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Learned a good lesson before starting Camino

CAJohn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
I decided in July 2018 to walk the Camino in Sept/Oct 2019. I started walking. I learned how to properly use hiking poles. I was getting faster and faster and going further and further. Sure, I hurt a bit at the end of the walks. My plantar fasciitis was acting up on the right foot and then a totally new pain that made the plantar fasciitis seem like nothing flared in my left achilles. Stretching, rolling the foot helped, but overall things were getting worse. New shoes were purchased. Cut back on the walking to 10,000 steps per day and very gently. Since I did not have any history of problems with the achilles despite years of tennis, I did some research. In the jogging literature, this is a huge problem. Many believe it is due to overstriding (taking too big a step) which is something I was definitely doing in my drive for more speed over longer distances.

I cut my stride. I slowed my roll. I gradually started increasing my distance. The pain is gone. There is a little residual tightness that will remind me if I push too hard. I am able to walk without pain. I am able to end my walk, sit in a chair and not agonize about what is going to happen when I try to get up. Most importantly, I know that if I stay within myself, I really should not have problems on the Camino.

I learned some surprising lessons: The speed that I was achieving by my increased pace actually slowed me down. I am not actually taking that much longer to cover distances at this smaller stride, slower pace. Going uphill and downhill is easier with the smaller step (with or without poles). Everything is easier when your feet don't hurt. The walking is now more meditative. I tell myself that it will just take as long as it is going to take, and that makes me feel good.

I still have months to go before my Camino, but I think that I have a handle on the walking. I am sure that those of you who have already done a Camino, already know this lesson. But for those of us getting ready for our first, I thought I'd post about my training experience.
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
Yes, similarly, I have to walk slowly, or I get a pain in my knee. I can walk all day, from sunrise to sunset, but at my pace. 30kms is fine, but not fast.
We truly must walk together sometime.

Buen (enjoying your pace) (Camino
 

Unie

Irish in QLD Australia
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May 2019
I decided in July 2018 to walk the Camino in Sept/Oct 2019. I started walking. I learned how to properly use hiking poles. I was getting faster and faster and going further and further. Sure, I hurt a bit at the end of the walks. My plantar fasciitis was acting up on the right foot and then a totally new pain that made the plantar fasciitis seem like nothing flared in my left achilles. Stretching, rolling the foot helped, but overall things were getting worse. New shoes were purchased. Cut back on the walking to 10,000 steps per day and very gently. Since I did not have any history of problems with the achilles despite years of tennis, I did some research. In the jogging literature, this is a huge problem. Many believe it is due to overstriding (taking too big a step) which is something I was definitely doing in my drive for more speed over longer distances.

I cut my stride. I slowed my roll. I gradually started increasing my distance. The pain is gone. There is a little residual tightness that will remind me if I push too hard. I am able to walk without pain. I am able to end my walk, sit in a chair and not agonize about what is going to happen when I try to get up. Most importantly, I know that if I stay within myself, I really should not have problems on the Camino.

I learned some surprising lessons: The speed that I was achieving by my increased pace actually slowed me down. I am not actually taking that much longer to cover distances at this smaller stride, slower pace. Going uphill and downhill is easier with the smaller step (with or without poles). Everything is easier when your feet don't hurt. The walking is now more meditative. I tell myself that it will just take as long as it is going to take, and that makes me feel good.

I still have months to go before my Camino, but I think that I have a handle on the walking. I am sure that those of you who have already done a Camino, already know this lesson. But for those of us getting ready for our first, I thought I'd post about my training experience.
My physiotherapist suggested I slow down and take small steps too....it is much nicer than belting along like a racehorse!
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Norte, Salvador, Aragones, Portuguese, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakibspaad.
Many believe it is due to overstriding (taking too big a step) which is something I was definitely doing in my drive for more speed over longer distances.
I think you are being spot on here. Before my first camino, I went to a shop to buy hiking boots, and the salesman actually wanted to also have a look at the soles of my shoes. Apparently he could tell by the way my soles were worn down, that I tend to make too big steps, and that this was the main cause for my knee problems (which I told him about). Took his advice by heart and really try to "watch my steps" since then. It only went wrong once, when I went for a week's walk with a friend who is taller than me and makes bigger steps. Tried to walk in the same pace as him, thus making bigger steps, and had awful knee pain after a couple of days....
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2020)
This is great advice. I learned from a wise park ranger to shorten my stride when going up steep inclines. Since then, when going uphill I keep the same strides per minute but I shorten my stride. This makes a huge difference for me. When I’m in the zone, I walk and breathe all in a rhythm...for every four strides, one inhalation and one exhalation. I could keep that rhythm all day long.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
On the Plantar Fasciitis - I have high arches in my feet and have gotten it twice. Once right before my first French Camino. Wearing walking shoes with high arches is critical in preventing the recurrence. and stretching your Achilles heel tendon before you walk to loosen the calf muscles also is preventative. Because necrotic tissue can surround the sheath of the foot tendons and cause irritation, you have to get rid of the dead connective tissue.
Do this by gently scraping the dull end of a butter knife along the
bottom of your foot each night, like 25 times.
I also learned to cut down my stride and eventually realized I was Chi Walking. This is from "Portuguese Camino- In Search of the Infinite Moment"
Chi Walkers think that it is not poor muscle strength but poor alignment that makes you tired.”
“So do you try to walk slower to conserve energy?” asked Bianca.
“Yes, you do cut down your stride a bit. It is like the Inuit people, who were said to be lazy by the first European explorers because they walked slowly and methodically through the Arctic so as not to break a sweat. Sweat leads to hypothermia, and so the Inuit learned to glide along. But it is more than that. One useful image to understand Chi Walking is that of a needle surrounded by cotton. The needle is the center of the core energy, and it is perfectly vertical. Your extremities are the light cotton.”
“That makes so much sense,” said Nan. “I am going to try it tomorrow.”
“You might want to try it without your walking poles,” I suggested. Nan was the only one of my four friends who was using walking poles.
“We have done some research about the use of walking poles, and they have been proven to take as much as 30 percent of the weight off your legs. So doesn’t that make the walking easier?” Peter asked.
“You also have to take into account that while poles might help the legs, they tax the arms, back, and shoulders,” I explained. “Overall you are working harder: both the upper and lower body. Plus, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system will carry a heavier load with poles. Think about it: what sport in the Olympics requires the most calories per hour? It is Nordic skiing. So why would you want to turn a slow, meditative walk into something that begins to look like cross-country skiing?”
“Nan likes the poles, but I don’t use them because I want to have my hands free to pull out my map or take a photo,” said Peter.
“I’m not trying to say there is a right way or a wrong way,” I told them. “I love the saying “One man, one Camino.” Chi walking is something I just sort of stumbled on. I was beating myself up by power walking, extending my stride, and pumping my arms too much when I first began to walk on the Camino last year. So I consciously cut down my stride and began to pace myself. I called it “sleep walking” at first, and then when I started doing research for my book I found that I was incorporating elements of Chi Walking into my approach. I developed this mental image of walking on the moving sidewalks in the airport, where it feels like you are being pulled along by a rope attached around your waist. Because the walkway is moving, you become especially aware of your alignment and balance, and the mind is in communication with the body.

Terence Callery
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I learned the same 'uphill' lesson in 2013 on my first Camino. Struggling to get up hills, one of my Camino family, a retired US Marine officer, suggested two tips to make it easier to hump a rucksack up a hill.

The Colonel informed me these tricks-of-the-trade are taught to all Marine recruits during training. They customarily tote loads of nearly 100 pounds, 45 kg. I was in the Army for a while a very long time ago, so, what do I know...? Here are the free tips:
  1. Take smaller steps. You get up the same slope, but with less overall effort. It also helps with breathing, especially for someone like me, whose lungs 'Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum' typically follow me by five minutes up any significant hill.
  2. Push your buttocks OUT, so as to create a 'shelf' while climbing. This gives the rucksack a place to rest, in addition to the support from your waist belt. DAMN if this does not work and work very well indeed! Plus, the extra flexing and effort provides some stress relief to the lower back muscles in the process. Sort of an on-the-fly massage.
Well, at least my tax dollars got me something valuable in return. Try it. It might even help you. Others have mentioned taking shorter steps. But, the 'butt-jutt' is my contribution, via the USMC.

Hope this helps.
 
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Angie S

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part/s of the Camino de Santiago-Camino Frances (2018)
Another piece of advice someone said somewhere (could even have been here) which has stood me in very good stead ever since. Always wear two pairs of socks and take them off and dry them or change them at every long stop (coffee or lunch). I have never pulled very long days but I'm still a beginner but so far I have never had a blister - by following this advice!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Blisters are 'spawned' by moisture and friction. Too much of each causes a hot spot, which transitions to a blister. This is very similar in effect to a first or second degree burn. The friction produces the heat that damages the skin. Moisture increases the friction.

Keeping your feet dry, and with enough space to eliminate friction, is the secret to avoiding blisters. Wearing two pair of socks reduces friction, and changing them during your day's walking reduces moisture.

This is also why many of us argue in favor of footwear at least a full-size larger than your street size AFTER you adjust for a particular style and model of shoe / boot running large or smaller than advertised. It does happen.

Once you find the correct sizing add one full size to one and a half sizes to provide enough room for double socks, etc. If you use the single sock method I am discussing here, then a full size up will be sufficient to prevent your toes striking the inside of the toe box on downhills and to allow for potential foot swelling.

Another method, if using the traditional "two sock" method, is to ensure the inner liner sock is a wicking sock or silk, or synthetic material. The outer sock should always be a cushioning material like wool. Of course, your footwear must be large enough to allow for this space need. My customary two-sock method. My sock method, tgo date, has been CoolMax microfiber liners, with Smartwool medium weight hiking socks over.

This year, I hope to be testing two types of single sock systems, in rotation with my tried and true two-sock method. I bought one pair each of the Wrightsock Double Layer "Adventure" and "Merino Cool Mesh II." After considering the single sock alternative, I plan to report back on my experience.

Both sock wrappers claim "No Blisters - Guaranteed." We shall see... I am just curious. But before I get behind the concept, I need to walk a mile or a hundred km in these socks...

Hope this helps.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
I've recently developed a pronounced lump on my right achilles tendon. It's been there about a month and a half. It aches a little when I first get up, until I stretch. There isn't a lot of pain, otherwise. I am hoping to walk La Plata in April and am considering making an appointment with a podiatrist to take a look at this and advise. It doesn't stop me from walking right now, but not sure what would happen with longer mileage every day.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
I decided in July 2018 to walk the Camino in Sept/Oct 2019. I started walking. I learned how to properly use hiking poles. I was getting faster and faster and going further and further. Sure, I hurt a bit at the end of the walks. My plantar fasciitis was acting up on the right foot and then a totally new pain that made the plantar fasciitis seem like nothing flared in my left achilles. Stretching, rolling the foot helped, but overall things were getting worse. New shoes were purchased. Cut back on the walking to 10,000 steps per day and very gently. Since I did not have any history of problems with the achilles despite years of tennis, I did some research. In the jogging literature, this is a huge problem. Many believe it is due to overstriding (taking too big a step) which is something I was definitely doing in my drive for more speed over longer distances.

I cut my stride. I slowed my roll. I gradually started increasing my distance. The pain is gone. There is a little residual tightness that will remind me if I push too hard. I am able to walk without pain. I am able to end my walk, sit in a chair and not agonize about what is going to happen when I try to get up. Most importantly, I know that if I stay within myself, I really should not have problems on the Camino.

I learned some surprising lessons: The speed that I was achieving by my increased pace actually slowed me down. I am not actually taking that much longer to cover distances at this smaller stride, slower pace. Going uphill and downhill is easier with the smaller step (with or without poles). Everything is easier when your feet don't hurt. The walking is now more meditative. I tell myself that it will just take as long as it is going to take, and that makes me feel good.

I still have months to go before my Camino, but I think that I have a handle on the walking. I am sure that those of you who have already done a Camino, already know this lesson. But for those of us getting ready for our first, I thought I'd post about my training experience.
It is wonderful that you have a good grasp of how to deal with these issues at this point in your preparation. Your insight into 'over striding' are also essential for helping to avoid shinsplints as well. This will keep you ahead of the game :)
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés (2014, 2018), Finisterre (2014, 2018) Primitivo (2015), Portuguese var routes (2017, 2018)
Thank you all for this incredible advice. Being a sufferer of knee problems I am clearly going to try a shorter stride. I think I have been trying to keep up to my 6 foot 2 husband for too long. I also thought I had a pretty good back porch without sticking my butt out farther, but who would question the Marines? ha ha! Will try that one too.
 

bay hills hiker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016), Le Puy Route (portion, 2018), thinking about the Norte (2019?)
Hi CaJohn - I was given the same advice several years ago about shortening my stride and it's been really effective for me. I was told to remember to "keep my feet below me" and that little mantra works really well for me when I catch myself overstriding.
 

Deputy Dan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Logrono to Burgos in week of October (2017); Camino Frances in 2019 or 2020
One of the guys I walked with noted my "same pace-shorter stride" approach to hills and I have to confess it just sort of came naturally. In any case - he had been of the "same stride, slower pace" camp and really appreciated making the switch to shorter strides, at least on hills.

As for some of those "No blisters or your money back socks" Generally they're decent socks and thus the only reason I'm not returning them . . . but mine weren't blister-proof!
 

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