Transitioning to a life post-rugby and dealing with a terminal illness in the family, former Brumbies player Ben Alexander says running helped him through tough times.
“Retiring from anything is a big transition in life. For an athlete, we face that earlier in life and finding your next career is a tough time,” he says.
Adding to the challenge, Ben was also dealing with his beloved grandmother’s terminal illness and passing: “Losing a loved one is about as hard as it gets.”
Ben says his grandmother had plenty of advice to pass on and her message to him was simply to “quit while I was ahead with rugby”.
“If Grandma had her way, I would never have played at all,” Ben says, adding he had the opportunity to tell her he had retired, which earned the response “I think that’s wise”.
Co-owner of The Dock in Kingston, Benalso dabbles in app development, which he describes as “more of a hobby”, and stays active through parkrun. His local event is at Burley Griffin, and he completed his 50th parkrun event on 31 August in a personal best time.
Ben attended his first event not long after announcing his retirement last year, encouraged by a friend to participate and “was hooked”.
“The best way to describe it is like a school cross country event every Saturday. You have volunteers organising the start line and making sure every one arrives back in one piece,” he says.
“It was a lot of fun. Me and a group of friends rotate around Canberra. We try and mix it up so we don’t do the same course each week.”
While Ben welcomes the hit of endorphins from running, he says the social aspect is just as important and regularly catches up with his mates for “a feed and a coffee” after.
Blackmores was recently announced as parkrun Australia’s new wellbeing partner. parkrun is a series of free 5km events that takes place every Saturday morning in over 350 locations around Australia and is open to people of all ages and abilities. The events are socially focused and you can take part however you choose: walk, jog, run or volunteer; parkrun.com.au