Ariana Hilborn Interview: You’re Never Too Old For Greatness

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Ariana Hilborn before she headed off to the middle of no where for training.


Originally we had planned to record the entire interview for a podcast.

It went perfect, we covered so much awesome information and I was thrilled to get to know Ariana better. Unfortunately, thanks to technology everything but the final 7-minutes (below) of the talk was deleted.


After a slight panic attack… I contacted Skype to see if they record calls (wouldn’t surprise me)… which they don’t… and then took a deep breath and decided that a killer overview of our interview would have to do.

So that’s where we are, and I will do my very best to give Ariana that spotlight that she deserves!

First things first…

Who Is Ariana Hilborn?

If you aren’t familiar with Ariana Hilborn, let me share a bit about her. Really, let me gush about her, as she might be my new girl crush.

7 years ago she was a “normal” 28 year old elementary school teacher.

Today she is an elite runner who made it to the Olympic trials in 2011 and has already qualified for the next go around.


Oh, and I might also add 7 years ago… she wasn’t a runner. At all.

Growing up, Ariana was “average”. Not into sports, definitely not in to running and just focused on being a kid. In fact, she told me she didn’t like to run as a kid/teenager.

No stand out athlete for sure.

In her early 20s, like so many of us, she found running to help her get rid of a few extra pounds she had put on during college. Runner was just that… A means to weight loss.

That all changed in her upper 20s… yes, upper 20s when she decided to train for her first marathon.

You might be thinking…

She must have had an amazing run, finished at the front of the pack, and instantly realized she had talent for the sport, right?

You would be wrong.

She finished with a 4.36. Nothing spectacular (though anytime someone complete a marathon, it’s spectacular) and definitely not a time where anyone would say “wow, you should quit your job as a teacher and become a professional runner.”

Discovering Talent

Do you want to know what makes Ariana different from other runners?


Right after crossing the finish line at the December, 2008 Arizona Marathon, she knew she wanted to do it again.

You see, most first time (and often 10 time) marathon runners, finish the race and declare they will never do it again.

It’s only weeks later when the pain has subsided that they begin browsing the internet for another race. That’s why I compare marathon running to giving birth. You swear it off until the pain is gone and all that is left is the baby (for a marathoner the pride and medal), then it’s as if you can’t remember the pain and you can’t wait to do it all over again.

So back to the story…

Ariana was the exception. She was hooked instantly.

She started to train harder, and in just 12-months she broke 3 hours… yes, she took off over an hour and a half in 12 months!

Pretty bad ass, right?

Makes me wonder…

If we all tried just a little harder, how much could we improve? I’m guessing a lot.

Becoming An Athlete

Ariana didn’t stop there, she pushed for one PR after another.


In 2008, she qualified for Boston and decided to dedicate her passion and life to the sport.

She thanks her husband. Matt, for the push. His “you’ve got to try for your dream” support kept her going when she questioned her own abilities.

In 2011, after just 4 years of running, she qualified for the Olympic Trials. She quit her teaching job and gave it everything she had.

And she’s been doing that every since. The 2012 Olympics weren’t in the cards, but that hasn’t stopped Ariana. She has already qualified for the 2016 trials and is ready to kick some ass.

Having Fresh Legs


I asked Ariana, if it’s strange to run against women who have been running for decades? Who have been trying to conquer the sport since they were in grade school.

Her response?

Nope… if anything she has the upper hand… her legs are fresh. She only has 6 years of running on her joints compared to 20+ years.

Fresh legs = better room for growth! And perhaps a longer career. Plus, she also reminded me that often times women don’t reach their peak running until their mid-30s. Since her legs are still “young” that might give her the upper hand!

Smart lady.

Don’t Let Anyone Stop You

What I loved about talking with Ariana and about her story is this…

No one is too old to go after their dreams.

Don’t assume just because you’re inexperienced today, that you can’t be an expert tomorrow.

I also listened to an awesome commencement speech the other day that stressed this…

If you have dreams, stop dreaming. Dreamers often end up always dreaming, always wishing. Become a doer. Doers make their dreams a reality. Dreams are goals, and are here, not in the stars where they can never be reached.

Like I said… I do have the final few minutes of our talk which I absolutely want to share…


Have you ever not done something because you felt too old or out of shape?


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