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Tips for Uphill Walking or Hiking

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davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware the above occurring AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

CAN I DO THIS????!!!! is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
@davebugg, great post, but I think you have gone soft - breaks every 20 minutes! Really.

My preferred pattern is based on two rules:
  1. break every hour of walking and get one's pack off, have a drink and a snack. Take at least five minutes, but expect the breaks to lengthen during the day.
  2. once going uphill, do not stop until the top of the rise. I take a few moments at the top, but don't remove my pack unless it is on the hour of walking.
I have only met a couple of really long continuous slopes over many years of walking. The most recent of these was here in Australia when walking with a friend along a section of road - 3.4 km in length and about 110 m of pretty continuous climb (there was a 2.4 m drop over 115 m at one point). The other long climb of anything like that length was a section of the S:t Olavsleden in Sweden last year. From memory, it was about 2.9 km long as the road climbed both along a valley and ascended to cross into the next watershed. The climb here took just on an hour, that in Sweden was slightly less. And yes, it can be difficult to keep climbing that long, but I think that is a mental thing rather than reaching some physical limit.

Your remarks about pace are spot on from my experience, and yes, even with a lot of experience, it is easy to go out too fast. I have used a variety of pacing tunes, including The Little Engine that Could. I clearly don't have your repertoire of Camino appropriate material!

On the camino, I do some adjustment to these rules depending on the distance to the next village. I have found that a pattern of about two hour legs works pretty well over most of the camino. So I don't take my pack off at the hour point, but continue for a longer break with a coffee and snack at the next village. There are some sections, like the 17 or so km after Carrion where that doesn't work when taking a break after an hour comes back into play.
 
Last edited:

Nanc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
REST STEP
step forward, place foot and bear weight on it by extending that leg straightening the knee and off loading the down hill leg. Once the weight is fully on the up hill leg, swing the down hill leg up and repeat. The speed of each step will be determined by your breath.

with each step forward breath in, As you push up to bear weight, breathe out. It may be a breath in for each leg and out with the other . or on shallow rises, may be 2 steps for each breath . On steeper slopes it may be slow enough to get in 2 breaths per step

:p
If paced correctly you should be able to reach the top and NOT be out of breath
works on mountains and hills and stairs
 

Michael; Camino-addicted

Take your time to enjoy a beautiful moment
Camino(s) past & future
A few Caminos
Next plan - Camino Vasco interior
My friends always say I walk uphill like a mule - slowly but steadily.

Since I often hum some melody all day long, I always find a song that pulls me up the mountain.

Looking at the ground, melody in my ear, walking on and on - and when it suddenly gets easier, I'm on top. 😚
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
@davebugg, great post, but I think you have gone soft - breaks every 20 minutes! Really.
:) Yeah, I know. But just keep in mind that the context is for those who are just beginning distance walking under load, and are concerned with how to proceed with uphill grades like SJPdP to Roncesvalles.

I mentioned that my typical 5 minute break is about on the hour, but can extend that out depending on energy output and ability to eat on the move. For the longer breaks, where I will sit down and rest for a good 30 to 40 minutes those are about 3.5 to 4 hours apart, and like you, when on the Camino I tend to plan those longer breaks around village bars and other eateries :)
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune.
Dave, I'm surprised. I thought you were a Staying Alive uphill walker. I blame your Napoleon Route video for this idea.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Dave, I'm surprised. I thought you were a Staying Alive uphill walker. I blame your Napoleon Route video for this idea.
ROTFLOL!!! Honestly, I think using Hark the Herald Angels started a long time ago when I was doing winter hiking near Christmas. From there, it just sorta stuck. :)

At least it wasn't Handel's Messiah :p
 

mary_mh

Buen Camino
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept (2019)
With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware the above occurring AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

CAN I DO THIS????!!!! is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
Great tips and reminders Dave - thank you 😊
 

josephmcclain

Active Member
With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware the above occurring AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

CAN I DO THIS????!!!! is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
Thanks so much for this. As usual fantastic advice! I am starting the Primitivo in about 4 days and I needed to read this! At my 76 years I take every bit of good advice. I can do it!
 

Rex

Pilgrim Trekker
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago (2013)
Lisboa to Santiago (2018)
Great advice... I use “When the Saints Go Marching In” ... irony in that I’m clearly not one of them, but the tune is great and I have multiple versions, from New Orleans jazz to full gospel rock on my iPhone! Sometimes startles other pilgrims when I actually sing along the way. 🙀😳🙄😎
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. 2020 May or end of September.
Put the ball of your foot down before the heel. It brings more muscles into play.
With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware the above occurring AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

CAN I DO THIS????!!!! is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
I find that a short stint of walking backwards uphill (with someone to “spot” for you) will give your calf muscles a break and a nice view of where you have been. Also, I don’t like to look up to see how much further it is but rather look from side to side and enjoy that view.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Great tips! I just think that if I adapt any tune to my pace going uphill, it will sound like Dory speaking Whale language. ("Heyyyy I just meeeettttyouuuuuuuuuuuuu andthisisssss craaaazyyyyy but here'smynummmmmmmmmbeeerrrr caalllllllllmeeeeeeeee maaaybeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEeeeEEEEeehhHHHH")

(just joking, I usually mentally sing all the time while walking and never realised how it actually helps :) )

I also do the @Chris Gi thing above of walking backwards a little bit to give the legs a rest.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware the above occurring AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 20 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking. You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

CAN I DO THIS????!!!! is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. :);)
When I come to long uphill. I take a break before starting. A small snack and a good drink. 15 mins is enough for me but at times its 20 steps rest then 20 steps rest depending on length of slope. Climbing Mostelares for example, I say the Rosary. If I cant complete a decade without panting, I slow down or stop. Always got to the top be it Pyrenees, Mostelares or O Cebreiro. I was 64 and very unfit when I first walked the camino. 69 last year when I climbed Napolean for the second time. I never had any doubt I would make it. Why would I? Once I start up there is nowhere else to go but forward so giving up on the Pyrenees was not an option. Its not as if a bus will be along soon. No. its walk on, no other choice. I understand the original post but for me, there is just too much thinking involved. Just keep going as best you can. People passing me always say, 'never look up'. As soon as they say it, I have to look up :D. Besides, the top is always around the next bend.....isn't it?
 

joec

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
french way (2019)
As someone who has walked many miles on the up and down Appalachian Trail here in the US, I have found that going slow and locking my knee for just a moment when I straightened it for each step uphill, gives my leg muscles the slightest rest and seems to help keep me going. The most important is to go as slow as it takes to keep going and not mess up your metabolism with start and stopping constantly.
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2016) Camino Portuguese (2017) Considering Invierno 2019
Judiicious use of the scenic view point is my preferred option. At the point my lungs are feeling bad I turn round and try to look as though I am enjoying the view. Then wheeze until I am ready to go on.

On a serious note people like myself who are overweight, unfit and generally under prepared can generally help themselves by taking shorter steps at a slower pace and take a rest when it is necessary. After all the Camino is not a race!

I usually set a visual goal when I hit a steep section and have a rest when I reach it. Another useful thing to do is also turn around and face downhill when resting. This reduces the strain on the muscles! As people have already pointed out you need to stay hydrated and having boiled sweet can help replenish energy levels for short periods of time.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Dave, As always great info.

If I may add one thing......For prolonged uphill stretches remember to adjust and re adjust your back packs to maintain their positions higher on your back as opposed to hanging off your back.
 

Meggins

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - One complete St.J.P.P to Santiago plus twice more for 500km each time.
Sung to my mochila........."He ain't heavy, he's my brother..." by The Hollies, ---)
 

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