Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Fitness Personal

How a powerful wake-up call got me back to fitness

Wake-up call

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term ‘wake-up call’.

Not the one where you organise someone to call you when you need to wake up at a certain time.

The one involving an experience where you realise something in your life has to change.

In this article I’ll be talking about the life-changing kind of wake-up call I experienced 13 years ago, the day after my 44th birthday.

Excited but nervous

The plan for this day on this trip was to walk the Ben Lomond Track, out the back of Queenstown in New Zealand.

And I had been nervous from the moment it was written in the itinerary.

All the descriptions of the walk that I’d read said ‘challenging’ and I wondered if I could cope.

My (now ex) husband was super-excited about this hike, so I kept my concerns to myself and was supportive and enthusiastic about the walk.

In my world, there is not much that can top the feelings I experience when I see magnificent landscapes and expansive views of natural wonders.

I was looking forward to the scenery with trepidation about my physical capability to manage the walk.

It was hard

You can walk the Ben Lomond Track all the way from Queenstown, but the initial extremely steep section can be accomplished by taking an enjoyable gondola ride to a tourist attraction.

At the top of the ride there are fantastic lookouts over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and other surrounding ranges.

We went there to see the views and start the hike which would afford us even better vantage points.

The walk was uphill and consistently steep.

I had to stop frequently to take deep breaths and blow my nose.

It was windy and I always get a runny nose when it’s windy.

It should not have been so hard

While I was stationary, I looked back and enjoyed the continually expanding views.

It was truly amazing and I was grateful to be experiencing the visual splendour.

I distinctly recall goats grazing along the way and fit people overtaking me on the track.

While the views were phenomenal, I felt increasingly depressed with how hard I was finding the walk.

Even shedding tears at one point.

Could the fact that I’d turned 44 the day before be playing a role in how I was feeling?

Yes, it was.

Getting out for a challenging walk to see a view was something I loved to do and wanted to keep doing.

I was only 44 and once upon a time a fit runner, it should not have been so hard.

I did not complete the hike

We came to a saddle where the track was more exposed to the wind and it got quite cold despite the summer season.

From that point it was still another 1 hour climb to Ben Lomond Peak.

We pressed on, but I had to stop after a total of 2 hours continuous uphill walking.

I sat behind a rock and sheltered from the wind while my (now ex) husband continued to conquer the peak.

All I could do while I waited for him was enjoy the view, which was spectacular with snow-capped peaks to one side, the glorious blue Lake Wakatipu on the other and lovely grassed alpine slopes in between.

I waited there for about an hour for him to return.

He told me how fantastic the view was from the peak while we ate our packed lunch.

Making a vow to myself

I was shivering in the cold and needed to get moving, so we started the return journey as soon as we finished eating.

Walking down the track was much easier on the ticker, but still hard on the legs.

While I didn’t complete the hike, by the time we got back to the start I had done 4 hours of tough walking.

Rather than any sense of accomplishment though, not completing the walk had crushed my ego and missing out on the summit left my soul wanting for the view and the rush.

And what I did manage to complete was just bloody hard.

While I was waiting behind that rock I saw several people, even a couple who looked much older than me, charging forward to get to the peak.

Cringing with embarrassment as passers-by asked if I was okay, I vowed that things would be different on my next hike.

Answering the call

Over the two years or so after my mid-life crisis on the Ben Lomond Track, I managed to get back into running, albeit irregularly, and handled subsequent hikes much better.

However, it’s only since I started regular strength training that I have felt the most ease on scenic adventures and other physical challenges.

And it’s only in my 50s that I have reached peak strength which has supported me to attain my highest level of endurance fitness.

I was a late starter with exercise and I’ve only been very consistent since my late 40s.

I’m a great example of ‘it’s never too late’ when it comes to fitness

There were glimpses of motivation for physical activity when I was a kid but trying different sports and doing them regularly was not encouraged.

I did grow up in a family with ten children, so there was a lot going on without my parents having to taxi us to extra-curricular activities.

Most things we did as kids, sporting or otherwise, were facilitated through school.

At high school we had lots of options to choose from and I tried and enjoyed different things, including judo(!), but repeatedly signed up for ten pin bowling or roller skating.

I was a very good roller skater! If I do say so myself 😊

After high school and throughout my 20s I dabbled in the odd fad like aerobics and gym circuits, eventually settling into ‘power walking’ but I didn’t realise the magic of higher intensity exercise and how great it can make one feel until the age of 30 when I became a runner.

Awakening what I had known for a while

The struggles my dad faced with progression of heart disease and declining mobility were already evident when I took up running.

Witnessing his difficulties, even back then, and knowing they could be avoided through better health may have been subconscious motivation to improve my fitness.

It became conscious motivation that day on the Ben Lomond Track.

I distinctly remember thinking that I did not want to end up like my dad and if I didn’t do something, that’s where I was heading.

Do you have a wake-up call to answer?

The answer to a wake-up call is not a quick one.

I could not properly answer mine until I found something motivating that I could sustain and make exercise a habit.

If you need someone to guide you in answering your wake-up call, book a call with me to see if I have a solution for you.

Book a call with me using the link below

Are you starting from scratch with physical activity?

If you’re not doing any exercise or need a way to ease into increasing physical activity, try my FREE daily warm up video series.

Learn more and get started here


To learn more about how you can empower yourself to exercise safely through all stages of your female life, check out the EVEolution™ page on my website.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

This blog was written by

Kate Rowen's avatar

Kate Rowen

A photo of Kate Rowen

Subscribe now

Get the latest blog posts and news from FiftyFitness, straight to your inbox.

Blog Subscription Form

A blog subscription form, used for the blog page and posts.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

I wish to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land where I live, work and exercise, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation.