"School is Never Out on Fitness" May 2014 Athlete of the Month

Dr. Paul Miller, 96, Normal, Illinois

When Dr. Paul Miller talks about the importance of exercise and shares his routine, he can't help if it sounds like he is lecturing. That's because he is a retired professor of sociology and anthropology from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, just a few miles from his home in Normal. However, the fact that he is still active at 96 and possesses a raft of competition medals and records is evidence enough that Paul knows what he is talking about.

Athletics has been as much of a companion as academics for most of his life, and he has been competing in cycling and track and field with Illinois Senior Olympics since 1982. "I haven't missed a year except one when I had a leg in a cast with a broken patella, having slipped on an icy rock climbing Long's Peak in Colorado." Paul holds 16 all-time records in Illinois and his name appears in three National Senior Games Top Ten lists. Since beginning national competition in 1999 he has bagged 14 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze Medals in six trips. He was the oldest cycling competitor last year for the 2013 National Senior Games Presented by Humana in Cleveland.

Success did not come without a learning process as he did not place in any events in his first tries. "I was disappointed and extremely envious of winners walking around with beautiful medals around their necks," he recalls. "Needless to say, after that I conditioned properly and began winning."

Paul became a student of his own well being and took a serious interest in diet and exercise. After reading and research, he became a strict vegetarian and set an exercise regimen for five days a week. "I have continued much the same program of diet and exercise to the present time. I get in two hours at the Illinois Wesleyan University fitness center from 5:00 to 7:00 AM, come home eat a big breakfast of oatmeal, toast and orange juice, and I'm ready to start my day at 8:00 in the morning."

He also emphases the importance of socializing and making friends along the way. "It helps to break the monotony of repeating activities day after day. It takes commitment, conviction, and real discipline to continue such a program year after year, but I remain convinced of its value. I plan to continue as long as I am physically able."

The fire still burns strong and Dr. Paul Miller continues to set his goals. "I'm a competitor, but I don't face as much now because the age ranks are thinning out as I progress. I now work on my times and my distance. The most serious competition becomes survival. I'm looking forward to competing in Minnesota in 2015. I especially like the friendships I've made. You run into a lot of good people doing this."

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