The Profile Dossier Classic: Katie Arnold, the Ultra-Athlete Who Outran Her Anxiety
After her father died, Katie Arnold spiraled into a thick cloud of grief and anxiety.
She was consumed and paralyzed by fear as she grappled with her own mortality. Each day, she would ask herself questions that would only further fuel the fire blazing in her brain: Would she die too? What would happen if she wasn't around to help raise her daughters?
Arnold tried a multitude of remedies in an attempt to heal what she referred to as "her worry brain."
Nothing worked, until one day, she went on a run.
"Running was like putting lettuce in a bowl and tossing it with salad dressing, jiggling loose my ideas, so that by the time I finished, everything was coated and interconnected," she writes. "I saw links I’d missed, and I knew what to do and how to get forward."
To her, running acted like an elixir for her anxious brain. Over the course of three tumultuous years, she ran alone through the wilderness, logging longer and longer distances, first a 50-kilometer ultramarathon, then 50 miles, then 100 kilometers.
In 2018, Arnold became the women's champion of Leadville Trail 100 Run, which is an intense 100-mile ultramarathon held annually on rugged trails and dirt roads. It took her 19 hours, 53 minutes, and 40 seconds.
“I’ve always been running towards something, which is my true self and my expression as a human being," she says.
Running healed her grief and cured her constant rumination. She turned her experiences into a popular memoir called, Running Home.
Similar to running, Arnold says, the power of writing is "not to be therapeutic but transformative, even transcendent."
Here's what we can learn from Arnold's journey of finding her passion, overcoming worry, and learning to observe the world from a lens of admiration and curiosity.
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