Still being able to breathe at 80 for some of us would be very surprising. But running at that age? Wouldn’t that seem like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie? We may think that the 80’s are the time to rest, relax and do nothing. Well, Julia Hawkins is an exception. When she was 81, Julia, who is a native of Louisiana, decided that it was the age for her to pursue competitive cycling.
After almost two decades, when she hit the 100s, she pushed her limits forward and decided to pick up competitive running. She registered herself for the 50-meter mark competition at the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games. She set her personal best record of 19.07 seconds which is still a far fetched dream for many!
What is the secret behind her success?
Hawkins never had to worry about her being good enough or not because so far she has always stayed active mentally and physically. She gives the credit of her success to the people around her. She says that she is grateful to her late husband who built her backyard in 1949. She was lucky to have spent the last 70-years with him, who was one of her biggest inspirations. Julia picked up running in spite of enjoying her cycling sessions in her neighbourhood. She says that running gives a sense of freedom to her mind. She feels that as she does not need to depend on anyone for running and it is only to her and her body, she goes out to do her best. Hawkins sets the pace of her hands at one mile a minute which will help her move forward quickly.
Though she admires her old friends, she hopes to get younger friends who can train her.
What is the Julia Hawkins eyeing on next?
By nature, Julia Hawkins always has been a person of competitive spirit. At 101, she is a retired teacher, a great-grandmother, a two-time cycling gold medallist at the National Senior games in St. Louis, Missouri, and a four-time participant. She is now eyeing on the 100 and the 50-meter dash. The 5k-bike race at the National Senior games is also on her list. It will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, this June. She prefers practising closer to the actual day to get in best shape for it.
What is her daily routine like?
Julia typically has a lot of vegetables, and fruits like bananas. She restricts her meat intake. She practices healthy habits. Never in her life did she smoke or drink.
When she is at home, she is always moving. She is always running around the backyard or working inside and doing small jobs. We can learn from Julia that we all need not have forebodings about fitness. Julia moves around her neighbourhood on her bike for fun. She did not get any formal training. She opted not to get herself a personal trainer. Instead, she had marked out 50 and 100 meters in front of her house. Whenever she is in good spirits, she practices running.
What motivates her to give her best?
Her passion is what drives her forward. She has her fan club, which includes a few friends from the Birmingham area and her four children. She is planning to break her own personal record in the next 50-metre race. The thought of doing her best to see them happy and not let them down constantly motivates her to keep doing better and pushing her limits.
But perhaps, most of the motivation she needs comes from her mind which is still young. She may be over a hundred years old, but she feels nothing like a centenarian, instead like a 30-something year old!
Is it easy for everyone to accomplish what Julia did?
For a normal human being who is not very much into fitness right from the beginning, any physical exercise is difficult on the body, and the older you get the more harmful it gets.
The oxygen pumping efficiency of the heart decreases by twenty percent. The strength of your muscles also reduces significantly at a rate of thirty percent a decade, as you cross your seventies. Your tissues and bones become more prone to tearing ad breakage, which increases the chances of injuries.
“But wait! Julia started at 81, how did SHE do it?”
There is only one secret to that and it is good health. Theoretically, if your health is good, you can run or cycle or do subtle exercises at any age. If you are used to training and fitness for notable long, some of the ill effects that come with age can be slowed down. If you look after yourself properly, you can achieve this as well, be it in your eighties or nineties.
How to live to 100 and accomplish great things like Julia Hawkins did?
The key lies in your lifestyle. The people who live the longest have an amazing bond with their families who support them perpetually. Instead of being in some place else, they live with their children and contribute to the development of their families, not just receive care. They continue to do things that keep them active, like cooking, cleaning and growing vegetables. This effect of this is two-fold and powerful. Their children and grandchildren stay inspired by the strength and activity of them thereby giving them a reason to get out of bed actively and do their best, every day. Surround yourself with people who practice the right behaviour. Make gardening, swimming and exercising your idea of fun. Stay stress-free. Stress harms your body like no other. It also leads to premature ageing, hence stress relieving should be your focus.
Even if you eat the healthiest of foods, exercise every day and stay stress-free, it will not help unless you socialise. Understanding that you have a sense of purpose, socialising with the lively people, and changing mundane routine to an active one is very much required.
Julia Hawkins is an inspiration to people of all ages. Here’s hoping that she accomplishes everything that is on her list and more.
More power to you, Julia!