81-Year-Old Runner Says ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’
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At 81, Jeanne Daprano is still pounding the pavement with her runners and breaking world records in the process. But she isn’t running scared from aging — in fact, she’s running toward it.
The retired elementary school teacher from Iowa is still running competitive races and has even set multiple world records along the way.
“The thing I’m learning about aging is, it’s inevitable,” Daprano told CNN. “I’m not going to escape it. There are two ways to go: You can either press on or give up. Do I want to go back to 50, 40? No. Because I think the best is yet to come.”
She first started running in her teaching days to encourage her students to participate in daily fitness activities. From there, her passion for the sport took hold and she began running competitively in 5K and 10K road races before graduating to the track. She now holds the world record in the women’s 70-year-old age group mile and the women’s 75-year-old age group 400 metres and 800 metres.
Today, she continues to compete in the 80- to 84-age group and has even taken her athleticism to a new sport, breaking yet another world record in indoor rowing for her age group, covering 2,000 metres in 9:23.7.
“The feeling of being fit at any age is a real gift, a blessing,” she told CNN.
The health benefits of running and other higher impact cardio exercises include improvements in cardiovascular health, mobility and bone density — all of which contribute to increased longevity.
And while Daprano is happy to be in good health in her 80s, she says she’s more concerned with the quality of her life than the length.
“When I get to the final finish line, here on Earth, I want this body to be worn out, there’s not a thing left in it,” she told CNN. “I’m not doing this to live to be 100. I’m doing this to be the best I can be, today. Period.”
As for the secret behind her continued physical fitness she says its all about listening to your body.
“What are you passionate about? Start where you are. Don’t look ahead or compare yourself to somebody else,” she says. “I’m still doing it, and I probably have a greater passion now than ever, because I’m understanding who I am.”