I just turned 50 last month.  My kids think I am old.  I don’t think I am old.  Oh well.

For some time, I have been fascinated by people who defy the odds.  This morning, I realized I needed a place to collect the stories that inspire me.  With that in mind, I am starting this blog post on “old” athletes.  I will update it periodically.

I bike six days a week.  I take Sundays off.  Sometimes, I take Saturdays off.   In my town, on Saturdays and Sundays, the streets are filled with the weekend warriors.  Team spandex, as I like to call them.  For the record, I do not wear spandex while biking (or, at any other time) and when I bike on roads, which is rare, I do not obliviously create lines of traffic.

That said, my ultimate old age hero is Gustaf Håkansson, a Swedish biker who signed up for an endurance race across Sweden.  He signed up when he was 66 years old.  His story only gets better.  He was still riding his bicycle until he died at age 102.

Charles Eugster is another hero of mine.  After life as a dentist in London, he decided he did not like what he saw in the mirror.  He started weightlifting, rowing, and competing.  He died at 97 years old.  You can read his story in his book, Age is Just a Number.   You can watch his slightly inappropriate TED talk here: https://blog.ted.com/this-93-year-old-has-a-message-for-us-a-beach-body-at-90-is-no-longer-a-dream/

In an interview with Vice, he said this about retirement:

Retirement is the biggest killer of old people, full stop. I prefer to call it involuntary unemployment. What I’m nearly bursting a blood vessel about is the fact that humans are blissfully ignoring the aging process. We recycle everything nowadays, except human beings. Our expiry date is 65, after which we’re thrown on the rubbish heap and chemically treated. We are pouring the experience, creativity, and talent of people over 65 down the toilet. They should be able to found companies, be creative. They have nothing to do except sit about and get sick. This is a world problem and it needs to change.

I agree with him.  I have no intention to retire.  I will type and teach until I fall over.  That’s the goal, anyway.  Dr. Gary North is my writing hero.  Unfortunately, cancer took him a few years ago.  He was 80 years old.  He was still blogging two weeks before he died.

About retiring, he said this:

Age should bring with it experience. The tuition payments in the school of hard knocks should have paid off by the time you’re 50.

I recommend to all healthy that they stay in the work force after age 65. It solves these fundamental problems:

First, it gives people purpose and structure to their lives: productivity. It allows them to serve others.

Second, staying in the work force maintains your stream of income. Consider the person who decides to retire. If he was prudent — and few people are — he may have, say, $100,000 in savings. At 5%, he gets $5,000 a year, plus Social Security and any pension program he may have. He is threatened by long-term price inflation, since this can wipe out his real income. He is threatened by recession, since it can wipe out his capital, unless it is in a money-market fund, which does not pay much. He is dependent on paper. He dares not make a mistake. His reserves are all paper.

By living off the income from his capital, he loses his ability to multiply his capital. He loses the “compound interest effect.” He cannot pour back the earnings into the capital base, Thus, should he really become dependent on paper in the future, through sickness or the destruction of the paper money economy, and he is then physically too old to work, he has a much smaller capital base upon which to fall back. He has failed to multiply the base through reinvestment because he became dependent prematurely on the income stream from the capital base provided. There are few mistakes more potentially devastating than to become dependent on a capital-based income stream.

By remaining employed, you can take advantage of the reinvestment strategy. You live off your labor, coupled with your employer’s capital. It seems like such a simple concept. “Everyone knows that,” you may be thinking. Maybe so, but why doesn’t everyone act in terms of it? Practically nobody does.

Anyone who retires before his body and mind require it has failed to honor the principle. He may understand it. He may choose leisure and the risks of less income in the future. It’s a big risk, but he takes the chance. But most retirees are not this calculating. All of a sudden one day, they are out of the work force. Age sneaks up on them, kicks them from behind, and then runs over their backs.

Passive investments are just that: passive. You “buy and forget.” They are your emergency reserves. Work is “where the money is.” That is true now. That will be true when you hit age 65.

Hidekichi Miyazaki, nicknamed the Golden Bolt, was a Japanese centenarian sprinting champion.  He was still racing at age 105.

My advice?  Drop the junk food.  Never stop learning.  Never stop moving.  Never retire.

If you come across any inspiring old aged athletic stories, please share them with me.  I may include them here.