What Are You Training For?

training for Mount Kilimanjaro

Hailey, Brande and Lana (left to right) the ladies of our 7 person Mount Kilimanjaro team!

This past weekend I was “home” in Alberta for the weekend and had the absolute pleasure of meeting my bestie Lana and little sister Hailey early Saturday morning for a Mount Kilimanjaro stair climb training session. Followed by a yummy brunch at my beyond favourite Chinese food restaurant ever (mmm Sam Wok).

Lana, Hailey and I make up the female complement of our 7 person Mount Kilimanjaro trek team. Girl power on the mountain! This is our first and last time we will be able to train all three of us being that we live in different Provinces and all.

For our training we hit up the Wolf Willow Stairs in Westridge Park – just a simple little stair case really. It starts at a high lookout point over the Saskatchewan River and in just 200 stairs takes you down to the lovely riverside. Please read that last sentence again and make sure you apply a healthy dose of facetiousness especially when reading the 200 stair part! Ouch and fun!

Wolf Willow Stairs in Edmonton Alberta

The stairs looking pretty easy from up here but we know what goes down must come up.

Wolf Willow Stairs across the Fort Saskatchewan River

The stairs looming from across the river valley – sweat and steps here we come!

We got started with a nice jaunt down the stairs, a brisk walk across the river valley bridge and back again to warm up. Then it got real! We went up and down those 200 stairs as many times as we could for an hour+. Basically stopping just before the leg wobbles got too bad to make it back to our vehicles and drive to brunch.

According to the trusty Fitbit Hailey wore, we did just under 4 km and completed 5,000 steps, and yahoo burnt 539 calories. Not too bad ladies, good stuff!

Twice during our slog on the stairs we were asked “What are you training for?”. I assumed people were asking us because we looked really fit, like we were pros at this stair climbing stuff and clearly dedicated. But let’s be honest, we were wearing weighted backpacks and heavy hiking boots to climb stairs. If you aren’t training for something you are cray-cray doing stairs with all that. (For the record however, we did look super fit and quite dedicated that early in the morning. ha ha)

When asked the seemingly innocent “What are you training for?” question, I had the easy answer of ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’ which prompted some follow up questions about the trek and some ‘that’s so cool, good for you’ comments. It was quite energizing to have people notice and ask about a goal we clearly must have.

While, I didn’t think anything of the question at the time – later on I realized that “What are you training for?” is actually, a totally loaded question! Think about it.

The question could have a wack load of different and possible answers: personal promises to yourself or others, bucket list intentions, self-love or possibly self-loathing reasons. Oh for sure the answer may be as simple as a marathon, to stay fit, to feel good, a competition, or to climb a mountain (like our answer was on that day). But the answer may also be as complicated as: to change my life, to recover form a horrific accident or event, to achieve an item on my bucket list or an item on behalf of someone else for their bucket list, in honour of someone, etc.

This question “What are you training for?” has really been on my mind … what is MY honest, bottom of my heart, belly of my soul answer to this question.

Sure, Mount Kilimanjaro is on my Must-Do List In Life List (yes I have an actual list in my journal named this – likely not surprising too many of you) but there is more to this than just training to reach a summit. Heck, all the stuff I have read suggests anyone “reasonably fit” can make the summit if altitude sickness stays at bay. So all this training is for something greater than the summit, I was already “reasonably fit”.

Then it hit me. I do know the answer! ME!

Kilimanjaro is a re-invigoration for me and my love of adventuring over long distances on my own two feet.  My happy place! I have a list of walks across this fine globe of ours that my amazing Asolo boots are itching to discover as much as I am. On my own, with friends, with family or with a combo of any of that. Sorry to sound cheesy but “these boots are made for walking”!

Before even stepping foot on Mount Kilimanjaro it has set in motion a wave of energy, inspiration and adventure seeking that had taken a bit of a back seat to my everyday great life. This pre-departure epiphany feels great – wow – I can only imagine what the on-the-mountain-epiphanies may be. Thanks already Kili!

Of course … I could just be totally over thinking the whole thing, and those nice ladies on the stairs in Edmonton were really just nicely asking why we were crazy enough to wear packs and boots up and down stairs on a summer day.


PS 24 sleeps to our flight outta Canada

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