How did you spend your “downtime” during the pandemic? Many older adults, who faced restricted in-person socializing, discovered a new hobby or activity. Betty Lindberg, an avid, 96-year-old masters runner, turned to virtual racing after all her upcoming races were canceled due to the pandemic.
A new way to race
Lindberg and her daughter mapped out virtual tracks along the streets of her Atlanta neighborhood so she could continue doing what she loved despite the lockdown.
In August 2020, Lindberg completed seven different courses as part of the USA Track & Field (USATF) Masters Virtual Summer Challenge. The races included the 50-meter, 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, 1-mile and a 5K.
Lindberg’s 69-year-old daughter taught her how to use a new iPhone 11 and an Apple watch to track her events. Lindberg submitted her times, along with photos, to the USATF. Sometimes when Lindberg didn’t like her score, she would run the distance again on another day until she was satisfied with her finish time.
There were no crowds cheering her on or medals at the finish line. Lindberg raced purely for the fun of running, proving that inspiration can come from anywhere at any age.
As an active member of the Atlanta Track Club’s Masters Team, Lindberg was able to look up world records held in each of her virtual events. Her goal was to always beat the record.
Betty Lindberg breaks records
Although breaking records isn’t new for Lindberg, the first time she broke one came as a complete surprise. In fact, it was right after she won her first world record, at the age of 91, that Lindberg chatted with Growing Bolder. She told us she wasn’t even thinking about her time or her place in that 2016 race. She simply enjoyed being part of the running community.
“I get energy from running with other people who are enjoying what they do,” Lindberg said. “I hope I can be an inspiration to others like they are to me.”
The pandemic wasn’t the first time Lindberg had overcome a challenge to her racing. Two years before setting her first world record, Lindberg had hip-replacement surgery. Within days, she was back up and running. A month later, she ran a 1-mile race.
“I use the race-walking technique, which works great for me,” Lindberg said. “Walking is so good for everyone. I encourage everybody to just start moving. You never know what you might be able to accomplish.”
And Lindberg is a prime example. She didn’t start running until she was 63. Before that, she described herself as a couch potato.
“You can get started at any age,” Lindberg said. “Don’t just sit there and say you’re too old. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Still running strong
In 2021, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race happened in-person on July 4. Lindberg was there and crossed the finish line for the 31st time. Hear Growing Bolder’s inspirational interview below with Lindberg when she was 91.
New post-pandemic habits
Remember you don’t have to become a masters runner like Betty Lindberg to live your best life. Growing Bolder asked several of our Facebook followers to share a new hobby, habit, or perspective they embraced during the pandemic that they plan to continue. Here are some of the inspiring responses we received:
“Walking daily instead of just on weekends. I didn’t have a 3-hour daily commute anymore!” – Kiely KeaneAlt
“Walking everywhere instead of using my car.” – Jane Cullen
“Daily yoga. It’s helped with anxiety and boredom. I look forward to it now each morning.” – Michelle Lusby Scofield
“I’ve learned to maintain my own pool and other maintenance stuff around the house.” – Nancy Smith
“Using my crochet and knitting skills to make scarves, hats and blankets to donate, as I’m a firm believer that by giving back you receive so much more.” – Barbara Erickson Vanderstelt