Encouragement and Challenge: One Man’s Story of Running towards Health
Do you remember when or why you started running? Running is a fundamental form of human movement. As babies, we begin running almost as soon as we are able to walk. It’s not something we are taught, it is just part of our human DNA.
But when did you start “running” as a means of something other than transportation? Was it a conscious choice, a New Year’s resolution perhaps, or something you sort of fell into? Did you start because you had something you wanted to accomplish, for social reasons, or something deeper.
Why are you still running?
For one man, he remembers exactly when he began running, and why he is still going.
I started running June 4th, 2013. It was just one mile, but after a few days I was hooked.
This is Arne Robertson. He’s a 38 year old sales associate from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. In 2013, Arne was filming the Fergus Fall Half Marathon and said to himself, “I need to do this.” A few days later, he left his house and began running. It was just one mile, and it was pretty rough, but he was committed.
A couple of months later, I ran my first 5k race. That summer, I ran two 10ks. The next year, I did four half marathon and eight races all together. This year, 2015, I ran my first marathon.
When I first heard about Arne, I wasn’t sure there was much of a story here. Lots of people do this. They start with a mile, then run farther and farther until they work up to much longer distances. What captured my attention was when I learned more about Arne, his history, why he runs, and how he has become an inspiration to many.
Setting Big Goals
Arne has several goals in life, most notably to outlive his father who passed away from poor health when he was 45 – barely six years older than Arne is now.
I never really knew him much since he died when I was 5. He was a smoker and had diabetes, neither of which I have. He died of a heart attack. I know running improves our health, and I intend on keeping on that throughout my life.
This was a bit of a wake up call for me. I run because I like the challenge of pushing myself to run faster and faster and faster. I’ve never had something as specific and important as outliving a family history of early death.
While I only know Arne electronically (via email and social media), it is impressive what he has accomplished in a relatively short period of time. I’m proud of him! While he isn’t “fast” by traditionally measures, I greatly respect what he is doing. The discipline and tenacity to keep at it, and the understanding of how it directly impacts his physical and mental health is something to be admired.
Because it’s not always easy.
Running Away the Struggles
Running is when I process life, work through personal or relational stuff, and generally the only time during my day when I can let my mind wander. I’m not unique, most runners do this, but Arne has found that for him, it isn’t a luxury so much as a way to stay healthy.
As a child, Arne was diagnosed with OCD, ADD and suffers from anxiety. He was extremely hyperactive, and he told me not many thought he would “make it.”
In 2011, I reached out to a mental counselor who has helped me manage it. I’m not saying I am free of it, but my life has gotten better because of running… It helps me clear my mind and worry less about the things that bother me.
On occasion, I’ll see Arne post something on Facebook about having a rough day, or some anxiety he’s dealing with. The amount of support he receives is amazing. He’ll get dozens of comments and twice as many likes. It’s a testament to the type of person he has become. Nick, (the guy who first told me I should write about Arne), said in his original email that Arne, “…has a heart of gold and has been inspiring many on Facebook due to his running.”
It’s also cool to see so many of his other, running related posts. He will post a picture of his GPS (often with the time showing how far he has gone), and usually some sort of encouraging note to go along with it.
Arne’s First Marathon
This past summer, Arne ran the Dick Beardsly marathon in Detroit Lakes, MN. Arne’s race was a tough one, as he recalls that the second time across the race he was one of only a handful of people still left on the course. He hit the wall at mile 17, and wasn’t sure he would be able to finish. At mile 20, a friend showed up to help him along., and he got a bit of a second wind. When he neared the finish, he saw a bunch of friends and family waiting.
What did he learn about himself?
…besides it being brutal and tough, it taught me to persevere. I know in the bible it says something about perseverance. Never quit in anything you do in life. I know some people may walk or stop in the marathon. I kept a steady pace and didn’t stop running until the finish line. The marathon teaches you not only about running but also about life itself.
When I read Arne’s story, it put a lot into perspective. For me, 2015 was a year with more goals missed then goals fulfilled. Corresponding with Arne these past few months, has again reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for. Arne is an inspiration because he has reminded me why I run. Through his own quest to outlive his dad, and clear his mind from OCD, ADD and anxiety, he’s reminds all of us that running, in it’s purest form, can be a way we reconnect to ourselves and to others. We push ourselves and shoot for PR’s, but at the end of the day, it’s about becoming the best version of ourselves.
As we enter the proverbial end of the year time of reflection and re-setting of goals for the year to come, may Arne’s ongoing story be a reminder to you. To continue to push yourself, but make sure you have a very strong sense of why you’re running.