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Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed?

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2005
Ivar recently posted that some small alterations to the site were being made to the forum to realign with the core mission "Where past pilgrims share, and future pilgrims learn" - sooo ....
I was thinking about how much pre-pilgrims can be concerned about being "fit enough", which although a valid question can also be based upon fear - it is a jumping off a cliff into the unknown after all.

Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed? ? My first Camino was in the spring of 2005, from Moissac, in France. I was 57, and living in France renovating a farmhouse so was pretty fit.
I bought a rucksack, packed it with my Camino items, made a sandwich and a flask and went for a 7 mile circular walk, stopping halfway by a lake for my lunch - and that was it. Ten days later I went by train to Moissac and off I went, and I had no real problems until some 300 miles later when my damaged knee (from a motorbike crash in '68) gave out and I bought the cheapest bike in Decathlon and cycled the rest of the way. Going over the Pyrenees from Roncesvalles was ok as I had been walking for over ten days before getting there - my 'fitness training' I guess. Which suggests that starting a few days back in France is a good idea.

So - I walk slowly, I always stop when tired, I have regular breaks - taking shoes and socks off - so I guess I adjusted my fitness by being there.
I know that many people walk miles and miles before Camino and we have even had people on the forum who have worked so hard that they have damaged themselves, so, is it worth it?

If one assumes an average fitness level - not a couch potato type - then another way to do it could be to allow enough time to be able to do short days at the beginning, with enough days planned to be able to take days off?

To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with. Regular hikes with a light pack on easy terrain don't help. We know that ascents and descents, especially descents, are where our bodies are tested, and I have often suggested finding a tall building and using the staircases, up and down, with a loaded pack - but even that isn't enough because a staircase is level and smooth - so I am thinking that apart from learning whether footwear and pack are comfortable and do work, and/or the pack is too heavy so it needs to be lightened, I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.

Though I would mention that the walk over the mountain from St Jean will be a shock to the system as it is first day stuff, but going over the Napoleon Pass isn't necessary, it isn't even the original pilgrim route, that is the road route and can be split into two days if wanted.

I know people find pleasure in the "pre-Caminoing" aspect of it, I am really thinking more of the benefits on the body because to me it is suppleness, not linear strength that is needed, which suggests that Yoga could be better.

Discuss - :)

Pre-pilgrims - Of my first Camino - I did just about everything wrong. I knew nothing about the Camino at all. My guide book was out of date and useless (I am Brierly maps edition fan now, it is worth its weight in gold, trust me). My pack weighed well over 4 pounds empty! I took too many clothes and 'just in case' items (I shed them), I took a foam sleeping pad, I shed that, my sleeping bag was big, bulky, and heavy. I didn't take account of the early season in France where many refugios were still closed because I found that in two places the hotels were closed as well, so twice walked double days. I didn't know that walking on tarmac really hurt the feet, whereas walking on the grass verge, even though a little slower, didn't. I didn't take account of the sudden hot weather and failed to carry enough water, which led to a really distressing few hours.
Then in Spain, after walking alone at my own pace, I met some really pleasant young folk and walked with them for a couple of days - but just two days of walking only slightly faster than my normal pace and my old knee failed - I hadn't a clue, which brings me back to Ivar's recent alterations - pre-pilgrims, you need to know this stuff!!

It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down and, well, I think you also need to know that the Camino is just a long stroll really, as long as you have plenty - plenty! - of time you can go at your own pace and build up strength as you go along, just never, never, never, never, walk slightly faster than your natural pace to keep up with someone else - couples do this all the time, and doing my first aid on Camino I know that it is mainly the wives who suffer, trying to keep up with their husbands.

So, I say, be reasonably 'normal' fit and pack light - no, listen, pack light!!

Buen Camino!!
 
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David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2005
How do you train is an informative earlier thread begun January 2021 on training methods pre-camino; the posts are personal and current.

As we all know what worked for some will not necessarily work for all.

Yes, a good post with good responses but mine is a post that is aimed at helping pre-pilgrims, not those who are veterans. Pre-pilgrims can get very nervous, scared, about whether or not they can 'do it'. I think I was trying to address the heavy regimes that are based upon fear, and also that walking on easy town terrain isn't a preparation at all.
What we don't need are veterans coming on saying that the post is pointless - more helpful to hear from those who did and those who didn't? It might be important to those new to Camino, don't you think?
 
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
How do you train is an informative earlier thread begun January 2021 on training methods pre-camino; the posts are personal and current.

As we all know what worked for some will not necessarily work for all.

And a general active lifestyle is always good.
A physio said to me once that daily walks, even short ones, are to be preferred over a weekend run where there is much more risk for stressfractures.

Eating in moderation and trying to make healthy choices also helps in general fitness.
As is the case for drinking alcohol.
 
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wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Those who walk the Camino are made up of two types of people IMO, those who hike regularly in their own home places and those who don't. The first group will approach the Camino as a long hike and prepare accordingly, the second group, if they are members here, will seek advice and will get plenty of it, some contradictory, but they will have to sort through that and take what they believe suits them.
I know several people who didn't hike or walk and decided they wanted to do the Camino and just bought some gear and went and did it, and it all worked out.
Bottom line is your learning experiences and hiking experiences are fine for you, but one size does not fit all.
 

Phil71

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
I will try to agree with everyone! Each to their own. For me I would say a moderate amount of training is useful. Don't go mad on it doing 20 mile days for a couple of weeks is too much. Maybe a couple of weekends of 7 to 12 miles on consecutive days. If you're in shape anyway then you can just turn up and start. BUT I think the most important is to start slow if possible. First two days do half to 3/4 distance of your expected average, just to get your body adjusted to what you are going to ask of it. Works for me anyway!
 

Sean Lad

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2010 to 2019 walked total of 31 caminos
Ivar recently posted that some small alterations to the site were being made to the forum to realign with the core mission "Where past pilgrims share, and future pilgrims learn" - sooo ....
I was thinking about how much pre-pilgrims can be concerned about being "fit enough", which although a valid question can also be based upon fear - it is a jumping off a cliff into the unknown after all.

Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed? ? My first Camino was in the spring of 2005, from Moissac, in France. I was 57, and living in France renovating a farmhouse so was pretty fit.
I bought a rucksack, packed it with my Camino items, made a sandwich and a flask and went for a 7 mile circular walk, stopping halfway by a lake for my lunch - and that was it. Ten days later I went by train to Moissac and off I went, and I had no real problems until some 300 miles later when my damaged knee (from a motorbike crash in '68) gave out and I bought the cheapest bike in Decathlon and cycled the rest of the way. Going over the Pyrenees from Roncesvalles was ok as I had been walking for over ten days before getting there - my 'fitness training' I guess. Which suggests that starting a few days back in France is a good idea.

So - I walk slowly, I always stop when tired, I have regular breaks - taking shoes and socks off - so I guess I adjusted my fitness by being there.
I know that many people walk miles and miles before Camino and we have even had people on the forum who have worked so hard that they have damaged themselves, so, is it worth it?

If one assumes an average fitness level - not a couch potato type - then another way to do it could be to allow enough time to be able to do short days at the beginning, with enough days planned to be able to take days off?

To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with. Regular hikes with a light pack on easy terrain don't help. We know that ascents and descents, especially descents, are where our bodies are tested, and I have often suggested finding a tall building and using the staircases, up and down, with a loaded pack - but even that isn't enough because a staircase is level and smooth - so I am thinking that apart from learning whether footwear and pack are comfortable and do work, and/or the pack is too heavy so it needs to be lightened, I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.

Though I would mention that the walk over the mountain from St Jean will be a shock to the system as it is first day stuff, but going over the Napoleon Pass isn't necessary, it isn't even the original pilgrim route, that is the road route and can be split into two days if wanted.

I know people find pleasure in the "pre-Caminoing" aspect of it, I am really thinking more of the benefits on the body because to me it is suppleness, not linear strength that is needed, which suggests that Yoga could be better.

Discuss - :)

Pre-pilgrims - Of my first Camino - I did just about everything wrong. I knew nothing about the Camino at all. My guide book was out of date and useless (I am Brierly maps edition fan now, it is worth its weight in gold, trust me). My pack weighed well over 4 pounds empty! I took too many clothes and 'just in case' items (I shed them), I took a foam sleeping pad, I shed that, my sleeping bag was big, bulky, and heavy. I didn't take account of the early season in France where many refugios were still closed because I found that in two places the hotels were closed as well, so twice walked double days. I didn't know that walking on tarmac really hurt the feet, whereas walking on the grass verge, even though a little slower, didn't. I didn't take account of the sudden hot weather and failed to carry enough water, which led to a really distressing few hours.
Then in Spain, after walking alone at my own pace, I met some really pleasant young folk and walked with them for a couple of days - but just two days of walking only slightly faster than my normal pace and my old knee failed - I hadn't a clue, which brings me back to Ivar's recent alterations - pre-pilgrims, you need to know this stuff!!

It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down and, well, I think you also need to know that the Camino is just a long stroll really, as long as you have plenty - plenty! - of time you can go at your own pace and build up strength as you go along, just never, never, never, never, walk slightly faster than your natural pace to keep up with someone else - couples do this all the time, and doing my first aid on Camino I know that it is mainly the wives who suffer, trying to keep up with their husbands.

So, I say, be reasonably 'normal' fit and pack light - no, listen, pack light!!

Buen Camino!!
If you are not fit stay away from camino injuries surgery
would the Lions rugby team take the field against South Africa without training
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
DAVID SAID
“It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down....”

David this statement along with those who recommend “just go...and walk your way into fitness,” IMO are not good advice for newcomers.

I have seen a number of newbies begin their Caminos and not make it to Pamplona and subsequently go home due to shin splints or severe blistering,or the sheer distress of walking hills and long distances.

What exactly is a “pleasant” fitness level?

While one may not be able find the hills where one lives, one can certainly find paved roads, shoes that fit properly, an appropriate backpack filled with 10lbs of gear to walk those paved roads with to get ready. Harden those
feet... build some initial endurance to make it to Pamplona!

There have been lots of disappointed first-timers, who never made it to SdC because of wishful thinking, a lack of self knowledge and advice to “ just do it... go”...
 
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pepi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013, 14, 16, 17, 18
And a general active lifestyle is always good.
A physio said to me once that daily walks, even short ones, are to be preferred over a weekend run where there is much more risk for stressfractures.

Eating in moderation and trying to make healthy choices also helps in general fitness.
As is the case for drinking alcohol.
(Almost-) fully agree with you, Sabine, but come on! No alcohol??!! Allow us to classify the Vino Tinto and Blanco as "culture" that is part of the "spiritual Camino", I wouldn't do it without.😎
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
(Almost-) fully agree with you, Sabine, but come on! No alcohol??!! Allow us to classify the Vino Tinto and Blanco as "culture" that is part of the "spiritual Camino", I wouldn't do it without.😎

@pepi I wrote " in moderation " 😉. I also like a good beer or vino time to time but I personally prefer to savour it and not exaggerate with the amount.
I also believe that adults should make up their own mind when it comes to alcohol but I would also want to reassure future pilgrims that the Camino does not need to be a pubcrawl when they do not want that.
If you read some blogs or watch videos about the Camino one would think you have to mingle with " a Camino family " and drink alcohol. This is luckily not the case.
 
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pepi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013, 14, 16, 17, 18
@pepi I wrote in moderation 😉. I also like a good beer or vino time to time but I personally prefer to savour it and not exaggerate with the amount.
I also believe that adults should make up their own mind when it comes to alcohol but I would also want to reassure future pilgrims that the Camino does not need to be a pubcrawl when they do not want that.
If you read some blogs or watch videos about the Camino one would think you have to mingle with " a Camino family " and drink alcohol. This is luckily not the case.
Spoken like my mother.😇
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
Fitness is important, not sure hiking back to back 20 mile days with a full rucksack necessarily is the only way to being fit enough for any Camino. I sort of agree with David. He was living a lifestyle that led to natural bodily fitness but maybe didn't do quite enough for his legs, I take it he wasn't climbing up and down ladders all day during his renovations. Also professional athletes warm up and warm down. Some use of stretching exercises may help in this respect.
For my self in my 70s having had major open heart surgery in my late 50s due to a previously undetected genetic problem, I walk 4 miles daily, hail, rain and being in the North easterly bit of the UK, the day of shine that constitutes summer. I do this so that my heart muscles are fit with the added bonus that my leg muscles etc are doing just fine. When I do go out on one of my frequent multi day walks I listen to my legs, if they start whinging at me, I rest. I am also extremely lucky in that over a few decades and many thousands of miles I have yet to have a blister. So, so lucky.
 

Jean Ti

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
Ivar recently posted that some small alterations to the site were being made to the forum to realign with the core mission "Where past pilgrims share, and future pilgrims learn" - sooo ....
I was thinking about how much pre-pilgrims can be concerned about being "fit enough", which although a valid question can also be based upon fear - it is a jumping off a cliff into the unknown after all.

Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed? ? My first Camino was in the spring of 2005, from Moissac, in France. I was 57, and living in France renovating a farmhouse so was pretty fit.
I bought a rucksack, packed it with my Camino items, made a sandwich and a flask and went for a 7 mile circular walk, stopping halfway by a lake for my lunch - and that was it. Ten days later I went by train to Moissac and off I went, and I had no real problems until some 300 miles later when my damaged knee (from a motorbike crash in '68) gave out and I bought the cheapest bike in Decathlon and cycled the rest of the way. Going over the Pyrenees from Roncesvalles was ok as I had been walking for over ten days before getting there - my 'fitness training' I guess. Which suggests that starting a few days back in France is a good idea.

So - I walk slowly, I always stop when tired, I have regular breaks - taking shoes and socks off - so I guess I adjusted my fitness by being there.
I know that many people walk miles and miles before Camino and we have even had people on the forum who have worked so hard that they have damaged themselves, so, is it worth it?

If one assumes an average fitness level - not a couch potato type - then another way to do it could be to allow enough time to be able to do short days at the beginning, with enough days planned to be able to take days off?

To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with. Regular hikes with a light pack on easy terrain don't help. We know that ascents and descents, especially descents, are where our bodies are tested, and I have often suggested finding a tall building and using the staircases, up and down, with a loaded pack - but even that isn't enough because a staircase is level and smooth - so I am thinking that apart from learning whether footwear and pack are comfortable and do work, and/or the pack is too heavy so it needs to be lightened, I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.

Though I would mention that the walk over the mountain from St Jean will be a shock to the system as it is first day stuff, but going over the Napoleon Pass isn't necessary, it isn't even the original pilgrim route, that is the road route and can be split into two days if wanted.

I know people find pleasure in the "pre-Caminoing" aspect of it, I am really thinking more of the benefits on the body because to me it is suppleness, not linear strength that is needed, which suggests that Yoga could be better.

Discuss - :)

Pre-pilgrims - Of my first Camino - I did just about everything wrong. I knew nothing about the Camino at all. My guide book was out of date and useless (I am Brierly maps edition fan now, it is worth its weight in gold, trust me). My pack weighed well over 4 pounds empty! I took too many clothes and 'just in case' items (I shed them), I took a foam sleeping pad, I shed that, my sleeping bag was big, bulky, and heavy. I didn't take account of the early season in France where many refugios were still closed because I found that in two places the hotels were closed as well, so twice walked double days. I didn't know that walking on tarmac really hurt the feet, whereas walking on the grass verge, even though a little slower, didn't. I didn't take account of the sudden hot weather and failed to carry enough water, which led to a really distressing few hours.
Then in Spain, after walking alone at my own pace, I met some really pleasant young folk and walked with them for a couple of days - but just two days of walking only slightly faster than my normal pace and my old knee failed - I hadn't a clue, which brings me back to Ivar's recent alterations - pre-pilgrims, you need to know this stuff!!

It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down and, well, I think you also need to know that the Camino is just a long stroll really, as long as you have plenty - plenty! - of time you can go at your own pace and build up strength as you go along, just never, never, never, never, walk slightly faster than your natural pace to keep up with someone else - couples do this all the time, and doing my first aid on Camino I know that it is mainly the wives who suffer, trying to keep up with their husbands.

So, I say, be reasonably 'normal' fit and pack light - no, listen, pack light!!

Buen Camino!!
What surprised me when I walk the Camino Norte was the number of unprepared pilgrims using new shoes or new boots for the first time.

The number of pilgrims at the end of the day with plasters and bandage on their feet... Discourage and wondering if they should continue their journey.

The number of pilgrims that return home after walking 3 or 4 days of continuous rain on the Norte. They did not know that rain was falling at time on the Norte...?

I saw pilgrims returning home when they realize that they were facing mountains to hike but we're totally unprepared for that...

In one word I was so surprised that people could not face any difficulties simply because they had no walking preparation or reading on a particular Camino.

I think pilgrims should prepare prior to walk and should have a minimal plan to walk and to at least breaking their shoes.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I will try to agree with everyone! Each to their own.
Those who walk the Camino are made up of two types of people IMO, those who hike regularly in their own home places and those who don't.
Bottom line is your learning experiences and hiking experiences are fine for you, but one size does not fit all.
Lots of good opinions from everyone on this thread and all are good from their own perspective and experiences.
 

Stroller

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
A good level of general fitness together with well fitted old shoes are essential but you don't need to put in vast amounts of training to attain that. You need to be able to walk about 15/17kM a day, and by that I mean in something like 6/7Hrs including breaks.

It is important to listen to your body and mind and know when either or both has had enough. At that point you need to be capable of taking a short day or rest day.

I further suggest that the idea, heavily, but not exclusively, promoted on here and by guide books that the ideal start is fromSJdPP should be revised. Whichever way you go the trip across the Pyrenees is a hard day, the total height gain on both routes, I think, is much the same and makes it a strenuous walk particularly for someone who is not a regular hill walker.
 
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FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
While a base level of fitness is important, I think listening to your body and adjusting accordingly is key. Nothing can prepare your body for walking 13+ miles (21+ km) a day for 30+ days, other than walking it. I agree with @David that your best training happen the first week on the Camino. I also think that starting in SJP and hiking over the Pyrenees on day 1 and spending the next 2 days walking downhill on a rough trail probably isn’t the best way to begin.

One of the issues I faced on my first Camino was being too concerned with hiking the hike I had planned before ever sitting foot in Spain. I had read all I could find, trained moderately, and planned each day and where it would end. I would leave with the crowd then “march“ to my destination. If I got there early it was a “win”. I had no idea how to relax and just experience the Camino. It takes a certain amount of Camino maturity to give in to the experience. Each subsequent walk has been a more enjoyable and truer Camino experience as I have learned to give in to the experience. Fitness level is less important than doing what is right for you body on any given day.

Another issue that has intrigued me and which I am guilty of, is walking faster and farther than I should when walking with others. The part that intrigues me is that you never read about someone walking slower/shorter than they want to when walking with others, only walking faster/farther. When was the last time your read a comment ”I met a really interesting old guy and walked with him for a few days. It really messed up my trip since I walked really slow and got behind schedule”. It is always us older folks complaining about walking too fast with the youngers. Age and wisdom don’t alway go hand in hand.....
 
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auburnfive

Active Member
The most important aspect of training is simple - just walk. Throw in some hills if you can, and a pack from time to time. If you are a regular daily walker (1-2 hours or more) your health will be better overall, and your footwear will be broken in. On the Camino pay attention to blister prevention and use poles to help compensate for the longer days and weight. In my experience, it’s the people who are sedentary in their daily life who have the most problems.

FRM is correct about walking too slow, but for me walking is almost a form of meditation, and there is a natural pace and rhythm that feels most comfortable, I can and do slow down for social reasons, but it feels harder. Best to tell a walking buddy “ I’ll be waiting for you at the next cafe”
 

rabtacoma

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Leon to Santiago October 2019
We almost had to go home on our first Camino due to my partner having a perfect storm of exhaustion and low electrolytes that had showed symptoms of a heart attack. It came on fast with no real warning on day 9. After a day of rest and a slow few days he was ok but it was very frightening. I was thankful to the many people who helped us that day. We are in our 60’s, healthy and active. I thought we trained and prepared almost too much but here’s what I learned for when we returned in May 2022. Pay attention to how much your eating, drinking (as in water) and resting. Instead of just walking miles in training we’ll be making sure we get our heart rate up to build endurance and we’re doing stairs to prepare for the ups and downs. We’re going to train smarter rather than log miles. In summary training for me is essential to enjoying, entering into and learning from my Camino. If I was in my 30’s and didn’t travel 1/2 way around the world to get there maybe not.
 
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JamesVT

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
Ivar recently posted that some small alterations to the site were being made to the forum to realign with the core mission "Where past pilgrims share, and future pilgrims learn" - sooo ....
I was thinking about how much pre-pilgrims can be concerned about being "fit enough", which although a valid question can also be based upon fear - it is a jumping off a cliff into the unknown after all.

Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed? ? My first Camino was in the spring of 2005, from Moissac, in France. I was 57, and living in France renovating a farmhouse so was pretty fit.
I bought a rucksack, packed it with my Camino items, made a sandwich and a flask and went for a 7 mile circular walk, stopping halfway by a lake for my lunch - and that was it. Ten days later I went by train to Moissac and off I went, and I had no real problems until some 300 miles later when my damaged knee (from a motorbike crash in '68) gave out and I bought the cheapest bike in Decathlon and cycled the rest of the way. Going over the Pyrenees from Roncesvalles was ok as I had been walking for over ten days before getting there - my 'fitness training' I guess. Which suggests that starting a few days back in France is a good idea.

So - I walk slowly, I always stop when tired, I have regular breaks - taking shoes and socks off - so I guess I adjusted my fitness by being there.
I know that many people walk miles and miles before Camino and we have even had people on the forum who have worked so hard that they have damaged themselves, so, is it worth it?

If one assumes an average fitness level - not a couch potato type - then another way to do it could be to allow enough time to be able to do short days at the beginning, with enough days planned to be able to take days off?

To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with. Regular hikes with a light pack on easy terrain don't help. We know that ascents and descents, especially descents, are where our bodies are tested, and I have often suggested finding a tall building and using the staircases, up and down, with a loaded pack - but even that isn't enough because a staircase is level and smooth - so I am thinking that apart from learning whether footwear and pack are comfortable and do work, and/or the pack is too heavy so it needs to be lightened, I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.

Though I would mention that the walk over the mountain from St Jean will be a shock to the system as it is first day stuff, but going over the Napoleon Pass isn't necessary, it isn't even the original pilgrim route, that is the road route and can be split into two days if wanted.

I know people find pleasure in the "pre-Caminoing" aspect of it, I am really thinking more of the benefits on the body because to me it is suppleness, not linear strength that is needed, which suggests that Yoga could be better.

Discuss - :)

Pre-pilgrims - Of my first Camino - I did just about everything wrong. I knew nothing about the Camino at all. My guide book was out of date and useless (I am Brierly maps edition fan now, it is worth its weight in gold, trust me). My pack weighed well over 4 pounds empty! I took too many clothes and 'just in case' items (I shed them), I took a foam sleeping pad, I shed that, my sleeping bag was big, bulky, and heavy. I didn't take account of the early season in France where many refugios were still closed because I found that in two places the hotels were closed as well, so twice walked double days. I didn't know that walking on tarmac really hurt the feet, whereas walking on the grass verge, even though a little slower, didn't. I didn't take account of the sudden hot weather and failed to carry enough water, which led to a really distressing few hours.
Then in Spain, after walking alone at my own pace, I met some really pleasant young folk and walked with them for a couple of days - but just two days of walking only slightly faster than my normal pace and my old knee failed - I hadn't a clue, which brings me back to Ivar's recent alterations - pre-pilgrims, you need to know this stuff!!

It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down and, well, I think you also need to know that the Camino is just a long stroll really, as long as you have plenty - plenty! - of time you can go at your own pace and build up strength as you go along, just never, never, never, never, walk slightly faster than your natural pace to keep up with someone else - couples do this all the time, and doing my first aid on Camino I know that it is mainly the wives who suffer, trying to keep up with their husbands.

So, I say, be reasonably 'normal' fit and pack light - no, listen, pack light!!

Buen Camino!!
The best advice I received pre-Camino was to begin with shorter days and distances, really short, and to then very gradually extend both as my fitness increased. Of course, this required a “schedule” for my walk that didn’t force me to walk longer and faster than felt optimal. I’m sure that sounds vague and subjective, but the truth is that walking the Camino inevitably builds the strength and drive that will allow most walkers to arrive in Santiago with a sense of wonder and accomplishment looking back at the distance traveled. What, I think, can make the Camino a grind is hurry and a tight schedule that conflicts with the realities of one’s actual physical and mental condition and needs.
 

SkyDancer

Camino obsessed
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
As a 57 year old pre pilgrim I am very happy to receive this kind of advice as I have been worrying about training.

With a full time job and family responsibilities up until the moment I leave for Spain it would be quite impossible for me to do back to back 20k walks.

I plan to physically prepare as not doing so I think would be foolish on my part. So any advice about moderate doable training is most welcome and certainly not pointless, thank-you! 🙏😊
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2005
Some great replies and perspectives. I am not advising no physical prep, not at all - after over a year of lockdown I find that I am 9 pounds heavier and my legs are embarrassingly weak now - I wouldn't go on Camino before I have had a pleasant month doing daily walks to build up those leg muscles - and trust me, mine are rubbish at the moment - shame on me!

Re shin splints, knees, and all those Camino walking injuries ... I have never found it be to do with fitness, I have seen ancient unfit, overweight unfit, doing really well, I think because they go at their own pace and have a relaxed attitude - I have invariably found that it is pilgrims just not listening to their bodies that is the problem (plus heavy packs). Young men are classic shin splinters. Huge heavy packs, furiously long strides and too many daily miles ... silly puppies mostly.
Out of control blisters .. before there were blisters the body clearly warned the host with hot spots, these were ignored - why?
Knees? Mine is severe damage from a road accident that can go at any time but most out there is because of unevenness, especially on descents - our knees are so not made to swivel in all directions when under stress! And a lovely unbalanced heavy backpack really helps to destroy them.
And footwear that doesn't fit? Brand new footwear completely the wrong size, laced up super-tight and worn all day in pain?? I see that, so often ....

But general fitness of a non-sedentary person? not much of a problem out there ... now ... eating home deliveries on the sofa in front of the tv, driving to work and home again, never going for a stroll? you that sort of person? Coo - then you will need to put a realistic routine into place (might save your life too).

and I do agree with FRM - it seems to be built into Camino lore and myth and expectations but if one looks at it objectively it is a crazy thing, to start day 1 of a 500 mile Camino by walking right over over a mountain, crazy. A Pamplona makes much more sense!
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
For me, current fitness is less important than lifetime walking experience. I know that I was not fit for my first camino, but I was experienced, through a lifetime of never owning a car and many years of mountain walking. So I started up from St Jean pied de Port at the age of 68, with a poor level of fitness, but extensive walking experience. I had left a day pack with anything that I could do without at an albergue between Roncesvalles and Pamplona, to lighten my load over the Pyrenees, and I stayed at Orisson the first night. My walk up to Orisson was very slow, and easy: I adjusted my walk to the terrain and took it slow, never tiring myself or becoming short of breath. The next day to Roncesvalles was more challenging, especially the walk down to the monastery. I don't think I could have made it safely if the trail had been slippery with rain on the downhill. From there, I walked short days all the way to Puente la Reina (having picked up the rest of my pack contents along the way). By then, I was in fine shape and ready to speed up. I arrived in Santiago way ahead of schedule, having allowed a day off per week, then never wanting any. That was still a wise plan for my first camino. I may do something similar this fall, as the long pandemic has damaged my fitness and I have a new knee to care for. But it is not fitness that gets me through, but a lifetime of experience.
 
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JamesVT

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2019
For me, current fitness is less important than lifetime walking experience. I know that I was not fit for my first camino, but I was experienced, through a lifetime of never owning a car and many years of mountain walking. So I started up from St Jean pied de Port at the age of 68, with a poor level of fitness, but extensive walking experience. I had left a day pack with anything that I could do without at an albergue between Roncesvalles and Pamplona, to lighten my load over the Pyrenees, and I stayed at Orisson the first night. My walk up to Orisson was very slow, and easy: I adjusted my walk to the terrain and took it slow, never tiring myself or becoming short of breath. The next day to Roncesvalles was more challenging, especially the walk down to the monastery. I don't think I could have made it safely if the trail had been slippery with rain on the downhill. From there, I walked short days all the way to Puente la Reina (having picked up the rest of my pack contents along the way). By then, I was in fine shape and ready to speed up. I arrived in Santiago way ahead of schedule, having allowed a day off per week, then never wanting any. That was still a wise plan for my first camino. I may do something similar this fall, as the long pandemic has damaged my fitness and I have a new knee to care for. But it is not fitness that gets me through, but a lifetime of experience.
I largely followed the routine you describe and at age 75 finished my Camino far faster than I could have ever imagined, without ever feeling rushed or hurried along the way.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
The answer really is yes or no ...

I went in completely unprepared on my 1993 ; though before my 1994, I had for several months been walking 150 to 200 K/week, 20K or 40K training hikes.

Then on my 2005, pretty much no prep at all, just a few odd day hikes. (didn't really need any prep is the underlying truth of that one)

But for the 2014, after my knees had given out, a very difficult year of painful prep, several days a week, just to see if I could get back into the state of simply just walking normally again ; then after some hopeful results, turning that effort into a purpose of getting back onto the Camino if possible (it was).

A certain amount of prep before starting my current 2019 & 2021 ; but as things stand now, just a minimum for this 2021 restart of it.

I think prep is very important if you really need it, and couldn't get started otherwise ; else, it's a bit more optional, just a minimum to know you're capable of the bare 15K necessities, plus the experience to know you will improve on the Way, and be capable of pushing further and faster.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
the number of unprepared pilgrims using new shoes or new boots for the first time
Prepared pilgrims (experienced) using new shoes or new boots for the first time have fewer troubles with them ... :p

I also think that starting in SJP and hiking over the Pyrenees on day 1 and spending the next 2 days walking downhill on a rough trail probably isn’t the best way to begin.
SJPP in my opinion is probably THE worst imaginable place to start that there is.

I have never started from there ; and I never will.

If you want to start in France but walk mostly in Spain, get a few days walking (5 to 10 or so) done to SJPP first, if the Francès is what you're planning for. A few weeks, frankly, would be even better !!
 
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Turga

Camino tortuga
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
The answer really is yes or no ...

I went in completely unprepared on my 1993 ; though before my 1994, I had for several months been walking 150 to 200 K/week, 20K or 40K training hikes.

Then on my 2005, pretty much no prep at all, just a few odd day hikes. (didn't really need any prep is the underlying truth of that one)

But for the 2014, after my knees had given out, a very difficult year of painful prep, several days a week, just to see if I could get back into the state of simply just walking normally again ; then after some hopeful results, turning that effort into a purpose of getting back onto the Camino if possible (it was).

A certain amount of prep before starting my current 2019 & 2021 ; but as things stand now, just a minimum for this 2021 restart of it.

I think prep is very important if you really need it, and couldn't get started otherwise ; else, it's a bit more optional, just a minimum to know you're capable of the bare 15K necessities, plus the experience to know you will improve on the Way, and be capable of pushing further and faster.

Finally a reply that relates to the original question: “Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed?

..and provides the only answer: “yes or no” 🙂
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
(Almost-) fully agree with you, Sabine, but come on! No alcohol??!! Allow us to classify the Vino Tinto and Blanco as "culture" that is part of the "spiritual Camino", I wouldn't do it without.😎
No vino, no Camino.

But back on topic: I have never trained specifically for my Caminos (I am now 67), but I go without time constraints, and stop when I feel it's right. I have never felt exhausted, just normally tired after some days.

But as others have said: Each to his/her own, and a little excercise has never hurt.

IMHO, on the Camino, the best plan is to not have a plan, but play it "by the ear"
 
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Darleen Taylor

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
IMHO the most important preplanning is around footwear and pack. Do enough walking to make sure your feet do not blister, and make sure you have a pack that fits properly. I have witnessed so many people who suffered through brutal blistering feet, because they did not walk any distance in their footwear prior to starting their camino. I also feel that you need to be in decent physical shape, but the fitness will come and you will harden up after a week or so.
 

Sansthing

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
French Camino (2009), French Camino (2011), Via de la Plata (2012), Camino Inglês (2014),
For my first Camino I did a six-week preparation with exercises and walking with a weighted pack, for my second Camino I did no preparation at all. The difference I felt between the two only lasted for the first week.
 

Holly Mitchem

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
What an interesting discussion with so many points of view. In January 2020 I started a women's Facebook group, spinnning off from a women's Camino Facebook group, for those who wished set a goal of walking 1,000 miles (1,609K) in 2020. Most were training to walk a Camino, or had walked a Camino and fallen in love with hiking and walking. We had about 600 women sign up from all over the world. Of course then the global pandemic hit and everyone changed their plans. Some left the group but over 400 stayed and we supported each other in reaching our walking/hiking goals. The group's rules were that only photos and reports of walks and hikes were allowed. No injury/gear/political discussions. So many of us reached our goals by the end of December that I decided to do the group again. This year there are between 200-300 members. I have so loved "virtually meeting" and seeing photos of walks and hikes from all over the world. A side benefit is that as members have figured out that they are close geographically to other members, there have been walking meet-ups (masked and socially distant, of course) among members. Many members have expressed that daily walking/hiking so helped both their physical and mental health during the various lockdowns. So as you can imagine, I am a big fan of walking/hiking daily. I have done the Frances and the first week of the Norte (had to leave due to a family medical emergency in the States) and am so looking forward to returning to the Camino. On my list are finishing the Norte/Primitivo, doing the Frances to Leon again with my husband (he joined me in Leon), the Portuguese, the Ingles, El Salvador, etc. etc. I don't have any firm plans but in the meantime I hike/walk 20 miles a week to keep on track with my 1,000 mile goal.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
Ivar recently posted that some small alterations to the site were being made to the forum to realign with the core mission "Where past pilgrims share, and future pilgrims learn" - sooo ....
I was thinking about how much pre-pilgrims can be concerned about being "fit enough", which although a valid question can also be based upon fear - it is a jumping off a cliff into the unknown after all.

Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed? ? My first Camino was in the spring of 2005, from Moissac, in France. I was 57, and living in France renovating a farmhouse so was pretty fit.
I bought a rucksack, packed it with my Camino items, made a sandwich and a flask and went for a 7 mile circular walk, stopping halfway by a lake for my lunch - and that was it. Ten days later I went by train to Moissac and off I went, and I had no real problems until some 300 miles later when my damaged knee (from a motorbike crash in '68) gave out and I bought the cheapest bike in Decathlon and cycled the rest of the way. Going over the Pyrenees from Roncesvalles was ok as I had been walking for over ten days before getting there - my 'fitness training' I guess. Which suggests that starting a few days back in France is a good idea.

So - I walk slowly, I always stop when tired, I have regular breaks - taking shoes and socks off - so I guess I adjusted my fitness by being there.
I know that many people walk miles and miles before Camino and we have even had people on the forum who have worked so hard that they have damaged themselves, so, is it worth it?

If one assumes an average fitness level - not a couch potato type - then another way to do it could be to allow enough time to be able to do short days at the beginning, with enough days planned to be able to take days off?

To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with. Regular hikes with a light pack on easy terrain don't help. We know that ascents and descents, especially descents, are where our bodies are tested, and I have often suggested finding a tall building and using the staircases, up and down, with a loaded pack - but even that isn't enough because a staircase is level and smooth - so I am thinking that apart from learning whether footwear and pack are comfortable and do work, and/or the pack is too heavy so it needs to be lightened, I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.

Though I would mention that the walk over the mountain from St Jean will be a shock to the system as it is first day stuff, but going over the Napoleon Pass isn't necessary, it isn't even the original pilgrim route, that is the road route and can be split into two days if wanted.

I know people find pleasure in the "pre-Caminoing" aspect of it, I am really thinking more of the benefits on the body because to me it is suppleness, not linear strength that is needed, which suggests that Yoga could be better.

Discuss - :)

Pre-pilgrims - Of my first Camino - I did just about everything wrong. I knew nothing about the Camino at all. My guide book was out of date and useless (I am Brierly maps edition fan now, it is worth its weight in gold, trust me). My pack weighed well over 4 pounds empty! I took too many clothes and 'just in case' items (I shed them), I took a foam sleeping pad, I shed that, my sleeping bag was big, bulky, and heavy. I didn't take account of the early season in France where many refugios were still closed because I found that in two places the hotels were closed as well, so twice walked double days. I didn't know that walking on tarmac really hurt the feet, whereas walking on the grass verge, even though a little slower, didn't. I didn't take account of the sudden hot weather and failed to carry enough water, which led to a really distressing few hours.
Then in Spain, after walking alone at my own pace, I met some really pleasant young folk and walked with them for a couple of days - but just two days of walking only slightly faster than my normal pace and my old knee failed - I hadn't a clue, which brings me back to Ivar's recent alterations - pre-pilgrims, you need to know this stuff!!

It is good to have a pleasant fitness level, but you should already have that - I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime, it isn't pleasant and I don't think it is beneficial unless you can find a wobbly uneven hill to slog up and down and, well, I think you also need to know that the Camino is just a long stroll really, as long as you have plenty - plenty! - of time you can go at your own pace and build up strength as you go along, just never, never, never, never, walk slightly faster than your natural pace to keep up with someone else - couples do this all the time, and doing my first aid on Camino I know that it is mainly the wives who suffer, trying to keep up with their husbands.

So, I say, be reasonably 'normal' fit and pack light - no, listen, pack light!!

Buen Camino!!
I have walked both with and without a pre-Camino walking regime. From both of those experiences, I've got two major learnings:

1) It is certainly possible for most people, regardless of their level of fitness, to walk a Camino with no preparatory training. This is especially true if you pack light, use walking poles, give yourself lots of time, and are able to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and respond appropriately.

2) If you invest in a preparatory walking regime before your Camino, your Camino will very likely be a lot less painful.

In 2016, when my son and I walked the Camino Frances, neither of us had done any preparatory walking. After the first 22km day, we took it fairly slowly, with three days at 15 km before gradually building up to 25-30km days by the end of the meseta. We completed our Camino successfully. But we had a lot of pain doing so. I had blisters. He had terrible blisters until we had them medically treated, took a rest day, and started keeping our daily distances under 25km. For me, on the other hand, it was the knees. I ended up needing knee braces, hiking poles, and lots of ibuprofen to see me through (enough ibuprofen, it seems, to land me with chronic ideopathic urticarea).

For my Camino Portugues a couple of years later, I walked in advance with a local Camino walking group. I took myself to the point where I could walk three 20km days in a row with my backpack and I was confident I was ready. That Camino I had no physical problems. My knees were fine. No blister issues. No hobbling around the albergue like an old man in the evening after I had rested a bit.

For me it was worth it. For those who have never walked a Camino, it depends on how much of their time and effort they are willing to invest to reduce the (likelihood of) pain on the Camino. Maybe some are looking forward to the pain - "no pain, no gain". I will always train this way for future Caminos if I have the opportunity. But if I don't, I'll walk without the training.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Here's throwing the torch into the conversation: I have all the time I want. I am retired and on a good pension (67). I am so determined to use my next Camino to the fullest: I have set aside 2 months (minimum/whatever) for my next CF. Too often, have I been "running" it, without paying enough attention to all the small villages.

The next time, I will walk some 15 kms/day (or whatever/don't care). I will stay in more small villages, just relaxing, reading, eating well, and watch the grass grow. And not to forget: Expanding my Spanish by having conversations with the locals. I may bring some dried bacalao (cod) in my muchilla (Spanish for backpack) as bribery snacks towards the locals: It has worked well before...

Money is not an issue: Coming from a high-cost European country, my bank account will be bigger when I go home than when I left. It will be a pleasure spending money in Spain compared to spending much more in my hometown. Thereby also supporting the Camino community.

So for me, training will not be neccessary: I will just listen to my body.

Edit: I will of course most likely not be a part of a "Camino family" because most people are walking against their clocks, and I have decided not to. But I am convinced I will have many meaningful conversations & meals with others along the Way, anyWay.
 
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Carol06

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (May 2012)
Frances (May 2015) all going well and with my husband this time.
Those who walk the Camino are made up of two types of people IMO, those who hike regularly in their own home places and those who don't. The first group will approach the Camino as a long hike and prepare accordingly, the second group, if they are members here, will seek advice and will get plenty of it, some contradictory, but they will have to sort through that and take what they believe suits them.
I know several people who didn't hike or walk and decided they wanted to do the Camino and just bought some gear and went and did it, and it all worked out.
Bottom line is your learning experiences and hiking experiences are fine for you, but one size does not fit all.
I am in the latter group. I had never hiked or trekked. I did daily hikes on the beach and up the local hill and that is it.
The day I left home with my pack all sorted my husband said...put on your pack. My reply was no...... if I do I probably won't go! A family joke now. But guess what... I did the whole thing from SJPP and no injuries. I was 62 at the time.
I am not suggesting that any of this is good, but there you go.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I have walked both with and without a pre-Camino walking regime. From both of those experiences, I've got two major learnings:

1) It is certainly possible for most people, regardless of their level of fitness, to walk a Camino with no preparatory training. This is especially true if you pack light, use walking poles, give yourself lots of time, and are able to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and respond appropriately.

Re: 1) I would agree when all of the conditions you have listed as strategies are in place it is doable for a healthy individual, even , for someone without physical preparation to complete a camino. Unfortunately, David, as others have indicated, and you suggest,it is not just physical preparation, but assessment of ones abilities at that time, requiring self- knowledge, and temperament to stay within one’s abililites. However, I have experienced what Jean describes more often, than walkers who set reasonable limits because they are unprepared.
What surprised me when I walk the Camino Norte was the number of unprepared pilgrims using new shoes or new boots for the first time.

The number of pilgrims at the end of the day with plasters and bandage on their feet... Discourage and wondering if they should continue their journey.

The number of pilgrims that return home after walking 3 or 4 days of continuous rain on the Norte. They did not know that rain was falling at time on the Norte...?

I saw pilgrims returning home when they realize that they were facing mountains to hike but we're totally unprepared for that...

In one word I was so surprised that people could not face any difficulties simply because they had no walking preparation or reading on a particular Camino.

I think pilgrims should prepare prior to walk and should have a minimal plan to walk and to at least breaking their shoes.

I also do not think it is Crazy to start the CF in SJPdP. All the books and online guides show the altitudes ,offer the ability to not only split the walk into more than one day, but offers another route via Valcarlos as well. The problem is not-where the CF starts but the unpreparedness of those walking it.
 
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alhartman

2005-2017 Delightful 346 days in Spain and France.
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Question is great for discussion, but has the same kind of answers as any Nature or nurture” questions----both!!

As has been alluded to earlier in this thread, the real key is listening to and understanding your own body. That is what should be meant by ‘it’s your camino’. Anything that trumps that, whether it is sticking rigorously to a plan, walking with companions going too fast, walking with companions going too slow, not stopping for water, not fixing a foot hot spot, ill fitting shoes or pack, not deploying raingear when those meseta clouds grow dark, etc all detract from a great camino experience. My overriding camino mantra is ‘I will do discomfort, but I will not do misery”. Not to say that training isn’t useful, but that listening to your own body is more useful. As is knowing what your abilities really are; maybe some knowledge is gained in training, but it is not the same as 20km per day day-after-day.

To a certain extent we nearly all use/need the first week of walking for conditioning—and getting into the camino life pace of eating, washing, dining, sleeping etc. As I reread my old journals, every single one has a comment on day 6-10 about how “I finally felt I and my body were one with the camino.”

I will also go along with FRM and David that starting in SJPdP is unnecessary-- and even counter intuitive—why would a reasonably fit couch potato take a 9 time zone, 15 hour flite, sleep a night, then climb, and more importantly drop the 1000 meters for a 11 hour first walking day. Only a Lance Armstrong body is ready for that!! My first camino was ruined for my hiking companion (a very fit, competitive tennis player) by the damage to a forgotten meniscus injury on that first day. I only went over the Pyrenees one other time and that was day 34 after leaving LePuy; it was a piece of cake as I was fully trail-conditioned mentally and physically.

Pamplona is a great starting place, maybe by far and away the best; easy transportation access, lots to do, only cuts 3 stages off the French ‘official start’, which can be added at end for the completely different experience walking to Fisterra or Muxia. Frequent albergues like Sarria on.

One of my (start slowly then taper off) caminos, I flew SFO to Madrid, Madrid to Pamplona, then walked 5 km to Cizur Menor for a kind lecture on ‘speak Spanish’ from Mme Roncal. Then Uterga (12k) then Cirauqui (15k), then Estella (15k). Body happy, time zone change happy, soul happy, feet happy. So, proper planning, past experience, and not being bound by guidebook stages/starts, and 'walking alone'-no family yet, made a pre-camino walking regime moot.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
Re: 1) I would agree when all of the conditions you have listed as strategies are in place it is doable for a healthy individual, even , for someone without physical preparation to complete a camino.
We had about half of the conditions when we started our Camino and no physical preparation and still finished it successfully in Finisterre. We just did so with a lot more pain than if we had been better physically prepared or if we had heeded what our bodies were telling us better.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
I will also go along with FRM and David that starting in SJPdP is unnecessary-- and even counter intuitive—why would a reasonably fit couch potato take a 9 time zone, 15 hour flite, sleep a night, then climb, and more importantly drop the 1000 meters for a 11 hour first walking day.
Of course starting in SJPdP is unnecessary! One can start a Camino anywhere (although you should start at least 100 km from SdC if you want a Compostela). And I also don't buy into the idea that SJPdP is "the one true beginning of the Camino Frances" as many of my other posts will attest. But I can see why lots of people want to start there. It's where people started in the books they read, the videos or movies they watch, the podcasts they listen to most often. It is where their guidebooks start the route. And it gives them an experience that matches what they've read and seen, including that grueling first day (not quite as grueling if they stop after 8 or 9 km).
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I agree with those who have said that it's possible to do the camino without training but it is easier for those who put in some training to get used to the type of exercise that they will do every day on the camino.

To the unfit and inexperienced first timer who has not been able to prepare physically, I would say not to worry about it, but to compensate by going super-gentle at first. You may feel heroic if you tackle a strenuous first day, but the objective is to keep walking for many more days.

That's why I think that the widespread fixation on SJPP as a starting point is wrong-headed. A somewhat unfit, novice walker would do better to spend a few days with incrementally increasing distances, to get used to walking with a pack. My theory is that you are less likely to have a show-stopper of an injury in this way. If you feel that the Route Napoléon is essential, you could achieve this by walking a few days in France to SJPP.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
The thing not mentioned is the fact that the Camino, like all long walks, especially if undertaken solo, requires as much mental strength as physical. It isn't easy to prepare mentally for a long walk except by experience. It is my opinion, rarely worth a penny, that awareness of your body's needs as others have explained is the first step to gaining the mental agility to con yourself that you are having the best time of your life, even though the snorers kept you awake for the last six nights, your feet are tender, you really miss your family, etc. Walking within your capabilities allows you time to smell the flowers instead of worrying about failing to reach a pre planned unrealistic target. Walkers depression is actually quite common and can cause many to quit, though after a few long walks it often occurs when the walk has ended and that is normal.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
That's why I think that the widespread fixation on SJPP as a starting point is wrong-headed. A somewhat unfit, novice walker would do better to spend a few days with incrementally increasing distances, to get used to walking with a pack. My theory is that you are less likely to have a show-stopper of an injury in this way. If you feel that the Route Napoléon is essential, you could achieve this by walking a few days in France to SJPP.
I currently regard Ostabat, where the three main camino routes going south through France to Spain join, as the historical and geographical origin of the Camino Frances (with the addition at Puente la Reina, of the pilgrims who walked the Arles to Somport route to Spain). If I walk the Frances again, it will be from Ostabat to join the Valcarlos route at St Jean pied de Port. This is less for historical reasons and more because I was not enthusiastic about the crowds on the Napoleon. And of course, it is a less strenuous route, as I age.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Of course starting in SJPdP is unnecessary! One can start a Camino anywhere (although you should start at least 100 km from SdC if you want a Compostela). And I also don't buy into the idea that SJPdP is "the one true beginning of the Camino Frances" as many of my other posts will attest. But I can see why lots of people want to start there. It's where people started in the books they read, the videos or movies they watch, the podcasts they listen to most often. It is where their guidebooks start the route. And it gives them an experience that matches what they've read and seen, including that grueling first day (not quite as grueling if they stop after 8 or 9 km).
I believe Aymeric Picaud, the presumed writer of the Codex Calextinus, avoids the Route Napoleon (and not just because Napoleon was about four or five centuries in the future), although I think he does mention the town SJPdP, if not by name, as being where 3 of the 4 routes in France converged, before passing through Roncesvalles/Roncevaux. But he is very clear that the other route passed over the Col de Somport and thence the Camino Aragonés to meet the others at Puente la Reina. So, no, there is no real historic reason the start in SJPdP. If you really wanted to be authentic, you would start in Oviedo, capital of the Asturi kingdom before they moved to Léon. Or your front door, which is what mediaeval pilgrims would have done (and some lucky Europeans are able to do).
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I think I may regret mentioning SJPP here. We should not make this a discussion about authenticity and other reasons to prefer or avoid a popular route. I think that it is on topic insofar as it relates to one’s physical condition and preparation.
Rightly or wrongly, many people are drawn to the Route Napoleon. I just think they would be well advised to get into the rhythm of walking before they try a strenuous climb.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Pre-Camino walking regimes - are they worth it? Do they work? Are they needed?
Yes. Yes. Often not.
To me the main problem with the fitness regimes is that they aren't based upon knowledge of the actual conditions that they will be faced with.
This doesn't make sense. Is it better then to abandon a fitness regime if you don't have knowledge of the actual conditions?
I don't think heavy and severe training regimes are much point really.
I don't think you need to overdo a fitness regime
By definition, overdoing is doing too much. So one shouldn't do that.

A modest or moderate and deliberate walking program is always worthwhile - for health and happiness. I would certainly recommend it to pre-pilgrims, as well as to never-pilgrims.

If you are trying to provide encouragement to new pilgrims and give them tips for walking within their personal abilities and fitness, I'm on board. But to suggest there is no point or no worth in moderate training seems inaccurate.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Those who walk the Camino are made up of two types of people IMO, those who hike regularly in their own home places and those who don't
I agree and I would even say that there are three groups: those who hike regularly in their own home place, those who don't hike but walk and move on foot at lot during daily live, and those who do nothing of the sort.

Advising the latter group that they can train during the first week of camino walking would be very bad advice. Any kind of exercise that improves their cardio fitness level and the state of their muscle and connective tissue system will be immensely beneficial to them when they start walking in France or Spain, even when they had exercised only in a flat area beforehand.

Even when someone had exercised or regularly walked and hiked a few years ago and then did nothing for a long time, they will be in a better shape than others who had not done this. People who say that they just started walking and it was no problem do not take all these factors into account.
 

AnneO

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2023
Working from home the last year has resulted in me being more sedentary than I should. I always exercised at the gym where I work, and that has not been possible. Where I live has a cold snowy winter so that meant I got little exercise for a few months (I didn’t want to spend the money to join a gym). My first Camino is two years from now so I have just started a 5K walking program and will work up from there. i am prepared that it will take a few days to get my trail legs once I am there, but I would like to be as conditioned as I can be within reason.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2015)
What surprised me when I walk the Camino Norte was the number of unprepared pilgrims using new shoes or new boots for the first time.

The number of pilgrims at the end of the day with plasters and bandage on their feet... Discourage and wondering if they should continue their journey.

The number of pilgrims that return home after walking 3 or 4 days of continuous rain on the Norte. They did not know that rain was falling at time on the Norte...?

I saw pilgrims returning home when they realize that they were facing mountains to hike but we're totally unprepared for that...

In one word I was so surprised that people could not face any difficulties simply because they had no walking preparation or reading on a particular Camino.

I think pilgrims should prepare prior to walk and should have a minimal plan to walk and to at least breaking their shoes.
Could it be that those pilgrims were just not used to walking. I never wear old shoes on camino. I buy a new pair of Altra Lone Peaks and wear then for a week or so before I leave just to make sure they are feeling good. I like to have shoes with new treads for the traction in areas where I will need them. If I hadn't had good treads on our Camino Vasco in 2019 I would have been sliding everywhere!
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
Since there seem to be humans in all forms and shapes, i guess the answer is a "it depends"

For some, putting in some training before their camino is mandatory since they would not be able to complete it otherwise. But i guess those are few

For most, putting in some walking experience beforehand, will increase the pleasure they have walking the camino. This might make the difference, between arriving exhausted or tired, between arriving at 14.00 or 18.00 and not getting a bed. Between having more or less of various types of pain.

Then, for some, it might make no difference. These might be in great overall shape or just lucky at the genetic lottery.

I guess there will be lots of in-betweens...

For me personally, training before the camino did a lot of good. Now, when i look back on my first day, i think of the beauty of the walk across the pyrenees and not some pains associated with it. I did arrive well tired at roncesvalles, but was able to have a pleasant afternoon. And it became only easier after that.

Side note: Even when in good physical shape, giving your feet some time in advance to adapt to this new kind of stress might (might!) help avoiding those dreaded blisters...

edit: and thanks to the various lockdowns this winter, i was completely exhausted after a 27km hike yesterday... guess i'll have to get in more walking before hopefully doing the Primitivo this summer.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
. I never wear old shoes on camino. I buy a new pair of Altra Lone Peaks and wear then for a week or so before I leave just to make sure they are feeling good.
I do the same. I buy a new pair of whatever footwear I have been training in. I wear them a few times to make sure that there are no odd seams or anything that might irritate my feet.
Other than leather shoes or boots modern footwear shouldn't need to be broken in.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
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Do enough walking to make sure your feet do not blister
Just personally, that was walking 40K/day on a massive blister in pure woollen socks (changed twice daily) for 7-14 days (can't remember exactly) on my 1994.

Feet leathered up ; never had a problem since.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I am not not trying to be contrarian here, but it strikes me we are being a bit unscientific on this thread. All the posts seem to be from people who have completed the camino at least once, in most cases several times. Anyone on this thread who hasn't completed a camino is obviously the kind of person who plans and prepares before setting out to walk a few hundred kilometres.

Therefore, perhaps we should flip the question and ask:

WHY DO PEOPLE ABANDON THEIR CAMINO?

Have any of us given up (excluding outside reasons such as family needs, transport strikes, Covid etc)? Why? (and I am prepared to bet it wasn't lack of physical fitness, by the way).
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I am not not trying to be contrarian here, but it strikes me we are being a bit unscientific on this thread. All the posts seem to be from people who have completed the camino at least once, in most cases several times. Anyone on this thread who hasn't completed a camino is obviously the kind of person who plans and prepares before setting out to walk a few hundred kilometres.

Therefore, perhaps we should flip the question and ask:

WHY DO PEOPLE ABANDON THEIR CAMINO?

Have any of us given up (excluding outside reasons such as family needs, transport strikes, Covid etc)? Why? (and I am prepared to bet it wasn't lack of physical fitness, by the way).
For why people.stop check out this
earlier thread
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
Work out the average distance you need to be able to complete daily in the time you have available. I think for my first camino on the VDLP I assumed 22 km. In the first week, try not to go over this distance if possible and if you must go over it, allow plenty of walking time so you can take breaks. Pre-camino, try to get at least one long walk in each week. I find 16 km is the distance I need to walk to test gear suitability. Otherwise, try to walk and cycle everywhere and avoid using a car. I actually think mobility work and ensuring good hydration is an engrained habit is vital.
I was fit prior to my first camino doing regular martial arts but I had never hiked before.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
For why people.stop check out this
earlier thread
I did. Interesting reading, with a lot of sound advice on how not to give up, but not a lot on why some people do. The most common reason seems to be injury, mainly to legs, obviously, but exacerbated by very obvious and avoidable overloading or over-exertion - tendonitis and sprains mostly. Illness was a reason. I think only one poster got discouraged by bad weather and lack of adequate or appropriate clothing. But I think everyone who had given up either went back again and finished or was planning to. So I guess one conclusion is that very few people, in fact hardly any, actually give up. I find this very heartening, and I think anyone who reads this or the other post can reassure themselves that lots of other people have been before them, and got there. If they can, you can.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
I did. Interesting reading, with a lot of sound advice on how not to give up, but not a lot on why some people do. The most common reason seems to be injury, mainly to legs, obviously, but exacerbated by very obvious and avoidable overloading or over-exertion - tendonitis and sprains mostly. Illness was a reason. I think only one poster got discouraged by bad weather and lack of adequate or appropriate clothing. But I think everyone who had given up either went back again and finished or was planning to. So I guess one conclusion is that very few people, in fact hardly any, actually give up. I find this very heartening, and I think anyone who reads this or the other post can reassure themselves that lots of other people have been before them, and got there. If they can, you can.
Another possible conclusion is that the people who really give up and never return don't tend to frequent forums like this. Why would they? So they are not in a position to contribute to the discussion.

I know one person, at work, who gave up in Leon. She revealed that to me after I had published an article in the newsletter at work about my Camino. Otherwise, I never would have known she once had attempted it. For her, it was back issues that caused her to stop. She said that until she read my article it never occurred to her that one did not need to walk the daily distances as given in the guide book but could walk shorter stages.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Another possible conclusion is that the people who really give up and never return don't tend to frequent forums like this. Why would they? So they are not in a position to contribute to the discussion.
Exactly what I thought when reading.
 

Phoenix

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2014, CF: partial
2016, CF
2018, CF: partial
2019, CP
I am not not trying to be contrarian here, but it strikes me we are being a bit unscientific on this thread. All the posts seem to be from people who have completed the camino at least once, in most cases several times. Anyone on this thread who hasn't completed a camino is obviously the kind of person who plans and prepares before setting out to walk a few hundred kilometres.

Therefore, perhaps we should flip the question and ask:

WHY DO PEOPLE ABANDON THEIR CAMINO?

Have any of us given up (excluding outside reasons such as family needs, transport strikes, Covid etc)? Why? (and I am prepared to bet it wasn't lack of physical fitness, by the way).
It seems logical to train before any physical event.

I left the CF at Castrojeriz in the fall of 2018 (3rd time on the CF). Having lived with a neurological disease for nearly 20 years, I know I must train before any trip or event for success/completion - repetition, repetition, repetition - whether for a race, for a mountain climb, or for a Camino. For reasons beyond my understanding, yet which I accepted, my brain and legs just couldn't seem to connect on that trip (moving very slow, shuffle-stepping). Although disappointed, I was grateful for the time I got to walk and the people I met along the way. While walking between Hornillos del Camino and Hontanas, trying to decide what I should do, I came across a stop sign with graffiti written in English, "Go Home." I chuckled and kept going. A few km later, I crossed another rural road with another stop sign with the same graffiti message, which led me to think seriously about going home. By the time I walked into Hontanas, I knew what I was going to do and was at peace with the decision.

A year later, while walking the CP, I suffered a significant meniscus tear on the 3rd day out of Porto. Even though it was extremely painful (in fact, the most painful physical experience of my life), I was not about to abandon a Camino two years in a row. I made it.

On one trip I was at peace with leaving the Camino, and on another I was determined to not leave, regardless of the pain. For those who've said that one's mental state is as/more important than training physically, I agree wholeheartedly.
 
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Roby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Before deciding to go on the Camino I was very inactive and with a lot of extra pounds.
So I decided that I would prepare a year before departure and that I would cover about 25 km a day on average on Camino.
I started with regular 5km walks a day. Then I extended it to ten km a day. After that I started walking 20 km twice a week.
Two months before the trip, I crossed 30 km twice a week carrying a backpack.
That’s why the Camino wasn’t hard for me, I didn’t get a single blister and I didn’t have any problems along the way.
On the Camino I got even stronger and at the very end of the trip I had two days of 40km a day.
When my son asked me to take him next time, I told him that he should first pass the check-up, get up at 6:30 in the morning and walk 4 days in a row with me for 25 km. After that we had one 30km pilgrimage and now I sure he would be capable of the efforts that awaited him.
So, if you are not in really good shape, in my opinion, preparations are mandatory. They will give you the security and confidence that you can withstand the efforts that await you and help you avoid blisters and injuries.
I start the Camino in Pamplona and carry a backpack weighing 9 kg. After completing the daily section, I always have a lot of strength for sightseeing.
Preparations also allow you to make sure that all the equipment you wear is adequate to your needs.
 
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See signature. Too many to list here.
Camino is a long walk carrying weight on your back with numerous changes in terrain, tho not so dramatic.

IMO - people with a general lifestyle of fitness or walking (doesn't need to be extreme) will do fine without extra preparation, tho I do hope some of those walks include weight carried.

I regard the above is 5 hours / week just walking. Some might think that is not a general lifestyle of fitness, that is crazy. Others might think that is not exercise at all... hence why the "should you train thing" is always a tough question and a very personal one.

All I know is that when I've trained before the walk I've always enjoyed:

1) Less Pain

2) Less Pain

3) A higher degree of confidence

4) Less Pain

Not anything to be adhered to, like I said, its personal. But trust me, you will enjoy your time on your spiritual journey more if you are prepared (at least a little) vs. not.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Well they can't do any harm, at least probably not if you don't overdo it or walk in front of a bus. And looking back at our diaries, we notice that the first few days of every camino, we found it hard-going.

However, they can do some good, in particular cognitive good.

Consider this: most pilgrims who give up (see above) do so because of injury. These are generally not injuries caused by accident, they are stress or repetition related such as blisters and tendonitis. An experienced walker will consciously (explicit memory) or unconsciously (implicit memory) know how to avoid these issues e.g. walking at an even, moderate gait, taking rests etc etc.

A walking regime tests equipment as well, especially footwear (do they fit?) and backpacks (does it sit right? does it rub?) and walking poles (do you need them?) and waterproof jackets.

All physical activity involves a level of knowledge. In most cases that knowledge comes from first-hand experience.
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Very good point.

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
I’m gob-smacked ( read surprised, confused, astonished, puzzled) by most of the confessions and assertions in this thread. What do so many of you do? I walk 5 miles a day just to loose the dogs. It’s a mile to the pub or the baker and, a mile back. Maybe I’m privileged, or crazy, but actually walking a distance is just a simple process of starting walking and stopping when you’ve got “there”. I do appreciate that people who spend the majority of their time sitting or lying down or waiting for an Uber might find actually walking a bit of a challenge but it’s nowhere near as difficult as particle physics or feeding a family of 4 on €110 a week.
So, pre-Camino training regime? Normal life, maybe a chat with the vicar. On Camino - walk, eat, sleep, repeat. Post Camino- start planning the next one and take the hounds for a 5 mile whether they want to go or not 😉
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I’m gob-smacked ( read surprised, confused, astonished, puzzled) by most of the confessions and assertions in this thread. What do so many of you do? I walk 5 miles a day just to loose the dogs. It’s a mile to the pub or the baker and, a mile back. Maybe I’m privileged, or crazy, but actually walking a distance is just a simple process of starting walking and stopping when you’ve got “there”.
Quite different from suburban life in the US!
The closest store to my house is 2.5 miles away, so I don't usually walk there to do the grocery shopping. Likewise the closest restaurant is in the same shopping center as the grocery store. I do usually walk 5+ miles a day, but I'm pretty sure that my neighbors call me the crazy walking lady. 😄
I would love to move to a really walkable town or city!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I think my location is perfect, although still suburban - 2 km (4 km return) to groceries, banks, and library; 6 km each way to more services and shops, 8 km to box stores. I only drive if I'm buying something too heavy to carry. But it takes a shift in attitude, and I'm lucky to have the time to walk as I go about my business.
 

Stroller

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
When I worked I had to drive 3Hrs a day to get to and from work, followed by the usual 8 - 12 Hrs of work at a desk, a total of up to 15Hrs a day. Not that unusual for many office workers forced to commute. So a regime of exercise was essential to get any level of fitness and help to keep weight off.

When I retired I had a similar pattern to @Tincatinker and all was well. But following surgery walking became a complex exercise and so it's back to the old regime I used at work.

For all of us blessed to be retired and healthy or who have absolute control of our lives, yep, no training may be needed. But for those who are not so fortunate, working in offices, commuting etc. or recovering from illness a little gentle training will help a lot particularly in the early days of a camino. It can of course be walking the dog, or walking down to the pub it does not have to be a strict physical programme.
 
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Sean Lad

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2010 to 2019 walked total of 31 caminos
I must be crazy
i have walked trekked climbed over 5000 km since lockdown ie. 15 months
it helps I have mountains on my doorstep
i would go crazy if I did not climb mountains
camino a walk in park for me average daily trek 30 km
walk eat sleep
walk eat sleep
walk eat sleep
 

Jean Ti

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
I must be crazy
i have walked trekked climbed over 5000 km since lockdown ie. 15 months
it helps I have mountains on my doorstep
i would go crazy if I did not climb mountains
camino a walk in park for me average daily trek 30 km
walk eat sleep
walk eat sleep
walk eat sleep

Your from Ireland...

And carry an umbrella ☔?
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
You cannot be in too good a physical condition to walk the Camino (or any other long distance walk). Actually you cannot be in too good a physical condition to just plain wake up everyday.
Planning on walking the Camino? Get in the best shape you can before you do. You won't regret it.
I don't understand the prospective pilgrims who spend months or years planning their first Camino but don't bother to get physically fit before starting it. Believe me, it won't beat you into shape. In fact it may beat you so bad you end up stopping it before you are finished.
Spend less time pondering over pack choices and what's the best overpriced wool shirt to wear and more time doing long distance training walks, stretching and upper body strength exercises.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
I think my location is perfect, although still suburban - 2 km (4 km return) to groceries, banks, and library; 6 km each way to more services and shops, 8 km to box stores. I only drive if I'm buying something too heavy to carry. But it takes a shift in attitude, and I'm lucky to have the time to walk as I go about my business.
responding to a thread in the discussion started by
I’m gob-smacked ( read surprised, confused, astonished, puzzled) by most of the confessions and assertions in this thread. What do so many of you do? I walk 5 miles a day just to loose the dogs. It’s a mile to the pub or the baker and, a mile back. Maybe I’m privileged, or crazy, but actually walking a distance is just a simple process of starting walking and stopping when you’ve got “there”. I do appreciate that people who spend the majority of their time sitting or lying down or waiting for an Uber might find actually walking a bit of a challenge but it’s nowhere near as difficult as particle physics or feeding a family of 4 on €110 a week.
So, pre-Camino training regime? Normal life, maybe a chat with the vicar.

For those who like to, or are used to, walking C clearly is describing perfectly reasonable distances. Which includes most of us who have walked a camino.

But let's put this in perspective here. That's about an hour walking there and back for groceries, banks and libraries, 3 hours or so there and back to more services and shops, 4 hours there and back to the box stores (none of which include actual shopping time). For the many of us who work full time and have family obligations, in the absence of training for a camino, we may find it difficult to make that kind of time. And if we are doing shopping once or twice a week, instead of every day, as many in these circumstances do, we may find that we like to bring the car for its carrying capacity. The same is even more true for box stores.

I think very few in my neck of the woods walk 5 miles a day.
 
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2012
I think very few in my neck of the woods walk 5 miles a day.
David I do understand that work, family life and commitments can constrain opportunities for exercise. Nonetheless I've found that a few simple life-style decisions can have significant impacts. Even during my working life walking from Victoria Station, London to Bloomsbury for work, and back, clocked up around 5 miles a day and the journey could usually be achieved in a faster time than public transport could deliver. OK, I'm now at that privileged age wherein I can choose to shop locally, and grab a pint, every day rather than load up from a supermarket once a week.

I suspect that few of my neighbours clock in 5 miles a day either, but they could if they weren't waiting in for their next grocery delivery ;)
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
David I do understand that work, family life and commitments can constrain opportunities for exercise. Nonetheless I've found that a few simple life-style decisions can have significant impacts. Even during my working life walking from Victoria Station, London to Bloomsbury for work, and back, clocked up around 5 miles a day and the journey could usually be achieved in a faster time than public transport could deliver. OK, I'm now at that privileged age wherein I can choose to shop locally, and grab a pint, every day rather than load up from a supermarket once a week.

I suspect that few of my neighbours clock in 5 miles a day either, but they could if they weren't waiting in for their next grocery delivery ;)
I am not saying that it can't be done. I just recognize that most of us don't do it. So I'm not gobsmacked that they might benefit from some training.

I will admit that, what with the current pandemic situation where I am living, I also tend to get my groceries delivered and look for other opportunities to walk that won't bring me indoors with others not in my household. I figure it's best to reduce exposure for our essential workers who aren't as privileged as I as much as possible.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
responding to a thread in the discussion started by


For those who like to, or are used to, walking C clearly is describing perfectly reasonable distances. Which includes most of us who have walked a camino.

But let's put this in perspective here. That's about an hour walking there and back for groceries, banks and libraries, 3 hours or so there and back to more services and shops, 4 hours there and back to the box stores (none of which include actual shopping time). For the many of us who work full time and have family obligations, in the absence of training for a camino, we may find it difficult to make that kind of time. And if we are doing shopping once or twice a week, instead of every day, as many in these circumstances do, we may find that we like to bring the car for its carrying capacity. The same is even more true for box stores.

I think very few in my neck of the woods walk 5 miles a day.
Absolutely, living life day to day does get in the way of walking the Camino and does limit one's ability to be physically fit for the Camino or for life in general. I would say if one is truly motivated though, there's about one hour each day to at least do stretching and body weight exercises not to mention if overweight is a problem, changes in lifestyle, meals and nutrition. Also perhaps on days off a 5-10 km walk would help tremendously especially if their is an opportunity to do it in the countryside.
As far as the retired and the financially secure and not working set? No excuse not to be in shape to walk the Camino, lol.
 

ToniaD

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
I will try to agree with everyone! Each to their own. For me I would say a moderate amount of training is useful. Don't go mad on it doing 20 mile days for a couple of weeks is too much. Maybe a couple of weekends of 7 to 12 miles on consecutive days. If you're in shape anyway then you can just turn up and start. BUT I think the most important is to start slow if possible. First two days do half to 3/4 distance of your expected average, just to get your body adjusted to what you are going to ask of it. Works for me anyway!
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My parents went on the Camino Frances and tried to get some training in. Didn't work because they were swamped with commitments. They are in their 60's. Just before the Camino they did one walk of about 3km. My father threw up his hands and said they blew it as far as training goes and will train on the Camino.

They followed the guides and despite splitting the first day into two and going through Valcaros on the first and second day, they followed exactly what the guides recommended and averaged 23km a day.

Right now they said that they were lucky and wouldn't do that again unless they trained some.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
You can train before a camino. You can train on camino. This year, with a new knee, it would be advisable to train before the camino. I have not got very far with that, except that I do an hour yoga classes three times a week, plus my twice a day physiotherapy exercises. It is snowing in Calgary today, and the snow is turning to freezing rain. My stationary bicycle needs repair and I don't think I can plan a mountain walk this summer. l am full of excuses. I am currently planning to begin my camino with short days (5 now planned, but I may need more). If I can just lighten my pack, that may be enough. I hope so. And if summer ever comes and this pandemic ever ends, I may even get a couple of months of regular walking in before leaving. Wish me luck.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
Absolutely, living life day to day does get in the way of walking the Camino and does limit one's ability to be physically fit for the Camino or for life in general. I would say if one is truly motivated though, there's about one hour each day to at least do stretching and body weight exercises not to mention if overweight is a problem, changes in lifestyle, meals and nutrition. Also perhaps on days off a 5-10 km walk would help tremendously especially if their is an opportunity to do it in the countryside.
As far as the retired and the financially secure and not working set? No excuse not to be in shape to walk the Camino, lol.
I absolutely agree, and I will always recommend training walks for people going on Camino or otherwise getting oneself into shape. I'm just not confident that, absent that motivation and conscious decision, most people's normal lifestyle provides that much physical activity, at least where I am living.
 
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sunwanderer

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Santiago
Sep/Oct 2015
Four months before we left, we set up a schedule of walks of various lengths with weight.

It didn't happen - we walked once.

But the Camino worked out anyway. No pain, no blisters.
 

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