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how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.

Preparing physically to walk the Camino

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
I’d like to share how I’ve prepared for both Caminos and plan on repeating it for a third. It wasn’t intentional—I stumbled onto it but discovered that it was brilliant and thought that I would share it here.

Oaxaca, Mexico. Famous on all the cooking and travel shows for great culture and cuisine in the heart of Mexico. A very affordable travel destination. Year round seasonable weather. Altitude of 5500 ft. I discovered in the heart of the city is a broad, park-like staircase that goes up 400 steps to the picturesque outdoor tent civic auditorium where there is a great view of the city and valley. You can go up 100 more steps to the Planetarium and there is a trailhead there for an hour-long hiking trail that mimics for me much of the “moderate” level areas of the Camino Francés. You can make of all this a 30-60-90-120 minute workout at whatever level you are at. A bonus is that at mile-high elevation, your workout is worth two at sea level which is why many US Olympic teams train in Colorado. At whatever level of fitness (or none at all) you bring to your Camino if you spend as little as a week in Oaxaca or as much as a month, your Camino will be less painful and more pleasurable. I recommend hitting the steps at about 7:30 am and following it up with a coffee at one of many cafes nearby, grab breakfast at the local market, go back to your room for a shower and you’ll be ready for a day of touring the area (many tour guides available and day trips to rural villages) or just strolling this marvelous colonial-era city with its incredible architecture, museums, Aztec ruins, and markets. There are Spanish language schools available for 1 on 1 instruction for 1-2-3 hours a day and many tutors who can meet you at a cafe for a lesson. Local cuisine is the specialty at many excellent restaurants. Getting to Oaxaca is easy. Fly into Mexico City and transfer to a flight to Oaxaca or take a first-class luxury non-stop bus. Many very economical Airbnb’s. I’m happy to answer any Q’s you might have. I’m a Oaxaca-holic!
 
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
That does sound excellent. For those able to travel easily to Oaxaca in the future I’m sure it’s an excellent choice.

Personally I think it’s important to describe the Camino Frances (apart from the first two days and the often-overstated couple of ascents in the middle) as a straightforward village-to-village walk through a very civilised first-world country with an average of at least two pharmacies and five cafes every day. The challenge is in the 30+ days. It really is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you can limit yourself to a reasonable load, the physical preparation needed is not exactly extreme.

Nonetheless, if you have the time and resources to ‘train’ in Oaxaca - or similar - then why not?
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
That does sound excellent. For those able to travel easily to Oaxaca in the future I’m sure it’s an excellent choice.

Personally I think it’s important to describe the Camino Frances (apart from the first two days and the often-overstated couple of ascents in the middle) as a straightforward village-to-village walk through a very civilised first-world country with an average of at least two pharmacies and five cafes every day. The challenge is in the 30+ days. It really is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you can limit yourself to a reasonable load, the physical preparation needed is not exactly extreme.

Nonetheless, if you have the time and resources to ‘train’ in Oaxaca - or similar - then why not?

Excellent points here, Henry. You touch on the two concerns that I carry forward after my experience on the CF. The background is that there is a sense that almost anyone with an OK from their doctor can walk the Camino and complete it regardless of preparation. This is something I love about the Camino and is proven true every day in every albergue and in Santiago. However, I have seen new friends truly suffer along the way because of the physical strain and because they carried too much weight in their pack. I’m a fan of exercise such as stair climbing not because it increases speed but because it adds a little bit of endurance so that there is lessened stress on the body as you walk from village to village—especially when wind, rain, cold, sun, or heat is applied. A little conditioning prior to the Camino goes a long way. I’m one of those people who tend to procrastinate good things. Just a little prep work, as all the guidebooks suggest, goes a long way.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
This sounds like a great excuse to spend some time in Oaxaca! When international travel is feasible again, of course.

But I can't think of anywhere on the Camino Francés that requires 30+km days.
I think henrythedog meant the 30 days or more that it takes to walk the CF from SJPdP.
 
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That does sound excellent. For those able to travel easily to Oaxaca in the future I’m sure it’s an excellent choice.

Personally I think it’s important to describe the Camino Frances (apart from the first two days and the often-overstated couple of ascents in the middle) as a straightforward village-to-village walk through a very civilised first-world country with an average of at least two pharmacies and five cafes every day. The challenge is in the 30+ days. It really is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you can limit yourself to a reasonable load, the physical preparation needed is not exactly extreme.

Nonetheless, if you have the time and resources to ‘train’ in Oaxaca - or similar - then why not?

I hope the phrase walk through a "very civilised" first-world country was not a Freudian slip.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
What's Freudian or wrong about calling Spain s "very civilised" first-world country? They have a few things with bulls that some people consider uncivilised, but, on the whole, they are as civilised as most countries in Europe.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked in "2016," "2018"
Perhaps I live in a different world. But hearing the word "civilised" in such a casual manner in this day and age sounds so weird. Using the phrase in the context of a story around Oxaca, Mexico seems especially strange.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
Henry the dog was talking about Spain, not Mexico, being civilised. A Freudian slip is usually regarded as revealing something in the subconscious of the speaker or writer, often of a sexual nature.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Perhaps I live in a different world. But hearing the word "civilised" in such a casual manner in this day and age sounds so weird. Using the phrase in the context of a story around Oxaca, Mexico seems especially strange.

I guess I'm a bit puzzled, because I don't understand the issue with henrythedog's characterization of the Camino de Santiago's in Spain as "a straightforward village-to-village walk through a very civilised first-world country". It has been frequently mentioned in that way, especially as one way of describing the difference between walking a Camino, from a wilderness backpacking trip. :)
 
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D

Deleted member 67185

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Very well made point which I was trying to articulate.

I think some of the above responses meant to say "economically developed" instead of "civilised."

No, I meant what I stated. Saying that Spain is civilized, did not state that other nations were not.
 
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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@Zordmot, your topic named as "Preparing physically to walk the camino" covers, to my mind, about one quarter of what is necessary.

Getting up a few hills is important along with going down the other side, safely.

And others above say most walks that get talked about on this site, for the most part are village to village rambles of what ever distance you want to cover each day and usually you will pass café, bars and farmacia each day.

But about half the preparation is mental stamina to cope with change, misfortune, bad weather, accident, illness, whatever.

For example: stats gathered at the Pilgrims' Bureau at Santiago show the town started from. My recollection of, some years ago, looking at stats from the major starting points showed a discrepancy: many more were leaving, say, Saint-Jean or Burgos in a year than arrived at Santiago. Is the answer, in part, they were not physically prepared or not mentally prepared or both or something completely different.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
I am given to understand that the majority of people walking the caminos are Spanish. It seems to be quite usual for them to walk a camino for two weeks (annual leave, or a portion of their annual leave) from a given start point, and start again the next year from where they finished the last year. It could be that they only walk for one week, and so finish their camino in four or five years (for the Francés). this could account for the discrepancy in starters and finishers.
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
this could account for the discrepancy in starters and finishers.

Another possible reason is that many pilgrims that have already reached SdC several times decide to stop somewhere before Sarria, avoiding the massive number of pilgrims in the latest 100 km.

By the way, as the Spanish goverment allowed us to make some sport (this starting today), I started today trainning a little for my next Camino. After near two months at home ... I really need a little trainning!!:p

I hope to be able to start a Camino in about two months (if everything goes well with the corona!). Considering the season, I am thinking of the Camino del Norte ... But I do not know if I will be able to resist the opportunity to walk the Camino Frances during the summer and almost empty of pilgrims. For me, the Camino Frances was, up to now, a winter Camino.
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
It has long been a dream of mine to spend time in Oaxaca. I think I might train for the trip by walking a camino.

(No, really. Oaxaca has been on my bucket list since I can't remember when).
 
D

Deleted member 94911

Guest
Preparing for Camino makes it very safe saves numerous problems like injury and blisters
during this pandemic I walk every day 22 km this morning 15/20km most days
i would be on 19 day of Camino only for pandemic
really enjoying local walks mountains beaches and swiming in open sea
be safe and cool down
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
Very well made point which I was trying to articulate.

I think some of the above responses meant to say "economically developed" instead of "civilised."
This is per dictionary.com website:
adjective
1. having an advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
2. polite; well-bred; refined.
3. of or relating to civilized people: The civilized world must fight ignorance.
4. easy to manage or control; well organized or ordered:The car is quiet and civilized, even in sharp turns.

Sure, I will buy that as a description of Spain. Why not? How would you know what they meant to say instead?
Certainly my experience of Spain, and having spent time in other countries that had almost no infrastructure, economy or security, where we were required to travel heavily armed and in fear for our lives everyday I can see where one country could be categorized as civilized and another as uncivilized (whatever the circumstances that cause it to be).
 

cathal Ferris

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
29th April to May 31 2014
April to May (2015) starting in Burgos on the (27th April 2015) completing in Santiago on the 10th May flights booked from Dublin into Madrid and alsa bus up to Burgos
12th August 2015 Starting at Croagh Patrick Clew Bay to Downpatrick known as Camino Way of St Patrick
@Zordmot, your topic named as "Preparing physically to walk the camino" covers, to my mind, about one quarter of what is necessary.

Getting up a few hills is important along with going down the other side, safely.

And others above say most walks that get talked about on this site, for the most part are village to village rambles of what ever distance you want to cover each day and usually you will pass café, bars and farmacia each day.

But about half the preparation is mental stamina to cope with change, misfortune, bad weather, accident, illness, whatever.

For example: stats gathered at the Pilgrims' Bureau at Santiago show the town started from. My recollection of, some years ago, looking at stats from the major starting points showed a discrepancy: many more were leaving, say, Saint-Jean or Burgos in a year than arrived at Santiago. Is the answer, in part, they were not physically prepared or not mentally prepared or both or something completely different.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
Well Said i know one guy coming down the other side of the Pyrenees into Roncesvalles slipped on the grey clay on the boulders and ended up in Hospital for two days with stiches to his thigh so a careful bit of planning using right footwear etc but you can never plan for the unknown and best to enjoy one day at a time Keep Safe Buen Camino
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I'm not entirely sure why I'm back here - perhaps Robo 'liked' my initial contribution, which was good of him, and it sparked my curiosity.

I could clarify that my describing Spain as civilized does not - necessarily - imply that any other country is 'uncivilized'. It's not a zero-sum game. I have personal issues with some of the cultural aspects of traditional Spanish life - but, give me a country, and I'll pick a fight if I have to. Some of the responses do seem to be debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Perhaps 'economically developed' would have been a better description; but equally, some of the pedants could just chill out a bit.

Onwards and upwards, eh?
 

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