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What Makes Olga Run? Paperback – January 6, 2015
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“While this book provides an accessible overview of the current science on aging, its charm comes from the tale of a woman who refuses to hang up her track shoes, and the younger man she inspires.” ―The New York Times
“Entertaining, informative, and surprisingly moving.” ―The Boston Globe
“An inspirational blend of hero's journey and science that delves into the mystery of longevity, health and personal fulfillment.” ―Shelf Awareness
“Grierson offers an exemplary answer to the longevity question . . . Dedicated runners and weekend warriors, as well as athletes of all types, will find hope in Olga's story.” ―Washington Independent Review of Books
“An inspiring book that should appeal to the legions of worried agers.” ―Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“If you need some motivation to reach your potential, this might be the story for you.” ―Cape Cod Times
“Exhilarating…[Grierson's] deft re-creation of the moving and humorous bond between Kotelko and himself gives the book its center. A stimulating and inspiring read for all.” ―Library Journal (starred)
“Grierson's fellow boomers have much to learn from Olga's example.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Eye-opening and insightful.” ―Kirkus
“Smart and engaging, What Makes Olga Run is also profoundly inspiring. It will make you wish you were half as fit and exuberant as Olga, whatever your age, while providing a fascinating look at the latest science on aging.” ―Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First 20 Minutes
“I am nuts about this book and about Olga. But the real kick was accompanying Bruce Grierson - a very good writer - as he took a smart, deep look into the new science of aging - and not aging - at the high end. I know this field a bit, and I still learned important new stuff...all of it great news. Hint: work out like a lunatic 'til the day you die. And jiggle your feet the rest of the time. Olga 'redefined' Grierson's life; she may redefine yours.” ―Chris Crowley, co-author of the Younger Next Year books and Thinner This Year
“In Olga, Grierson has a magical character with whom to explore the fascinating science of aging--a nonagenerian undecathlete. (That is, a 90-something who excels in 11 different events.) We are left with the empowering knowledge that, to a startling degree, aging itself is a choice.” ―David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene
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This extends to the fundamental premise of the book as expressed in the subtitle. What can we generalize from a lady track athlete that is so old that she literally has no competitors? As one geneticist is even quoted as saying, nothing! A basic principle of medical research is that trying to explain something after the fact, with a small sample size, is a recipe for misdirection. In this case, we are supposed to learn from a sample of one, with a very basic piece of information unvalidated: Olga doesn’t actually have a birth certificate! This reminded me of the historical hoax of the health secrets of Russian centenarians. As if to highlight the futility of his approach, the author expresses confusion over the contradictory health advice of other leading senior athletes.
Olga aside, the book could still have worked as a summary of present evidence regarding various lifestyle choices. But this always seems to be reduced to a glib minimum. There are no citations or endnotes. The bibliography of less than three pages consists largely of lay publications.
Throwing journalistic objectivity out the window, the author clearly forms a relationship with his subject over the course of several years. There is touching insight into how this may be his way of addressing the premature death of his father, but that should have been a completely different kind of book. Subject and author dine, go to track meets and even attend medical tests together. Strangely, considering the explicit mention of the importance of social ties in longevity, Olga’s own family remains largely voiceless. This is all the more striking considering that she lives in her daughter’s basement! Perhaps this omission has something to do with the fact that she has already written her own story elsewhere. To me, it just seemed creepy.
For a more objective attempt at reviewing the science of longevity, consider Spring Chicken by Bill Gifford. For a more light-hearted, well written treatment of the same subject, you may enjoy Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs.
I'm ready to rock. Let's do it!
I liked inclusion of sections re other athletes and also comments about how humans have developed athletic abilities. Particularly liked frequent mention of "multiplier effect" of mental activity plus vigorous physical exercise.
Would recommend the book to other seniors AND to younger people who would like to see their grandparents become more active.
Top international reviews
1) It was very well written.
2) I liked Olga, as I can relate to her, as I am 84, also have a similar diet
3) She comes across as a very energetic lady, and at the same time very likable.
4) She convinces me, to carry on with my regime of exercises.
It is a nice readable book, however a bit too long, but you want to know the results of the analyses of the author.
The conclusions are not so different from other books on healty aging: just keep on moving and avoid stress.
But the life of Olga shows a lot of little details that had to be compared with other people from her agegroup
When there are enough in that group, the results can be stated more scientifically sound.
And live and run for Mira than a 100 years 😍