To get some idea of what I should do to train for the Camino Francés, the 850 kilometer walk, in Northern Spain, I read lots and lots of training posts and forums. It was interesting, training ranged from none to continuously for years.
Some people hiked 5 km, twice a week, for a couple of months. This was all they did before starting.
Others trained rigorously and spent the last month walking/hiking at least half the distance they would cover per week towards Santiago – about 200 km. Many, unable to hike in their location, spent more time in the gym or used recreational sports to get fit.
The only consistency among them? They all did their best to exercise more. There was one exception: a total couch potato who packed a bag the week before his flight and finished the 850 km, getting fit and losing weight, he said, as he went.
Part of me was envious of his determination and sheer strength of will, but I didn’t want to do the Camino this way. I wanted to be as ready as I could be. So what have I done to train?
My Camino Francés Training.
I wanted to increase my walking times and distance, every week. It didn’t work out that way.
Every second week, I’d be really tired. So I did less on those weeks. I also did yoga once or twice a week and did a few other calisthenics, mostly upper back related to deal with the inevitable back pain that will result from me wearing a backpack 6 – 8 hours a day.
Here are my totals. The longest day I walked was 23 km.
Week 1 – 48.5 kms
Week 2 – 78.5 kms
Week 3 – 51 km
Week 4 – 76.6 kms
Week 5 – 42 km
Week 6 – 63.8 km
Week 7 – 12.6 km
Week 8 – 75. 2 km
By week 7, the fun had gone out of the training. It was tough to get out there in the bright sunshine (the heat was also tough) and take one step after the other. And the trip felt too far to be enticing.
In Week 8, I felt more enthusiastic and started to wear the new backpack I’d bought. At first, 30 mins. a day. The last day, I climbed 6 floors of stairs 2 x with it on. It only weighed 11 lbs – a bit less than it might end up, but it rode extremely well. I’m pleased with the buy – an Osprey Kyte 34 L.
Successes and Failures.
I haven’t left for the Camino yet, but I’m already dealing with Camino-related successes and failures. Successes are: my legs are feeling really strong, and even if I stop at 15 – 18 km, I’m not really tired. My body loves, loves, loves the larger amount of exercise.
Failures are in the numbers. I’d wanted to do half what I’d be doing on the Camino, per week or more – hence +100 km – during the last 4 weeks. I could have pushed, but I decided I wanted to be loving to myself and listen to my body.
Maybe the latter is a lesson I need to learn? Getting to the destination is not what life is about, but enjoying the highs and lows of the journey is?
What’s on the Board for the Last 4 Weeks?
This week, I’ve added climbing the stairs to the 6th floor 4 x, twice a week. The next two weeks, I’ll do them 8 x, 3 then 4 x a week.
My distances, however, I will slow down on. I have a really, really busy month with work and 15 km a day takes too much time. Maybe 40 – 50 km a week? And do longer walks and not walk every day.
The last week, I plan to rest. Maybe walk 5 km here or there. That’s it. And no stairs with a pack on.
In case you’ve missed the Upcoming Trip posts and page and want to read more about the Camino Francés, here is the main page.
Please note: I am not a fitness instructor or coach. This training schedule is strictly from reading tons of online sources and working out something that is suitable for my available time and inclinations. In no way do I endorse its value to others. This post is for information only.