Jerry S. has walked 66,000 miles. He has walked in every county in California, every state in the U.S. and Australia, more than 50 countries and on all seven continents. In October, he clocked 12,000 consecutive days of walking, running or a little of both.
And he’s not done yet.
We talked to Jerry in his California home. (Jerry asked to remain anonymous; look out for a man in his 80s wearing the running shoes above.)
How old are you, and how old do you feel?
I’m 83, but I don’t feel 83. It’s hard to say – I do feel younger.
Sixty-six thousand miles – that’s a lot of walking. How did it this all start?
It started in September 1979. My three kids were joggers and they said I should start jogging, and I did. I ran for about a year and three months before I started jogging every day. And then it was just part of what I did everyday. One of the things that made it more significant to me was that my first wife died on February 28, 1980. She was only 51 years old. Jogging was a great relaxer.
Many of us don’t think about what we’re going to do when we retire. After my first wife died, I really started thinking about retirement. It’s important for older people to think about what they can do, what they want to do, and then try and have a great time.
How have you managed to walk or run every single day for 12,000 days?
If it’s something that’s really important to you, you make it work. I made sort of a game out of it. My first goal was to jog in every county in California. In 1986, I decided to start working on all of the states. I took a trip, and over a month I ran in about 30 states.
Once you get into what I call a streak, you can usually figure out a way to make it work. I ran in Pittsburgh in the airport at 6am in the wintertime. The people next to me thought I was totally crazy. Maybe I was, I don’t know.
What do you do for fun?
Walking is sort of fun actually. The interesting thing about walking is you see a lot of things you don’t see driving in a cab or a car. It’s a way to get the feel of a new place.
How have you stayed so healthy?
I’ve been very fortunate because I really haven’t had any serious illnesses of any kind. I have had hypertension and take medication for that. The most important things are diet and exercise, and I try to watch my diet – even though I eat ice cream every day. I never said I was perfect!
What does “aging with attitude” mean to you
Well, you accept the fact that you are aging, that your body is aging and although some things are within your control – exercise and diet – some things are beyond your control.
The other thing is, just because you are old doesn’t mean you are not important, that every day isn’t just as important as when you were out making money. You can make every day special if you take a little time, effort and energy.