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Ida Keeling makes the rest of us look like couch potatoes. At the 2016 Penn Relays, Keeling ran the 100-meter dash in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds, which set a world record for women in her age group. After the run, she dropped and did pushups while the people in attendance went wild.
Did I mention Keeling is 102 years old? When she made that record-breaking run, she was a spry 100 and it was the fastest dash time ever clocked by a woman over 100 years old.
Keeling has since raced all around the globe, breaking world records. To keep fit, she works out three to four days a week, alternating strength training with biking and dance, according to what she recently told Runner’s World. Her diet includes fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and orange juice, as well as cod liver oil and blackstrap molasses to maintain her joints. And, believe it or not, a bit of cognac in her coffee or water, three to four times a week, to help with circulation.
But the path to becoming one of the fastest centenarian runners of all time wasn’t paved with roses. In her new book “Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down,” Keeling writes about growing up poor in Harlem, surviving the Great Depression, raising four children as a single mom and losing two adult sons to drug-related violence.
The death of her boys sent Keeling into a deep depression at the age of 67. To get her mom back on her feet, Keeling’s daughter Shelley, a track-and-field coach, took her to a 5k. Though she apparently felt awkward at first, she quickly found running to be a reliable pick-me-up.
As she told Parade magazine, “Running felt so good. I would come home after exercising and felt like it relieved me of some stress and bad feelings. After all these years, I can tell you that running is a good way to feel better, mentally and physically.”
So the next time you complain about getting older or going to the gym, just think about Ida Keeling. She’s living proof that age can be merely a number.