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The restorative power of a day off

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I never have started a Camino with a planned day off, but I always have ended up with one. Some short days of 10 km were planned early to allow for building up endurance and muscles, but some walking was planned for every day with an overall average of 23 km per day. The first day off occurred because of vomiting by two of the three of us walking together. Despite the sickness and its dehydration, the day off rejuvenated us beyond imagination. The next two were spontaneous side trips that required over 24 hours on, or waiting for, buses. Every time I was amazed by the way that my body and incentive were recharged.

For me it is hard to "waste" a day, so maybe the trick is to have an extra day in the original schedule, but avoid picking in advance the actual day off. Then when you are exhausted, take a guilt-free day of rest that does not put you behind schedule.
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I took a rest day the last time & took the bus to my next stop. Both of my knees were killing me & I was worried I wouldn't be able to get out of Villafranca Montes de Oca. Amazingly enough, that one day on the bus helped my knees adjust & I didn't have any further problems with either one, even my "trick" knee. :)

I agree with both Falcon and Kelly...a day off will have a positive impact on your Camino.

It's even more important should you injure any part of your body hips and below.

In my case, I fell and pressed on. I knew I was injured...but stayed on schedule. I suffered, but started out at first light. Had I just taken a day at the beginning, or cut my distance in half...had I listened to the Dr...I would still have made my Way to SDC and in much better shape than I arrived. Add to that the month to recuperate at home...what a mistake.

Take the extra day...ride the bus or train...listen to your body and the Camino...they want you to succeed.

Buen vitamin "I" Camino

I have never taken days off whilst walking the camino.
If you have a basic walking schedule and you get ahead of your days you can have some really short days where you arrive at the next village early enough to spend a whole day there doing nothing.
Those are like days off.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Its a personal choice, isn't it? I don't have a rest day from walking at home - walk the dogs every day and on 4 days a week I walk with friends and then walk the dogs when I get back. Doing a 10km walk on the camino from 6am to 8am and then stopping, is a rest day for me!
Taking a day off is a personal choice, but the "fact" is that the rest will cure many ills. If you have no ills, then it is just a wasted day on the race to Santiago. As Dean Martin said of drinking and hangovers, "I'd hate to be a teetotaler. Imagine getting up in the morning and knowing that's as good as you're going to feel all day."
As a teetotaller I can identify with old Dino :D But, I really value a clear head in the morning!
My 'race' to Santiago took 37 wonderfully laid-back, easy going, stress free days and then a further week thereafter of driving from Santiago to Fistera, Lugo, Oviedo, Castrojeriz, Santo Domingo de Silos, St Jean Pied De Port, Roncesvalles and Pamplona.
My husband has stamps in his passport from Sarria to Santiago and then an odd assortment of stamps from all of the above places!
I might be tempted to rest a day with severe foot problems:

"Just to recap: it rained the first 3 days and I got horrible blisters on both heels. I applied Compeed and after 2 days they went all mushy and stuck to my socks. When I tried to take the socks off, several layers of skin came off with the Compeed. I thought my camino was over but by applying a healing ointment and wrapping my heels in gauze, plasters and protecting them with sponges, I was able to walk for three days in my CROC sandals. At Logrono I bought hiking sandals and have worn them every inch of the way thus far."

Still, there is something to be said for fortitude!

"I'll do discomfort, but I won't do misery." anonymous
Ah ... you are like the the nun who walked with me when she said: "You HAVE to stop. You can't walk with those blisters."
I held up my arms and looked down at my body.
I touched my head. "I'm feeling great up here."
I punched my chest. "And, I'm feeling strong here."
I patted my thighs. "I'm really strong here. Nothing is broken, no torn muscles, no tendonitis."
Then I pointed to the back of my heels, covered with Dove pads, antiseptic cream, plasters and wash-up sponges.
"Those are the only two places that hurt. Those two egg size blisters on the back of my heels. The rest of me is really strong." And so on we went.
For the next three days we did shorter days, the heels improved, I bought sandals and walked 650km in sandals.
It took a couple of weeks for the blisters to heal completely.
Falcon, how would one day (or two, or three or four) of rest have made a difference? I would have been really miserable sitting in a hotel with my feet up waiting for them to heal.
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Rest won't help blisters. A ten minute break to stop and treat feet before blisters start will help! Both take the same sort of relaxed attitude that is contrary to many a Type-A personality.
I planned to have three rest days in France, but had four. The three planned ones were to enjoy Conques and Moissac, and in SJPP to refresh myself before climbing the Pyrenees. I loved Conques and am so pleased I rested there, especially as it was a Sunday and lots of music groups came to sing in the amazing acoustics of the Abbey. In each of my rest stops I re-met others I had seen along the way, who were also having rest days in the same places. In fact rest days became like reunion days!

My unplanned rest day was in Estaing, when I had sore soles from blisters after getting my feet saturated in the heavy rain for several days. It was the best thing I ever did. It gave the tenderness on my feet time to settle down, and I began again a day later totally rejuvenated. There is something to be said for spending a large part of a day on a seat beside the river Lot, chatting to lots of people who pass by....

It was much easier to have a rest day in France than in Spain: many of the gites let you stay a second night, without any proof of illness or the like. The only 'rest' day as such I had in Spain was the day after Burgos when we only walked 10km. And it amazes me now to think that that definitely felt like a rest day! However, if I am ever on the trail again, I may well plan in rest days in a hotel in a place like Burgos or Leon, and use ivar's services to book me into them!! Each of us find our own way to walk the Camino that suits us.
Question: What do peregrinos do on their rest day in a town or city?

Answer: They walk! After washing clothes, we walked and walked - sightseeing and exploring.
sillydoll said:
Question: What do peregrinos do on their rest day in a town or city?

Answer: They walk! After washing clothes, we walked and walked - sightseeing and exploring.

Ahhh but they only walk slowly if they want..... and they make frequent stops at cafes and such places. And they sit down next to statues and get their photos taken. And while they walk they bang into others having a rest day and they stop and chat......

And this lucky lady of a certain age even had her hot chocolate paid for in SJPP by a young man seen on the trail on previous days. Went to pay.... ahhhhh but Madame... it has already been paid for....... ahhhh... bliss on a day off!!
Which type of pilgrim has a more relaxing Camino?

"Type A individuals can be described as impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation. They are often high achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about the smallest of delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as "stress junkies." Type B individuals, in contrast, are described as patient, relaxed, and easy-going."

I would venture to say that there is universal agreement that you get to choose your own pilgrimage. If you need a day off, take it. If you don't, then don't. Some folks compete with themselves so intensely that it must detract from the joy of the pilgrimage. Do not let anyone talk you into walking their Camino as if their way is the right way. Triathletes who convince you to walk through pain and fatigue by putting on a pair of sandals may be doing you a disservice!
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I would venture to say that there is universal agreement that you get to choose your own pilgrimage

I would hope so!!
Some types like to tell others how they should do their pilgrimage - and their way is always the right way!!
Starting with a day off may help some suffering from jet lag! From a sleep disorder site:

"There is no specific treatment for jet lag, but trying to adapt to the new time zone as soon as possible may help. For instance, some travelers may benefit from the psychological effect of resetting their watches to the new time zone as soon as they depart. Most people try to minimize the impact of crossing time zones by planning their activities to accommodate the effects of jet lag.

"One useful strategy for easier eastbound travel is to take a daytime flight. If a traveler flies eastward by several time zones during the day, they may arrive at their destination in the middle of the afternoon, home time, and in the middle of the evening, local time. For example, if they leave Boston at 10 a.m. on a flight to London, England, they will arrive in London at 9:30 p.m., GMT. However, their body clock tells them it's only 4:30 EST. They should try to go to sleep at a normal time in the new time zone. If a traveler needs to take an evening eastbound flight, they will arrive in the middle of the night, home time. In this case, immediate rest helps. They should try to sleep for a few hours when they arrive and then try to stay up until bedtime. For most people, westward travel is easier to adapt to than eastward travel. This is probably because it is generally easier to elongate one's day by staying up later, than to try to shorten one's day by going to sleep earlier."
I think Falcon is giving good advice...I've never walked immediately following a long haul flight but it does take me some time to recover from jet lag. I always imagine it would be like walking with a hangover...but I've never had a hangover so I wouldn't know :) :wink:
For those in the North & South America who've never traveled to Europe, here's what works for me: Checking into the hotel, taking a shower, then a two to three hour nap. I get up & make myself stay up until 8 or 9, and try to get as much sunshine on my eyeballs as possible. By that I mean I go outside & walk around. I've heard that being out in the daylight helps reset your body clock. It doesn't work to be inside watching tv or looking out the window. You have to be outside in the natural light, breathing as much fresh air as you can (as opposed to the "canned" air you breathed on the plane). You can sit on a park bench & read a book, or just people-watch. Then I get something for dinner, go back to the hotel, maybe take another shower (it's part of my go-to-bed routine), hit the pillow, & sleep myself out. The next day is not so bad & I'm ready to go. :)

On the rare occasions that I can't get into my room until 2 or 3, I leave my bags at the bell stand, & reverse my routine (go get something to eat, take a walk, etc, then go to the hotel, eat dinner, shower, sleep).

Simply taking a shower makes me feel rested.
Off days sounds great and a solution for relaxing and just simply enjoying life. Last year walked 9 days with a Hungarian young guy and it was rush rush when we finally separated I kept the pace and eventually had to quit the Camino due to chest cold. This time around will certainly take rest days. Thanks for the suggestion. :)
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I remember one day coming across a poster in an albergue that gave some suggestions for remaining healthy as a pilgrim. There was a very wise suggestion on the list- I think at the top: "Walk at your own pace, not someone else's". I am certain it didn't mean 'walk by yourself' - but rather to walk within your own capabilities. All of us will have walking days when we are pushed beyond our comfort zones in various ways, but if that happens every day for too long, I think our bodies are more likely to respond with illness.

One day I saw this quote on the board from notion900, that I think sums it up:

"Please know that although some people seem to imagine it as some appalling ordeal, the camino is a very health-giving thing - if you do simple things like healthy food, plenty of water, moisturise your feet and get plenty of sleep. Being out in nature for 5 weeks is just so life-giving: I finished the camino absolutely glowing with health and vitality. I hope you have a wonderful time."

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