Legendary Runner Shares His Secret to Living to 100

Legendary Runner Shares His Secret to Living to 100
Presented by Spartan Training®

We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories and studies from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories and studies that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.

When people tell us that they're too old to run an obstacle course race, or that they've all but given up on fitness because they're "past their prime," or that their competitive days are in the rearview mirror, we usually don't waste a ton of breath trying to convince them otherwise.

We usually just throw a few names out at them. Paul Lachance. Marla SweeneyRalph Osterhoudt. Mildred WilsonRichard “Monty” Montgomery.

Related: 80-Year-Old Navy Veteran Paul Lachance Completes 100th Spartan Race

Now we're adding another name to that list of inspiring badasses.

Mike Fremont.

No, he's not a Spartan, but he's a Spartan in spirit. He's the very definition of a Spartan in the way he trains, the way he eats, the way he competes, the way he overcomes obstacles, and the way he looks at life.

Fremont is a legend, and has been for some time. When he was a spry 91, he set world records for the fastest marathons and half marathons in his age group. And now, at 100, he's still going strong. 

"Five miles with my 100-year-young friend, Mike Fremont," Harvey Lewis, an ultra runner and Fremont's close friend, wrote on Instagram in July. "Mike also did 10 pull-ups on one go! Mike’s mindset is strong. He fell this past spring in Florida and hurt his hip. He was reduced to a wheelchair for a month. That was really tough, especially for Mike, who's always on the go. When he restarted he could only do one pull-up. Mike credited his plant-based nutrition with his speedy recovery, even as a centenarian, in getting back his distance and reps of pull-ups.

"We finished our exercises and I asked Mike if he was done for the day. He said, 'I’ll probably do some more pull-ups later at home.'"

What's the Secret to Living to 100?

How is Fremont so incredibly fit at 100, and what drives him? It's important to go back several decades, to when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 69. According to Runner's World, doctors told Fremont that if he didn't have his tumor removed, he'd have three months to live. He opted instead to forego the removal and adopt a plant-based diet, which Fremont claims shrank the tumor. (In 1994, he did have surgery to remove what was left of it.) Needless to say, he did not die.

In the same Runner's World article, Fremont went on to explain that his strict diet consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and soup. He steers clear of meat, dairy, and toxins. 

Fremont attributes his diet, more than anything else, to not only saving his life, but also keeping him alive and active until 100.

"No question in my mind, it is diet that has determined my existence, my continued existence, and my beautiful health," Fremont told athlete and author Rich Roll.

Listen: Rich Roll Interviews Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena

Fremont told Roll that, in his mind, he didn't consider himself "competitive" until he was 88. He also added that these advanced years have been the greatest of his life, a rather surprising and unconventional opinion, but one that sheds light on the importance of diet and nutrition as you get older. If you don't take care of your body and mind as you age, you'll be severely limited in what you can do (that is, if you don't die). If you take the opposite approach, you could have an extra two or three decades of happiness, fulfillment, and productivity. Like Fremont, you'll thrive when most deteriorate.

"These, believe it or not, are the very best years of my life," he told Roll.

It's a critical point that's equal parts informative and inspiring. You should seize every minute and never take anything for granted. But it's also important to remember that, like Fremont, if you put in the work and give your body what it needs, you can kick some serious a** until you're 100 (and beyond).

Photo Credit: Harvey Lewis/Instagram