How to train for the Camino de Santiago

Training for the Camino de Santiago
Training for the Camino de Santiago

Step 1- How to train for the Camino
Step 2 – What to bring with you?
Step 3 – More questions? Ask in our Camino Forum

Step 1 – How do you train for the Camino de Santiago?

One of our experiences pilgrims said this:

Tip 1:
The training that I have started is doing around 10km in one stretch once a week for a few weeks, basically until I felt comfortable with this and not feeling too tired afterwards. Then I started doing up to 15 km until comfortable, I will keep adding on around 5km until I can do around 25-30km a couple of times a week.

When this has become comfortable for me I will lower the distance again but add a weighted pack on. At the minute I usually carry around 5kg with me, and after adding up the kit I intend to take with me, which comes to around 13kg, I will build up to this weight. This is just my training schedule, and I’m sure others have different ideas, but what I would say is most important is to listen to your body as much as possible while training.

I walk pretty fast in my daily coming and going, and I noticed I was doing this when training, and I was getting very tired afterwards, the last few weeks I have tried to zone out while walking, so basically letting my body set the pace, and I’ve noticed a real difference in how I feel afterwards. It takes me slightly longer to complete training, but I feel much better afterwards.

..then someone else added this:

Tip 2: (Somewhat contradicting the first tip, but good to get another perspective)
I personally think that the need to train for a long period prior to starting is greatly overrated. It may, if fact, do more harm than good since you will putting a lot of “wear” on your joints. I found on my two caminos that by starting slowly for the first few days I worked myself into condition. The important thing is to be sure that your footwear is comfortable and that your pack fits properly.

Other tips are:

Tip 3:
For training, please try to go ‘off-road’ on trails as well as on pavement. And do hills as much as possible. There are so many different muscles that you use in your legs, ankles and feet for each kind of terrain that if you don’t strengthen them all you will wind up with problems.

As someone who had to stop their 1st Camino due to leg problems I can’t agree more with the advice to go slow the first several days, even 1st week, until your body gets used to this new ‘endurance’ test. There is no reason you ‘have’ to get to a certain town each night, there are plenty of places to stay, at least along the Camino Frances.
– Read the whole conversation here.

I think that after reading these comments, knowing your own body, you should be able to get some idea of how much you need to train yourself before you start your Camino de Santiago. Remember an average day on the Camino de Santiago is about 20-25 km. Most people can do it one day, but the difficulty is being able to walk it many days in a row.

I do not have time to do any training before my Camino de Santiago. Any advice?

It is important to have some basic training before you start your Camino de Santiago, although there are pilgrims that do not prepare at all. For those of you that do not have time to prepare, here are some advice:

You won’t be the first to start without much training! I imagine you would be best to try and take it slowly the first few days, without feeling swept into temptation to walk the same distance as some others. Once your body/muscles have adapted to the regular walking, you will be able to increase your distance. With four weeks to walk, that would mean you might not finish the whole Camino. But you could ‘bus’ over a bit as some do, or else come back another time and finish… Many Europeans walk the Camino in ‘segments’ on their annual holidays.
– Read the whole conversation here.

Still have questions regarding how to train for the Camino de Santiago? Visit our Camino de Santiago forum and ask the many experts we have participating there.

Next step:

What to bring with you on the Camino

9 Replies to “How to train for the Camino de Santiago”

  1. It is important to train before the time. Make sure you walk in your hiking boots/shoes and get used to your socks and the weight on your back as well as your walking sticks if you will use them. Some pilgrims does not train and they are the ones that have major problems and large blisters, knee problems and shin splints right at the beginning of their Camino. One solution if you had too little training is to have your bag carted for some of the legs of your walk, especially early on until you can cope with the walking.

  2. I did not do any training for the 400 km , which did take its toll on my knees but was worth it – don’t put off going because you have not trained or feel that you are unfit. Take your time and enjoy it! I do recommend not walking in new shoes as I did though : )

  3. Sandals, sandals, sandals, with no socks..I will be walking the Camino for the third time in June, each time I never had foot problems..powdered my feet before putting my sandals on in a morning, sandals let your feet breathe, feet not couped up in big heavy boots or sweaty socks…My walking sandals are Merrells but any similar would be just as good…

  4. You know what, day one from Saint Jean Pied de Port is training day. At the end of the day, stretch, stretch, stretch and stretch. Your body will condition within the first 7days. Your shoes are important, understand what your feet need in terms of cushioning/ankle support. The terrain is rock, mud, grass and asphalt. Also, the answer to blisters is Vaseline, that’s right lather your feet, put on your socks and boots and blister free you will be. The other key factor is the weight you carry in your backpack. Keep it to a minimum, understand the weather conditions you will be faced with. And know how to wear your backpack, go to a mountaineering shop if uncertain.

  5. Put a smile on your face, joy in your heart and you’re ready to go. And remember “It’s not a race”. I’m 65 and did no training. Started in St Jean and arrived in Santiago 33 days later feeling (wishing I had the time) ready to do it again. And I clearly was not the exception.

  6. During your training, walk up and down hills. If you live in flat country, walk stadium steps or stairs in an office building. It was by far the hardest thing I had to deal with on my Camino, and the only thing I wasn’t prepared for.