If you are a woman who is over the age of 50, you know that your body has experienced changes over time. Do you have concerns about how you can continue to stay fit and healthy? I present to you the first in a series of blogs about women who are role models for fitness and health. Read on for Fitness Over 50: Lena Aldrich.
A role model isn’t someone who does everything exactly perfect all of the time. Life is about balance. A healthy role model enjoys life and knows she can enjoy a piece of chocolate cake or a glass of wine sometimes! Yet she also eats healthy foods and exercises on a regular basis.
Meet my friend, Lena Aldrich, who inspires me and so many other women. When I lived in Colorado, Lena and I trained together although Lena far surpassed me in her abilities and went on to do longer races. Lena is one of those people who continues on despite challenges. She isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek solutions.
Learn from her the secrets to staying fit no matter your age.
Sara: How do you stay fit in this season of your life?
Lena: I stay fit with my training. I often plan my races so they take up most of the year. I am not one who just loves to exercise for the benefit of exercising so I find that keeping myself focused on a goal helps. I also have my family and church to keep me busy.
Sara: Have you always been fit and active? What drew you into it?
Lena: I have not always been fit and active. I was an April to October runner. I would run as soon as the weather got warmer, usually building up to 5 miles, and the minute the weather got cold I would stop. Of course that meant that I would need to start over when Spring came around again. I thought that was enough, but now that I am involved in racing Triathlons, I know it was not enough.
I got started in Triathlons by friends talking me into their madness. I signed up for my first Sprint before I was able to complete the distance. I learned to swim to do this first race. I was never afraid of water and could float, tread water etc., but not actually swim to cover any distance. I had not ridden a bike in years, but got on, fell off and got on again. I only planned to do this one Sprint distance event (.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run) to prove I could accomplish it, but something happened along the way and I realize that I was loving the training, the way it made me feel and the excitement of crossing that finish line.
Sara: What would you say to a woman who says, “It’s too late for me to start now. I’m too old.”
Lena: This is an easy question. It is never too late to start, as a mater of fact it is easier when you are a little older because the obligations you have when you are younger (the small children, demanding job) may have relaxed a little, offering you more time to fit in whatever exercise you choose. I did my first triathlon at the age of 60 and my first Ironman at 64.
Sara: Tell us about a highlight moment of achievement that stands out for you.
Lena: My highlight achievement came this year when I completed the Ironman 70.3 in Kona and finished in 2nd place in my division. I had done this race in 2013 and missed the cut off by 3 minutes. Even though I did the whole race I still was awarded a DNF (Did Not Finish). The next year I signed up to do the race and recover my 3 minutes, but I developed a stress fracture in my heel, so no race. This past year, 2016 I was ready to do this race. I not only got my three minutes back, but beat my first time by about 40 minutes and finished 2nd in my age group. I had trouble controlling my emotions as I stepped onto the podium to claim my award. Don’t ever give up!
Sara: Is there anything else you want to share?
Lena: I think the best thing you can do is sign up for something like a short running race, a Sprint triathlon or a 30 mile bike ride. If you sign up for something you will make yourself accountable.
Find friends that like to do the same type of things. It is so much fun to call a friend and say, “lets go for a bike ride, a run, swim, or go to the gym just to work out.” You will make new friends and possible get some of the friends you already have to join you.
Getting involved in Triathlons at the age of 60 is one of the best things I have ever done. I love feeling healthy and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I never knew my body could do these things, but it can. Just take it a little at a time.
To date I have done 3 full Ironman races, 7 Ironman 70.3 races, and numerous Olympic and Sprint distance races. I have raced the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships and qualified for the ITU Age Group World Championships. This year I will be racing as a Bronze All World Athlete.
If someone told me I would be doing this when I was 50 I would have laughed, but here I am at age 67 having accomplished this.
All it takes is that first step out the door. It will change your life.
Do you know a woman who would be a great Fitness over 50 role model? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. She may be featured in my next article.