Melitta Czerwenka-Nagel appreciated the festivities and visitors around her 85th birthday celebration but was happy to have an empty house and a chance to get back to her training. She runs six miles three times a week and does a weekly gym regime that works out every muscle group in her body.
In August she’ll participate in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon, France. She’s aiming for world age-group records in 800m, 1500m and 5,000m events and has times that indicate she’ll be successful.
She didn’t start running until she was 48 and a single school teacher. “I was a very anxious person and only ever tested myself mentally. I needed a balance,” she said.
She began with short distances and soon became addicted. At age 56 she met her husband through running and at the same time joined a running club in Saarbrucken, Germany and was encouraged to try competing. To date she has earned 46 gold medals and world records in most distances between 800 meters and the half marathon.
She endured a knee injury caused by a bicycle accident in 2008. Her doctor advised her to quit running but two years later she was competing again.
Czerwenka-Nagel says running helped her get through her husband’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. “At my age you’re normally either dead or in an old person’s home. Running has allowed me to escape from that. I’m very happy with my quality of life.”
She credits regular running and eating carefully with her extraordinary fitness. “There’s nothing more to it,” she says. “That’s the secret.”
It doesn’t matter whether you run, walk, swim, bike, do yoga or Pilates, the trick is to do SOMETHING. Start slow. Be kind to yourself. Missing a day is not the end of the world. Get right back to it.
(The above story was reported by Local de and can be fully accessed via