‘What Makes Olga Run?’ available at Truckee Library
October 6, 2014
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — What is the secret to staying physically active well into your 90s? That is the question posed by a recent book acquired by the Truckee Library entitled "What Makes Olga Run: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives" by Bruce Grierson.
It provides a perfect antidote to the controversial essay in the Atlantic Monthly "Why I Hope to Die at 75" by Ezekiel Emanuel.
Olga Kotelko died soon after the publication of the book, at the age of 94, but she was active until the end, holding 24 world records in track and field, 17 in the 90-95 age category. Rather than throw in the towel at age 75, Olga started her track and field career at age 77, giving hope to all those late-blooming athletes in our midst. The title is a bit of a misnomer in that Olga did so much more than run. In fact, most of her world records were in throwing and jumping field events and she eschewed the distance running events entirely, in favor of sprints.
For those of you who read my review of "The Sports Gene" last winter, it is interesting to note that Olga was not genetically blessed with an abundance of sports DNA. She made up for it with a supremely positive attitude and a willingness to work hard.
Grierson concludes the book with a list of habits that masters athletes possess that seem to promote vitality, longevity and happiness. He calls them the Big Nine. Not surprisingly, at least half of them involve attitude:
Rule One: Keep Moving. When we move, our bodies and our brains both work better.
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Rule Two: Create Routines (but sometimes break them). Our bodies crave regularity, but routines can also become ruts.
Rule Three: Be Opportunistic. Spend your precious energy wisely.
Rule Four: Be a Mensch. Doing good doesn't just feel good, it works in a primitive and profound way.
Rule Five: Believe in Something. Belief is a trait of temperament to see life's dark spots as necessary tasks.
Rule Six: Lighten Up. There's really no time for grumbling, only for grace and gratitude.
Rule Seven: Cultivate a Sense of Progress. We need to feel like we are improving. The solution: move the yardsticks and adjust expectations for yourself.
Rule Eight: Don't Do It If You Don't Love It. Find an activity that you love because "should" doesn't work as well as "want to" works.
Rule Nine: Begin Now Midlife (or beyond) is not too late to embark on your fitness journey. In some ways it can be the best time to go for it because we're rested, restless and ready.
If you need more inspiration, check out "What Makes Olga Run" in its entirety at the Truckee Library!
Teri Andrews Rinne is the children's services librarian at the Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave. Call 530-582-7846 or visit http://www.mynevadacounty.com/library.