It’s never too late to get moving. Meet Alexandra 68, who took up running at 50 and ran herself fit, all the way to the New York marathon.
You’d never guess that Alexandra Pickford is in her late 60s. She looks much younger and packs as much into her days as someone half her age. So where does all that energy come from?
We soon discover that keeping fit is the habit of a lifetime. ‘When I’ve been exercising I feel very young. On a run, you release endorphins and rising to the challenge is very satisfying.’
It all started during her time as a dancer at the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. After she stopped dancing professionally, she worked as a fitness trainer to keep active, only taking up running when she was 50. She began running more seriously after handing over her fitness class to free up time. ‘I start out before breakfast when the air is fresher, going at my own pace and listening to the birds along the river. I have more stamina and vitality than many my age and that’s down to running.’
For Alexandra, running is a social thing too. As part of a running club she meets lots of new people, something she embraced when she moved from London to Torquay, and then to Bristol. ‘I really enjoy the camaraderie. You chat while you’re running, although we tend to go silent up the hills!’
Her New York marathon revelation came after she’d done a Race for Life in memory of her father, and raised over £1,000 for the Children’s Hospice South West doing another charity run. A marathon seemed like the next obvious step, and why not New York? ‘I arrived in New York very excited. The thing was, I did New York in every other way as well – from the Empire State Building to Macy’s. By the time it came to the race I was exhausted! I finished though, which was an amazing feeling.’
With plenty of time to think when she’s out running, Alexandra has been busy organising her future too, from buying a seaside flat to thinking about things like funeral planning. ‘I’m an eco person, so I’d like to be cremated and for my funeral to involve some planting and a tree. My mum was the same – she would have been composted if she could!’. All Alexandra has left to do now is add her funeral wishes to her Will.
Right now keeping fit is the priority. She’d love to run another marathon but, with all her other activities, says it could be tricky to find time to train. She encourages others to give it a go though. ‘Anyone can run as long as they’re without injury and build up slowly – maybe at 80, starting with a walk around the block and going from there would be a good plan!
They say that wisdom comes with age and that’s certainly true of Alexandra Pickford. She’s proof that, no matter what age you are, keeping fit and running can make you feel better all round.
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