Most people would be happy just to say they made it to 100 years of age and still be able to walk and remember their name. Not Frenchman, Robert Marchand. No, just making it to 100 is for pussies. This guy is setting world records on his bike. First he set the one hour cycling record in Switzerland by covering over 24 kilometres in one hour, a record that was sanctioned by cycling’s international governing body, the UCI. Now he set a second official record for a person over 100 years of age by covering 100km in a time of 4:17:27.
I’m writing this blog post from my second home in Arizona, where I have ridden over 1500kms in the past 15 days as I begin my preparation for the next year's Haute Route race from Geneva, Switzerland to Nice France. Every time I come down here from my home in Canada, I’m always shocked at the poor health of so many Americans, by evidence of the number of obese people. Given the alarming condition of the majority North American’s (Canadian’s included), just completing a 100km ride would be a near impossibility for most, but to ride it in Mr. Marchand’s time of a little over 4 hours is only a dream. And it's such a mystery why we have out of control healthcare costs!
As much as racing in next year’s Haute Route is a lofty goal to be sure, it’s only a small step in a much larger target and Mr. Marchand is making my ultimate goal a whole lot more difficult, because instead of going after one record when I turn 100, I now have to break two. He has set the bar higher because now in addition to breaking the one hour record, I also have to beat his 100km record.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about Mr. Marchand accomplishments and we were identifying the many things you have to get right in your life to accomplish what he’s doing at his age. First, he has some good genetics at work here, but good genes will only get you so far, so what are the other things, let me list just a few:
- You have to remain active all your life to be able to ride 100km at 100 years of age.
- You have to eat a nutritious diet throughout your life that consists of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, high quality protein, healthy carbohydrates, while avoiding the foods we know are bad for us.
- Drink a healthy amount of water every day.
- Don’t smoke (that's obvious) and don’t drink an unhealthy amount of alcohol (1 drink a day for women and 2 for men)
- Get enough sleep and rest
- De-stress your life
- Keep your mind active, for without a sharp mind, you'll never be able to manage even the simple things like keeping your balance, or structure a training program to accomplish the kind of physical activities Mr Marchand is capable of.
- And finally, have a passion in your life that keeps you young. Clearly, Mr. Marchand’s passion is cycling and it’s giving him purpose, and probably one of the main reasons he’s still so active.
This represents a partial list of the most important elements necessary for a long and healthy life that many will consider somewhat restrictive or even boring. In fact, I’ve been told on a number of occasions that I should “live a little”, especially when I’m at a party and I refuse to drink the same volume of alcohol as others. My goal isn’t to “live a little”, but to “live a lot”! I’m only 56, so I have another 44 years to train and prepare for my attempt at Mr. Marchand’s records. Racing next year’s Haute Route race is considered the world’s toughest cycling sportive and is what I equate to as, "living a lot". I certainly don't want age to be the thing that prevents me from being like Mr. Marchand.The important thing to consider about long term health is that what you do today will affect you 20, 30, or even 40 years from now. Most people that reach their 60's, 70's and 80's in poor health, generally achieve this state as the result of poor lifestyle choices that manifest into one of the many degenerative diseases.
The purpose of this post is to share an inspirational story of a 100 year old man that’s “living a lot” and it proves that it’s not by accident that’s he’s capable of these amazing accomplishments. For sure, you can’t do much about your genetics, and some people are just luckier than others. I may be one of those people (I hope); given my father at the age of 87 is still very active and does his daily 10km run/walk. But there are so many more variables that you have total control over if you apply discipline and dedication to make it happen.
Remember, you don’t stop exercising because you’re old; you get old because you stop exercising.
Enjoy the ride....Rob