With the passage of time, sports performance is bound to deteriorate, we know. It is no coincidence that we speak of “peak performance,” that stage when one is expressing oneself to one’s full potential. It is a stage that can generally never occur beyond a certain age and, except in very rare cases, never after the age of 40.
And then there are the exceptional cases, such as that of Jeannie Rice who, at age 75, ran the latest Boston Marathon. And, so far, nothing really exceptional: after all, there are other runners her age or even older who have run it.
What is exceptional in Rice’s case is that her times are always improving. For instance in this edition of the Boston-which, let’s remember, is not really a walk as a marathon, as if the marathon wasn’t already exhausting-she ran it in 3:33. And if you think about it for a moment, 3:33 is a very fast time for a lot of people even much younger than her.
Jeannie Rice is Korean by birth but now an American citizen and resident of Ohio. She has been a real estate agent all her life and started running at age 35 when she felt she was a little out of shape. She ran her first marathon in 1983: it was the one in Cleveland and she completed it in 3:45.
After six months she had already banked his Boston qualification: 3:16 at the Columbus Marathon.
Since then she has run the world’s major marathons, with results that did not diminish in proportion to her advancing years. In 2018, at age 70, she ran the Chicago Marathon in 3:27:50, and the following year in Berlin she lowered his PB by as much as 3 minutes: 3:24:38.
And we already hear you say, “Eh, but if she did Boston in 3:33 this year, the times are getting worse,” and you would be right in mathematical terms, but you don’t consider that she has 5 more years since then, accumulated in the declining phase of physical performance, not in the consolidation phase, preceding the age of 40-45.
Four times around the Earth
When she is not preparing for a marathon, Rice runs 50 miles a week (80 km) and then increases the load for races: 70 miles (112 km). By lining up all this way and all the years she has been running, Jeannie has made a tally: running more than 2,500 miles a year and doing it now for 40 years, she has already completed a lap of the Earth three times and is well ahead in the last quarter of the fourth lap. And pardon the repetition, our heads are spinning too.
At this point you want to know her secret, right? Well, there isn’t: she talks very simply about her typical diet and workout, considering herself very lucky that she has never been injured.
She has a diet based on rice, fish and vegetables, does not eat meat because she does not like it and is notparticularly fond of sweets, so she goes without effort.
Perhaps she has a secret, however, and she confesses it almost unknowingly: she never thinks about her age and almost always runs with younger men with whom she talks only about running, training techniques, and nutrition.
And this ability to give weight only to the important things has paid off time and time again, like in Berlin in 2019 when she beat the best time in her age category by two minutes. However, beating men, not women.
(Source: Abbott World Marathon Majors)