I’m A Competitor: Arne Sorenson

Marriott International Inc. CEO Arne Sorenson said he has the most time to run when he's traveling. Photo: Elizabeth Dausch

Marriott International Inc. CEO Arne Sorenson talks about his passion for running and leading a healthy lifestyle.

As the CEO of Marriott International Inc. (the first non-Marriott family member to hold that position), Arne Sorenson travels quite a bit. Whether he’s at home in Maryland or traveling the world, running is the 54-year-old’s way to maintain balance. He recently ran alongside several hundred of his Marriott associates at the company’s Take Care 5K in Bethesda, Md.

What’s your goal with the Take Care 5K?

One of the best things about being a CEO is the chance to set an example that might, just might, inspire others. I don’t run primarily to set an example, but if my running can be used as an example, that’s great. Exercise, particularly for those who have not been exercising regularly, takes some encouragement to get to the point where it can be pleasurable. We’re trying to give that encouragement.

How has running been part of your life?

I ran for my high school track team, but over the decades, the importance of running to me has changed. By college, running was mostly about finding a regular time for solitude. Now I use it as a way to see the local environment when I travel and as a way to build energy and help me to be more engaged in the other events of my day. If I have the choice to run inside or outside, I always prefer to get outdoors and run.

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How active is your family?

My wife, Ruth, and I are blessed with four healthy children and have always been active — hiking, snow and water skiing, biking and running. As the kids’ organized athletic commitments tapered off, we’ve found a natural shift toward running together whenever we get a chance. The boys need the most encouragement to join me for a run, especially in the morning — they excel at sleep.

What are your current running goals?

I run a few neighborhood races every year. They are usually 5K, 8K or 10K races. I’m competitive by nature and have been running better and better in recent years. I think about time goals for myself — 7-minute-mile pace is my current goal. I believe effort is a huge part of success, whether in running or at work.

Best Run: Hyde Park and Green Park on a London morning, along the Seine on a Paris afternoon and Central Park in New York City are all great runs.

Gear: I always pack my running shoes (usually Nikes) when I travel. I also choose quick-drying fabrics for shorts and shirts to minimize the likelihood of packing wet gear.

Nutrition: A granola bar and a Gatorade G2 work when there is no time to sit and eat.

Week At A Glance: I try to get at least five days of strenuous exercise in every week. Somewhat surprisingly, that is often easier when I travel.

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This piece first appeared in the March 2014 issue of Competitor magazine. 

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