"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." – Maya Angelou

8 Amazing Lessons to Learn from a 101-Year-Old Runner

Julia Hawkins took up running when she was a hundred years old.

On July 15, 2017, Julia Hawkins, aged 101, became the oldest female athlete to ever compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. Her time for the 100 m was 40.12 seconds, shaving six seconds off the current record for women aged 100 and over.

This wasn’t her personal best. Earlier the month she ran a time of 39.62 seconds in Birmingham, Alabama.

Her running has earned her the nickname, “Hurricane Hawkins.”

She took up the sport, Track, and Field, only last year. Her first qualifying run was a 50-meter run last year. Seeing this, her children immediately signed her up for the 100-meter dash. If these times get certified in December, she will be the official world record holder.

Julia Hawkins has always cycled but took up competitive cycling at 75.

After a few years, she gave up on the competitive cycling because there were no women to compete against. It was no fun!

Hawkins’s slight frame stands only five feet tall. She is a retired teacher. Born in 1916, she married her college sweetheart. They wed by phone while he was away at Pearl Harbor in 1941. She gave herself a wedding present: a bicycle!

“I knew I could run because I’m always in the yard working, and when the phone rings, I go running inside to answer it.”

She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in a house she and her late husband built in the 1940s. Murray passed away in 2013, at the age of 95. The couple has four children in their late sixties and early seventies.

Her practice routine:
    • She does 50-meter dashes on the quiet residential street in front of her house
    • She cycles in her neighborhood
    • Tends to her garden and bonsai trees on a daily basis

 “Hurricane” Hawkins’s diet:
    • No red meat.
    • No fried food.
    • Lots of fruit and vegetables
    • Crabs & popcorn.
    • No smoking, no drinking

Eight lessons from a 101-year-old runner:

1 | You are never too old to learn something new.

    • Age does not define us.
    • Julia Hawkins took up Track and Field when she was a hundred years old. She took up competitive cycling at 75.

2 | Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Believe in yourself. Push yourself.

    • Julia Hawkins: “I like to test myself. I like to improve and get better.”
    • “I knew I could run. I’ve got strong legs from bicycling.”

3 | A positive outlook on life makes all the difference.

    • According to her son, his mother’s “cup is always half-full, never half-empty. She always expects something good to happen.”
    • “I like the feeling of being independent and doing things a bit different.”

4 | Stay fit, take care of yourself, and watch what you eat

    • Says Hawkins: “I really recommend as you get older you stay active physically and mentally too.”
    • “It’s crossed my mind a few times, what I should eat, what I should not eat.”
    • Stay busy. Be involved in your community.

5 | Laughter is good medicine. A sense of humor prolongs your life.

    • She gave one of her many gold medals to her heart doctor. “You deserve this for keeping me healthy,” (She has a stent in her heart.)
    • About her accomplishments, she says: “They told me I broke a record but I don’t know about that.”
    • When asked about her competitive cycling. “We were young. Pretty young. Eighty maybe.”
    • “At this age (101) you’re not getting better. You’re getting worse. You can always fall or have a heart attack or a stroke or something. Anything could happen.”
    • “I quit.” (On giving up the competitive cycling due to lack of competition.) “It was no fun.”

6 | Healthy personal relationships matter

    • She remained married to her college-sweetheart for 70 years. “Marry a good man,” she advises.
    • She took up running to please the kids! “So the kids are happy that I’m running and it pleases me to please them.”
    • When the children signed her up for the 100-m run, after her first qualifying 50-m, she accepted the challenge!
    • Let us nourish and work harder on our relationships with friends and loved ones.

7 | Gardening can help you live to a hundred and be a champion on the track!

    • Julia Hawkins takes care of her vast garden with flowering plums, paper birch, numerous bonsais with countless footbridges and bird feeders.
    • Get outside and enjoy the abundance, the bounty, and beauty of nature

8 | Never underestimate the impact of living an ordinary life

    • Julia Hawkins, a former teacher, lived an ordinary life, taking care of herself, her family, her garden, and her community. She continues to impact those she meets with her enthusiasm, passion, and positive outlook.
    • Show up every day
    • Do the work.
    • Master new competencies—irrespective of your age.
    • Live your ordinary life. You will inspire others.

Julia Hawkins has joined the distinguished ranks of centenarians, like Mr. Robert Marchand, the 105-year-old cyclist from Paris, who don’t allow age to define them or slow them down. They are ordinary people that show up and do the work, how insignificant it may seem.

How about you? What (ordinary) thing are you doing that can inspire others?


    1. Julia Hawkins: The 101 Year-Old Sprinter
    2. Julia Hawkins Sets 100-Meter Dash Record for Women 100 Years or Older 
    3. Life in Your Years
    4. Kyle Peveto. The Advocate.
    5. Sarah Netter. The Washington Post: ‘I want to please my family’: Julia Hawkins started running at 100. Now she’s going for the gold

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