Every athlete has a unique story about how they discovered their sport, and how sport has helped enrich their life. In episode five of Victoria Azarenka's podcast "Think About It" she discusses the power of sport with guest Robin Arzon.
"We haven't met physically, but I have been with you for sometime now since I have gotten my Peloton bike," Azarenka tells Arzon to kick off their chat. "Pretty much every day with my cardio with getting excited about the workout because in quarantine it's not easy. So, your energy has been really exciting for me."
An ultra-marathon runner, Arzon is the vice president of fitness programing and an instructor at Peloton. Her backstory tells a more complex tale far beyond that of just athlete who picked up a sport as a youngster. She was a corporate litigator that turned into a fitness superstar after a near-death experience when she was held hostage in New York City.
In 2002 when Arzon was a senior at NYU, a man armed with three pistols, a sword and kerosine entered a wine bar in the East Village. Arzon was one of the 40 bar patrons taken hostage and covered in kerosine. As he held Arzon by the hair with a gun and lighter to her head, two patrons jumped him, giving police the chance to enter and make the arrest.
"A year later, when I was in law school, is when I started to really think, 'Oh wow. I have trauma I haven't dealt with.' It really was," Arzon says. "It was literal and figurative steps. I saw a pair of shoes in my closet, and I thought, 'All right. I'm just going to jog a mile. I'm going to walk to class today. And then, I'm going to jog. And then, I'm going to run.'
"Then I signed up for a 10K, and then, a marathon, an ultra marathon."
Arzon at a "Run for the Oceans" event in Los Angeles in 2018. (Getty Images)
Arzon has taken part in more than 50 races, including 26 marathons, three 50-mile ultra-marathons and one 100-mile race.
The two women also talk about perspective and gratitude, as well as mental and physical health (Arzon has diabetes as does Azarenka's father, and Arzon's mother has multiple sclerosis). Arzon has run to raise money for all sorts of foundations and research efforts, and has dedicated her life to simplifying running for anyone interested in getting into it. She even wrote a book called Shut Up and Run.
"I wanted to write the book that I needed when I started running. I found it really overwhelming when I started Googling, researching how to be a runner," she says. "So, I wanted to demystify running. For me it just became shut up and run. Like, just go and run and you will become a better runner."
Think About It is produced in partnership with WTA. A new episode will be featured weekly on TENNIS.com.