Meet Deirdre Larkin – The Fitness League’s 86-year-old, “Grande Dame of Randburg”

Deidre Larkin may have only taken up running late in life, but has certainly made her mark on the SA running scene. In May she was invited to compete in Switzerland where she completed a half-marathon in two hours five minutes, setting a world record for her age group! Deidre regularly finishes on the podium at many of the events that she participates in – inspiring many a younger runner with her attitude.

Deidre Larkin (AFP)What many may not know, besides Deidre’s surprisingly late introduction to running at the age of 78, is that she is also a member of The Fitness League SA, participating in classes at Robin Hills or Bryanston when her piano teaching and running schedule allow.

Deidre was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2001, and doctors put her on medication to combat the deterioration in strength of her bones, but the medication made her ill. “I was going to doctors to be cured of what other doctors gave me,” she says, adding that a dietician also advised her to cut all sugar, salt, white flour and caffeine from her diet, while a biokineticist designed a strengthening programme that included yoga, Pilates and fitness classes.

On most mornings Deirdre breezes through Johannesburg’s suburbs running on her well-trodden 8km training course to stay in shape. She ran in 65 races last year, including several 21 kilometre (13 mile) half-marathons. She is a strong believer in healthy eating habits and makes sure her diet is balanced. Breakfast includes ground nuts, seeds and mixed berries with soya milk, while lunch is always a peanut butter or cheese sandwich, and she makes sure dinner includes two vegetables. Her one indulgence is decaffeinated cappuccinos!

There’s always an element of disbelief. I can’t believe I’ve done it. But my body tells me the next day I certainly did it. My blood goes around my body much quicker, I don’t feel cold, I can feel all the muscles in my body – I never knew I’ve got so many muscles! I feel much more alive.

Deidre reckons her running ability is partly down to good genes and partly her diet and exercise regime, and it is all paying dividend for her health, helping to counter her osteoporosis.

The Fitness League believes the secret to quality of life as you age is remaining active for and long as possible and provides and tools and safe environment to do so with qualified teachers to advise you along the way.

The Fitness League wish Deidre many more happy miles.

Sources:

Marguerite Swan
Good Things Guy
Modern Athlete
Randburg Harriers
Hindustan Times