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Walking The Camino Without Training. Fool's Errand?

Discussion in 'Frequently Asked Questions' started by joecamino, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. joecamino

    joecamino Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    This feels like the right year for me to walk the Camino-- much change in my life, and many "What's it all about?" questions to chew on. But I'm feeling fear, because I'm not in the best shape of my life.

    If it's possible to "train as I go," I'd really like to get on the road in May-- before "peak heat," and before I postpone this again. Is this realistic?
    • I'm carrying a lot of extra weight, the kind I can't leave at home, or send ahead.
    • Apart from that, I'm in good health. Blessed with strong legs, rarely hurting.
    • Background of physical activity-- walking, hiking, cycling (including 5-6 centuries)
    • Uphills have always been difficult, but I usually make it to the top. (Just not fast or pretty)
    • I have plenty of time. Could walk 10km a day if I needed to.
    This isn't an easy thing to write about. I'm carrying a lot of shame along with the pounds. But there's so much wisdom and support in this Forum, I'm hopeful people here may have some answers.

    Thanks much
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
    angelab, Gumba, Matt Forget and 35 others like this.
  2. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    Heya Joe!

    There are two powerful things on your side. First, there's something you DO have -- a strong desire/motivation to do it. Second, there's something you DON'T have -- a timetable or deadline. The big 'unknown' here is whether you have the financial wherewithal it would require to support you for up to 90 days. Said 90 days comes from the Schengen Rules about how much time one can spend in the Schengen area, and that includes Spain.

    And note: I'm not asking about your financial reserves here. Only you can answer that question.
     
  3. Nanc

    Nanc Active Member Donating Member

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    I saw many people of all sizes happily walking the CF
    (I preferred to get my pains and tribulations worked out as much as possible before the Camino so began about a year out.)

    If you're willing to stick to it, willing to adjust pace and plans according to how your body comes along, willing to have the growing pains of stiffness, soreness etc on the Camino instead of working that out prior , you should do just fine!
    Listen to the body, accommodate, relax, take your time, walk YOUR pace, let the flow go.

    ( not to create fear, but many of the memorials along the CF were due to people having heart attacks on the Way. If your health, weight, and family history suggest, it may be wise to clear with your doctor prior. I DO have a family history of early death due to heart disease, and my own heart issues, and was cleared by the cardiologist and had a blast!)

    As for shame: the simple-ness of the Camino, the rhythm of the my body moving, the fresh air, the healthy food, the slowing of my mind and needs, meant reaching a place of great acceptance (peace) of myself and my body. May you find that too
    Buen Camino
    Nanc
     
  4. jpflavin1

    jpflavin1 Veteran Member

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    Joe:

    I walked my first Camino with no training.

    That said, you have a month to get into some type of training regime. Uphills, even if you train will have a level of difficulty. The key, imo, is to walk at your pace.

    Hardly anyone, who walks the Camino, is in Camino shape. How many people walk a half marathon a day for a month. No one I know.

    Go out and get a good pair of boots or shoes. Start walking a little every day. Try to walk 3 straight days of at least 10 km's.

    Read through the forum, develop a pack list that suits you. Start slowly and listen to your body, while easing it into shape.

    I believe almost anyone can walk a Camino.

    Ultreya,
    Joe
     
  5. Maple Leaf Walker

    Maple Leaf Walker New Member

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    "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." That's a saying that I've repeated to myself many times over the last few years. I'm doing my first Camino too this summer and I have daily bouts of doubt. But that's good. We are meant to walk towards that doubt and that fear.

    It sounds like you are carrying more than one kind of burden and all are ideal for walking it out. If they only allowed in the people who are in the best shape of their lives--and unburdened by life's challenges--the Camino would be pretty empty. Instead it's got a 1,200 year history of people walking it with far fewer advantages than any of us have today.

    Don't focus on what you don't have. You have a bonus luxury that many do not: time. So take advantage of it. There's no correct pace. No rules on when you have to be somewhere. If the climb up a hill is hard, do 100 steps. Stop. Then do 100 more. Let time do what it can with your burdens. It can do a lot.
     
  6. Mike Savage

    Mike Savage mike-savage.com

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    Welcome Joe. It sounds to me like you are prepared mentally. As far as the physical part listen to your body and go at your own pace and distance. Carry a reasonable amount of weight, have decent shoes and in two to three weeks you will probably feel like you could go forever.

    Buen Camino!
     
  7. wayne smith

    wayne smith New Member

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    Hi Joecamino,
    I walked from Leon to SDC last June. I too carry a lot of extra baggage (60 lbs over), I also suffer from a heart condition and various other ailments.
    Visit your doctor before you set off for medical/health check, for peace of mind.
    I trained before my Camino, walking 8 to 12 miles per day usually to and from work. This was mainly to adjust my rucksack and make sure my other kit and clothes were fit for purpose.
    I averaged 25km per day and also managed two 30+km days. To start, keep your pace slow and steady, take plenty of breaks (the camino rule of three breakfasts, really does work). Drink plenty of water.
    Walking the Camino is a wonderful experiance, you will meet extraordinary people, who do not judge, and except you, for who you are.
    As for the hills, nobody finds them easy. For each one you conquer, look back, take a photo and give thanks. Going down hill is really much more difficult.
    We all walk the Camino for a different purpose, it is not a race, you will finish stronger in body and soul and probably pounds lighter.
    Take one step at a time and good luck.
    Buen Camino
     
  8. Walli Walker

    Walli Walker Active Member

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    Sounds like you are ready to go Joecamino. Just do it!
     
  9. nycwalking

    nycwalking Active Member

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    Joe,
    Shame, do not fault yourself. It is utterly and completely impossible to reach adulthood without some, not to mention that which we accrue from 18 on. On camino you will lose weight internally and externally. And, you'll gain some perspective. The way of St. James will train you as you walk. OTJT of the pilgrimage kind. Just make certain footwear, pack, and financials are in order.
    Buen camino.
     
  10. Icacos

    Icacos Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Welcome @joecamino. I recommend that you get walking poles (if you aren't already using them) and learn how to use them properly before you set off. Your knees will thank you, especially on the downhills. Buen Camino.
     
  11. MichaelC

    MichaelC Member

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    Keep in mind that I haven't walked yet ... but I don't see anything wrong with 10 km a day! I know in these forums there's sometimes a bit of one-upmanship about how far people walk, but I also hear stories about the people who walk four hours or less a day, take lots of rest days, and seem to be enjoying themselves just fine!

    One thought: the Miam Miam Dodo (French language guides) recommends either starting after the Pyrenees, or a few days before the Pyrenees, rather than having your first day be the tough climb over the pass. This makes sense to me.
     
  12. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Veteran Member

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    I walked the Camino the first time with no training and at 52 years of age.
    First and foremost...carry the lightest load possible. Also wear the right shoes for you, and appropriate clothing.
    Take your time going into it, and pace yourself. Take breaks. Stay hydrated. Get rest at night and allow yourself to recover. The trekking poles do help quite a bit. You get a rhythm with them pretty quick. They take a lot of stress off the knees.
    Allow your body time to work itself into shape. If you gotta take some short walking days, no biggie. It's kinda nice leaving a bit later, getting a coffee and only walking about 10km. You get to the albergue early before anyone else, and can just chill out for a bit. A lot of pilgrims walk the whole way in short days. They do it in 60 days instead of 30 or so. Who cares? I certainly could care less how long someone took to walk the Camino.
    ultreia
     
  13. trevorcc

    trevorcc Active Member Donating Member

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    After 3 Camino's I saw many breakdown both mentally and Physically, I was overweight on the first two but like you I was in no hurry had two months the last I had three months. Take it slow the first week will get you into shape, take rest days and do not try to keep up or slow down for others, you can meet up that night or the next day or two. rest every two hours look after your feet and do not follow the stages in guide books stop when you want or find a nice town or see some people that you have not seen for a few days and catchup. I walked 30 plus days and also 10k days just go with the flow. Buen Camino. oh I am 68 and did my first walk in 2013, followed by 2014 and again last year.
     
  14. omar504

    omar504 Veteran Member

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    2006 SEVILLE-SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    2007 LE PUY EN VELAY- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (VIA CAMINO FRANCES)
    2008 GRANADA- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    2009 SALAMANCA- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    VEZELAY- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (VIA NORTE)
    2010 MONTGENEVRE-PAMPLONA
    2011 LISBON- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    PARIS-SJPDP
    2012 VALENCIA- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    NAMUR-VEZELAY
    2013 FIGUERES-LOGRONO
    MONT ST MICHEL-BORDEAUX
    2014 ALICANTE (ABANDONED)
    MADRID (ABANDONED)
    SEVILLE- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    2015 VALENCIA-ZAMORA
    LISBON- SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
    2016 CANTERBURY-ROME (VIA FRANCIGENA)
    It's unwise to tackle any camino..especially the Frances without some training. My reason is brief...The first day is UP about 25kms over the Pyrenees. A far better option than the over rated over crowded Frances is the VDLP...dead flat for the first day and many subsequent days
     
    CaminoDebrita and joecamino like this.
  15. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    My wife, brother-in-law and I will walk the CF in the fall of 2019.
    EXACTLY!!!
     
  16. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Alone.
    ------------------------------
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
    CF SJPDP-SdC
    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    Hi Joe. I'm sure you'll manage. How overweight are you? This will put a lot of stress on lower limbs and joints. I speak from experience :oops:

    Of course it's better with 'some' training. And not being 'too' overweight. But like you, on my first Camino I went in less than ideal condition. 10+ kg overweight. Not that fit. And unable to really walk for 4-6 weeks before departure due to injury.

    You just need to be realistic. Here is what I learnt fast.........

    1. Warm up and warn down with gentle stretching before you start and at each stop.
    2. Hydrate well.
    3. Listen to your body. Really listen. Do not push further than is comfortable.
    4. Build slowly. I did this last year with my wife who was also walking with an injury. You can train as you go. day 1, 8km. day 2 10 kms, 12, 14 , 16 etc. After 10 days you'll be in your natural 'rhythm' and will know what daily distance is comfortable for you.
    5. Maybe consider having your pack transported the first few days.
    6. Take each day as it comes. set small goals. i.e. I'll stop for coffee at this village. lunch at that village, over night at that one. Then plan the next day. Forget about Santiago. It's a long way. The distance indicators are quite depressing sometimes! Day by day. Enjoy the journey and to an extent, forget about the destination.
    If you want to see how an overweight unfit guy manages, and some of the challenges, click on my 'short movie' link below. It's a bit of a First Timer's 'diary' about the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges along the way.

    IMHO the emotional challenges are the greatest. And you seem to have your head in the 'right space' to deal with those ;)

    I just took each day as it came and honestly didn't expect to make it......and as you will see, I was ready to give up about 3 weeks into it...
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  17. tomnorth

    tomnorth Active Member

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    I made a decision to answer your post before reading anything written by anyone else. I wanted to give you my unvarnished thoughts. And those are...DO IT! I'm a big guy, and at times in my life have carried more pounds than I care to admit. Normally I would advise people to train first, but if you're strong and in the mindset to walk, then I would argue to go now. My hope for you is that you're able to leave that shame behind you somewhere on The Way.
     
    happyhiker18, FamPed, MooBro and 16 others like this.
  18. Icacos

    Icacos Veteran Member Donating Member

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    And @joecamino, be kind to your soul. We will all be sending positive thoughts your way. :)
     
  19. mvanert

    mvanert Member

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    I'm like you, 80lb over weight. Last year I did the following:

    Got okay from doctor
    Walked a minimum 3x a week for a month before
    Bought poles in St Jean
    Took my time
    Rested when I needed to
    Stopped when I needed to
    Booked Orrison the first night (highly recommended)
    Enjoyed myself

    You'll be fine.
     
    marylynn, AnnabelP, FamPed and 19 others like this.
  20. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    My wife, brother-in-law and I will walk the CF in the fall of 2019.
    What he said!
     
  21. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Veteran Member

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    "Overrated"? I don't know, I thought it kicked ass. I always enjoyed it.
    "Overcrowded"? Don't know about that either, dude. I've walked it multiple times and always found room at the inn, so to speak, but yeah it is popular. The OP didn't indicate that he was a misanthrope or anything so I'm assuming he'll want to meet other pilgrims.
    I'm sure the OP will be just fine. I "tackled" it without training and lived. :cool:
     
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  22. Joe.Iozzi

    Joe.Iozzi New Member

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    I recommend that you start on the Spanish side of the mountains, rather than in St Jean. That way you avoid hiking over the Pyrenees on the first day, an elevation gain of about 4,800 feet. That can be a killer if you aren't used to walking in the mountains. If you start in Burgos you have many days of walking across flat farmland to get in shape. Be sure you have well-broken in boots or shoes and read up on blister prevention before you go.
     
  23. mark connolly

    mark connolly New Member

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    I'm with Joe & Omar on this one. If you start in SJPDP and on your first go straight to Roncesvalles, you could be in for a rude awakening. Definitely stop at Orisson (make sure you have a reservation). I went straight to Roncesvalles on my first day and it was hard both physically and mentally.
     
  24. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    CF Sarria to SdC
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
    CF SJPDP-SdC
    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    Or, start at the top of the mountain? Use the Mountain Express ;)
     
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  25. joecamino

    joecamino Member Donating Member

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    Thank you everyone. I'm doing it! Might begin in SJPDP, or maybe a few days further out, so I hit Pyrenees with a walking start. Will take the Valcarlos route, and will absolutely bring walking poles.

    I'm deeply touched by the responses here-- not just the advice, but the kindness too. If that's a snapshot of the Camino, then I understand better the draw it has.
     
  26. MichaelC

    MichaelC Member

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    If you start a few days before the Pyrenees, the stages I see most often are Navarrenx>Aroue>Ostabat>St. Jean Pied de Port. The guides make this sound like a beautiful country.

    Interestingly, MMD doesn't list anything for Orisson, but they rave about the meal at the ferme Ithurburia in Honto, 2.3 km after St. Jean. They also list a fair number of places to stop on the Valccarlos route.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  27. RobertS26

    RobertS26 Active Member Donating Member

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    I agree. Even though I consumed 5 or 6 beers during the day and a bottle of wine in the evening, I still lost weight.
     
  28. Gillean

    Gillean Member

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    I really like the idea of training beforehand. But it should be possible to walk provided you are serious about taking it easy. This is what I would do: Get your pack weight down as low as possible. A few easy days to start with (10 km even) will help. First day go to Valcarlos or Orisson. Next day, if you are on the Route Napoleon take the road route to the right down from just below Col Loepoder not the steep trail route. Walk slowly to reduce pounding. Use walking sticks especially on the downhills. Comfortable shoes/boots (perhaps 1/2 size larger than normal to allow for swelling of the feet). Good insoles - perhaps even aftermarket "Superfeet" type. Good wool socks and consider using ankle high women's nylon stockings as a liner. I've seen them work miracles. Read up on blister care and treat any hot spots right away. Stop every one to two hours and take off boots and shoes to air out and dry your feet if you can. If you stop for a break, take your pack off. Be gentle with yourself in every possible way. Hope you have a truly great camino!
     
  29. Mike Trebert

    Mike Trebert Member

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    Hi Joe,

    Lots of good advice in previous posts here. I walked my first camino last year - 800kms. I'd like to underline: use walking poles and learn to use them properly (lots of demos on YouTube). They'll take a lot of stress off your knees and ankles, especially downhill. And they'll unload some of the effort to your upper body (some say 10% or more). I also used Mueller knee straps on both knees every day - they guard against twists to the knee. Be careful on descents when you're tired - never rush it - knees and ankles are easily twisted when you're not as sharp and in a hurry. If you're carrying extra weight as I was, you'll lose some of it and get fitter as you go, BUT these two strategies will help, I'm sure.

    Buen Camino, - Mike
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  30. Irish Bernie

    Irish Bernie Active Member

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    My brother from another mother :))
     
  31. GPeachy

    GPeachy New Member

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    Glad to read that you are going. With a few weeks to go, I strongly recommend doing some training to ensure that your trail shoes / shock combination is comfortable, that you know if you are prone to any hot spots for blisters and that your pack is comfortable. I talked with a number of people along the way in various levels of discomfort who had either failed to do this or decided that trying new shoes or socks at the start would be good idea. I also agree with the recommendation to use poles. With the pace you are planning, you should be fine. Buon Camino!
     
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  32. Donna Sch

    Donna Sch Active Member Donating Member

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    Future Caminos? Zamora-Astorga-Camino Invierno - SDC (Feb 2019); CF (Summer 2020)
    The VDLP is lovely but the distances are longer with nowhere to stop in-between. Calvary on Day 3 is tough no matter how fit you are especially when you have just walked almost 30 km carrying all food and water.
    I did walk with a German guy who walks the Camino to lose weight every year. Good German food from Hamburg means he puts on weight over winter. I bumped into him in SdC again and almost didn't recognise him.
     
  33. John MLT

    John MLT Not all those who wander are lost!

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    I trust many people, including myself, actually envy your position. You have the will and the time, and I believe that everything else will just follow. So many pilgrims in years gone by could not avail themselves of advanced medical care and were compelled to walk The Way. I will of course stop short of saying that you should go irrespective of any health condition, but I think the most important factors are on your side. Hope to see another post from you saying you're going for it soon!
     
  34. Annie Little

    Annie Little Active Member

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    JOE !!!
    2016 .. turned 60 ... too much going on at work and in life ... no time to train... I WANTED / NEEDED to go .... I thought " what the hell .. I am going and will see what happens ..

    What happened ?? I ROCKED up .... took it slow ... chilled ... loved the early mornings ... had some great experiences ... including blisters ... met some people ... walked away from some ....

    All in all ... its was great in many different ways ...

    As in life ... ROCK UP SEE WHAT HAPPENS ..:)

    Ultreia :D ... onwards and upwards
     
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  35. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Go for it @joecamino - I was very unfit and overweight when I walked my first camino. About three weeks into it I was ready to give up - but got some encouragement and just put my head down and kept going. Here I am, 16 years later, much, much fitter, and lighter, and about to start my 11th camino. It was life-changing for me.

    I do agree with your idea of starting a little before SJPDP, taking the Valcarlos route, which is so, so pretty, and stopping overnight in Valcarlos, is a good idea. Don't be fooled, it is still a long climb.

    Anyone who is trying to lose weight - whatever you do, do not be tempted to go via the Route Napoleon and to stay with Madam Ourtiage at Huntto - because she is an amazing cook and you will instantly be several kilos heavier and all your good intentions will go out the window!
     
  36. Annie Little

    Annie Little Active Member

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    I did valcarlos 2016 .. it is still challenging especially second day .. take your time . there is no rush.. stop when you need to ... hook up with others along the way ... I met a couple of great guys who unbeknowns to them helped me get to Roncessvailles ..

    walking poles a must ... packing light a must ... no expectations a must ...

    Ultreia Mate :)
     
  37. Annie Little

    Annie Little Active Member

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    well may sound like sound advice BUT ... 2016 I had no training ... decided to rock up and see what happened .... took it slow .. packed light .... outcome :):):):)... awesome ... don't be put off ... otherwise one can miss out in life ... Rock Up ... be sensible ... go slow ...learn ....
     
  38. Annie Little

    Annie Little Active Member

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    BEST response .... my vote :D
     
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  39. Coleen Clark

    Coleen Clark Active Member Donating Member

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    Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
    My first Camino in 2015 I was 212 in SJPP and 156 in Santiago. Perhaps it was the altitude.
    I made it to Santiago in 56 days, just walking as much as I could each day.
    You will meet the most fabulous people in your life on the Camino, don't miss David's hugs and labyrinth and love offerings in the middle of nowhere in the ruins. You'll know it when you get there.
    Use the walking poles. Treat your feet better than any other part of you body.
    Cry. Scream. Laugh. Dance. Eat. Rest.
    And listen to other's stories. They come into your path for a reason, and you will never find out unless you listen.
    If you need a hug, I'll be on the Camino in August. I'm a grandma. I give great hugs.
     
  40. jstorybook

    jstorybook Active Member

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    I wouldn't but I am not you. For myself I wanted to finish the walk and so to boost my confidence I trained.
     
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  41. tillyjones

    tillyjones Active Member

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    Hi Joe.

    You're going to do great and if time is of no consequence, then there is nothing to worry about. Except the first day or two. They will kick your ass!! Ha. But they kick everyone's ass. You will get in shape as you go.

    That said, while training isn't 'necessary', it will certainly ease the transition.
     
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  42. John Sikora

    John Sikora Member Donating Member

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    " (Just not fast or pretty)"

    You've just nailed my mantra for my first camino. I was 65 when I did the Camino Frances (did some training so that I was comfortable walking at least 10K a day) and looking forward to doing the Levante when I turn 70. The issue is that many people force themselves into a set schedule that is too short for their body to acclimate to the walking. Within a week or two, your feet and legs will get used to the pace and 10k will seem to be nothing at all. If you rush to get somewhere, you tend to forget and not enjoy where you are at the moment. There are so many places that are just worth savoring for awhile as you walk. Personally, and I admit that I'm fortunate to have enough time to do it, I think a Camino of around 45-60 days is about perfect. And, yep, the hills are a bear. But once, you get to the top, the view is spectacular - and it doesn't matter who gets their first, the view is the same.
     
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  43. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Veteran Member

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    They really do have some good wine and beer there in Spain.
     
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  44. t2andreo

    t2andreo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Voluntario: July - August 2016
    Joe:

    This is an outstanding dialog. I hope you read and take to heart all of it. Many folks have provided just about all the useful advice and information you need.

    The final decision is up to YOU. I will try to NOT repeat what was said (correctly I might add) above. Here are some points and observations to consider.

    On the Camino, we have several "rules." We call them "the Camino Rules."

    Rule #1 - "Everyone walks his or her own Camino...mine is not to judge the motivation or manner of another's Camino. Judgement is left to the Supreme Being."

    Rule #2 - "The Camino provides..." This means that assistance, or just a break in the weather, usually happens about when you need it the most. Just live in the moment and you will be fine. Enjoy the walk and smell the flowers... Appreciate the others around you all heading in the same direction.

    Rule #3 - We accept that "St. James (the patron saint of the Camino) works in strange ways affecting pilgrims. Sometimes his methods and actions are just weird." Just BE, and let the overall ambiance overcome you.

    The transformative affect is amazing. Be alert to the "micro-miracles" that occur around you every day. You do not have to be a religious person, or a Christian to realize these benefits.

    You will meet people from all over the world, from every political, faith and cultural persuasion. If you are a military veteran, you may even meet former adversaries or enemies, this time on neutral territory. It is a small world...

    English seems to be increasing as the defacto second language along the Camino routes. But, do try to learn at least some basic phrases, questions and answers in Spanish, Portuguese or French. "Please" and "thank you" go a long way in breaking down language barriers. Many languages are spoken by pilgrims from all over the world.

    Yet, all pilgrims have the same thing in common, a shared pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Each pilgrim's reason for walking may be different, but all will be transformed by the experience.

    Overall, the Golden Rule abides; "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you..." The rest is easy...

    There are other "rules." But they are less important things addressing albergue etiquette, cultural and political sensitivity, etc. You will learn them quick enough if you just listen, help others in need, and go with the flow.

    You must FIRST come to understand and love / accept yourself. Empathy for others comes after that. Cut yourself a very big break. Just BE.

    The Camino will heal and help. Once you reach Santiago, presuming you will be on the road for a month or more, you will not recognize the new you. Just trust me and all of US on that. We have all been there and done that...

    Weight Issues and Conditioning:

    You are not the first, nor will you be the last "stocky" person to ever walk the Camino. I am 5'10 and now weigh about 230 pounds. I start my fifth Camino from Lisbon to Santiago on 27 April. I previously walked the full Camino Frances twice (2013 & 2014); Porto to Lisbon in 2015, and portions of the Madrid Route in 2016.

    For more than 25 years I was morbidly obese, well over 300 pounds, and had a bariatric lap band installed in 2005. That helped me lose 90 pounds but decades of wear and tear on the knees from the weight and my career essentially knackered them. I have nearly no menisci cartilage in both knees. I remain technically obese, but otherwise completely healthy. I hope to turn 64 in June.

    Just FYI, each March I schedule my annual physical, blood work, dental and optical examinations to ensure I am "good to go" for "Camino Season." This year, I got the green light. While we all die someday, I am not looking forward to my personal roadside shrine along the Camino, not at least just yet. You will see when I mean as you progress.

    So, each day on Camino, I suit up like a knight going into battle. I lubricate my feet to reduce friction and blisters (I have had NONE in four outings), apply prodigious amounts of Voltaren ointment (reduces swelling and pain), put on elastic ankle and knee support braces, and THEN socks and outer wear. My "vesting" process usually takes 15 minutes. Only after all that, am I ready to walk for the day.

    Every problem has a solution, every obstacle has a detour. If you cannot finish the day's planned walking and have a reservation waiting for you. go into the nearest bar / cafe and ask them to call a taxi to take you to "x."

    It costs about one euro per Km. It is analogous to being offered a lift in a farmer's wagon back in the Middle Ages. Neither action is a sin. You only need to be scrupulous about the final 100 m, from Sarria, on the French Route. Get two stamps per day from there, from your lodging and a cafe during the day.

    If you stay in albergues and sleep as you go, do so. Walk at YOUR pace, not others. Listen to your body. There are farmacias in nearly every town. The pharmacists have seen it all, many times. They can sell you products that would require a prescription here in North America.

    FYI, the only training I do is to ensure that any new footwear is well broken in to eliminate blisters. I usually do some treadmill walking and weight work on my knees to preclude pain later. The first week of any multi-week Camino is essentially a "shakedown cruise." You do train as you walk.

    After the first week of daily walking, things start to get better. That hill in the distance is not as scary as that first climb out of Saint Jean Pied de Port was, when you were hacking up your lungs... It is NOT that bad. The worst part is the first eight km. After that, it undulates up slightly and down.

    Packing & Pack Weight:

    Finally, do not carry more than you need. As a "Rule of Thumb" try to adhere to the gross rucksack weight, sans water, of 10 percent of your body weight or 10 kilograms (22 pounds). For what is is worth, the best I have the done is 12 kilos. But, I have to carry protein powder nutrition supplements to my diet. One week = one pound. Then, there are the medicines and nutrition supplements I must carry... Overall, when I start out from Lisbon on 27 April, I will be carrying about three kilos or six pounds of nutritional and medicinal support, for a nearly four week Camino.

    As a consequence, I have become very skilled at paring all other carried weight down. I shop for ultralight gear, preferring siliconized nylon where possible. I use simple, one-gallon or three-liter ziplock bags to organize and keep waterproof my belongings inside the rucksack.

    EVERY item I choose to pack and carry MUST have at least TWO alternative uses. Single-use items are luxuries I must mostly do without to save weight for the pills and powders. I replace paper books, guides, maps and other stuff with files on my iPhone. I have become adept at converting all manner of files to .pdf format. Bytes of storage weigh nothing.

    There are threads, ad nauseum, on the Forum about packing, gear choices, etc. So I will no go into further detail here.

    In summary, just do what ya gotta do to make this happen. You will be pleased with the results.

    I hope this all helps. If you have questions, please feel free to send me a PM (Conversation).

    I wish you "buen Camino" (ES) or "bom Caminho" (PT), depending on where you go.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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  45. Suzanne Clark

    Suzanne Clark New Member

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    Hi Joecamino,
    My daughter and I are also walking the Camino in May. We are both a bit unfit, I certainly have "inseperable baggage", and a little bit apprehensive. I'll look out for you, and maybe we can share a little laugh at ourselves.
    I start in SJPP on the 6th of May. Happy planning!
     
  46. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Veteran Member

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    https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...y-1-from-sjdp-a-bit-scared.46956/#post-501347
    check out the video on that thread...as you see uphill, but hardly what Hillary and Tenzing faced in 53.....
     
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  47. Fletchonides

    Fletchonides Member

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    Pamplona - Burgos (2016)
    Burgos - Leon (June 2017)
    You have to do it.

    The training, the weight, the distances each day etc. are all practical stuff that can make it easier. But you need to get out there and get some space with your thoughts and your life to reflect and come to terms with yourself. The daily routine is a vehicle to allow that to happen. You will find healing and redemption and forgiveness along the road. You will find people to walk alongside, or maybe they will find you, and they will be there to really listen when you are able to share deeply. You'll probably cry a lot at times, the open road is good for that when people can't see you. I think we all go though emotional days out there.

    As we say in Ireland: You'll be grand.
     
  48. Tia Valeria

    Tia Valeria Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Train for hills now by using the stairs as often as possible.
    Start slow, and increase the distance as you get fitter/stronger walking. Think about the time you can have in Spain, take your 10kms per day and then work out how far you can realistically walk in that time. Measure backwards from Santiago and you have your starting point :)
    I too am slow up hills and also down. Bend the knees slightly, it saves the hips, even if it does look a bit odd!)
    Don't be afraid to take a taxi/bus to shorten the early days if that means that you can reach accommodation. You can aways taxi/bus back to continue next day if you do not want to miss any kms out, or just continue from your albergue.

    How much are you happy carrying in your pack now? You can also send your pack on (at times) if that helps, but would need a simple (ultra light fold up) day pack if so as well as your main pack if you plan to carry the latter at any time.
    Buen Camino
     
  49. pudgypilgrim

    pudgypilgrim Active Member

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    I can't find it right now, but there is a thread here somewhere from a while back where a number of people were talking about meeting a very heavy, not young woman who was doing the Frances at the rate of about 5 km a day and very happy with that.

    Be sure you have comfortable shoes, a well-fitted pack, and then just go!
     
  50. AbbyDee

    AbbyDee Court Jester

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    In celebration of the 35th anniversary of my 25th year, I will begin my Camino in September 2017
    I will be setting out on my Camino for the first time too. So, whatever advice you get from me will be that of a novice but, for what it is worth, here is what I have learned from my research: Expect the first Few days to be rough. That's ok - its rough on everyone. I have had this in the planning stages for this trip for a long time, so I have had the benefit of training and I still expect it to be rough. Extra pounds? I have them too, and frankly, I doubt if we are the only ones. We will endure. :)

    Trekking poles have been a blessing to me, and might be for you too: they take the strain off knees and hips, plus they are most valuable negotiating downhill on unstable surfaces. Can't stress good footwear enough, whether you choose trail runners, boots, sandals - break them in well. my choice happen to be boots, as my right ankle requires extra support (old volleyball injury). YMMV.

    Happy Trails and Buen Camino
     
  51. Patch

    Patch Active Member

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    St Jean to Leon (Sept 2015)
    Burgos to Santiago (June 2016)
    Porto to Finisterre (June 2017)
    Hi Joe,
    Personally I don't think any training can prepare you for what is a demanding walk for the vast majority of people who undertake it but probably some training is probably better then none at all. In my view the most difficult section of the Francis Camino is the first day but you can do over two days - the rest is in the main OK.
    Two things to bear in mind is to firstly carry the least amount of load possible (I aim for a maximum of 5 kg) and secondly start of very slow and then get slower. After about two weeks you will be fit or ready to throw in the towel - its all a state of mind.
    But most of all I would say if you think its your year then pack your bags and get a plane ticket and go for it and then enjoy every moment :)
     
  52. notion900

    notion900 Veteran Member

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    Camino Frances SJPDP to Santiago (2007). Camino del Norte Santander to Colunga (2010). Via de la Plata Sevilla to Villafranca de los Barros (2014). Camino Primitivo x Camino del Norte Salas to Santiago (2016). Via de la Plata from Villafranca 15 April 2017
    Thanks for your courage in sharing your fears. I really admire you.

    I think people on this forum tend to veer between the non-trainers and the ones who go out hiking every weekend for months beforehand. I am one of the former, but I would not totally recommend it. Most important is to please immediately take at least one walk with your backpack packed EXACTLY as you mean to pack it 'for real'. Try to see if you can walk about 5 miles on gently undulating ground, on a fairly warm day, with this pack. If this is causing you real problems, then don't give up, just take some stuff out of the bag, or plan to use a day bag and bag transport service. Once you are confident that you can do this, I think your fears will be much reduced. This isn't 'training' as such, but is mental preparation.

    My other important point for you is that if you are worried about the hills on the first day out of SJPP, there is absolutely NO requirement to start there. You can start further back in France, as some have suggested, and have you considered starting the Spanish side of the hills at Roncesvalles, where lots of Spanish pilgrims start what they consider to be the 'whole way'. Or anywhere else you like. Don't get hung up on that Hollywood version of what counts as the 'whole Camino' - it is a complete fabrication. Back in the medieval times, the Camino was from a European person's front door to the Cathedral of St James and back. So by those rules, very few people are doing the 'whole thing' now.

    If you start at Roncesvalles you'd have a gentle start to get yourself into your stride. You can then enjoy the hills of Galicia when you are ready for them, which you certainly will be after walking 300 miles. The Pyrennees are very nice but they are not going anywhere. It is not cheating to leave them for another time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  53. JulieandPeter

    JulieandPeter Member Donating Member

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    Hi Joecamino, I was not going to comment here because you have received so much great advice on this thread already and probably don't need anymore. However, I thought of you just now as I was walking down the stairs in my house feeling the pain in my legs and knees from my Camino training walks I'm walking between 5-10 miles twice a week with a pack that is about at 3/4 the weight it will be. It is amazing how a little extra weight in the pack impacts one's knees and feet. I'm 40 pounds overweight which also has a huge impact on my knees.

    At this point, in spite of the knee and foot pain, I feel ready for our walk in late May because I know what to expect in terms of pain. As a former cross country coach and marathon runner, I think having a sense of how your body is going to feel, what to do when it feels that way, and knowing you can get through it with the right modifications (bandaids, change of socks, etc. ) is very helpful. Training a couple times a week with a pack (or even just two times :) ) will make a huge difference in preventing injuries and staying positive as you work through the aches and pains. Buen Camino! I'll be thinking of you every time I walk down my stairs and wishing you well!
     
  54. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Joe, Joe, Joe!

    As you can see, there is a lot of love out here for you, and your humility is precious to many of us.

    When you are walking the Camino, you will see thin people, short people, thin people, heavy people, people with bad toenails, people holding babies, people of every type.

    With carrying extra weight, you will find that your body will cope with that efficiently. As a person who also gathers weight, I'd like to offer up the following:

    1. Carry a LIGHT pack to offset the extra pounds on your body.

    2. Use poles with every step. Watch your footing well, especially with downhills. If you're top heavy, you may tend to an easy loss of balance, so be vigilant.

    3. Drink a LOT of water. Water in Spain is fine, but avoid the murky fountains (you will see just a few). Your larger body will need more water.

    4. Use Glide (from REI) in body folds (tummy, butt, etc., all the male parts, thighs) along with using it on your feet. That will keep your body from chafing against itself.

    5. When you stop at cafes or in bars, wet a handkerchief and wash your face and cool off a lot.

    I've now walked C Frances twice--once for 500 m. and the second for 250 or so? as well as the W. Highland Way in Scotland. My body is about 30 pounds lighter. Your body will respond accordingly as well. Take it slow, slow, slowly as you have mentioned you will do. I was fine (thank you!) with going solo while others occasionally raced by me. You will be too! Get an early morning start, get in a bit of protein, and go have your most wonderful Buen Camino ever, Lad!

    Sending love to a big guy, from a smaller big gal ;)
     
  55. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    CF SJPdP to SdC
    (May 2015)
    Alone.
    ------------------------------
    CF Sarria to SdC
    (May 2016)
    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
    CF SJPDP-SdC
    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    I was hoping to lose weight. 800 kms and 40 days later I lost about 2 kg :( I kind of ate and drank my way across Spain :oops: I'll do better next time.....
     
  56. Magnara

    Magnara Maggie Ramsay

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    I think most people plan to train, but don't really. And it is very different to anything you could really train for - after all, who could spend weeks walking all day? I read somewhere about it taking about two weeks to get your "walking legs" after which you become a bit of a machine, and I agree with that. So (like me) just start off where you are at in terms of fitness, and take it easy, build up as you go along. You end up so amazingly fit, you feel like an athlete (a new feeling for me, I assure you). And if you manage to keep away from the cakes you will lose a lot of weight as well.
     
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  57. davebugg

    davebugg Member Donating Member

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    What doing some training before starting your Camino will do, is to provide a level of confidence that you will be just fine. and will help alleviate the anxiousness and nervousness to a great extent, allowing you to more calmly focus on what you need, spiritually and mentally, from undertaking this walk. You have some time beforehand to do a bit of conditioning, so why not take advantage of it.
    1.Sort out your footwear. Going on walks, wearing the shoes you are trying out around the house and at work, testing the footwear with various socks and insoles you wish to try out are important. You want to know what will work for you, sorting out blister-prone issues, prior to leaving, because it becomes a bit more complicated to sort things out in the midst of your walk. Again, it helps with your confidence level.
    2. Gather your gear and wear your pack around the house and on walks to check for proper fit and comfort. It does take some time to get used to being comfortable with your pack. Wearing the pack, with your gear will also help you to discover potential Hot spotting on your feet that may indicate the potential for blisters.
    3. Have fun during your pre-trip conditioning. Start slow at first, increasing the length of your walks every few days. Set a destination to a favorite place that you want to go to, whether a park, a friends house, or to a pizza joint :).
    4. If you find that you are experiencing unusual pain or discomfort, get it checked out right away. This is sort of a personal body-physical-self shakedown. it is nice to know if your body has any problem areas that might require some medical assistance while you are still at home with your own medical providers. Of course, things might still happen on the Camino, but why not see if you can get ahead of the most obvious issues before leaving?

    For me, the more I do some fitness prior to a trip, the more I can enjoy the trip itself. And if you can't do any training before you leave, take it slow, listen to anything that your body is telling you to pay attention to, and enjoy yourself.
     
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  58. April Jo

    April Jo Member Donating Member

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    Hi. I reckon you'll have a wonderful Camino if you "design" it according to your own individual circumstances. In my opinion: There is no objective "virtue" in doing a long route. Let's face it, is walking to Santiago from the Pyrenees any more valid than walking from, say, Paris? By the same token, is walking a shorter route within the CF less valid still?

    I believe that any experience(s) you have on the Camino will be right for you, assuming you use your wisdom (not to mention the wonderful advice the experienced folks have given you, above!)

    Because of a last minute opportunitu, and time restraints, I had only a total of ten days, and almost no time time for training, so I was quite unfit. I also am a VERY slow walker when carrying a backpack (people older than me raced past this tortoise with apparent ease!) I was also recovering from a broken arm from a few months earlier, and was initially carrying too much stuff, which hurt my neck. For all these reasons, walking poles were "life savers".

    I decided to walk a short route: one that I was likely to accomplish: the 112 km from Sarria to Santiago, and because I walked so slowly, it took me seven days (then three days in Santiago.) It was mid-May, busy but not outrageously so. I didn't book anywhere, but because of my slow walking I tended to arrive late in the day, which was a bit stressful a couple of times getting a bed.

    I didn't use a bag carrying service, nor buses, but I would've if my physical condition demanded it.

    I have had a couple of people (NOT on the forum!) say that I didn't do a "real pilgrimage". Well, yes I did! It was a rich experience at all levels, including spiritually, and loved ones say they can still notice the difference in me nearly a year later.

    I am planning my next Camino. Longer, this time. Remember, if finances allow, you could always do a shorter route this time, then plan for a longer one next time!

    There is no right or wrong in where you go and how you travel, so it may as well be in a way that suits and supports you. And give yourself the gift of permission to be flexible!

    May I join all the others in wishing you a Buen Camino!
     
  59. Deacon Jason

    Deacon Jason Active Member

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    As a fellow 'big guy' who was in a similar situation, I have to echo the posts above. It can be done!

    I completed the Camino Frances in October after 33 days on the road (averaging about 15 mi/day, sometimes a lot more sometimes a lot less). I really wanted to prepare more before hand...but it didn't really happen. Not as much as I wanted, at least. Life kept getting in the way of walking! ;)

    I started in SJPdP and went over the Napolean Route. It was hard, painful, beautiful and totally worth it. It took me 12 hours of stopping, starting and panting (through the rain!), and by the time I got to Roncesvalles I was totally exhausted--but I wouldn't change a thing. That day gave me the confidence to know I could make it through the rest.

    I gave myself a day off in Pamplona after my third day of walking. This helped my body adjust. I walked long days and never passed a cafe without stopping (ok, an exaggeration but not by much). I just got in later than other people..but I always found a bed (though a few times just barely).

    I also found out that I wasn't the only person on that same pace. I quickly met all of the others--like a little moving town that changes its scenery every day. I found that having a cold beer or glass of wine and a hearty dinner with new friends helped keep my mental state where it needed to be while my body was catching up.

    By the end, mountains and 20 mile days were no problem. All in a day's work for a dirty pilgrim.

    Go and have a blast!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  60. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    My wife, brother-in-law and I will walk the CF in the fall of 2019.
    Absolutely you did! Well-done, Jo!
     
  61. Jersey

    Jersey Member

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    Im 56 years old and July will be my first time walking the Camino but I was in Spain last year for almost a month and walked anywhere from 5 to 10 miles a day without any problem. My 2 cents would to do at least a few weeks of walking at home, at least to break in & make sure you have the right shoes. From everything I've read, blisters are the main problem.
    I'll be in Spain for 6 weeks but I only have about 14 days to walk so I'm doing Leon to Santiago. I plan on taking a few days off when I find a town I like.
    Anyway I would also suggest seeing your doctor for a quick physical. I had one this week along with an EKG. I had no choice since
    I'm having hand surgery in a few weeks but it gave me some piece of mind.
     
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  62. nycwalking

    nycwalking Active Member

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    CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). VDP: (2017). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
    Joe,
    I forgot about the tears. When they well up allow them to flow. Big boys do cry.
    Vaya! Go!.
    Buen camino.
     
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  63. Karen2017

    Karen2017 Member

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    Can't like thus enough, we waste so much time saying I will do this or that when I have done this.....
     
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  64. Aidan21

    Aidan21 Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances (Sept 2013) SJPP to Burgos
    Camino Frances (Sept/Oct 2014) Burgos to SDC
    Camino Frances (May 2016) Sarria to SDC
    Camino Frances (June/July 2016) SJPP to SDC
    Hi Joe,
    I cannot add to the excellent advice and comments above. I just note that you said something about carrying a lot of 'shame'. I guess that is harder to carry than all the pounds and no poles or good shoes will help with that load. But shame is something that we can all put down, it is a burden we do not have to carry. We have all experienced it in one form or another to one extent or another. I will absolutely bet my bottom dollar that everone you will meet on the Camino will treat you exactly as they find you, as another peringrino, as someone just like them with their own story and their own past, just trying to be the best they can be. Joe put the shame burden down in SJPP, enjoy the walk, enjoy the company, enjoy the fantastic scenery, enjoy the whole experience and when you get to SDC do not look back. Joe you are one of us, Buen Camino.
    Aidan
     
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  65. NualaOC

    NualaOC Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Francés: 2013,14 & 15 (in 3 stages)
    Inglés: (A Coruña to Muxia) 2015
    Baztanés: 2016 & 2017
    Primitivo: 2016
    Norte: 2017 & 18 (in 3 stages)
    Hi Joe,
    I love your honest post and all the great replies. If/when you walk, you'll have an army of virtual cheerleaders!

    If everyone waited until they were fit or light enough, there would be hardly any pilgrims on the Camino Francés! Do it, but take your time and listen to your body. There are lots of ways to make things easier in the early stages - shorter stages, bag transport and a bus or taxi if you need it.
    Be kind to yourself - maybe that will be one of your life-lessons on the Camino.
    Good luck and Buen Camino.
    Nuala
     
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  66. William Marques

    William Marques Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Would anybody mind if I make this a Sticky thread in the FAQ section of the forum. This is a question so many people want to ask but are sometimes reluctant to. The answers have also been sensible and positive.
     
  67. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    My wife, brother-in-law and I will walk the CF in the fall of 2019.
    Hey! I wanna walk THAT Camino! ;):D:D
     
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  68. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe Enjoying the outdoors since 1957

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    My wife, brother-in-law and I will walk the CF in the fall of 2019.
    I missed this before. If you have done multiple centuries on a bicycle, even if they were several years back, your leg muscles are already in a pretty good state. Probably shouldn't take too long to get them back into shape.
     
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  69. ArianaYoda

    ArianaYoda CaminoAriana

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    I walked at 60 without a lot of training and about 60 lbs overweight - and I have seen people much heavier walking. I think you will find that as you walk that 10 KM will increase - especially if you use April to get into a regular walking routine. Walking at a sauntering pace also helps - in myself I have noticed that when I get pulled into someone else pace I have regretted it the next day. It is tempting to get into conversation with someone walking faster - yet there is plenty of time at the end of the day to chat.
    I agree with others about the poles. I actually find them extremely helpful on the uphill using them to help propel me up the hill.. I am slow on hills and just take my time. Also on Day 1 there is the option of Orisson part way up but you have to make reservations early. If that is not possible you can use a transport service to pick you up and take you back to St. Jean. Then transport back up the next morning to where you left off. I am heading out May 10 - hope to see you on the trail. Ariana
     
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  70. JimGeier

    JimGeier Active Member Donating Member

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    Camino Frances Autumn 2017
    I second the "EXACTLY!" comment from Glenn Rowe. On my first Camino a year ago, I was constantly reminded of the quote from Sir Edmund Hillary, "you do not conquer the mountain, you conquer yourself." Being prepared mentally is key. As others have said, (1) get good shoes or boots, break them in, (2) get hiking poles and learn how to use them...the hiking poles really help reduce stress on the knees and hips, (3) this is your Camino, take your own pace. It will be magical, and insightful. I'm sorry I will not see you on the way; my next Camino is planned for Sep 12.
    Buen Camino!
    --jim--
     
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  71. Mick McQueen

    Mick McQueen https://www.facebook.com/groups/

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    I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
    The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
    Hi Mate,
    I tell people that after 890km I'll be fit, but in reality I started doing a 8 km walk at my pace with a pack every second day and now am doing it everyday at different times and really enjoying it.You will find that you will lose weight especially if you decide to halve your meals and don't eat any junk, just remember the mind is stronger than the body and the sun is always shining....... From within, Buen Camino go for it mate
     
  72. cvixx

    cvixx Member

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    looking at 2018-2019
    Joe and Julie/Peter...a contrary thought here. Everyone has to make their own decision as to their physical condition to walk the Camino. However, do not discount the damage you may do to your knees. I have not walked the Camino yet, being penciled in for May 2018. However, I am probably more experienced with knee replacement surgeries than others here, having had 4 of them. No, I do not have 4 knees. Even though my wife thinks I am bull-headed, I do not have their multiple knees. I was the unfortunate recipient of a defective first knee, which has followed me down through the other replacements. Trust me, it is not something you want to have done if at all possible. Therefore, listen to your knees...if they say its time to take a break or even that it is time to stop for a season, pay heed. Using sticks, having your pack transported for you, taking a bus or taxi are all helpful aids to working your way down the trail and I will consider them as 2018 approaches but I am also attuned to the potential of knee damage, as I do not want number 5!

    Think slow but steady and buen Camino.
     
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  73. JulieandPeter

    JulieandPeter Member Donating Member

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    Planning Francis (May/June 2017) and Coastal Portugues (July 2017)
    Not really sure why I am tagged here. I say train (because I have had two knee surgeries)!
     
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  74. JimGeier

    JimGeier Active Member Donating Member

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    Camino Frances Autumn 2017
    Your thought that the kindness of the people on the Camino Forum is touching and that this might be a snapshot of the Camino is right, but it is far deeper.

    Much has been written about walking the Camino, and prior to my Camino a year ago I read many books by people who walked the Camino and read much of the Camino Forum. None of what I read and thought I knew really prepared me for what I experienced.

    Walking 6-7 hours a day or more, sometimes uphill (sometimes unrelenting) sometime on rocky, unstable paths, sometimes in the rain and mud, is difficult, far more difficult than I thought it would be. Difficult both physically and emotionally. It is a long, long walk.

    At the same time, the experience, every day, was far more uplifting than I could possibly have imagined:
    - The intimate connection with the beautiful landscape, walking through vast farms and valleys, climbing hills, it is just beautiful. Sometimes you walk alone, sometimes with other people, sometimes talking, sometimes not. Sometime you do not even share a language, but you share the difficulty of the steep hill and then the beauty at the top.
    - The camaraderie of walking with other people is in itself uplifting. You will meet people from all over the world, and you are all going the same way.
    - And then there is the unwavering positive support of the people in the small towns through which we walked. I read frequently that “it is in the culture of the people along the Camino to support the pilgrims.” I know what those words mean, and so do you; but I did not really know until I was there. It is deep in their culture, it is genuine and sincere.

    Every day was similar, in that I walked all day; every day was different in a different place and different scenery; every day, every single day was beautiful (even when it rained).

    Joe, as I said in a previous reply, your attitude is key; your Camino will be magical.
    Buen Camino!
    --jim--
     
  75. cvixx

    cvixx Member

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    looking at 2018-2019
    Peter...I had mentioned you as you had talked about knee pain. Glad your knees have worked out better than mine.

    Joe...btw, if you do decide to put part of your walk on hold, pencil in May 2018; I, and probably a bunch of others will be walking. Join me/us, though if you keep working on conditioning, you will probably run circles around me!
     
  76. joecamino

    joecamino Member Donating Member

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    Well, I booked my flight, and expect to be walking out of SJPdP May 5th or 6th!

    I've still got plenty of questions-- along with the "Oh my God, what have I done?!" anxiety-- but I'll post any of those in a separate thread, if a Forum search doesn't answer them.

    Thanks again to everyone who posted. You helped remind me what can happen when I take a risk-- and got me off the fence on doing this.
     
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  77. tomnorth

    tomnorth Active Member

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    Camino Frances, September 24 - October 31 (2015)
    I replace paper books, guides, maps and other stuff with files on my iPhone. I have become adept at converting all manner of files to .pdf format. Bytes of storage weigh nothing.

    This is great advice.

    "I replace paper books, guides, maps and other stuff with files on my iPhone. I have become adept at converting all manner of files to .pdf format. Bytes of storage weigh nothing."

    I went to Kinkos and had them cut the spine off the Brierly book so that I could scan it in the auto feeder of my printer/scanner at home.
     
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  78. t2andreo

    t2andreo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances: April-May 2013 & 2014;
    Madrid: April 2016;
    Portuguese: April - May 2015 & 2017;
    Amigo: June 2014;
    Voluntario: July - August 2015
    Voluntario: July - August 2016
    I did the same thing with the .pdf file of both CSJ Camino Portuguese guides. My local Office Depot did a great job.

    As I will mail extra dietary protein and mineral/vitamins ahead to my hotel in Porto, for the second half of my coming CP, I will also send all extra paper ahead...including CSJ Part II.
     
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  79. marcdefaoite

    marcdefaoite New Member

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    Hi Joe

    In your place I would seriously consider doing 7 things.

    1 - Start walking today, even if just for fifteen minutes - ideally wearing the shoes and socks you plan to use on the camino. Walk every day from now until when you go. Take at least one walk wearing the clothes you plan to walk in and carrying the your backpack filled with everything you plan to bring on the camino.

    2 - Start in Roncevalles instead of Saint Jean Pied de Port and skip the climb over the Pyrenees. In this way you first days will be more downhill and flat than uphill.

    3 - Use poles - whether going uphill, downhill, or on the flat. This is a no brainer.

    4 - Walk short days. I think the longest stretch between albergues is 17 km and more often than not you'll find a place to stop/stay every few kilometres.

    5 - Use Jacotrans to send your bag ahead to your next stop. That way you only have to carry the bare minimum as you walk.You could do this every day, or just some days. Of course if you use the service every day that's going to add a bit more expense to your trip.

    6 - The Hospitaleros (the people who work in the albergues) will always be able to tell you about bus routes or provide you with a phone number for a local taxi so that if you really need to you can still get to your destination if you have sent your bag ahead and your legs can't manage it.

    7 - Drink lots and lots of water. Stay hydrated.

    Buen Camino
     
  80. tomnorth

    tomnorth Active Member

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    I like my vino tinto as much as the next person, but alcohol is lousy for hydration on account of its diuretic properties (i.e. it makes you pee). Too much alcohol actually causes dehydration. Good old water is the best thing for hydration.
     
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  81. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
    I went to a talk by a guy who biked from the tip of North America to the tip of South America. When asked how he prepared for the journey he replied "Two weeks of incredible partying".
     
  82. stinmd

    stinmd New Member

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    In my opinion, "train as I go" is the way to do it for us city-dwellers. The first day on the camino, you train for the second day; the second day for the third, and so on. You have to listen to your body - know when to stop and when to move on. You don't have to follow the itinerary suggested in your guidebook. Stop wherever you feel you must. That worked for me on my two previous caminos. You'll do just fine!
     
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  83. Nichal

    Nichal New Member

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    Hi Joe
    I am starting in SJPP May 5
    The thread you started really gives me inspiration
    I have had plantar faciatis for the past 5 months and that coupled with a frigid winter and work I am in less than ideal condition too.
    Let's do this !
    Nicole
     
  84. Nichal

    Nichal New Member

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    My son and I start May 5 and your sentiments are mine too. Hope to see you on the Camino!
    Nicole
     
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  85. AbbyDee

    AbbyDee Court Jester

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    In celebration of the 35th anniversary of my 25th year, I will begin my Camino in September 2017

    And oranges replace potassium.
     
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  86. willydp

    willydp Active Member Donating Member

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    Hi "joecamino",
    I don't have much training and I have backpain with movement limitation just now and I have planned to walk the CF the 3th May.
    I will start anyway, hope things get better, but if not then I will skip a part, take some resting days and start the last 200km and come back some other time to do the rest.
    I need to think things over also :)
    I've retired this month and settling into the new life ;)
    Buen Camino
     
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  87. Older Guy

    Older Guy Active Member

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    Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
    Joe;

    A few thoughts. Since you have done some century bike rides, have you even thought of biking the Camino? Your weight on knees at least is not such an issue and you do have skills and experience in this area. If you have done recent bike training, that might be a good alternative. Once you get in shape you can bike about twice to three times the distance in a day as hiking.

    I would also advice starting somewhere at or after Pamplona so that you don't have too bad a mountain range immediately.

    The real problem most folks don't understand in doing something like the Camino is that it is the equivalent of training for a marathon or other endurance event. What I mean by that is that if you hike the Camino, you are talking about maybe a month of walking, nearly day after day.

    When I did half marathon training, I would have 2 medium hard workouts a week, one long run a week, and either two days of rest or a day of rest combined with a light work out day. Any more than that and I could expect to get an overuse injury. The keys to training for an endurance event are (1) rest days, (2) recovery (proper nutrition, sleep, recovery sports drinks, stretching after exercise, warming up slowly), and (3) being flexible on listening to what your body is telling you (not feeling good enough for a long run today, my knee says I need another rest day.)

    A bike century probably required some training and so you probably understand some of the above endurance event concepts. Make sure you listen to what your body is telling you.

    Can you train on the way? Yes. Is it a good idea? No. Will you need to be especially careful to not over due things? Yes.

    One final piece of advice. If you are crossing many time zones to get to your Camino starting point, take a few nights at the beginning to get over jet lag. Your immune system will be weak if you don't and you don't want to start your fist week with a bad cold. I saw lots of that on my Camino.

    Good luck.
     
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  88. Toni01

    Toni01 New Member

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    2017. March
    Joe, I have just finished the Portuguese coastal camino. I had very little training. I just took it at my own pace, you will be surprised at how much ground you cover without any problems. I suffered with my feet but just prepare with compeed, muscle rub, pain killers just in case. Once you have good (broken in) boots/shoes and comfortable gear that's half the battle. I started off each day with water with dioralyte (hydration sachet) and a soluble multivitamin, it starts you off hydrated. Keep sipping away at water during the day, get a few small bottles, they are easier (lighter) than a big bottle so takes pressure off carrying extra. I am slow on hills but just kept moving forward and you reach your summit before you know it. You will surprise yourself. You sound determined so that is also a huge advantage. You will be delighted at the end. Enjoy
     
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  89. Annie Little

    Annie Little Active Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    2016
    Joe in the past 12 years , I have had some sort of adventure each year ... in order to grow I know I have to get out of my comfort zone.
    EVERY single time to this day the process in the same ... my head tries to convince me that nothing is a good idea .... I see big red STOP signs in my mind as I make plans .... my daughter knows not to talk to me for about two weeks before I fly because my head will be doing flip flops ... THEN I go ! My mind realises it has lost the battle and shuts up... I always come back enriched from each experience , having learnt a lot , experienced a lot and grown a lot ...... Nothing I have done was easy but I did it anyway ....

    On the Camino last year .... after a few weeks at night I started to think .... Thats enough Ive done enough BUT in the morning I was up early and couldn't wait to get back on the track :).... I miss the daily walking ... I would do some things differently next time but I only know what I would change next time because I went the first time :D

    Ultreia
     
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  90. West Coaster

    West Coaster Zoomer

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances May-June 2015
    I see the Camino as an achievable goal for those that want to adopt an active life style. There is no shortage of the unfit tossing out stories and excuses to not be fit. It’s basically saying it’s OK to be sickly, constantly tired and a burden on the health care system.

    You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to finish the Camion, you just need to be functionally fit. Fitness will play an important part on the Camino, it will give you a lot of extra energy and allow you to have far more enjoyment of the walk. There’s no shortage of people going bust on the Camino and most of them never prepared or got themselves into shape.
     
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  91. Dan B.

    Dan B. New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 2013, Portugues from Porto to Muxia in 2014, and del Norte beginning April, 2017


    Just do it. I met an overweight guy on the Appalachian Trail who was up to 3 miles a day who had started at less than a mile a couple of weeks before. With villages, coffee shops and albergues every few miles on the Camino Frances you should be fine. Just take it easy and don't try to prove anything.
     
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  92. CaroleH

    CaroleH Active Member

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    Location:
    Illawarra, Australia
    Camino(s) past & future:
    VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
    What a wonderful stream. I am seldom on the Forum these days but the sharing and caring evident here is what you can expect on camino Joe.
    Not much I can add to all the wonderful and varied advice above, but to stress carrying less in your pack, walking short, short distances for the first few days and perhaps starting on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. Listen to your body but feel the fear and walk through it.
    Buen camino Joe.
     
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  93. GillRichardson

    GillRichardson New Member

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    Location:
    Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
    Camino(s) past & future:
    walking a week on Camino Frances June 2016
    We spent just over a week on the Camino last year, my husband and I are both overweight and were extremely unfit when we started training - our training was a bit of a bust (you can read about it here => my Camino blog) so we were not very fit and still significantly overweight when we began walking. Okay, we only walked from Pamplona to Logrono, so my advice is probably not all that valid as opposed to someone who walked the entire route, but I'd say start walking in the shoes you are going to use on the Camino asap and then book your tickets. Or, you could start walking asap and book your tickets for September....? The second option would certainly make your first week on the Camino more comfortable. But either way it's doable. You can definitely tailor your first couple of weeks to have shorter days, to allow for some "training while you're on the Camino", that's what we did. I'd also suggest not doing the stretch before Pamplona - from what I've heard the stretch through the Pyrenees is VERY tough going.
     
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  94. Pam Scott

    Pam Scott Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino de Santiago compostella 2015
    Hi, Im sure you will be fine. But I think the most important thing is to book into Orrison the first night if starting at SJPP . Make the first few days as easy as possible. Its a beautiful place to stay.
     
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  95. lynee

    lynee New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    april "2015"
    you can just go to orison the first day , not far at all . even if you took all day to get there he would get there !!!!
     
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  96. Paddington Bear

    Paddington Bear Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    May 2017
    You might want to try putting good arch support inner soles in ALL of your shoes. See if that cures your plantar fasciitis. Worth a try. It worked for me.
     
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  97. awarr

    awarr New Member

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    April (2017)
    Hey Joe
    I was having the same fears - not doubts- l am very keen to follow that instinct that this is right for me. Thank you for your question and your honesty, l too have taken strength from the answers.
    Have a great Camino, your way.
     
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  98. Dan B.

    Dan B. New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 2013, Portugues from Porto to Muxia in 2014, and del Norte beginning April, 2017
    Definitely start in Roncesvalles... or somewhere on the Spanish side. It's nuts to climb 1000 meters (or whatever) on your first day, even if you're in great shape.
     
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  99. CaroleH

    CaroleH Active Member

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    Location:
    Illawarra, Australia
    Camino(s) past & future:
    VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
    Definitely agree.
     
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  100. Joanne P

    Joanne P New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    2018
    Good on you JoeCamino!! May the shame you're feeling right now be quickly replaced by a sense of pride as you take on this journey, and may you find peace ... and so much more ... along The Way.
    Buen Camino.
     
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