© Jim Day
Arnie Johnston credits family support in his move to a healthier lifestyle that includes running, swimming and biking. His wife Andrea and daughters Emily Milligan and Laura Johnston waited at the finish line Sunday to cheer Johnston as he completed the P.E.I. Marathon. Guardian photo by Jim Day
Arnie Johnston says pain was the challenge and health was the motivation in lacing up
Arnie Johnston took up running out of fear his time may be running short.
Johnston, 45, of Kinkora for years lived a lifestyle that did not flatter his body or benefit his health.
Playing in a band fed him a steady run of late nights filled with beer and fast food.
He was weighing in at 249 pounds.
He was, by his own admission, a ticking time bomb.
The father of five realized the need for a drastic change.
So he started to run and to swim and to bicycle. The exercise was quite difficult at first for an overweight man with osteoarthritis.
Leaning on the support of his family, he pushed himself along one big nudge after another.
“The challenge was pain,’’ he says.
“The motivation was the health reason. It was either do or die.’’
And he has done well indeed.
In 2010, he completed his first event, a 10-kilometre race.
“It felt good and really opened my eyes to the (running) environment . . . it’s infectious,’’ he says.
Johnston is now hooked on exercise, which has become a six- to seven-day-a-week routine that has him train with a group called Summerside Masters.
In July, he ran his first full ironman competition in New York, swimming 3.8 kilometres, biking 180 kilometres and topping it off with a 42-kilometre run, which is equivalent to a full marathon.
“That was pinnacle,’’ he says proudly.
On Sunday, he knocked off the Prince Edward Island Marathon in about two hours and 45 minutes, coming in at a better-than-anticipated time.
Having his wife, Andrea, and daughters Emily Milligan and Laura Johnston greet him at the finish line was special.
“I can’t do this without the support of my family,’’ he says.
“We all work together.’’
Andrea is thrilled to be in her husband’s corner as he continues to take great care of his health, trimming down by 40 pounds since first lacing up three years ago and feeling better than he did more than 20 years ago.
“It’s just so positive,’’ she says.
“He’s happy and he’s healthier...I’m extremely proud of him.’’