A fascinating look at the way we age today and the extent to which we can shape the process
In What Makes Olga Run? Bruce Grierson explores what the wild success of a ninety-three-year-old track star can tell us about how our bodies and minds age. Olga Kotelko is not your average ninety-three-year-old. She not only looks and acts like a much younger woman, she holds over twenty-three world records in track and field, seventeen in her current ninety to ninety-five category. Convinced that this remarkable woman could help unlock many of the mysteries of aging, Grierson set out to uncover what it is that’s driving Olga. He considers every piece of the puzzle, from her diet and sleep habits to how she scores on various personality traits, from what she does in her spare time to her family history. Olga participates in tests administered by some of the world’s leading scientists and offers her DNA to groundbreaking research trials. What emerges is not only a tremendously uplifting personal story but a look at the extent to which our health and longevity are determined by the DNA we inherit at birth, and the extent to which we can shape that inheritance. It examines the sum of our genes, opportunities, and choices, and the factors that forge the course of any life, especially during our golden years.
|Publisher:||Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Bruce Grierson is the author of the books Culture Jam and U-Turn. He has been a freelance writer for twenty-five years. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Psychology Today, among other publications. He lives in North Vancouver, Canada.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Olga Kotelko was an elite masters track star who, upon her death in 2014, at age 95, held hundreds of gold medals in track and field, none of which she earned prior to her 77th birthday. In What Makes Olga Run? Bruce Grierson jumps head first into the life of Olga to try to understand what makes her tick. What he finds is that this extraordinary woman is, by most metrics, not very extraordinary. There is no magic here. For readers looking for super foods, esoteric yoga mantras, or exotic training regimens you won’t find them here. Olga’s story is remarkable in how unremarkable it is. Grierson follows Olga through just about every test one can think of: stress tests, DNA analyses, diets, psychological examinations – in every case she comes out normal or close to it. But somehow, in Olga, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Olga is extraordinary. At 77, when most people are dead or dying, she hires a Hungarian track coach and begins a daily training regimen. She eats a nutritious but not remarkable diet. She loves competition. She loves to win. She was upbeat and refused to dwell on the dark side of things. Somehow all of that added up to a uncommon life of steady and satisfying accomplishment. The book is not meant to be a text book. There are passages, especially concerning biology, that – in my humble opinion - could have been written more precisely. But precision in a book like this usually translates into boring. And the book is not boring. It is well written, reads easily, and is adequately documented. There are three main take-aways: 1. What you already know about good health is true. Eat well. Exercise. Sweat a little every day. Enjoy friends a family. 2. Maintain a good attitude. Embrace optimism. Eschew pessimism. Keep a good perspective. 3. Your bad habits can be reversed. You can improve your heart health. You can enjoy time with your family again. Every decision, every step, every bite represents a fork in the road that leads to an end that you chose. The author ends with Nine Rules for Living that summarize simplicity and health. But for him, ‘Olga’s biggest gift’ is a change in perspective. He records her advice: Look around. These are your kids. This is your wife. This is your life. Its awesomeness is eluding you. Pay attention. Yes, there will come a time when you have genuine, life-threatening ailments. But, for now, stop your kvetching. And stop dreading birthdays that end in zeros. Those zeros can pull you under, like stones in your pocket. At your age, your story is not ending: you know that. An uplifting read.
That lady sure can run!