Building Physical and Emotional Stamina

A few weeks ago I ended up on what basically amounted to a guy’s trip out to Escalante, Utah. My husband and I invited a multitude of couples to come canyoneer in the greatest place on earth and a whole bunch of them agreed to go. When the week finally arrived, though, every other couple dropped out for one reason or another. The group ended up being myself, my husband, and two other guys. For various reasons all the other ladies decided to stay home, or had to work, but I was not going to miss out on this. 

I love canyoneering so the male-heavy tilt of our group did not at all bother me. I was just so pumped to get to be a part of this trip that we’ve been dreaming about for so long! I did, however, recognize that this particular canyon would be a long day with a heavy pack, probably in high heat. I definitely did not want to be the weakest link. 

Neon Canyon Utah

While we had A TON OF FUN exploring Neon Canyon and the the surrounding area, my suspicions were correct. It ended up being a 12-hour day from trailhead back to trailhead. The packs were heavy, the day was long, but I love being in the desert so I was really enjoying myself. Yes, even at the end when my calves and thighs were burning. When we the clouds rolled in, and with them came a downpour, my attitude did falter a little (I really hate the rain) but we made it through, and were rewarded with shady skies for most of the hike out. 

I did not think much of it, I was honestly just being myself, but on the ride home one of the guys turned around, looked at me, and gave me a huge compliment. He said, “Savanna, I expected you to be tough but you were tough as nails!” He went on to note how good my attitude was and how I did not complain about any of the adverse conditions. 

This compliment kept swirling in my head for the next few hours as I tried to see exactly what he was seeing. 

You see, ladies, I was not always tough as nails. I did not play sports in high school. I have never had a broken bone. I used to hate any level of discomfort. I really used to hate pushing myself past my physical limits. 

As I started adventuring more, I had to make conscious decisions to be more tough. I love all of the places Kenon and I get to go! Backpacking is one of my great joys in life. Canyoneering is the most surprising passion of mine. Five years ago, I would not have been emotionally or physically capable of doing any of those things. 

So what changed? How did I get from there to here? 

Building Physical and Mental Strength

First of all, and I kid not at all about this, I started doing Yoga. Yoga soon morphed into Yogilates, heavy on the Pilates. I did this because I wanted to get to know my body and its limits. I also wanted to become more in tune with my movements so I could trust and understand my body better. I have become so much physically stronger through this process. I have also become so much more aware of when my physical self is capable and when it is not. When I meet a challenge I can more honestly assess my limits and make a decision – can I physically do this and I am just scared? Or does this actually surpass my limitations? Also, check out those Yogilates muscles! 

Women Rock Climbing

Second, I research, I ask Kenon questions, and I tag along on workshops that usually do not interest me. Knowledge is power. When Kenon and I start planning a trip or objective, I read the same articles he does. I want to know what I am getting into so I can mentally prepare for it. When I know, basically, what challenges I will be facing, I can get my mindset ready and train differently so when that day arrives I am ready. This is a work in progress since I hate sitting on the computer reading articles and watching videos. I keep developing this discipline so that I can prepared and capable in the outdoors.  

Third, I simply show up. I cannot plan for everything that happens in the outdoors. The more I am just present, the more I learn. I spend rainy days camping so I can get used to being a little bit wet. I hike difficult trails so I can hike even more difficult trails. I rappel off high points so I can do the rappels for the really amazing canyons and enjoy every second of it. The more I show up, the more wisdom I gain for when I really need it. The first time I ever went backpacking (pictured below) I had to heavily rely on my group to make sure my bag was packed correctly, I was fed, and I made it out of that hike alive. Now, I can actually contribute to the adventure and be a fully functioning member of the group. 

women backpacking

Since I have gotten so good at saying “yes” to things that challenge me, I also know when a “no” is honest. I have such a fear of missing out that saying no is difficult. I do not want to say no just because I am scared that something is going to be too much for me. Now I say no because I know for sure something is beyond my limits and I have to work toward it. Then, if I really want to do that thing, I start preparing. 

And finally, I have a killer partner. Kenon is really good at giving me the resources, gear, and encouragement I need to tackle new things. He gives me the space to work things out when I need to and the extra push I need when I’m getting scared. A great, trustworthy partner is key when growing in the outdoor space. Find a coworker, trust your significant other, text that gal pal that is always outside! Pair up with someone who can keep you motivated. 


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