In our culture, it is ingrained in the society that aging is a negative thing. We tend to shame anything that is associated with natural body occurrences, such as weight gain, hormonal changes, breastfeeding, body hair and even aging.
Last year, a report was released by Globe Newswire that in 2019, the anti-aging market is expected to be worth $191.7 Billion driven by the aged Baby Boomers generation. People try to change or halt the human body’s natural degeneration that occurs both externally and internally. In fact, aging impacts a person's beauty, health, and fitness - all of which have undesirable connotations within society. Nowadays, people are trying to slow or reverse the aging process, but my question is why?
When we are young, we use clothes and several products to make ourselves look older, however, when we are older, we do everything possible to make ourselves look younger. The problem is within us. Are we unable to find satisfaction and be happy at our current state, embrace the natural order of the world and enjoy what we have?
Our society associates older age with several undesirable traits, such as forgetfulness, dependence, disengagement, confusion and a lack of productivity. But we do not have to give in to societal norms accept and that this is just the way it is.
Let’s meet a few women who challenge this belief and refuse to give in to societal norms. These ladies are truly living life to the fullest and I hope they inspire you to take action as well.
A 101-year-old woman from India, Man Kaur, won a gold medal this year at the World Masters Games by running the 100m in just 1 minute and 14 seconds.
According to the news, she says that she enjoys running and it makes her a very happy. She took up field and track at age 93 (eight years ago).
Kaur sprinted on the track alone at the Trusts Arena to audible cheers and applause from the crowd in Auckland. As reported by the New Zealand Herald, there were two other runners in competition, women ages 88 and 85, however, they both finished in under 30 seconds, thus giving away the stage to Kaur for most of her race. Later, Kaur danced in celebration carrying the medal around her neck.
Another example is of Sister Madonna Buder. She was born in July 1930 in St. Louis, Missouri. She was never into running as a kid, but was clearly born with a strong-minded streak. She has run more than 340 triathlons at the age of 85. Sister Madonna has learned a few life lessons competing as a triathlete and now shares her wisdom as a motivational speaker and author. Here are just a few of her quotes to challenge the way society thinks about aging:
“The only failure is not to try”
“Determination is the mind willing something to happen by the grace of God.”
“It’s not what you say, it’s what you do; don’t pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel.”
Julia Hawkins, at age of 81, became a competitive cyclist. Seeking a new challenge, for the first time, she decided to pick up competitive running at age of 100. At the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games, she registered for the 50-meter dash and completed the race with a PR of 19.07 seconds.
Now another distance will be added by Hawkins to her belt at the age of 101. She is training for both the 100 and 50-meter dash as well as the bike race (5K), which will be held this year at the National Senior Games, in Birmingham, Alabama. Julia loves running because she says “It’s just me and my body. I can just go out and do the best I can and not depend on anything else to help me.”
A little closer to home is a dear friend and mentor. Sally Squier is a running dynamo from Raleigh, NC. who took up running in her late 40s with her husband, Bill. Sally started out with a one mile race and has gone on to complete dozens of ultra-marathons including three 100 mile runs and fourteen 50 mile races. Not one to take the easy road, Sally has also completed the notoriously difficult Pike’s Peak marathon and the half-marathon Ascent numerous times.
She and Bill are still running strong at 74 and are living proof that running keeps you young. They encourage everyone to test their boundaries and ignore the naysayers.
One of the great sayings of William Wallace is that “Every person dies, but not every person truly lives.”
So, if you think your best years are behind you or you are too old to start running, let the wise words of William Wallace sink in and consider what these amazing women are doing. Limitations truly only exist in your mind!