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Training for Camino?

The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Fitness in preparation for Camino is a positive thing to do, but you need to be deliberate about how you proceed. You have enough time to make a significant increase from where you are now, without frantically pushing yourself too hard and beyond your body's ability to recuperate from each exercise session. That same deliberation will help prevent injury as well. Be consistent and patient. If you would like other more specific guidelines and suggestions, send me a PM. :)

This is a guide I had posted a while back.
-----------------------------
As to training, there are really two different 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.

As your departure date nears and you've been involved in your fitness regimen for the next 6 weeks or so, rather than your routine exercise schedule, put on the clothing and footwear you will be using on Camino, load up your pack, and spend the next several days in a row walking. See how you feel and at what pace you are able to best sustain yourself. That will give you a baseline estimate to calculate logistical issues surrounding the question of how many days it may take to walk your Camino.

More than anything else, enjoy the entire process of getting ready for Camino. Write down your reasons for doing your camino: list your personal goals for doing Camino, and what type of experience you are hoping for. If you become discouraged with your preparations, or feel anxious and overwhelmed, or get a bit of cold feet about leaving home for the camino, or simply to refresh your resolve anew, review what you have written to yourself.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I do not train in any systematic way. Two or three times a year I walk a long-distance route. Past experience tells me the sort of daily distances, pack weight, ascents and descents that are comfortably within my scope. I try to avoid very long stages or excessively steep terrain for the first three or four days of a walk. That gradual reintroduction to longer distance walking over several days is all the "training" I've ever felt necessary.
 
In May I’ll be doing my second Camino (Camino Portugues from Porto). My first was last April (Camino Frances). I walk a ton normally and didn’t do any training for my first Camino, but am curious any recommendations/to hear what everyone else does.
Like you, I walked the Frances last year and will walk from Porto in mid April this year. Since you have already done one Camino, you actually have the best training lesson in the bag: you know you can do this. You can walk slow and short distances if that suits you.
As a relative newbie to caminos, my contribution is probably not valuable, but since you said you are curious about what others do, here’s my routine: I walk about 5 miles a day and 10-14 miles one day on the weekend, not for training but for dogs, commute, habit and enjoyment. I also have always practiced yoga 2-3 hours/week. I live in a completely flat area (see name), so to prep last year I started walking on an incline on the treadmill, walking stairs/ stadiums and added an hour of low weight/high rep weight training (les mills/ bodypump) twice a week (awesome for core and legs- sooo many squats and lunges). i did fine but sent my pack ahead when my chronic shinsplints flared up (if you’ve ever had them, you know they can be excruciating and can lead to much worse injury if not cared for). This Camino I’ll walk slower and have built in a couple of rest days in case of injury or if I want to explore. A couple of times before I leave I will pack my backpack (a little lighter this year), pick up my poles, and walk 13 miles to my daughter’s apartment, spend the night, then walk back the next day. That will help me vet my pack weight and shoe choice (I’m trying out a new trail runner but also have a pair of my standard trail runners). I’m 58 and average weight for my height (since losing about 8 unnecessary pounds on the Camino last year).
 
I think you missed an important part of training: mental toughness or persistence, or whatever you want to call it.
After walking 20 miles with a 20 lb pack and your feet hurt and your legs hurt and your back hurts, its your mind that keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
I am not trying to say that the Camino is agonizing. But in my limited experience there are plenty of hard moments: blisters, losing toenails, muscle cramps, hunger, thirst, etc.
The mental toughness is what gets one over those difficult moments.
just my opinion FWIW.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I'm going to come at this from a different perspective.

I think the language we use can be very important and training, for me, is rarely a pleasant occupation.

I prefer preparing, or better still, practising. That covers all the cases mentioned above - the physical preparation.

But what of all the other preparation?

To a certain extent that depends on how we want to travel.
So, for example, I'd include learning a few (or more) phrases in Spanish, or in your case, Portuguese.
I'd spend a bit of time playing with any tech that I plan on using to be familiar with it and stress testing it (for example how does it function offline?)
I'd get an idea of how long my phone stays charged for with "Camino usage" and how long it takes to recharge.
I'd check my phone has coverage and similar with my bank/credit card and make sure I have the necessary contacts if something goes wrong.
If there's something I think I'm going to use and that will be important to me I'll want to practise until I'm comfortable with it.
Those kinds of things. Reduce the stress things.

However, there's also another element to consider - the mental or emotional preparation.

For example, not everyone is comfortable with the solitude of a Camino, or the opposite - the communality of the Albergues. These can be big adjustments and hard to prepare for. Sometimes, a bit of visualisation can help. Play imaginary scenarios in the mind and get used to them. Breathing exercises, meditation, mantras can all be helpful too.
Another common issue is the anxiety of those left behind. Perhaps part of the preparation is gently explaining that you may not be in contact with them every hour/day or week.

When faced with an anxiety we effectively have two choices - face it down or avoid it as much as possible. By identifying our anxieties in advance we have the opportunity to develop tools to face them down and practise using them before they are needed.

For me, long distance travelling under my own steam offers a freedom that is rarely found elsewhere. The freedom to stop, or not, the freedom to change plans on a whim. That can be a surprisingly difficult goal to achieve when our minds are full of destinations, times, schedules and our "normal" life consists of a time focused routine. Some people can switch "normal" life off with their first step on the Camino, some of us have to work at it. How much is missed as people rush from one place to another? Perhaps stopping to smell the roses is something that can be practised too?

At the end of the day if my feet are blistered I can catch a bus or taxi and visit a pharmacist. If my mind is blistered, that's not such an easy fix. We "train" for the foot blisters. Do we prepare for the mind blisters?

You already have one Camino under your belt. Is there anything from that one that you have the idea that you didn't appreciate, or enjoy. Or missed? Are there any situations that, if you had the chance again, you'd do differently? If so, how would you do them differently? Perhaps, that's what you practise?
 
In May I’ll be doing my second Camino (Camino Portugues from Porto). My first was last April (Camino Frances). I walk a ton normally and didn’t do any training for my first Camino, but am curious any recommendations/to hear what everyone else does.
I spend about six weeks with concentrated training with emphasis on time walking as opposed to miles. I start out walking for two hours, stop/rest, then walk back to the beginning. I increase the time and eventually will hit walking 8 hours with the appropriate resting, eating. I start out wearing my backpack with about 1/2 the weight I will carry and then increase to what I know the weight will be on the Camino. I will be doing my 4th Camino this April(del Norte).
 
My first Camino will begin in May. I am following a distance walking plan I found online. I am the kind of person who needs to follow something specific or I will tend to do nothing. This week’s maximum is 7 miles and it builds each week. Keeps me motivated, I have a set plan, and I am using the walks to test things like shoes and clothing. I am also doing some strength training as directed by a physical therapist.

My biggest concern is hills. I live in Wisconsin so walking outside is not an option for me right now (cold, snow, ice) and I hate treadmills. I have been walking on an indoor track. At some point I am going to have to do something about that. I remember reading once here where someone suggested walking in parking ramps. That might be a good option once the weather improves in a few weeks.
 
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... I live in Wisconsin so walking outside is not an option for me right now (cold, snow, ice) ...

I live in New Hampshire where we also get cold, snow and ice, yet I still get out during the winter and walk when possible.

I prefer to walk on trails through the park, but during winter I do most of my walking on neighborhood roads and school parking lot that are cleared of snow.


-Paul
 
I live in New Hampshire where we also get cold, snow and ice, yet I still get out during the winter and walk when possible.

I prefer to walk on trails through the park, but during winter I do most of my walking on neighborhood roads and school parking lot that are cleared of snow.


-Paul
I should have chosen my words differently, I won’t walk outside in the winter rather than can’t. 😁
 
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10 k every few days I find it’s more than enough. A month before a camino the same with a backpack. That’s plenty. After the first week on the camino you find your rhythm and strike the right fitness level anyway.
Fully agree. I think if you can do 10k reasonably comfortably then you can do up to 25 comfortably with breaks. And that’s what we try and limit our stages to
 
Whatever route you decide to take,
be a snail; slow but, determined, until your body has found its way.
The most common injury is the result of trying to walk too far too quickly carrying too much!

Furthermore ponder this earlier thread which may help you decide IF you can do it.
 
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My first Camino will begin in May. I am following a distance walking plan I found online. I am the kind of person who needs to follow something specific or I will tend to do nothing. This week’s maximum is 7 miles and it builds each week. Keeps me motivated, I have a set plan, and I am using the walks to test things like shoes and clothing. I am also doing some strength training as directed by a physical therapist.

My biggest concern is hills. I live in Wisconsin so walking outside is not an option for me right now (cold, snow, ice) and I hate treadmills. I have been walking on an indoor track. At some point I am going to have to do something about that. I remember reading once here where someone suggested walking in parking ramps. That might be a good option once the weather improves in a few weeks.
a treadmill works adequately until you can walk hills. Bleacher stairs, Stadium stairs, home stairs, etc will also help
 
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a treadmill works adequately until you can walk hills. Bleacher stairs, Stadium stairs, home stairs, etc will also help
I highly recommend stairs over treadmill so you get the downhill, too. Garage ramps, if safe, would be similar to the paved slabs in some parts of the second and third days after sjpp. Also, if any old landfills have been converted to grass-covered hills near you, try those. I hike up and down the 50-foot “Mount Trashmore” near me, which has been a sledding hill and training hill for the Northwestern University football team for years.
 
In May I’ll be doing my second Camino (Camino Portugues from Porto). My first was last April (Camino Frances). I walk a ton normally and didn’t do any training for my first Camino, but am curious any recommendations/to hear what everyone else does.
I was young for my 1989 Camino and could do anything. I didn't do any training for my 2016 Camino and made it from Roncesvalles to Finisterre, but not without my fair share of pain. And I well remember many evenings early in the Camino hobbling around as if I were in my 90s.

For my 2018 Camino Portugues from Porto, I trained. Regular walks with my loaded backpack of gradually increasing length and frequency until I was able to walk 20 km fully loaded three days in a row without issue. And that Camino was pain free.

For my June 2023 Camino I expect to train again, probably starting in March or April. We'll see how it goes.
 
I should have chosen my words differently, I won’t walk outside in the winter rather than can’t. 😁

On the Camino, you have to keep walking no matter the weather. It could be too hot, too cold, too rainy or too snowy, but you still need to get out and walk the best you can. It's best to practice walking in all kinds of weather.


-Paul
 
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On the Camino, you have to keep walking no matter the weather. It could be too hot, too cold, too rainy or too snowy, but you still need to get out and walk the best you can. It's best to practice walking in all kinds of weather.


-Paul
Sure, but I am fairly confident that I will not encounter Wisconsin-style winter weather in May and June, so I think I will be fine. I never said anywhere that I only will walk in picture perfect weather.
 
On the Camino, you have to keep walking no matter the weather. It could be too hot, too cold, too rainy or too snowy, but you still need to get out and walk the best you can. It's best to practice walking in all kinds of weather.


-Paul
With respect, no-one should think they have to keep walking no matter the weather.
That's one of the reasons that rescue crews risk their lives.
 
Fitness in preparation for Camino is a positive thing to do, but you need to be deliberate about how you proceed. You have enough time to make a significant increase from where you are now, without frantically pushing yourself too hard and beyond your body's ability to recuperate from each exercise session. That same deliberation will help prevent injury as well. Be consistent and patient. If you would like other more specific guidelines and suggestions, send me a PM. :)

This is a guide I had posted a while back.
-----------------------------
As to training, there are really two different 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.

As your departure date nears and you've been involved in your fitness regimen for the next 6 weeks or so, rather than your routine exercise schedule, put on the clothing and footwear you will be using on Camino, load up your pack, and spend the next several days in a row walking. See how you feel and at what pace you are able to best sustain yourself. That will give you a baseline estimate to calculate logistical issues surrounding the question of how many days it may take to walk your Camino.

More than anything else, enjoy the entire process of getting ready for Camino. Write down your reasons for doing your camino: list your personal goals for doing Camino, and what type of experience you are hoping for. If you become discouraged with your preparations, or feel anxious and overwhelmed, or get a bit of cold feet about leaving home for the camino, or simply to refresh your resolve anew, review what you have written to yourself.
Incredibly helpful. Thank you!
 
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With respect, no-one should think they have to keep walking no matter the weather.
That's one of the reasons that rescue crews risk their lives.

I agree with you. Alway follow the recommendations of local authorities, especially in St. Jean before attempting the Pyrenees.

At the same time, Pilgrims need to be prepared for walking in all types of weather, not just walking on perfect days. Most accidents happen not because of the weather, but because victims were wearing the wrong type of clothes for the weather.

This is why practice at home is important in all types of weather, so you get experience of how to dress properly for all reasonable walking conditions and learn to skip the walk when unsafe.


-Paul
 
This is why practice at home is important in all types of weather, so you get experience of how to dress properly for all reasonable walking conditions and learn to skip the walk when unsafe.
If you choose to follow the chain of quotes back the the person being advised to be able to walk in all weathers is planning on a May/June camino and resides in Wisconsin where, Google tells me, the average daily temperature is currently between -5 and -6 Celcius, about 22 F.

While it's possible they may face similar temperatures, I think it's pretty unlikely and they certainly won't be sustained.

I think the poster concerned is already displaying that they have the bolded skill :)

But your point is valid. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should.

I'm reminded of the saying...
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit,
Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.
 
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I am always curious about these threads about 'training for the Camino.' My curiosity is that prior to the decision to walk a Camino, was physical health, general fitness and stamina and a good diet not a priority in your life?

It has always been a life goal for me to maintain a high level of fitness and certainly now that I am in my sixties, the benefits of this mindset are really paying off. I can't recall a day that I haven't done something fitness related. It doesn’t need to take hours a day for basic fitness training, just motivation.

So yes, training as suggested by many others in this thread are well advised and will make your Camino walk more enjoyable and lower the possibilities of injuries.

However, if your current mindset and lifestyle doesn't prioritize excellent fitness as a life goal, then maybe one needs to make some changes to their priorities.
 
I am always curious about these threads about 'training for the Camino.' My curiosity is that prior to the decision to walk a Camino, was physical health, general fitness and stamina and a good diet not a priority in your life?

It has always been a life goal for me to maintain a high level of fitness and certainly now that I am in my sixties, the benefits of this mindset are really paying off. I can't recall a day that I haven't done something fitness related. It doesn’t need to take hours a day for basic fitness training, just motivation.

So yes, training as suggested by many others in this thread are well advised and will make your Camino walk more enjoyable and lower the possibilities of injuries.

However, if your current mindset and lifestyle doesn't prioritize excellent fitness as a life goal, then maybe one needs to make some changes to their priorities.
Your advice on maintaining a fitness level is well advised.

I would only add this to clarify the points you made above:
I do not stay in at my most fit level all year around. Individuals who have anormal goo fitness level may decide to engage in certain activities on a purposeful basis that do not mimic everyday life and good fitness, like football, wrestling, ironman and mudder events, wilderness backpacking, and long distance walking for relatively short periods of time that incorporate long and steep ascents and descents.

Such things as increasing the legs' muscle strength, increasing core and back fitness, and upping cardiovascular levels for extended periods, might require additional training.
 
Super helpful and thought provoking! All very true points - it's more than just physical training!
 
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Fully agree. I think if you can do 10k reasonably comfortably then you can do up to 25 comfortably with breaks. And that’s what we try and limit our stages to
I have been sectionally doing New Zealand's TA. The terrain here is rather challenging, so the Camino 'should' be manageable.
 

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My first Camino will begin in May. I am following a distance walking plan I found online. I am the kind of person who needs to follow something specific or I will tend to do nothing. This week’s maximum is 7 miles and it builds each week. Keeps me motivated, I have a set plan, and I am using the walks to test things like shoes and clothing. I am also doing some strength training as directed by a physical therapist.

My biggest concern is hills. I live in Wisconsin so walking outside is not an option for me right now (cold, snow, ice) and I hate treadmills. I have been walking on an indoor track. At some point I am going to have to do something about that. I remember reading once here where someone suggested walking in parking ramps. That might be a good option once the weather improves in a few weeks.
HI AnneO - can you share the distance walking plan link please? I'm the same way, without a clear plan I flounder and default to nothing. Thanks much, hope your Camino went smoothly!
 
HI AnneO - can you share the distance walking plan link please? I'm the same way, without a clear plan I flounder and default to nothing. Thanks much, hope your Camino went smoothly!
My Camino was wonderful, thank you. I miss being there every day.

Below is the website I used. I did the half marathon intermediate 1 program (walking of course rather than running). There is a half marathon walking plan listed too but I didn’t think it was rigorous enough. There are shorter programs as well (like 5K and 10K) if you need to build up to where the half marathon program starts.

https://www.halhigdon.com/training/half-marathon-training/
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

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