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What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the Ninety-Something Track Star Who Is Smashing Records and Outpacing Time, and What She Can Teach Us About How to Live
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What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the Ninety-Something Track Star Who Is Smashing Records and Outpacing Time, and What She Can Teach Us About How to Live

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  852 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
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 tw
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 7th 2014)
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Dec 04, 2013 Lissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I think that this book should be read at the beginning of each new year in order to motivate you for the year to come. Olga is in her mid-nineties and competes in track events. Her health is good and her mind is focused. What makes her different from most every other ninety year old basically boils down to mind set. She eats a decent diet, most likely better than most of the younger generations, but with no hard-set rules. She doesn't take fancy supplements or subscribe to any philosophy except ...more
Clif Hostetler
This book explores the science of aging made personal and down-to-earth by following the life of Olga, a 93-year who excels in eleven different track and field events. The goal of the book is to answer the question, "What's her secret?" Along the way we learn about numerous health and wellness studies that provide clues to life style and diet changes that lead to a long healthy life.

I wasn't aware of the existence of Masters Track adult age-group track and field competitions before reading this
Mar 11, 2014 Ken rated it really liked it
If you're interested in the science of aging, this is your book. It may look biographical because of the focus on 95-year-old track and field star Olga Kotelko, but not really. Instead, author Bruce Grierson uses Olga as a touchstone to guide us through the various theories on what makes people live longer lives (or not).

As you might expect, exercise and movement get a big shout-out. And not just aerobic/cardio exercise, either. Muscle work, too. The body is built for it, craves it even, and, as
Sandra Heinzman
Oct 31, 2014 Sandra Heinzman rated it it was amazing
This woman started exercising (started track) at 77, after being retired as a teacher for 12 years, and this book is inspiring/motivating/scaring me to start exercising again. After extensive research, it was found that exercise is the MAIN ingredient in living a long life and for health! And not exercising is very detrimental to your life span. I will review the book once I finish it. It's a MUST READ for ALL WOMEN!!

December 8, 2014:
I finished the book and IMMEDIATELY went back and started read
Jan 22, 2014 Sandra rated it it was amazing
I am giving this book 5 stars not because of writing style,but because of the information presented and the unique topic. As both an avid runner and healthcare professional, I took a lot away from the information presented. I believe this story needs to be incorporated into the "health" curriculum at schools also.
This story is also inspiring. The lady in the story does not have super DNA that predestined her at birth to become who she is. I know some people are lucky and do, but she was
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jan 24, 2014 Laura Hoffman Brauman rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read. Perfect blend of science and personal story. Grierson looks at all the factors that make Olga the amazing, incredible athlete that she is --she holds 29 world records in track and field. We all age -- but what that looks like for each of us varies a lot, and we have a tremendous amount of control over many of the factors. One of my favorite quotes from the book -"Break a sweat,daily and differently, with others." If you are interested in science, health, exercise, concepts of q ...more
Feb 13, 2017 LATOYA SAUNDERS rated it really liked it
A great read about a great subject. I'd like to say this book changed my life, but time will be the judge of that. What I can say for sure is that I will never doubt what the human body is capable of ever again, at any age.
Dennis Mitton
Aug 29, 2014 Dennis Mitton rated it really liked it
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 traini
James Banzer
Dec 02, 2013 James Banzer rated it it was amazing
Bruce Grierson's book What Makes Olga Run? presents an intriguing picture of Olga Kotelko, a Canadian who carries a ton of energy on her tiny frame. She is an athlete who has won a huge amount of medals in competitive track and field events. Those accomplishments are mentioned in such clarity as to provide inspiration to get moving. Add to Olga's athletic prowess the fact that she was born in 1919, and you have the stuff that makes for a fascinating narrative.

The thought occurs that Mr. Grierso
Deborah Martinez
Oct 29, 2015 Deborah Martinez rated it really liked it
I saw this at the library last Saturday when I could not find the two books I wanted to check out on health and wellness, and noticed it was a librarian's "pick" so I grabbed it and thought, why not?

If you're interested in the science of aging, this is your book. The book focuses on 95-year old track and field star, Olga Kotelko. The book goes through Olga's life and uses it as one example of what makes people live longer lives.

Exercise physiology, brain health, psychology, nutrition, genealogy,
Donna  Napier
Feb 01, 2014 Donna Napier rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed reading this book and feel as though it gave me an opportunity to meet this delightful and inspiring woman, Olga. She is my new hero!

Exercise physiology, brain health, psychology, nutrition, genealogy, faith, and friendships are among the many facets that that author explores in his quest to discover what makes Olga run - and throw and jump - so well, especially as she approaches her 95th birthday. Interesting facts and figures are woven between the entertaining anecdotes and storie
Jun 02, 2015 Carola rated it really liked it
Recommended to Carola by: Susan Dudley
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating, funny, and informative. There is a treasure-trove of information here. Using one senior runner as the focal point, but introducing the reader to a number of other Masters athletes, the author addresses all of the varying factors that had to be in place for Olga to win the mounds of medals that she vied for: genetics, habits, personal history, psychological factors all play a part in her success. With a little bit of self-deprecation and amusing analogies, he keeps the facts from eve ...more
David Quinn
Nov 18, 2015 David Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’re interested in the science of aging this short book is worth your time.

The author takes us on his journey to discover the remarkable vigor of Olga and several other masters level senior athletes (but mostly Olga) where we learn (sort of) what makes them so unusual. (One of the athletes completed a marathon at the age of 80 at a time of 3 hours and 16 minutes.) The author writes with an easy style and Olga is someone you’d want to spend time with so it’s a very pleasant reading experienc
Mar 25, 2015 Natalie rated it really liked it
An inspiring book that has changed the way I look at aging. I don't know that the advice on how we can live longer was ground-breaking or particularly interesting, but the stories of athletes that are 70 years old and older brought smiles to my heart. It was particularly sobering to discover that there are men in their 80's running 10Ks with times under 45 minutes. Wow!
Allison E
Jul 21, 2015 Allison E rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
This book changed the way I think about exercise in a lasting way. What really got me was the evidence that physical fitness has a huge protective effect on cognitive function in aging. If that's not motivating I don't know what is. A thought-provoking and inspiring read. This book should be required reading for life... I want everyone I know to read it!
Jul 13, 2014 AJ rated it liked it
A very interesting read about nonagenarian Olga Kotelko, who has world records in many track and field sports in her age group. The book focuses a lot more on the science of longevity and aging than on the sport of running itself. I was disappointed in how heavily the book focuses on evo-psych, social science research and anecdotes.
Sep 05, 2015 BLACK CAT rated it really liked it
Integrate movement into your daily activities, the worst thing you can do is just stir still for hours. Walk to get groceries, take the stairs, stand up, move more...

Believe in yourself (growth mindset), have a support network of friends and family, be happy, be agreeable...

Selina Young
Dec 11, 2014 Selina Young rated it liked it
"Keep moving. Create routines (and then break them sometimes). Be opportunistic. Be a mensch. Believe in something. Lighten up. Cultivate a sense of progress. Don't do it if you don't love it. Begin now."

I want to be more like Olga.
Ellen Herbert
Feb 18, 2014 Ellen Herbert rated it it was amazing
Best read of the year so far. Inspirational, educational and a fascinating read. I have a new role model and want everyone I know to read about her, what makes her tick and what we can all do to improve our quality of life. Will return to this one over and over, I believe.
Jul 31, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Very inspirational. Easy enjoyable reading.
Karen Martin
Jan 02, 2017 Karen Martin rated it really liked it
I did not anticipate enjoying this book. Only reading it because it was a book club choice. But it is fascinating reading. A good mix of being scientific and being anecdotal.
Mar 18, 2017 Paula rated it really liked it
Well written and inspirational.
Feb 06, 2017 Joeii rated it really liked it
Borrowed this book from my library but definitely will buy the book for keeps!
Feb 01, 2015 Brandy rated it really liked it
Like the book cover says, Olga Kotelko is a 90-something track star. She competes in eleven track and field events as a Masters Class athlete around the world. She holds twenty plus world records and over six hundred gold medals. Olga laughs in the face of old age. I adored her and her story for those reasons, but also because she is Ukrainian and grew up a rural prairie girl. I, too, grew up a rural prairie girl, have Ukrainian ancestry, and I like to run! We were a match meant to be.

The book i
Laurel Flynn
Jun 16, 2014 Laurel Flynn rated it really liked it
The main points of this book would make a great NYT Sunday Magazine essay....oh, wait. That's how it started out.... Perhaps non-fiction books appear as an essay and then the premise gets sold to a publisher....I seem to think that's how Freakonmics (Lubner and Levitt) got it's start. But in order to successfully grow past the essay length the structure of the piece must expand and detail must flow in to keep the reader engaged through a longer stretch. Perhaps the freeform feel of "What Makes O ...more
Nov 22, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
Breezy, conversational style used to dig into a wide range of approaches to the science of aging (personality traits as predictors of longevity, relevance of diet, genetics, amount and type of exercise, etc. The running (ha ha) example to illustrate the various issues is Olga Kotelko, 93 (at the time of the writing; I gather she passed away fairly recently at 95)-year old Canadian track and field (sprints, field events, multi--event --- all fast-twitch apparently, as she considered even the 200- ...more
Jan 19, 2014 Marianne rated it really liked it
Just some quotes and thoughts I’ve noted….

p. 26 Adversity theory hypothesis: resilience is learned.
Mild Version: suffering leads to growth (if that ain’t Biblical I don’t know what is)
Extreme Version: we must suffer to reach the pinnacle of human flourishing.

p. 81 Paleolithic granny was a far cry from the frail, stay at home, fire tending figure we imagine. There’s evidence she was a whirlwind of productive vitality, roaming wide and quickly to forage nuts and tubers for her grandchildren. Sh
Mike Gowan
Mar 02, 2014 Mike Gowan rated it really liked it
When I read one of these books I feel momentarily uplifted and inspired, but then I get sad again.

By "one of these books," I mean books of popular science that are filled with anecdotes about long-lived athletes and how they live to be successful in their old age. The good feelings come from learning about people who are happy, healthy and strong at advanced ages, 80's, 90's.

The sadness comes when I look around at the people I know and realize that all of the older ones have chronic mortal disea
Mar 28, 2014 Sdluvingit rated it it was amazing
I don't usually give non-fiction 5 stars but I have to make an exception for this book. If you read only one non-fiction book this year make it this one because this book, or at least make your later years truly golden. As the boomers are retiring, living longer, and wanting to really enjoy those years (some demographers believe that half of all the people that have ever reached the age of 65 are alive today) research into aging, slowing or reversing it, is becoming i ...more
Sue Jackson
Dec 23, 2014 Sue Jackson rated it liked it
What Makes Olga Run is an inspiring book about a remarkable woman. It is amazing to realize that Olga Kotelko was a masters athlete that completed into her 90s. Because of her rare athletic ability, the author decided to follow her to see what make her so special. Not only is it unusual for anyone 80-90 years old to compete in track and field events but it is also more rare that she won so many events. She seemed to beat the odds by remaining healthy and injury free as a senior athlete.

The idea
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“Keep moving. Create routines (but sometimes break them). Be opportunistic. Be a mensch. Believe in something. Lighten up. Cultivate a sense of progress. Don’t do it if you don’t love it. Begin now.” 1 likes
“We’re using this machine called the human body in ways that would void the manufacturer’s warranty.” 0 likes
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