aging · athletes

Run for your life!: Stories of three amazing older athletes

Sprinting is better in the long run, an article in The Globe and Mail last week, fascinated me. I wasn’t intrigued because I have a stake in the long, slow run versus speedy, interval stuff. I much prefer the latter and I like short, fast runs but what got me this time was the idea that speed is better for seniors. I hope to blog more about getting faster as one gets older in another post. But for now I just want to quickly share the stories of these three amazing older women.

1. I’ve got What Makes Olga Runby my bedside and I love the the story of this 94 year old track star, Olga Kotelko.

2. Then along comes 60 year old Karla del Grande. She’s the fastest 60 year old woman in the world featured here.

The fastest 60-year-old woman in the world, Torontonian Karla Del Grande, once thought, like the vast majority of us, that running means distance running. Then, at 50, while trying to boost her speed for a half-marathon, she hit the track for interval training and rediscovered her love of speed.

She ditched the long run, took up sprinting and now considers herself fitter, stronger and more powerful than she’s ever been in her life, including when she did high-school track.

3. I’m also very much looking forward to reading Margaret Webb’s reflections on running. Her book Older, Faster, Stronger will be published in Spring 2014 by Rodale Books.

Her plan is kind of like ours but she’s starting at 50. See Older, Faster, Stronger: The Plan.

If you think turning 50 sucks, try running a little harder then watch time spin backwards. The research is spilling out — that endurance training can stall and even reverse the clock on aging. I lap that stuff up because, hey, I want an entire second act to my life. I want that birthday fantasy to come true — of having the wisdom of a 50-year-old inside the strong body of a 20 something (okay, can’t do much about the wrinkles).

Is it possible?

Well, I’m putting the research to the test. My goal is to get in the best shape of my life, after 50. My proof? Setting personal bests in every race I enter — 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon. And then race against some of the world’s best oldest athletes at the World Masters Games in Torino, Italy in August 2013, which I will do with my running buddies above (who range from 50 to 61; pretty awesome, huh?).

Here’s Daft Punk’s version, Harder Better Faster.

See our past posts about aging athletes:

Three books about inspirational older athletes

Aging and the myth of wearing out your joints

Is Aging a Lifestyle Choice?

2 thoughts on “Run for your life!: Stories of three amazing older athletes

  1. I’m inspired by older athletes who prove that life doesn’t stop at 30. My father-in-law still competes in 5k and 10k races as well as shotput and javelin — and he is 84. A friend in Austin, TX, Bev Wills, used to be a distance runner, then discovered sprinting in her 60s — and has won races. It makes my heart sing to cheer on people who keep pushing and breaking limits.

    Unfortunately, I won;t be breaking any speed records. Having artificial joints means no more sprinting… but since I was never an athlete before my hips were replaced, I cannot lament the loss of speed –but only celebrate the gift of discovering the joy of moving my body (albeit slowly by running standards) in long distance walking. Maybe some day, I’ll graduate to racewalking and glide like a penguin! That’s a goal for my 60’s! And it’s such a thrill to know that I can keep improving my strength and endurance as long as I keep working at it!

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  2. Just wonderful for Olga. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me she’s from Vancouver. The weather is so much better for year round daily fitness activity. Yes, there is rainy season..but it’s not like snow, ice season at all.

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