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Staying fit after the Camino

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grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
I have just finished walking the Camino Frances for the second time. Like last year when I had finished, I am now super fit. At least, my legs are so strong. I love being able to walk up steep hills effortlessly. However, last year, over time, I gradually lost that fitness and by the time I started walking the Camino again this year it was like starting from scratch. I did try to keep up a walking routine throughout the year but I suppose like most people, I find it hard to find enough time to go for long walks - except perhaps on the occasional weekend. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to keep up this level of fitness - or what a minimum level of walking might be to stay in shape? I was thinking about a daily run perhaps.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I have just finished walking the Camino Frances for the second time. Like last year when I had finished, I am now super fit. At least, my legs are so strong. I love being able to walk up steep hills effortlessly. However, last year, over time, I gradually lost that fitness and by the time I started walking the Camino again this year it was like starting from scratch. I did try to keep up a walking routine throughout the year but I suppose like most people, I find it hard to find enough time to go for long walks - except perhaps on the occasional weekend. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to keep up this level of fitness - or what a minimum level of walking might be to stay in shape? I was thinking about a daily run perhaps.
If you have hills where you live walk them as much as possible.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I have just finished walking the Camino Frances for the second time. Like last year when I had finished, I am now super fit. At least, my legs are so strong. I love being able to walk up steep hills effortlessly. However, last year, over time, I gradually lost that fitness and by the time I started walking the Camino again this year it was like starting from scratch. I did try to keep up a walking routine throughout the year but I suppose like most people, I find it hard to find enough time to go for long walks - except perhaps on the occasional weekend. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to keep up this level of fitness - or what a minimum level of walking might be to stay in shape? I was thinking about a daily run perhaps.
The level of fitness one enjoys after something like a Camino, or a long backpacking thru-hike, or military basic training, etc, can be maintained. However, the amount of time and effort makes it difficult to do for those of us that do not compete in sports on a regular basis.

The good news is that if the goal is to stay reasonably fit, and with the ability to quickly get back into 'Camino' shape, the time needed to do so is easy to fit into our regular lives. An hour, every other day, is all that is required. Here are some basic examples of what I do. When I get ready for backpacking season or Camino, I will step up the frequency of an exercise session (5 days rather than 3 days per week), and increase the overall effort, rather than simply maintaining my standard level of fitness.

As to training, their are really two main parts to focus on:
1. Cardiovascular fitness.
2. Muscle strengthening.

Cardiovascular fitness is the ability for your heart and lungs to supply oxygenated blood to your muscles during exercise under load, and your muscles ability to use that oxygen efficiently so they can produce energy.

Exercises should be used which will allow you to hit a target heart rate zone, over a for a period of time during exercising, which provides the needed aerobic effort for conditioning. This is a website which will help you calculate what your target heart rate zones will be.

https://www.lifespanfitness.com/fitness/resources/target-heart-rate-calculator

Treadmills at incline, running, walking at a faster than normal pace, walking up hills, rowing machines, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, riding a bicycle at a faster than normal pace, swimming, etc. are all examples of effective aerobic exercises when used to achieve target heart rates.

Keep in mind that as your fitness level improves, it will take a more sustained effort to hit the same heart rate zones. That is why using target zones is so effective. They don't change relative to fitness level. Someone extremely out of shape does not exercise as hard as someone who is extremely fit to reach their target.

Muscle strength is a function of how much maximum force your muscles can exert against resistance. Exercises for strength will also provide a temporary aerobic effect, but the main goal is to increase your capability to function while under resistance.

Think about having to lift the weight of your body, with a pack, with each step going up the Pyrenees. Or being able to lift and carry a load. Or the constant resistance of your body weight and pack to your shoulders and to the 'core' muscles in your back and abdomen.

Some basic strengthening exercises for home include push-ups, lunges, squats and planks. A google search will show you the way to do these exercises.

Other conditioning issues involve things like ankles, feet, and flexibility. Do a search on this forum for posts about exercises to help prevent shin splints and to help prevent plantars fasciitis.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper wrote a book, The New Aerobics, published in 1970 (so no longer new) that gave points for various exercises (run, walk, swim, bike, etc) done for a certain time at a specified speed. 30 points a week was considered sufficient to maintain your current level of aerobic fitness.

Things may have changed in the last 50 years but I think things are still basically the same. Do some Googling (because I can't; I've been called to dinner).
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I have had the same considerations. My training for next year's Camino basically started when I came home from this year's Camino.
I live in an area without mountains or big hills so it's hard to train that part without finding alternative ways. I also don't have time for long weekly walks. So instead I run and do strength training of the legs, my core, shoulders etc.
You can basically assume that if you run 5 kilometers it is equivalent to walking 15 kilometers etc when it comes to stress and thus training the legs and joints. That's my experience from the last two years.
When it comes to muscle training the legs are trained one at a time, as it best reflects that one leg is in the ground at a time when walking. The last months up to the year's Camino I intensify the walking.
And it works really well. I have now walked two Caminos on the basis of this form of training and preparation. And I've been in very good shape from day one. So it is one method I can recommend. Even in a busy work life.
Enjoy your training 👍
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Dinner is over; I have time to add to what I wrote earlier. Cooper's book will lead you through a program of aerobic exercise to get in shape. He has 5 categories of fitness. Since you feel that you are in shape you will likely want to skip some steps and the program allows this. With some caveats Cooper has you take a fitness test. That test is to run or walk as fast as you can for 12 minutes. You are placed in a fitness category based on the distance traveled and your age. If you fall into the top 2 categories then you use charts for different exercises to score 30 points a week to maintain your level of aerobic fitness. You can use exercise programs he has developed or mix as you please. As an example, you can earn 6 points by walking 3 miles within 36 and 43.5 minutes or 7 points for walking 4 miles between 48 and 80 minutes.

A buddy of mine in the service was encouraged to do this and keep track of his points with others on a chart in the office. He eventually got in trouble for supposedly taking too much time off from work. He tried to handle this the logical and truthful way by explaining "But Commander, I spend the same amount of time as you but I go twice as far." Of course that didn't go very well. He ended up keeping track of his points by doubling the faked amount he posted on the office chart.

Edit: Just a half hour after posting I was reminded of the Commander again. A lieutenant once told me he had to use the same trick that Dilbert used in today's comic strip to save himself countless hours of work.
https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-09-01
 
Last edited:

Meggins

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - One complete St.J.P.P to Santiago plus twice more for 500km each time.
I found that signing up for Nordik |Walking course was excellent and only went once a week - I intend to do that again this time when I return.
 

Lunchmeat337

Submariner
Camino(s) past & future
2015, Camino Frances, May
2017, Camino Frances, May
2018, Camino Portuguese, May
Try joining up with a CrossFit box and do one hour three times a week. Also, keep up with a regular walking routine. Maintain a well balanced diet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I always come back super fit and after months, slowly put the pounds back on.
This year, I'm doing water aerobics 5 mornings a week, free weights on alternate days, and walking on the other days when it's not too hot. Right now, at 6:46 am here, it is 82 degrees and muggy outside. By noon, it will be around 108 degrees, so walking isn't always the best bet. On the days it's too hot to walk, I "walk" and do jumping jacks in the pool for half an hour. Once the weather cools a bit (next month?) I'll begin taking longer and longer hikes.

I don't eat a lot of carbs. I eat mostly fruits, veggies, and a little meat. I guess post-menopause and genetics are doing their worst in my case. I have to keep active or I blow up like a barn!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I don't eat a lot of carbs. I eat mostly fruits, veggies, and a little meat.
I think that you mean you don't eat a lot of refined carbs, as the diet that you describe is high in complex carbohydrates, i.e., fruits and vegetables.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Finding the time is the key to maintaining your fitness and keeping a routine is recommended with some very good suggestions in the responses already. You need to maintain strength in the major leg and core muscle groups, include some cardio, keep up your endurance and also incorporate balance exercises. Walking on uneven bush tracks is great training for both body and spirit and helps to prevent repetitive injuries from pounding hard surfaces. Cross training is highly recommended ie cycling / swimming / weights / gym.

Whatever you settle on needs to be something that you enjoy and don't consider a chore. I also keep tabs on my FitBit stats so that I know if I'm having a slack week and need to up my exercise!

You can also look to incorporate more activity in your daily routine - fitness by stealth is part of my regime:
  • push ups against the kitchen bench several times a day
  • step ups on a box or fit to purpose step
  • taking the stairs at every opportunity and running up them if you can
  • using your tv time to workout if you have access to a stationary bike, rower or treadmill
  • using the tv ad breaks to sprint up and down the hallway or do resistance band or FitBall training
  • getting off public transport a stop or more earlier or parking your car further away from your destination
  • wearing your backpack - with increasing weight - as often as you can
You'll be surprised at how much this incidental exercise adds up. Get creative and enjoy!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte Sept 2013
Camino del Norte Sept 2014
Camino del Norte 2015,16,17,18
I found that signing up for Nordik |Walking course was excellent and only went once a week - I intend to do that again this time when I return.
I do that as well and it really helps. For me the special thing after a camino is that my stomach is more toned. I have more core stability which is lovely. Never manage to hold onto this despite being a regular exerciser ??
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I do that as well and it really helps. For me the special thing after a camino is that my stomach is more toned. I have more core stability which is lovely. Never manage to hold onto this despite being a regular exerciser ??
Right. Like right now when I'm in the shower I can't tell if I'm a girl or a boy. :eek: Sit-ups don't help. The everyday walking 6 hours does though.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
After my first and second Caminos I no longer "trained" for a Camino although some might think that my version of training for these initial Caminos was minimal (no backpack and a couple of weekends walking). But...I am normally active on a daily basis: I often use a bike as transportation (I live in The Netherlands), I spin twice a week and practice Ashtanga yoga (quite intensive) 5x times a week. I worked as a physiotherapist which is also not a typical office job. With all this, my experience is that I no longer have to walk much prior to a Camino, at least no more than I would normally do which is a Sunday 2 hour walk in the dunes.

The only way to maintain a good fitness level is to incorporate a routine into your daily life - something that you love to do. That is the only way that you will stick to it! Wake up earlier in the morning if you can't find the time later on during the day. This is what I do. Granted not everyone is willing to get up at 5 a.m. but it works for me.

Keeping the weight off that you may have lost is a whole other story and depends on your constitution and metabolism (I don't believe that there is one diet, or rather lifestyle, for everyone). Of course activity level plays a role but according to literature, your diet accounts for about 80%! After being a vegetarian for about 20 years, I changed over to a plant-based diet in February and found that this way of eating works for me. I lost excess kilos by leaving out dairy products (especially cheese) even though I eat lots of nuts, seeds and nut butters or tahini. My diet is more varied now that ever before and I take more time preparing my foods. Being a vegan is definately not boring!

This combination of activity and diet keeps me pretty fit year round, at 63 years of age I am not complaining;)
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
Wow davebugg - that’s a very complete answer. Thank you. It is most appreciated.
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
I have had the same considerations. My training for next year's Camino basically started when I came home from this year's Camino.
I live in an area without mountains or big hills so it's hard to train that part without finding alternative ways. I also don't have time for long weekly walks. So instead I run and do strength training of the legs, my core, shoulders etc.
You can basically assume that if you run 5 kilometers it is equivalent to walking 15 kilometers etc when it comes to stress and thus training the legs and joints. That's my experience from the last two years.
When it comes to muscle training the legs are trained one at a time, as it best reflects that one leg is in the ground at a time when walking. The last months up to the year's Camino I intensify the walking.
And it works really well. I have now walked two Caminos on the basis of this form of training and preparation. And I've been in very good shape from day one. So it is one method I can recommend. Even in a busy work life.
Enjoy your training 👍
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
Running is probably a great idea. I like your equation of 5k run = 15k walk. That’s definitely a useful rule of thumb to keep at the back of my mind. Thanks for your input
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
Finding the time is the key to maintaining your fitness and keeping a routine is recommended with some very good suggestions in the responses already. You need to maintain strength in the major leg and core muscle groups, include some cardio, keep up your endurance and also incorporate balance exercises. Walking on uneven bush tracks is great training for both body and spirit and helps to prevent repetitive injuries from pounding hard surfaces. Cross training is highly recommended ie cycling / swimming / weights / gym.

Whatever you settle on needs to be something that you enjoy and don't consider a chore. I also keep tabs on my FitBit stats so that I know if I'm having a slack week and need to up my exercise!

You can also look to incorporate more activity in your daily routine - fitness by stealth is part of my regime:
  • push ups against the kitchen bench several times a day
  • step ups on a box or fit to purpose step
  • taking the stairs at every opportunity and running up them if you can
  • using your tv time to workout if you have access to a stationary bike, rower or treadmill
  • using the tv ad breaks to sprint up and down the hallway or do resistance band or FitBall training
  • getting off public transport a stop or more earlier or parking your car further away from your destination
  • wearing your backpack - with increasing weight - as often as you can
You'll be surprised at how much this incidental exercise adds up. Get creative and enjoy!
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
Thanks wokabout_Meri. Fitness by stealth - I like that. Random pushups throughout the day sounds like a great idea. I’m not a big fan of indoor exercise machines but I’m sure I can find some sort of alternative. Thank you for your input.
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
After my first and second Caminos I no longer "trained" for a Camino although some might think that my version of training for these initial Caminos was minimal (no backpack and a couple of weekends walking). But...I am normally active on a daily basis: I often use a bike as transportation (I live in The Netherlands), I spin twice a week and practice Ashtanga yoga (quite intensive) 5x times a week. I worked as a physiotherapist which is also not a typical office job. With all this, my experience is that I no longer have to walk much prior to a Camino, at least no more than I would normally do which is a Sunday 2 hour walk in the dunes.

The only way to maintain a good fitness level is to incorporate a routine into your daily life - something that you love to do. That is the only way that you will stick to it! Wake up earlier in the morning if you can't find the time later on during the day. This is what I do. Granted not everyone is willing to get up at 5 a.m. but it works for me.

Keeping the weight off that you may have lost is a whole other story and depends on your constitution and metabolism (I don't believe that there is one diet, or rather lifestyle, for everyone). Of course activity level plays a role but according to literature, your diet accounts for about 80%! After being a vegetarian for about 20 years, I changed over to a plant-based diet in February and found that this way of eating works for me. I lost excess kilos by leaving out dairy products (especially cheese) even though I eat lots of nuts, seeds and nut butters or tahini. My diet is more varied now that ever before and I take more time preparing my foods. Being a vegan is definately not boring!

This combination of activity and diet keeps me pretty fit year round, at 63 years of age I am not complaining;)
 

grgfish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 19th, 2018
Thanks LTfit. I know diet is very important but unfortunately, like so many others, I’m useless when it comes to eating special diets. I’ve actually been vegetarian in the past and ended up putting on weight. One of things I love about the Camino is that I lost weight without having to be careful about what I eat. But I can’t keep up that level of activity in daily life - unless I become a professional Camino walker - I wonder how you could monetise that 😄
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
We are only blessed with one body, so fitness should be a life time goal. My training is year round and continuous whether I have a Camino on the horizon or not.
Why wouldn't you want to be always in peak fitness?
My basic weights, push ups and core exercises takes less than 1/2 hour each day. I walk 7 kilometers 3 to 4 days a week, ramping up more if a Camino is forthcoming.
So if some one asks how much training they should do for a Camino, my answer is 'Do something fitness related every day for the rest of your life.'
Better to treat your body as as temple and not and out house...
 

NYSE

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago & Camino Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
I have just finished walking the Camino Frances for the second time. Like last year when I had finished, I am now super fit. At least, my legs are so strong. I love being able to walk up steep hills effortlessly. However, last year, over time, I gradually lost that fitness and by the time I started walking the Camino again this year it was like starting from scratch. I did try to keep up a walking routine throughout the year but I suppose like most people, I find it hard to find enough time to go for long walks - except perhaps on the occasional weekend. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to keep up this level of fitness - or what a minimum level of walking might be to stay in shape? I was thinking about a daily run perhaps.
I finished my Camino mid May, 2019 and was fortunate to lose 20 pounds on my walk and another 5 pounds shortly thereafter (The loss was welcomed, I assure you.). I have kept the weight off and the legs strong by walking 25 to 40 miles per week, cutting the lawn and golfing. Walking is time consuming, and my course is less rigorous and adventurous than the Camino, yet, it does refresh the mind and keeps the legs strong. Four months removed from the Camino and I feel younger than I did when I began the trek.
 

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