26, the Kansas State University athletic program opened their doors to the 14-Soldier team for a recovery session and nutritional advice.
"Recovery is the biggest piece we can do for preventative medicine for the military athletes as well as the athletes here at K-State," said Phillip Vardiman, athletic training program director at K-State.
That morning, after an hour-long workout at CiCo Park in Manhattan, Kansas, the team met at the K-State Vanier Family Football Complex with Vardiman and Scott Trausch, K-State sports nutritionist.
K-State worked with Capt. Mark Gaudet, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., and 1st Lt. Tim Nelson, the executive officer for Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., during their prep for the Best Ranger Competition in 2016.
"Back in 2015, I sat down with Trausch and Vardiman and we started brainstorming on where the program could go," Gaudet said. "Starting with the Best Ranger program, we came together with the idea of recovery."
With proper training and recovery, the Soldiers can be ready for not only the Army Ten-Miler but also ready as a Soldier, said retired Sgt. 1st Class Darryl Jewell, the "Big Red One" Army Ten-Miler coach and former division Soldier.
"The Army understands that they need physically fit Soldiers," Jewell said. "I used to ask my Soldiers, 'Why do we do PT?' They gave various answers, but the basic reason why we do physical training is survivability. Because if you get injured or wounded in combat, the shock of that happening will not kill you. A Soldier that is physically conditioned will most likely survive their wound."
Also, no matter what job one has in the U.S. Army, being physically fit is unbelievably important, Nelson said
"It makes everything easier," Nelson said. "It makes the hard times a little more manageable and it makes it so you're not a liability for the rest of your unit."
Jewell said the team was able to get a helping hand from K-State with conditioning and recovery so that they were ready.
"Just getting down here with a professional and world-class athletic trainers and having them tell us the science and psychology side of competition is very important to compete at the highest level," Gaudet said.
Vardiman escorted the team to a 65-degree, waist-high pool. The pool is a cold-therapy recovery treatment used by the K-State athletes.
"It's all about taking care of your body," said 1st Lt. Sarah Mikkelson, an aircraft structural repairer with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div. "Being in the Army, on top of training for a 10-miler, takes a toll on your body."
Vardiman said recovery is something commonly overlooked by athletes.
"There are a number of things you can do for post-workout and competition recovery," Vardiman said. "That allows your body to get back into a position to be resilient and, in the term of the military athlete, 'carry on the fight.'"
Following the recovery portion of their visit, the team met with Trausch.
"I hope this is the first of a few talks," Trausch said. "I want to give them the basic nutrition principles; whether it's hydration, pre and post-workout fueling, how to build a proper plate, how alcohol affects the body, grocery store tips and eating-out tips."
Trausch said he only wanted to scratch the surface of everything he felt was important. He gave the Soldier athletes a pamphlet hoping it would give them the skills and tools that will help them make sound decisions about fueling properly for their overall readiness.
"Nutrition is vital not only for performance but overall health and keeping mind, body and soul where it should be," Trausch said.
Gaudet said the team also received support from the College of Human Ecology and Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, the Athletic Department and Sports Medicine Staff.