Diagnosed with MS then ran 366 marathons in 365 days.
Beating The Unbeatable
In 2010, Annette Fredskov is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). For those that don’t know, MS is a disease that attacks a person’s nervous system, disrupting communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Everyone who has MS is affected differently, but symptoms can include numbness, loss of vision, trouble speaking, clumsiness, fatigue, dizziness, and even paralysis. We don’t know what causes it and we don’t know what cures it. In other words, MS is one of the worst diagnoses a person can get.
When she is diagnosed, Annette is a self-described “ordinary woman, mother, and wife”. She is not an Olympian, a professional athlete, or even a casual one. She is just a normal woman.
For the first six months after receiving her diagnosis, Annette does what most would and allows the disease to control her life. The constant bouts of numbness, dizziness, and extreme fatigue lead Annette to feel sorry for herself. After being diagnosed out of nowhere with a disease like MS, who can blame her?
But one day, something changes. Annette accepts the fact that she’s been dealt a tough hand and, instead of hoping for better cards, decides to make the most with the ones she’s got. So what does she decide to do? She decides to run. A lot.
For someone with a disease that causes dizziness, numbness, and fatigue, running does not seem like a reasonable hobby. But Annette is not concerned with being reasonable - she is concerned with being in control. She wants to prove to herself and to others that, although she has a terrible affliction, she is still the captain of her ship.
So how much running do you think it makes sense for her to do? Bear in mind that she does have a disease that frequently causes numbness, dizziness, loss of balance, vision problems, weakness in legs, and clumsiness. Maybe a few miles a week just to get the blood flowing. Definitely nothing long distance. Probably a 5K at most, right? Nope. Try a marathon. But not just one. Try a marathon every single day for an entire year. Go ahead and read that sentence again. Do it one more time. Let the absurdity of that goal sink in.
What makes it even more absurd is that she actually did it. Annette Fredsjov,a 41-year old women diagnosed with MS, runs a marathon every single day for 365 days in a row. Sounds impressive and all, but there are probably others that have done something similar. Well, not quite. The previous record for most marathons run in a calendar year by a female was 120. Annette TRIPLED that number while battling MS with an average completion time of 4 hours and 58 minutes.
And just for the hell of it, Annette runs two marathons on day 365 - bringing her record to 366 marathons in 365 days. Because why not?
By the end of the year, Annette has run 9651 miles, gone through 20 pairs of running shoes, and has cured her MS. Yup, on her final day she says, “today I have no discomfort or symptoms” and credits the marathons for her health.
Your Mind Is Your Limit
When diagnosed with MS, Annette could have rolled over and let it crush her. Instead she crushes MS and drives it out her body through pure will.
When asked why she did what she did, Annette say that she wants to inspire other MS sufferers. She says, something like MS “should not deter you from living life to the fullest and going for your dreams.”
Annette’s response to her MS diagnosis, reminds us of one of our favorite quotes. The quote is from Victor Frankl, a psychologist who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and recorded his observations in the book Man’s Search For Meaning. Frankl writes, “Everything can be taken from [a person] but one thing: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” This quote is possibly the most important thing you can remember in life. Annette’s attitude was the only thing that separated her life from being a one full of misery and anguish to one full of achievement and triumph.
Said another way by Annette, "We humans can do much more than we think. It is we ourselves who sets the limits of our bodies with our minds."