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Walking on Diamond-Hard surfaces--Camino Question

2020 Camino Guides

Tim and Paula

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago (2019)
Hola--a question for those with more information than we: approximately how much of the Camino Frances consists of concrete so hard it makes knees cry and feet shriek in agony? The reason I ask is that miles 3 and 4 of our 6 mile training loop are on reinforced concrete that is smooth and enormously pleasing to the eye but really hard on the hips, knees and feet, even though our boots are well broken-in. We changed the route today to include more off piste surfaces and experienced immediate relief but are now curious how much of the hard stuff we have to look forward to. The Brierley and Dintamen/Landis guides very thoughtfully give the paved/unpaved percentages but any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and Buen Camino!

Tim and Paula
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
A lot of the path at the start is extremely hard and sharp limestone chippings the concrete and tarmac sections came as a blessed relief. After Sarria the path seemed to be more sand based so was an actual delight to walk on. The first 400 km or so made the balls of my feet incredibly sore I learned to ignore the pain. I finished walking 2 months ago and my feet are still sore throughout the nightand first thing in the morning. The pain goes as soon as I walk. Try using gel insoles but remember they will make your shoes smaller.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hola--a question for those with more information than we: approximately how much of the Camino Frances consists of concrete so hard it makes knees cry and feet shriek in agony? The reason I ask is that miles 3 and 4 of our 6 mile training loop are on reinforced concrete that is smooth and enormously pleasing to the eye but really hard on the hips, knees and feet, even though our boots are well broken-in. We changed the route today to include more off piste surfaces and experienced immediate relief but are now curious how much of the hard stuff we have to look forward to. The Brierley and Dintamen/Landis guides very thoughtfully give the paved/unpaved percentages but any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and Buen Camino!

Tim and Paula
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
I found walking in and out of cities terrible for my feet and legs, all that concrete and hard surface(plus the noise and bustle of the city but that is another thing). I found the ubiquitous limestone chip just fine, my feet and knees much prefer that to concrete, cobble stones and pavers. Its not so bad if you are staying overnight in the city as you only go half way each day, but right through in one go can be a trial.
Some people take buses through them for that reason.
 

wjohnk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugese Coastal (2019)
Sorbothane or similar insoles help a bit - but you may then need slightly larger boots / shoes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
Hola--a question for those with more information than we: approximately how much of the Camino Frances consists of concrete so hard it makes knees cry and feet shriek in agony? The reason I ask is that miles 3 and 4 of our 6 mile training loop are on reinforced concrete that is smooth and enormously pleasing to the eye but really hard on the hips, knees and feet, even though our boots are well broken-in. We changed the route today to include more off piste surfaces and experienced immediate relief but are now curious how much of the hard stuff we have to look forward to. The Brierley and Dintamen/Landis guides very thoughtfully give the paved/unpaved percentages but any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and Buen Camino!

Tim and Paula
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hi, Tim and Paula. . .

In trying to sort out how to help, I am wondering if you have a strategy in mind in knowing how much of the Frances is paved surfaces? I ask this because the simple knowledge of how much of the walking surface is concrete or tarmac, vs packed earth, vs stone wouldn't seem to solve the problem you are having if you plan on using your current footwear.

Is there something specific that the Forum members can help with toward finding a solution? There is a lot of great help and information here for you :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
This is a nice route for entering Burgos. It will take you right to the area of entry to the Cathedral, too. :)
We did a variant. We walked to Villafria and spent two nights at the Hotel Buenos Aires at the start of a bus route into town (there are other hotels nearby too). We bussed back and forth. Resuming the camino we backtracked 45 minutes to the start of the river route. We saw the normal route from the bus and that told us to avoid it.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Have you changed your insoles? Before the Camino, I always just wore the insoles that came with my hiking boots or hiking shoes. Most of my hiking is on dirt with some rocks, but usually nice dirt - sometimes sandy trails or even soft, comfy redwood duff :) Then I got to the Camino with all the tarmac and after a few days, my feet felt like someone had attacked the soles with a meat tenderizer. I went to the farmacia, where the pharmacist recommended new insoles. I got some super squishy gel ones for days with a lot of tarmac and then later picked up some more supportive, but still cushiony insoles for days with trails. It was a game changer. I put good insoles in all my hiking shoes and athletic shoes now.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)

VAtoNC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
305 miles of the Frances, 2019. Planning another Frances 4/20 and will go the distance this time!
Sorbothane or similar insoles help a bit - but you may then need slightly larger boots / shoes.
I'd like to hear more about Sorbothane insoles. Why choose those over others?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019)
Hola--a question for those with more information than we: approximately how much of the Camino Frances consists of concrete so hard it makes knees cry and feet shriek in agony? The reason I ask is that miles 3 and 4 of our 6 mile training loop are on reinforced concrete that is smooth and enormously pleasing to the eye but really hard on the hips, knees and feet, even though our boots are well broken-in. We changed the route today to include more off piste surfaces and experienced immediate relief but are now curious how much of the hard stuff we have to look forward to. The Brierley and Dintamen/Landis guides very thoughtfully give the paved/unpaved percentages but any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and Buen Camino!

Tim and Paula
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hi Tim and Paula. I live in Bucerias. I see this is your first Camino. I will be doing my 5th in October. It is the responsibility of those of us who have walked before to help in any way new Pilgrims. I would love to meet you guys for a coffee, taco or an explanation of the differences between a Spanish and Mexican tortilla. It would be nice to offer any assistance if you would like some, that is. Don't want to be presumptuous! If not than just to meet and make some new friends. If you would like to meet let me know and we chat on IM privately. Also have you thought of wearing a good pair of trail runners instead of boots?
 

JamesVT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
There is a softer way along the river into Burgos. See this thread:

Haha. Everyone on the Camino has heard of the “softer” river route into Burgos. And almost no one I talked to during my Camino was able to find it. Of course, if you miss the river route, you are condemned to walk into Burgos along the highway, industrial, and commercial routing into the city, which must be the very worst stretch of the CF, especially in the heat.
 

Tim and Paula

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago (2019)
Wow, thanks for all the input. We're using Merrell Moab 2 waterproof boots, decided on after a marathon session with the folks at REI. Paula's are high, mine are low. We've been training for more than a year and are up to a 6 mile loop. The boots are nicely broken in(3 months, 4 times per week) , no hot spots or blisters, and our loop is 100% paved. Only when we changed to include a two mile stretch of gorgeous concrete bike path did the surface prove a problem. The rest of the bike path is also rougher concrete but doesn't have the same effect. Yesterday, we changed the route to walk on pavers and the dirt next to them and had no problems. Probably we just need to adjust our pace when we're on pavement.

Anyway, thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Buen Camino!
Tim
 

Tim and Paula

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago (2019)
Hi Tim and Paula. I live in Bucerias. I see this is your first Camino. I will be doing my 5th in October. It is the responsibility of those of us who have walked before to help in any way new Pilgrims. I would love to meet you guys for a coffee, taco or an explanation of the differences between a Spanish and Mexican tortilla. It would be nice to offer any assistance if you would like some, that is. Don't want to be presumptuous! If not than just to meet and make some new friends. If you would like to meet let me know and we chat on IM privately. Also have you thought of wearing a good pair of trail runners instead of boots?
Hola--would love to meet a fellow pilgrim. When and where? We have a car and are in Nuevo Vallarta.
Tim
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Wow, thanks for all the input. We're using Merrell Moab 2 waterproof boots, decided on after a marathon session with the folks at REI. Paula's are high, mine are low. We've been training for more than a year and are up to a 6 mile loop. The boots are nicely broken in(3 months, 4 times per week) , no hot spots or blisters, and our loop is 100% paved. Only when we changed to include a two mile stretch of gorgeous concrete bike path did the surface prove a problem. The rest of the bike path is also rougher concrete but doesn't have the same effect. Yesterday, we changed the route to walk on pavers and the dirt next to them and had no problems. Probably we just need to adjust our pace when we're on pavement.

Anyway, thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Buen Camino!
Tim
When will you be doing the Camino? Except perhaps in winter, many experienced pilgrims including resident shoe guru @davebugg recommend against waterproof shoes/boots in favor of very cushioned lightweight trail running shoes like Altra Lone Peaks or Hokas. I've made the switch to wearing sandals exclusively on the Camino, so you can see that a variety of footwear can be worn on the Camino. I haven't seen any trails on which hiking boots were necessary. I know that you've spent time breaking in the boots, but perhaps you should consider different footwear.

And definitely get together with Lyle. He's a great guy.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I found going into the larger cities where there lots concrete/pavement we a couple of times caught a cab to city center avoiding the industrial districts. Entering the cities were always at the end of the day and we were tired. Leaving the next morning we walked out after a refreshing rest.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Haha. Everyone on the Camino has heard of the “softer” river route into Burgos. And almost no one I talked to during my Camino was able to find it. Of course, if you miss the river route, you are condemned to walk into Burgos along the highway, industrial, and commercial routing into the city, which must be the very worst stretch of the CF, especially in the heat.
We didn't have difficulty finding it in 2016. Maybe we were just really lucky.
 

Bella2017

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014,2015,2016.
March 2017 Oct 2018 Camino ingles june 2019 cancelled Camino Portuguese Oct 2019
I also found the river route to Burgos with out any problem.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Wow, thanks for all the input. We're using Merrell Moab 2 waterproof boots, decided on after a marathon session with the folks at REI. Paula's are high, mine are low. We've been training for more than a year and are up to a 6 mile loop. The boots are nicely broken in(3 months, 4 times per week) , no hot spots or blisters, and our loop is 100% paved. Only when we changed to include a two mile stretch of gorgeous concrete bike path did the surface prove a problem. The rest of the bike path is also rougher concrete but doesn't have the same effect. Yesterday, we changed the route to walk on pavers and the dirt next to them and had no problems. Probably we just need to adjust our pace when we're on pavement.

Anyway, thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Buen Camino!
Tim
I am by no means the expert here, having walked for 17 years in hiking boots or hiking shoes, until last year @davebugg gently showed me the error of my ways. IMO, and you may be different, but for the vast majority of people boots and hiking shoes are overkill for the camino. Trail runners are so much more cushioned, and so much more gentle on your feet.

I am on the camino Invierno now, but walked some very mountainous sections of the Vasco (Saiatz alternative) in my Altra Lone peaks and my feet did not suffer at all. No blisters, no foot pain. My companion, walking in a low Merrell hiking shoe, had lots of blisters and lots of aches and pains at the end of a 38-45 km stage. Not me! I think that in general most outdoor stores over-prescribe when it comes to shoes. Take a look at trail runners, lots of brands make them. Do a forum search snd you will find lots of evidence that for most people, trail runners are the best option. It only took me 17 years of walking Caminos to find this out. Hopefully others won’t suffer as long as I did. 😁
 

robproct

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CP from Lisbon 2018
This is a nice route for entering Burgos. It will take you right to the area of entry to the Cathedral, too. :)
Hi Dave. I was most interested in the attachment to your post a couple of days ago about exercise an heart rates. Unfortunately I inadvertently deleted it and wonder if you would be able to send it again although I am not sure how I would be able to identify post amongst the numerous others.

Thanks, Rob.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
Hi Dave. I was most interested in the attachment to your post a couple of days ago about exercise an heart rates. Unfortunately I inadvertently deleted it and wonder if you would be able to send it again although I am not sure how I would be able to identify post amongst the numerous others.

Thanks, Rob.
I'll send it to you via a PM :)
 

Re-tired

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Please consider the Hoka One One ATR4 trail runners. The cushion is sublime....
 

Mooncat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Fall 2015)
Tim and Paula,
I have walked only one Camino, so am far from having the answers. However, I learned a few things which I can pass on to you.
  • Yes, your shoes/boots must be comfortable at the start of your Camino, or else they will end up by the side of trail. I walked in Merrill Moabs because I trained in them for 2 years and had no blisters or problems during that time. They turned out to be wrong for me. Two weeks in, I realized that the soles were too soft and my feet were taking a huge beating from the gravelly and rocky trail. Also, they were a bit too supple and I had blisters throughout my 31 days of walking. The ankle support did save me from injury 3 times. It has been 4 years and my feet never recovered from the beating. I now wear Oboz Bridgers with a stiffer sole, but have yet to test them on any long trails. I am a big guy, so smaller individuals may be fine with lighter, softer shoes, but I learned that I personally need ankle support and a stiffer sole.
  • Your easiest day on the Camino will be more difficult than your hardest training day. To prepare, you should mix it up in your training. Throw in some wicked ups and downs, rocky trails and sand, and some very long days. Don't worry so much about concrete. The other parts of the trail will be unkind too.
  • When you are dehydrated, everything hurts. Take breaks during the day and drink water often. It will increase your stamina.
Have a fine Camino.
Mooncat
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
Hola--a question for those with more information than we: approximately how much of the Camino Frances consists of concrete so hard it makes knees cry and feet shriek in agony? The reason I ask is that miles 3 and 4 of our 6 mile training loop are on reinforced concrete that is smooth and enormously pleasing to the eye but really hard on the hips, knees and feet, even though our boots are well broken-in. We changed the route today to include more off piste surfaces and experienced immediate relief but are now curious how much of the hard stuff we have to look forward to. The Brierley and Dintamen/Landis guides very thoughtfully give the paved/unpaved percentages but any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and Buen Camino!

Tim and Paula
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hello Tim & Paula,
May I suggest that you go back to your original 6 mile loop for a few more sessions, slow down and see how that feels.

It may be that you are both simply walking too fast on a hard surface, carrying too much weight?

Buen (no hurty-feet) Camino
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Six miles is only about 10km. You'll need to walk 20-30Km on the Camino.

Keep walking the 6 mile route until you feel comfortable. This may take several weeks with lots of aching muscles. Eventually you will get stronger. Slowly increase the distance.

I would not feel comfortable doing the Camino unless I walked at least 30km in training.


-Paul
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Six miles is only about 10km. You'll need to walk 20-30Km on the Camino.

Keep walking the 6 mile route until you feel comfortable. This may take several weeks with lots of aching muscles. Eventually you will get stronger. Slowly increase the distance.

I would not feel comfortable doing the Camino unless I walked at least 30km in training.


-Paul
I walked the Camino with no training whatsoever in my 50s. I won't say that I didn't have any pains along the way, but nothing that threatened my Camino (once I acquired walking poles). My training consisted of shorter (15 km) days on the second, third, and fourth days.

That said, I did more training for my next Camino. :) I didn't do any 30 km days, though. I felt confident when I could walk 20 km three days in a row and not have any aches or pains.
 

Mooncat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Fall 2015)
I walked the Camino with no training whatsoever in my 50s. I won't say that I didn't have any pains along the way, but nothing that threatened my Camino (once I acquired walking poles). My training consisted of shorter (15 km) days on the second, third, and fourth days.

That said, I did more training for my next Camino. :) I didn't do any 30 km days, though. I felt confident when I could walk 20 km three days in a row and not have any aches or pains.
David,
I applaud you for obviously being generally fit, as a lifestyle. My brother is the same. No training needed. Me? Too much watching I Love Lucy instead of being active, perhaps?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Had you seen me, you wouldn't say I was so fit. I lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle and hadn't done regular exercise for years when I set out. I didn't say it was easy without training, just that it was doable. You'll notice I trained for my next one. :)

If the Camino seems like the kind of thing you want to do, better to train than not, but better to start without training than not start at all. Just leave yourself some extra time and take some shorter days at the beginning and don't push yourself too hard until you get a sense of what your body is capable of, which will be more than you suspect.
 

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