Legend has it that the Fountain of Youth is in Florida, but V.E. Bixenstine leads us to believe Kent has restorative powers of its own. The 82-year-old former Kent State University professor is a three-time ITU Duathlon World Champion. This month, he’ll travel to Italy to defend his title in a 34-mile mix of running and bicycling. To prepare, the 14-time grandpa spent six days a week running, cycling, lifting weights and playing handball. We recently asked him to share his secrets for staying young.
Forget retirement. Although this former psychology professor has technically retired three times — twice from Kent State and once from his private practice — he does not believe in the concept. “If retirement means I’m going to stop pursuing something, stop working on something and just relax, well that kind of life is an invitation to aging.”
Stick with Atkins. No breads, pastas or beer. His only exception is before and during races for energy. “As we age, our metabolism slows down, and we don’t need the level of intake we do when we are more vigorous in early adulthood.“
Maintain your brain. “It’s important to have something to do, set some goals and be engaged with others and with life.” A few years ago, he returned to a manuscript he began in his 20s. He has since published two novels and a collection of poems.
Remember, family knows best. Bixenstine began running after his wife, Anita, took up the sport. But it was his son, Bart, who urged him to enter the 2002 ITU World Championship after taking part himself in 2001. “We’re both addicted to competing,” Bixenstine says. “It’s a positive addiction. Once it’s established, your body feels bad if you don’t run.”