Five Minutes with Libby James

Wisdom from the fastest 80-year-old woman in the world.

Longtime Fort Collins resident Libby James is the fastest woman her age in the world. Competing in the 80 to 84 age group, she holds the USATF Women’s Masters records for 5k and 15k races, with times of 25:11 and 1:25:06. She shared a bit of her dry wit and wisdom.

So, you’re 81?
I’m only 80. Don’t rush it!

What’s your secret formula for success?
There’s no secret formula. I don’t eat weird. I eat fairly healthy. I think one of the secrets is consistency, particularly as you get older. If you lay off for four or five days, it’s harder to get started again. So, I’ve taken to not running very far, but doing it pretty regularly. Almost every day, usually four miles.

Don’t you ever have days where you’re tired?
Over time, I noticed the good days that I have are the days that I run. So, I go out and run.

Favorite local races?
I do the Bolder Boulder every year. And the Horsetooth Half—it’s brutal! After the first five miles, you go, “Oh my God, I’m done.” Stupid hills. But you don’t do it for a fast time, you just do it to see if you can do it.

Best FC running resource?
The Fort Collins Running Club. Their Tortoise and Hare runs have grown like crazy. It’s a great, supportive community.

Favorite FC run?
I love to run west on LaPorte Avenue all the way to where it ends. I love the way that last mile opens up. It’s beautiful.

Really, how have you lasted so long as a runner?
Part of it is because it’s important to me. Part of it is, I started at age 35. I didn’t have all that wear and tear on my body as a younger person. And, except when I was training for Boston, I’ve never done too many miles in a week. I don’t know how people run 100 miles in a week. I average 28.

So, no ultra-marathons in your future?
They walk a lot, those ultra runners. If you’re going 100 miles, you don’t run 100 miles.

And you don’t listen to people who say you’ll ruin your knees?
I’ve heard that. But people who run don’t say that. It’s the non-runners. Looking around at all the joint replacements, I think, use it or lose it. It’s the people who haven’t used them that have trouble.

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