#JustAnOutdoorGal: Liz Gill

By: Anagha Bharadwaj

I’m excited to return to the #justanoutdoorgal series this month with Liz Gill! After a month spent with my nose deep in textbooks, it was such a treat to spend some time talking to Liz  about her life and work.

Liz Gill grew up in and around the Bay Area, and spent a lot of her time outdoors. It wasn’t until she was a high school athlete, however, that her love for being outdoors truly took off. As a high school cross country and track athlete, she spent hours running, both during training and during competitions.

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Liz started competing because she loved running, but it also helped her discover a love for the beauty of the natural world. This love combined with her natural athleticism led to an incredible human-powered trip in Italy!

Liz was inspired by reading the stories of others who had undertaken long bike trips; she was fascinated by the concept of human-powered travel, and wanted to find a way to complete a similar project on foot. For her last birthday, she accomplished her goal. She traveled to the Italian Dolomites and mapped a route that took her running from one hut to another in the mountains. While the journey was often variable and forced her to adapt frequently, the trip was a once in a lifetime experience.

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Liz also combined her passion for a new and unique experience while doing research in graduate school. She conducted her studies on the impact of one week outdoor adventures on the subsequent physical activity levels of young adult cancer survivors. During the week, young adult cancer survivors were given opportunities to learn to rock climb, white water kayak, or surf. She was able to show that attendees had higher physical activity levels than individuals in the control group {during the first three months following the one-week camp}. Coupled with existing research showing that young-adult cancer survivors benefit from increased physical activity, this research has very real impact for patients and doctors!

Additionally, Liz coordinated the adaptive paddling program at her school. Offering differently-abled individuals the opportunity to see the world from a new perspective was valuable and healing work, and she if always on the lookout for similar opportunities!

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Today, Liz works in a traditionally male dominated field: she’s a running coach! Not only does she work at a junior college, but she also takes on private clients, working with them one-on-one to help accomplish their goals. She’s extremely interested in getting more girls and women interested in the work she does. She will be working with Girls Standing Up For Change, a program run through the Marin County juvenile services. Thought the program, young women and their offers are able to sign up and compete for races together.

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Through training sessions, Liz is working to empower women to make real changes in their lives. This is a mission near and dear to our hearts, and we’re so excited to see what Liz accomplishes!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Christy at

    What an awesome gal! Getting outdoors is so good for the mind of the cancer survivors too I would bet.. I always do better mentally when I get outside and am active.

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