It’s never too late to play outside. The Late-Blooming Athlete series here at Expand Outdoors features stories of athletes who didn’t identify as athletic growing up, and only began experiencing the outdoors and a passion for fitness and health as adults. They have all experienced profound transformation through fitness and have each expanded outdoors—physically, mentally and spiritually.
Meet Jenn. A self-described non-athlete whose athletic background is eerily similar to my own (read: one disastrous softball season and lots of music lessons). In her guest post, she adds a welcome dose of humor as she shares what led her to discover a love of skiing. As a beginner, it can be especially hard to persevere through various sports, but the rewards are pretty sweet.
Meet Kelli. At raising two kids, she suddenly realized that she had a lot of time on her hands and had no idea what to do with it. After some soul searching, her long-dormant love of the outdoors slowly began to resurface. Taking a leap of faith, Kelly entered a contest hosted by Backpacker magazine, winning a 5-day backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail in July 2014. In this four-part series, Kelly shares her evolution, her training and her experience.
Meet Cheryl. At 50 she began competing in triathlons. Over the next 13 years she found new strengths, new passions, and a growing realization that she can do so much more than she ever thought possible. At 63, she is embarking on a 2,187-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. She’s setting out on her 63rd birthday in April 2013, and plans to write a haiku every day she’s on the trail. In her interview here, she talks about training, her inspirations and motivations.
Meet Terri. She’s a wife, a mom of three, and a cancer survivor, not to mention full-time employee. At 38, she looked around at her life and suddenly felt “old.” Not one to sit around lamenting the passage of time, she decided to take matters into her own hands and create a new way of living. She opened the door and stepped outside. First walking, then running, then a host of all kinds of outdoor activities. Read her interview to hear what motivated her then, and what keeps her moving and exploring today.
Meet Andrea. After a bout with mono her freshman year of high school, she set aside her basketball aspirations and settled into a relatively sedentary life for the next 10 years. One day in the summer of 2011, an email arrived inviting her to climb Mt. Rainier. She didn’t hesitate to answer. “Yes,” she replied. With no prior hiking or mountaineering experience, she began a year of training and agreed to talk with me (via skype) and share her story as she prepares for her ascent.
Meet Heather. Getting out of a toxic marriage with two young boys is tough. Through running, Heather not only lost 50 pounds and gained physical strength, her entire mental attitude and perspective shifted as she trained for her first marathon. A marathon she signed up for prior to ever running a mile in her life. Her story is one of perseverance, determination and grit.
Meet Alexis. Her story is one of triumph and passion. After years of struggling with her weight and losing her mother to terminal illness, she made the difficult decision to undergo weight loss surgery. Her commitment to her health and staying active helped her begin a workout routine that led her to the outdoors and ultimately snowboarding, where she talks about finally reconnecting to herself. And having a blast doing it.
Meet Nancy. Since beginning to run in her 30s, she’s used play as a way to connect to her body and stay active. Now in her 60s she’s hiked the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, backpacked from Rim-to-Rim of the Grand Canyon and has covered miles and miles through the Oregon Cascades, all while having tons of fun, playing and reminding herself to stay “light-heared, light-footed and light-driven.”
Meet Lynne. A self-described suburban mom who found herself feeling restless after her daughter left for college a few years ago. At the age of 63, she set out with a team of remarkable women for three summits in Africa—including Kilimanjaro. In her interview, she talks about her motivation, her training, her inspiration and her journey from the suburbs of Chicago to the highest point in Africa, redefining herself and her idea of femininity.
Meet Ann Mehl, a fellow life coach who, as a sophomore in college, decided to run the Boston Marathon—never having run before. She talks about feeling lost and overwhelmed, she shares her novice training tricks that still work for her today, and she tells us about the transformation she experienced during the race that changed the trajectory of her life forever.
Meet Caspar Vregenbregt. He’s a husband, a father of two, an architect who commutes across Europe during the week for work, and a lover of the outdoors. He enjoyed a ton of climbing in his 20s, but when family and career took priority, his level of activity waned. Fifteen years and 25 kilos (55 pounds) later, he decided he needed to make a change. At 38, he lost 30 lbs and ran his first marathon.
Meet Jen Floyd. She’s a mom, wife, employee and community organizer who suddenly realized, after a rude awakening following a fun family outing, that her weight had crept up over the years without notice. She vowed then and there to make a change and for her 35th birthday, ran her first 5k. Jen talks with us about that defining moment, about building a strong community of support and how she keeps running despite a strong love for the sport.
Meet Suzan Bond. An entrepreneur living in Boulder, CO who has struggled with serious health issues since she was six months old. She talks about how her definition of athlete—and her belief that it was inaccessible to her—shifted and expanded as she trained for a hike to reach the summit of
one two of Colorado peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level.
Meet Jared Kohlmann. His story is one a lot of us are familiar with. He doesn’t love running. He’s got unpleasant and awkward memories of running as a child. He never thought of himself as “a runner.” Yet when he turned 33 this past spring, with two small children at home, looking to make a lifestyle change, he signed up for The Bolder Boulder, a local 10K race.
Meet Anne Hughes, who, at the age of 42, was introduced to the sport of rock climbing and at the time of the interview, at age 56, met her long-held goal of sending a 5.12a. Her story is about making choices, finding passions and living with grace and power. It’s about looking at fitness in three dimensions.
Meet Tori Klassen. A single mother. A runner. A climber. A woman. An athlete. Her story is about perseverance. It’s about failing and finding motivation within that failure. It’s about learning who you are, how to take care of yourself, searching for—and finding—reservoirs of strength and endurance within ourselves. Tori calls it intrinsic motivation.
Meet Cameron (CJ), a man. A husband. A father. An employee. A runner. A runner who didn’t run until he was 36. A runner who lost 55 pounds during an office competition and has since witnessed his life change. His story unfolds with openness and honesty, and I found myself inspired by his passion and enthusiasm for the sport and the changes it’s created in his life.