This 98-Year-Old Is Still Trying to Break Running records.

Most people in their tenth decade would be delighted to complete any kind of race. Betty Lindberg, 98, is so competitive that she hired a coach to help her become faster for her upcoming 10K.
This 98-Year-Old Is Still Trying to Break Running records.

"I don't have much interest in knitting or crocheting anymore, but I still feel compelled to get out there and move," she says. On July 4, she intends to compete in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.

Her passion for running was sparked by the yearly event in 1988. Lindberg's daughter and son-in-law were competitors, and she agreed to pick them up at the finish line.

"I had no idea what a road race was, but I figured it had to be pretty special if people were waking up at the crack of dawn on a holiday," the Atlanta resident explains. She was certain she could run the 6.2-mile event after watching others cross the finish line.
At the 2023 Publix Atlanta 5K, Lindberg established an age-group 5K record. Joaquin Lara/Atlanta Track Club Photo

Lindberg was 63 years old at the time. Her workout consisted of wearing a vibrating slimming belt she purchased from an infomercial. She asked her doctor if she was in good enough shape to begin a running regimen.

Lindberg was given the all-clear after a series of examinations. Then she began breaking records.

Lindberg, 91, established the world record for women over 90 in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 6 minutes and 57 seconds. She broke her own world age-group 5K mark earlier this year when she ran the Publix Atlanta 5K in 59 minutes and 4 seconds.

Rejeanne Fairhead, 96, of Canada, broke the record in May with a run of 51 minutes and 9 seconds. Lindberg is excited about the competition.

"There aren't many people in my age group," she explains. "I'm always trying to beat myself."

She was so upset with her finish time of 2 hours, 37 minutes in the 2022 Peachtree 10K that she promised it would be her last race. By the beginning of 2023, she'd changed her mind and hired a coach and nutritionist to assist her in her training.

Lindberg runs, walks, or jogs and vows not to slow down on or off the marathon course.

"People congratulate me on my running, but I'm even more proud of the fact that I can still carry my own groceries," she says.
Lindberg crosses the finish line at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta in 2022. Photograph courtesy of Paul Ward/Atlanta Track Club
The exercise

Lindberg began practicing with Bob Wells, coach of the Atlanta Track Club's In-Training program, in April. "During my initial conversations with Betty, it became immediately clear why she struggled in 2022," he explains. "Her longest pre-race workout was three miles." She wasn't doing any hill or speed training."

He devised a training plan based on her previous regimen, which included three 2.5-mile run-walks per week, and gradually increased her mileage. Wells included hill work since the Peachtree 10K is notorious for its undulating course, particularly Cardiac Hill, which rises more than 12 stories in less than a mile.
Lindberg uses a resistance band to develop her upper body.

Lindberg just finished her longest training run of 6.5 kilometers. Her training speed is 21 minutes and 30 seconds per mile, which is four minutes faster than her race pace in 2022. She is now starting to taper for the event and reducing her mileage.

She and her daughter, Kerry McBrayer, go to Senior Fit at LA Fitness in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood three days a week. For strength training, the 50-minute class employs light dumbbells, resistance bands, and stability balls. A chair is utilized in several balance-focused workouts.

"We do a lot of sitting and standing," Lindberg explains. "It always feels like we're being tricked into doing squats."
During a senior exercise session, Lindberg and her daughter, Kerry McBrayer, 72, shadowboxed.
Lindberg and McBrayer take a breather.
The eating plan

Lindberg begins her day with eggs, bacon, toast, or a muffin, as well as raspberries and blueberries.

Her dietician advised her that she should always be putting fuel in her engine. "It feels like I'm eating all the time," Lindberg quips, munching on string cheese, nuts, bananas, and dark chocolate.

She eats chicken with rice and veggies for lunch and a salad for dinner since she is a creature of habit.