Phil Booker is not your typical marathon runner. Silver hair, seasoned smile…this experienced runner is currently in his 70s. But what looks like a lifelong love for the sport didn’t actually start until later in life. At that time, he was a busy real estate professional with a family, and life was pretty hectic. The activities he had enjoyed in the past, like karate and skiing, were too hard to fit into his schedule.
“I was 48 years old,” notes Phil. “And I needed to find something I could do before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. Then I thought, ‘What about running?’”
It was a hard go at first. “The real honest truth was my lungs couldn’t make it farther than 300 yards before I felt winded and couldn’t run anymore anyway. I was in bad cardiovascular shape to say the least.” But he kept at it. Gradually, half a block became a whole block, then three miles became five, then eventually 10.
But finding time was still a challenge. Luckily for Phil, he was supported by his wife and family, who encouraged him to squeeze in some activity whenever he could. That’s why it wasn’t unusual to see Phil running around the track while his kids were playing soccer or football.
At 72, Phil still runs like a gazelle. And he has built an impressive running resume! He’s run over 500 races, including 42 marathons. And he’s still going strong with no intention of slowing down any time soon. His children and grandchildren encourage him and even attend some of his races to cheer him on. For Phil, finding a community of likeminded people who are also passionate about running keeps him going. So if you’ve ever thought to yourself “I’m too old for that,” Phil is a living example that your age isn’t as important as your motivation to try something new, find ways to fit it into your daily life, and create a network of support.
“We all know that exercise is good but you never know just how much you can accomplish until you try. You will astound yourself!” says Phil. But he stresses that you don’t need to run marathons—finding a way to be active that you enjoy and fits you is the real key to success.
Phil has now set his sights on encouraging more seniors to focus on eating well and becoming physically active so that they too can feel young at heart and healthy enough to do what they love.
“The human body is the greatest graceful machine ever,” adds Phil. “You would think we would look after it better.” Phil is also proud that, at his age, he is not dependent on any medications. And he would want everyone to think of a form of physical activity they can do and that they’ll enjoy! “Personally, I am just an ordinary guy who really never ran more than a mile until I was 48 years old nor did I have any coaching. So all I’m saying is I hope that those who hear about my story can be inspired to fit in an hour of walking every day or so, with the proper family or friend support.”
Phil is passionate about life and enjoying it to the fullest. He is happy to share how his healthy lifestyle gives him the energy he needs to keep up with his four active grandchildren without tiring. And for him, this is the best benefit he gets from the efforts he puts into this. He believes anyone can get into the best shape of their life by finding something they enjoy doing, follow their own pace, and keep smiling. It’s not about how fast you go, it’s all about the journey!