Endurance and Banana Bread

Dear Steph,
I just wanted to thank you for being such an inspirational figure in the climbing community, particularly for women. A friend showed me your blog a few years ago because I used to be vegan as well, but had to stop due to a struggle with anemia. But, that’s not exactly what I wanted to ask you about. I actually hoping for your advice about building endurance on climbs.

I’ve been climbing since I was young, and I just moved to Tucson, AZ. As you probably know, the climbing around here is incredible, as well as challenging. I’ve been going out almost every weekend, and I’ve really been enjoying it. However, a lot of the climbs are long and overhanging, and I’ve been getting tired a lot more quickly than I would like to. Do you have any suggestions for building some more strength and endurance? It can be frustrating because my male climbing partners don’t seem to struggle with this problem quite as much, and it’s definitely a blow to the confidence to be getting so pumped on climbs that I know I should be able to finish. Thanks Steph! Also, I thought I’d share my favorite vegan banana bread recipe:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup margarine, at room temp
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk (could be rice milk too, etc.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
nuts if you want them
bake at 350 degrees

Something I tried once from another recipe was adding just a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar for flavor mixed in with the soy milk. It’s a good flavor for Fall and makes it just a little different:)


Hi Mia,
Thanks for sharing your recipe–I really like to curdle my soy milk with apple cider vinegar for baking too. Little tricks like that are great. This isn’t what you asked about, but you mentioned having trouble with iron deficiency in the past. I wanted to share this link with you, some excellent information about iron and a vegetarian diet from my favorite resource on athletics and nutrition, Matt Frazier at No Meat Athlete.

Building endurance, as my friend Lisa likes to say, is both simple and hard. You can only get it through training for it, but you are guaranteed to get it through training for it. That’s what I like about endurance–there’s no mystery. If you train for it, you’ll have it. I wrote a lengthy post about this not too long ago. It’s amazing how when the endurance starts to build, holds that were impossible to hang onto can turn into resting jugs. For me, that is a really enjoyable feeling!

Since we’re talking about nutrition, I notice that if I make an effort to avoid white flour, white rice and white sugar as much as possible that I notice a real (positive) difference physically. So that might be something to consider too.

I hope you’re enjoying the cool season as it comes to Tucson,

  • captain america

    anyone know if it would be possible to sub grapeseed oil or something like that for the margarine?

  • i haven’t tried this one: normally I like to use grapeseed oil in most of my recipes, but I do have an oatmeal cookie recipe that used to ask for butter, and I use Earth Balance margarine. I just have to cut down a little on the salt when I use it, because it seems pretty salty (and I like salt!) http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/

  • Ryan

    Steph could you please expand on the physicall difference you experience when cutting out white rice, flour, surgar? I also try to avoid refined surgars and carbs in general. Is the difference you are noticing physical performance or feeling better day to day physically?


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