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Running the Camino Frances - Gear? Any experiences?

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
I'd like to get the benefit of any advice from those with experience of running any part of the camino ( or any other long trails). Pack, gear, staging, run/walk strategies, nutrition, hydration, injury prevention etc. I know there are a few runners on these boards!

In the nicest possible way I'd like to ask that this thread not become a philosophical discussion about whether running/jogging the whole way is "in the right spirit" of the camino. I've walked it 4 times at various speeds and with various levels of rose smelling / culture vulturing and now find I'd like the additional challenge of running it, because I can. I make no claims about being sane though!

I tested out running a few sections of 5-10 km between Pamplona and Leon (in June 2018, mainly using a walk/run approach) and liked it so much I'll be attempting more of a run/walk approach this March/April on a longer trip (Pamplona to Fistera). My first thoughts are to walk a 5 km warm-up, then run a half marathon (21 km) then walk a further 5 km cool down each day (approx. 30 km per day more or less to stay in touch with any 30k per day walking camino buddies). Alternatively, (and based on past experience of there being good stopping places/cafes at regular intervals) maybe 4 x 5km with a cafe break and 2 km walk section every 5 km ( especially on warmer days)? What strategies have others used?

I have an Osprey Rev 6 litre pack which weighs 3 kg packed with full contents and 1 litre of water in the hydration bladder. Running gear worn, one set of evening clothes. Of course, going early in the season to get cooler running weather also means I might suffer in the albergues due to only being able to carry a super light sleep system ( SOL exposure bivy with silk liner inside).

I'm an old hand at the regular albergue life and how to navigate the camino itself but any insights into the running aspect from those who have run it would be be greatly appreciated.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from Astorga (2018)
Frances/Invierno from SJPP (2019)
I have no insights to offer but would love to hear how you’re doing once you get started.

I think it sounds great.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
I have no insights to offer but would love to hear how you’re doing once you get started.

I think it sounds great.
Hi Leibniz, If you use the Strava sports app you will be able see all of my runs and walks on there ( I can send a link by pm).
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
My friend ran the length of NZ in the 90's, it took her about 30 days, running around 80kms a day. (Of course there is a ferry ride between islands - but apart from that she ran the whole way.) She was the first woman to run it, she went with a friend who was the oldest man. I always thought of her as superwoman.
As there was really no infrastructure there, their spouses drove a camper van so that they had eating/sleeping sorted out.
As the Frances has plenty of infrastructure - you could stay in hostels,get laundry done, and not require taking much in the way of a pack.
I read about Dean Karnazes, his solution about food involved ordering ahead, it seems he was a fan of the rolled up pizza for efficiency. But you arent doing those distances - so regular pilgrim meals should do the trick.
The only issue I can see is that you will arrive much earlier than your companions and have to wait around waiting for accommodation.

(Two years ago we walked the Camino together - she was 69. Those are her feet top right in my avatar)
 
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NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztan, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués. Future: Madrid (2019)
Hi @Oravasaari, forum member @Rich1 did this some years ago and from what I can recall, he blogged about it. You might want to send him a PM.

Here's an interesting and honest blog post from Moire O'Sullivan, an Irish mountain runner. I read it some time ago and it inspired me to think about running some or all of the CF some day. She talks about her gear here. It's heavier than I would have expected, but she's not your average runner (she's a mountain running and adventure racing champion!).

If you decide to do this, I'd suggest making full use of the municipal swimming pools along the way. It will be hard to predict the cumulative effects of running every day, but a good stretch in a cold pool, or indeed a river, should work wonders!

If this is something you really want to do, I'd encourage you to give it a go. What's the worst that can happen? If it doesn't work out, you can just walk. Good luck!
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
My friend ran the length of NZ in the 90's, it took her about 30 days, running around 80kms a day. (Of course there is a ferry ride between islands - but apart from that she ran the whole way.) She was the first woman to run it, she went with a friend who was the oldest man. I always though of her as superwoman.
As there was really no infrastructure there, their spouses drove a camper van so that they had eating/sleeping sorted out.
As the Frances has plenty of infrastructure - you could stay in hostels,get laundry done, and not require taking much in the way of a pack.
I read about Dean Karnazes, his solution about food involved ordering ahead, it seems he was a fan of the rolled up pizza for efficiency. But you arent doing those distances - so regular pilgrim meals should do the trick.
The only issue I can see is that you will arrive much earlier than your companions and have to wait around waiting for accommodation.

(Two years ago we walked the Camino together - she was 69. Those are her feet top right in my avatar)
Wow! That's hardcore! My paltry 30 km won't have so much of a challenge to be sure. The amount of services along the CF was what made me think it would be a pleasure to run. Running past so many cafes, shops, albergues and pensions is very handy indeed, as well as the social angle. I will try to cover the same distance as any buddies I make so as to have a good evening camino crowd for socialising.

Good point about speed. I hadn't considered the timing, but, I suppose I should stay in bed an extra hour, then catch up around midday, maybe break the run in two with a long lunch so as to then only be at destination close to opening time.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
Hi @Oravasaari, forum member @Rich1 did this some years ago and from what I can recall, he blogged about it. You might want to send him a PM.

Here's an interesting and honest blog post from Moire O'Sullivan, an Irish mountain runner. I read it some time ago and it inspired me to think about running some or all of the CF some day. She talks about her gear here. It's heavier than I would have expected, but she's not your average runner (she's a mountain running and adventure racing champion!).

If you decide to do this, I'd suggest making full use of the municipal swimming pools along the way. It will be hard to predict the cumulative effects of running every day, but a good stretch in a cold pool, or indeed a river, should work wonders!

If this is something you really want to do, I'd encourage you to give it a go. What's the worst that can happen? If it doesn't work out, you can just walk. Good luck!
Those links were a great read! Thanks! Yes, stretching is something I often neglect but it could be crucial when trying to run every day. Thanks.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
Good gracious, great link! Running the whole 775 km in 10 days is not quite what I had in mind! Maybe 20 days minimum with my feeble 56 year old shell! Looks like she was fully supported, so no hassle worrying about accommodation or carrying all her gear etc. That would be a great way to do it for sure.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Good gracious, great link! Running the whole 775 km in 10 days is not quite what I had in mind! Maybe 20 days minimum with my feeble 56 year old shell! Looks like she was fully supported, so no hassle worrying about accommodation or carrying all her gear etc. That would be a great way to do it for sure.
It's actually possible to walk it in 20 days, even in 19. I have done both (at 53 and 62). The last being this past November.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
It's actually possible to walk it in 20 days, even in 19. I have done both (at 53 and 62). The last being this past November.
That's good going! Yes, that's pretty much my aim (run/walk an average of 30 odd km per day) so as to stay within the 30 km crowd's bubble and not be running "through" groups. The social side and getting to know people is important etc.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
That's good going! Yes, that's pretty much my aim (run/walk an average of 30 odd km per day) so as to stay within the 30 km crowd's bubble and not be running "through" groups. The social side and getting to know people is important etc.
If you are thinking about doing SJPdP - Santiago in 20 days then you will need to do close to 40 km a day. Sometimes I jog down easy declines which is a nice change for the legs but only when I'm alone and no one around😉
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
If you are thinking about doing SJPdP - Santiago in 20 days then you will need to do close to 40 km a day. Sometimes I jog down easy declines which is a nice change for the legs but only when I'm alone and no one around😉
Yes you are correct for the whole CF route. I walked my first complete SJPdP to SdC CF in 26 days. A Pamplona or Logrono start is the idea this time, mainly since it is most easy to get there by bus from Madrid in just a few hours. Going over to St Jean adds an extra complication and extra days travel for not much additional distance. I haven't been so fixated on starting in SJ or getting to Santiago in my latter caminos either so it kindda doesn't matter how close I get. I am flexible on the length of stay in Spain too, as I often don't buy my return flight until a week or so before flying home. The arbitary 30km is also just an initial aspiration as we all know how blisters and running injuries can flare up etc!
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
Having not done a run, I cannot offer detailed advice. Over the years I have met 3 different 'walkers' doing big distances; but they move so fast I never got to see them again. First was a young German Girl met at Trinadad Arre; her first day from SFPdP my third. She was lightly outfitted, running with 3-4 friends and no support. Second was a Canadian lady at Foncebadon who was being supported by husband in a chase vehicle. (Frankly she looked trashed enough that I would not be surprised if she had to quit). The last was a Quebecer I met in Astorga (who I had walked a day with on a previous Camino). He was doing 40-45 km daily walking and had actually joined a Camino family of similar distance walkers--I know he and fellow walkers were having a wonderful time.
So it can be done, if that is the experience you desire. If you have already walked it 4 times, you know the daily drill and can make all the appropriate gear choices.
Buen rapido camino!!!
 

DebraS.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June/ July (2015) - incomplete
Frances June (2018)
I did a run/walk from Burgos to Fromista. Due to illness and an injured foot, I had to stop. Staying hydrated was my biggest challenge and running downhills also. With the added weight of a backpack, I ripped the flesh off my heels. (Literally). I since learned that I did not have the best shoes for the terrain and high temperatures. I thought my feet did not sweat but found they really do and the moisture added to the damage.

I wish I could give it a second try though and envy you!
 

CharlieWart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2018)
I did the last 100km+ of the Via de la Plata as a one-day ultramarathon last summer, during a family holiday at SdC; I have a bit about the kit I used in this video, and on the webage:

http://www.wartnaby.org/running/camino/index.html

But that's a bit different because I didn't need any overnight gear. In general, I carried too much food, which I could have bought as I went along. Some people did say I might actually have found the CF a bit congested in some narrow sections if I'd done the last 100km of that instead, at a popular time of year -- more of a problem if you're overtaking lots of walkers. (The VdP was very quiet, but I only chose it because of transport logistics really.) Good luck!
 

Finisterre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2001,
Porto 2006,
Valenca 2008,
Finisterre 2010,
SJdPP 2012,
Tui 2014.

No plans to return, yet.
A really cheering video. Thanks CharlieWart. I had to laugh at the pilgrim office response. You doing it the easy way, like. Bad dog!
 
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CharlieWart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2018)
Ha thanks guys, to be honest I was in a pretty bad way by the end though -- definitely more hill training next time! (Not easy in Cambridge, UK -- it's totally flat here...) My legs were completely ruined for days -- and all those hills, steps and cobbles in Santiago to walk down with the family really didn't help!
 

Kharv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)

CharlieWart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2018)
Wow, that was a real adventure! Good idea if you have one runner to have the other partner cycle.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
I did the last 100km+ of the Via de la Plata as a one-day ultramarathon last summer, during a family holiday at SdC; I have a bit about the kit I used in this video, and on the webage:

http://www.wartnaby.org/running/camino/index.html

But that's a bit different because I didn't need any overnight gear. In general, I carried too much food, which I could have bought as I went along. Some people did say I might actually have found the CF a bit congested in some narrow sections if I'd done the last 100km of that instead, at a popular time of year -- more of a problem if you're overtaking lots of walkers. (The VdP was very quiet, but I only chose it because of transport logistics really.) Good luck!
Wow! Great run! Really enjoyed that! I'm only planning a half marathon per day!
 

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