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What Keeps A 102-Year-Old Runner Going

Looking for a little motivation? Look no further than Ida Keeling.

By Ryan Velez

Looking for a little motivation? Look no further than Ida Keeling. 102-years-old today, Keeling has managed to get through the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Era, and even break running records at 90 years old. She will finally share her story in the memoir Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time, which will be released next February and is available for pre-order this month. However, Black Enterprise got some time to talk to her regarding her struggles, both the public and personal.

“I was feeling so blue,” Keeling writes of the period after her two sons were murdered, less than three years apart.

“My psyche had slowed down and it felt like I was moving around in a bowl of thick oatmeal. Not a pleasant feeling, but me and the icky sensation were becoming well acquainted. Too well.”

Keeling credits her daughter Cheryl, herself a runner, with saving her life by pleading with her to run for the first time at the age of 67. Running is “an answer to grief, stress, obesity, bad health, and bad habits,” Cheryl writes. “It is a survival tool.”

30 years later, she still has plenty to share, including the value of sticking it out, even when things start to hurt. “It was my first race. I took off and all these people was rushin’ past. It felt like somebody pulled a sheet off me; it was horrible,” Keeling writes, “but I said I can’t slow down now. I got to keep going.”

“I started thinking this is too much, then all of a sudden, I started picking up a little speed and I thought, gee maybe this is good for me.”

A major part of this is the way that you speak to yourself in your own internal dialogue. “The gun sounded, and I was off, putting to shame younger couch potatoes, excuse givers, or plain old slackers who might’ve been well accustomed to convincing themselves that they were too over the hill to compete,” Keeling writes.

“That’s the thing about feeding yourself negative information. It always slows you down.” Of course, one can’t live, and Keeling has plenty to say regarding who you surround yourself with. “I absolutely refuse to tolerate drama,” Keeling writes, adding “I just don’t have time for people who live only to cause trouble.”

“Just find the nice, kind, supportive people and bring them into your circle. Let the others find God in their own way and in their own time.”

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