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Walking The Camino Without Training. Fool's Errand?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Frances (2014)
Camino de Frances (2016)
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
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
  • Joe, please don't be so hard on yourself. If you only walk a few miles a day, you just might find some peace. You don't need to walk the whole Camino, either.
  • Don't compare yourself to anyone on the path. I witnessed some folks who walked very slowly and for short days. It was their Camino and I would be willing to bet their experience was as meaningful as anyone's. That's the miracle of "The Way."
  • Of course, I agree that a sit-down with your doc is extremely important before you embark on this adventure.
  • I am sad that you use the word "shame." Here's hoping that you are able to "do" the Camino and shed that word from your vocabulary, especially in reference to yourself.
  • Best wishes and "Buen Camino, Peregrino!"
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Frances (2014)
Camino de Frances (2016)
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
Oh, and one more thing, Joe: Make sure your boots are a full size larger than your regular footwear. :>)
 

jeannick

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vezelay to Santiago 2014
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 "
Don't worry mate , I started green as May at 120kg plus 15kg pack , no training or sense of direction
you have good legs ? that's the first requirement , the rest is mere accessories
the first week was hell , there were six distinct body parts which hurted ,
I promise you pain and pleasure , but the pain will come first
it come for everybody

I was told by a lung doctor ,at 62 I had the lung capacity of a 95 year old man
( heavy smoker since I was 13 and gassed with chlorine half a dozen times )
crossed Roncevalles one step at the time huffing , puffing and smoking all along
did 1600 Km fromVezelay and was a slim marching beast at the end , carrying a slimmed down pack
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
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
You're starting in May? That's several weeks away. You cans tarting walking daily now. And if you can take your time and walk shorter daily distances, I do t see why you can't walk the Camino this year. You've been walking your whole life! (I got some good advice about the Camino from a guy who walked his first one a year ago. Until he got on a plane and walked it, he was a literal couch potato! He was we over 100 lbs overweight, and had never exercised a day in his life. But since then, he's lost the majority of that weight and has changed his entire lifestyle.) I'd say your knee and ankle joints might take a bit if a pounding, so plan ahead and take along some ace wraps, etc. Do as much as you can without killing yourself, take breaks when needed, leave your shame behind you (whether at home before you begin or on the trail as your walking). And remember through the tough times that you came here for change, and change occurs in our discomfort. I begin with my daughter in May for our first Camino. Maybe we'll see you there?! I wish you the best, whatever you decide.
 

Nath

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planned start is May 3, 2017 via Camino Frances
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
Hi Joe, I will be walking it at end or April or beginning of May and I did not train either. I am overweight and I do have knee and feet pain so I will have to go as far as I can without hurting myself each days - As long as I am in Santiago on June 20th I can go as slow as I want to. If you have the time and the right gear I say go ahead- it is not a race anyway. On hill days, do shorter days and on flat days or on days you are feeling great just go a bit further. The important is to listen to your body. Take breaks just before you think you will need one and stay hydrated. I am expecting my first week - 2 weeks to be ``somewheat challenging but after a while your body shall be used to it and it should get easier. Good luck!
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
I was in your position on my Camino. I was overweight, never hiked anywhere before, and I also smoked so perhaps you can get some insight from my experience. You can train as you go, I did it and if I can do it then anyone can.

The stage from SJPD to Roncesvalles was hard, very hard. I had to stop twice . I stayed at Oresson and at the refuge before it.

Half of the first stage to Roncesvalles is all up hill and my legs turned to jelly to the point where I couldn't walk ten steps without having to stop but fortunately the first refuge wasn't too far. The next day and the walk to Oresson was a little easier but still difficult, and the walk from Oresson to Roncesvalles was easier but had a few surprising moments.

I went from struggling to walk 6'ish miles up hill on the first day to walking 30+ miles and when I came home none of my trousers fit me anymore :)

Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
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

Hi Joe

Like any such adventure getting in some training will be a good thing - but you don't have to. My wife and I were very overweight - I was 130kgs (280 pounds?) but over a 7 month period managed to lose around 25 kgs and that was just from eating right and exercise and this was all for the Camino.

That training certainly helped - but we still were not fast. Average for us was around 15km a day - so we were normally up at 7 and walked until 2-2.30 before finding somewhere to stay. Some days we walked 20 or 25 km, some days we walked 10km - depending on how we felt, weather etc.

I would say that as long as you started doing some walking now - start slow maybe 3km and slowly build that up until you are doing 8-10km a walk. That should be ebough to help you out.

Day 1 will be tough - so consider splitting it in your case so that you aren't destroyed on the first day! After that things get a bit easier, by week 3 when you encounter the second major (and highest) climb you should be in a good position to do it reasonably easy.

In the end if you have the time like we did - just take it easy! Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal Route(2016), Del Norte (2017) Camino Portuguese Litoral Senda (2018)
Go
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
for it. As one elderly pilgrim said, "not too fast, not too far". I did my first Camino (CP) last year. 60 years old, 275lbs. Averaged 12 miles per day and had no problems. .
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
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.
I strongly disagree. I would suggest that it is only "nuts" if someone doesn't want to do it, but does so anyway. For those who want to do it, it is no more "nuts" to do so than to walk the 790 kms from Roncevalles to Santiago de Compostela, when all one needs to do is walk from Sarria for the final 100 kms. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk july 15
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
On my first camino I was (and still am) about 8 kgs heavier than my BMI perfect weight and not in any way fit. The best way to do this, if you've not got time to train daily before you go - and it has to be daily, IMO, doing a 10-20km walk every weekend doesnt prepare you for the day-in and day-out of walking, just ease yourself in starting with low kms in the first week, extending out to Burgos, once you're at Burgos you'll be ready for 25-30k days - not before.

My first camino started with, what at the time looked like hard days, but looking back were anything but after some of the high km last days, when you're in shape. I went from St Pied de Port>Valcarlos>Espinal>Zubiri>Pamplona>Zariguegui>Ciraqui>Estella - A full week to get to Estella! After this I pushed myself a bit too hard and fast, the run from Los Arcos to Logrono is pretty long and I hurt myself walking at other peoples pace.

Slow, steady, frequent breaks (I still break for 15 every 90 minutes and air out my feet as well as an hour for lunch) and your fitness will build - don't walk at others pace, you can face injuries.
 

jeannick

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vezelay to Santiago 2014
.After some more thinking , a piece of advice , which you might ignore if you wish
.....the SHOES are the most important thing , they must work well with your feet
take them one size too large , broad at the toes , the broad part just before the toes must be at ease
modern shoes in synthetic do not loosen themselves like the leather ones did
your feet will swell somewhat , don't worry it get back to normal after a couple of months rest

for most of the way , low walking shoes are fine ,I saw no real need for anything much above the ankles
in fact it muscled the tendons more and weighted less
but the sole must be really thick , the stony Spanish roads are not just a poetic image
if they look flash , that's not good ,
plenty of design sport shoes were abandoned along the path .
strangely only one mostly
I saw a couple of guys walking with their work shoes and very happy with it
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked the Camino Frances in 2013. Part of Jeju Olle Trail in 2014. A Pilgrimage in Bavaria: Regensburg Diözesanfußwallfahrt to Altötting 2014. Trekking Nepal 2014. European Peace Trail 2015.
If you have plenty of time, then absolutely yes. I did it. Not proud, but proof that it's possible. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
In my experience with leading groups, MOST people do MOST of their training on the Camino.
Just start slow and gradually work up your distance.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) ; 1st Camino ; Frances Way ; 2017 Camino Frances begins August 10,2017
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
Take your time, you will be ok, just remember it is not a race even though some think so. We're in our 60's, from Florida, training minimal and I had a heart attack in 2005 ... we suffered for the first 7-10 days but we made it. We trekked the entire Camino Frances. This year we are training, lost weight and just went through a complete cardiological revue with testing to make sure we'll be ok...lol a little late but it gives us peace of mind. oh on other thing, you will lose weight and gain cardio health from doing it.
Buen Camino !!!!
 

glennb77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
leon-santiago (2006)
leon-santiago-finisterre (2007)
sevilla-santiago-finisterre (2008)
leon-santiago-finisterre (2009)
israel national trail (2011)
pamplona-santiago (2012)
pamplona-astorga (2013)
pamplona-leon (2014)
roncesvalles-leon (2015)
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

back in 2006 i was overweight ,29 years old ,never hiked, never traveled, never used a backpack
went to leon with a backpack that was 15 kilos walked to santiago (300 km) and didn't get a blister , tendinitis or backpain.
i never train for a camino , butt i have been on the camino and after a couple of 100 km got severe tendinitis because i walked
to fast to see pilgrim friends or to get to the albergue to be sure to get a bed.
my advice start with short days of walk and slowly increase the km .
have enough free days and/or short days (10-15km) , drink enough water when you walk .
walk you're camino enjoy the walk because thats the most
importent thing about the camino and it wil not be finishing in santiago.
see ,feel ,listen , share the camino. let you're mind wander ,think about life ,friends, problems ,god ,etc..
get as manny communal meals as possible forget about the pilgrims menu.
in june i will be on the camino for the 10the time and still i learn new things ,see things on the camino i didn't see before.
and still i don't train for long distance hikes.
 

Nath

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planned start is May 3, 2017 via Camino Frances
  • Joe, please don't be so hard on yourself. If you only walk a few miles a day, you just might find some peace. You don't need to walk the whole Camino, either.
  • Don't compare yourself to anyone on the path. I witnessed some folks who walked very slowly and for short days. It was their Camino and I would be willing to bet their experience was as meaningful as anyone's. That's the miracle of "The Way."
  • Of course, I agree that a sit-down with your doc is extremely important before you embark on this adventure.
  • I am sad that you use the word "shame." Here's hoping that you are able to "do" the Camino and shed that word from your vocabulary, especially in reference to yourself.
  • Best wishes and "Buen Camino, Peregrino!"
I agree with Elizabeth. I am currently on the Camino and yes it was challenging without training but I believe the Challenge is that my bag is about 12 kilos which is way too much. Also, to help you out, you could use the luggage transport to Roncesvalles for that section. Now I wish my pride did not get on the way.

If you can, I will recommend to either reserve your bed in Roncesvalles 14 days before on the web or arrive before 3 in Roncesvalles. About 60 people got turned away on the day I arrived.

Also, I will recommend you make Reservation in Zubiri and or the next town for 2nd stage as I arrived just before 3 pm in Zubiri and there were no accommodation left in the entire town and the next ones. Over 50 that I am aware of including myself had to take a taxi to Pamplona and there albergues were full as well, so many of us ended up in hotels. The trail, the people, the view and the journey is worth it. Keep strong, pack light, make some reservations and take your time. Don't forget rain gear!

If Orisson is full, try Gite Antton. Very nice. They will pick you up from Orisson and drive you back there the next morning so you can continue to Roncesvalles.

Buen Camino.
 
So many different perspectives from so many who have successfully walked the Camino. This shows you that no matter what shape you are in when you start, with a combination of common sense, respecting your body's limits and luck, you can get all the way to Santiago.

We haven't heard much from some of the many who don't make it though. I've met a lot over the years and I think they typically fall into two categories -- those who had some sort of acute injury, like a twisted knee, broken bone, sprain, etc; and those who just overdid it, decided to "power through", and paid the price later on.

For that second group, it's usually the case that a non-physical event makes you stop listening to your body and then causes big injuries -- trying to keep up with others, not wanting to let your partner down, not wanting to separate from your camino family, having a return plane ticket that doesn't allow for rest days, etc. For anyone who is walking the Francés from SJPP for the first time, I would say -- if you can, add an extra week to your "schedule" and do not be afraid to spin off from your group. If you surprise yourself and arrive as expected, then you have time to walk to Finisterre and Muxia. But if you need the rest, you will be able to take it, to give your body the healing time it needs to get back in walking mode. I've been walking caminos for way too many years now and I am constantly surprising myself -- some years I get to Santiago early and am able to walk on to the coast, and some years, I have taken those extra days and used them along the Camino when it seemed right. And one last suggestion -- reservations are like a noose around your neck and can be oh so bad for your body.

Buen camino everyone, Laurie
 

glennb77

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
leon-santiago (2006)
leon-santiago-finisterre (2007)
sevilla-santiago-finisterre (2008)
leon-santiago-finisterre (2009)
israel national trail (2011)
pamplona-santiago (2012)
pamplona-astorga (2013)
pamplona-leon (2014)
roncesvalles-leon (2015)
hi
i made mistakes and paid the price on the camino
one time i walked really fast because i wanted to keep up with some people i liked
and after 300 km got severe tendinitis.
one time i got sucked up in the rat race and i quit the camino in astorga
i didn´t get a blister or back pain etc , i just had enough of the race.
my advice
walk you're own pace you meet the same people a long the way or
you meet a lot of other great people.
also walk a few days alone and not with a group or a partner, it gives you more time
to reflect and also to meet new people , because when you're in a group or with a partner
most of the time you will only talk to them and miss out on a lot of nice people.
when you walk alone people are also more likely to talk to you.
and i think when you arrive in santiago its bitter sweet ,
you will feel joy but you also will realise its over ,
so enjoy your time on the camino talk to people ,see, feel,taste and let you're mind roam.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Thanks again everyone for the thoughtful advice. You got me "over the hump" of making the decision, and I fly out tomorrow.

A lot of fear coming up (why did I look at that time-lapse video over Pyrenees?!) I'll keep taking deep breaths, and count on you, other pilgrims, my grit and a higher power to get me over the humps between here and Santiago.
 

sadaigh

Camino Frances, July 2017
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (July 2017)
Thanks again everyone for the thoughtful advice. You got me "over the hump" of making the decision, and I fly out tomorrow.

A lot of fear coming up (why did I look at that time-lapse video over Pyrenees?!) I'll keep taking deep breaths, and count on you, other pilgrims, my grit and a higher power to get me over the humps between here and Santiago.
I've seen at least 5 of those time-lapse videos... I just can't stop watching them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata, Seville to Santiago de Compostella via Astorga, then Finisterre... April and May 2016
Hi Joe, I thought I'd reply without looking at what others have said to you, as I want to give you my unadulterated views...

Firstly, I think that the most important issue is how motivated you are to do it - more than any physical preparation, it will be your level of desire to keep going that will determine your success. That's probably more true if you are unfit and physically unprepared.

Secondly, if you go and are unfit, then don't be unrealistic about what you can achieve on a day to day basis. Don't try to walk further than you can. You will get fitter, the longer you walk.

Lastly, there is a mountain of practical advice on this forum - have a look around and take from it what you think might work for you and what you think you're comfortable with, and disregard the rest. There are lots of different opinions on how to go about this gargantuan task, many of which are presented as facts - in my opinion, everybody has to figure out their own best way to tackle this beast - and you should be prepared to revise your approach in an ongoing fashion, based on how things work out for you along the way. Some examples - there is no one "Camino" - the "Camino" doesn't start in SJPDP - you could equally start a few weeks further back from somewhere in France, or you could start in Roncesvalles or Pamplona - both good options for somebody who is unfit and feels less well physically prepared that they'd like to be, and doesn't want to start on day one with a massive hill! Or you could walk a different path altogether to the Camino Frances - there are many choices. Another example of an opinion which should, in my view, be critically assessed, is one which has the camino broken into "stages". Guidebook writers created the "stages" - there are lots of other places to stop or start, and you will probably feel more comfortable walking shorter days, at least in the beginning.

In terms of practical advice - I'm sure others have said much of this already, but the following are a few things I'd consider doing - things that worked for me: get some light weight shoes to walk in and break them in before starting; use walking poles - they will save your knees and make downhill and uphill sections much easier (YouTube can show you how); take as little as possible with you, you only need one change of clothing plus what you're wearing. That's just what worked for me though!

It sounds like the Camino might be a good thing for you Joe - have fun, and enjoy the people you meet along the way - its a beautiful experience! I'd love to hear how you got along afterwards.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016 solo, planning Frances again with my wife 2017
D
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
Did my first (Frances) last year at age 61, 50 lbs overweight, off the couch with virtually no training, and I survived just fine and will be back with my wife this fall for another one. I worried until I looked at the guidebook and realized that there are places to stay along nearly the entire route literally every few kilometres, and if I was really tired, I wouldn't necessarily have to walk more than another hour at most before I found somewhere to stay. It turned out that this was rarely necessary, but it was always an option. It's your walk. Forget the agendas and stages and schedules, and just start putting one foot in front of the other, and everything else will take care of itself, just as it has on the Camino for 1,000 years. And never forget that on that "10 km day" you are walking 10 km more than most people, and there is certainly no shame in that! And most of all, enjoy doing YOUR Camino!!!!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
Hey Joe,

Great news that you decided to go for it. Hope this acts as a quick confidence boost.

When I started from SJPdP two years ago I was 41, weighed 270lbs (123kgs) had had a knee operation 6 months earlier, was on blood pressure medication and had done just one 6 mile walk as training. The first day was tough, but it's tough for pretty much everyone who isn't a mountain goat and from then on it just got better every day. I ate and drank like.......well like someone who weighs 270lbs and by the end I was over 14lbs (8kgs) lighter and felt better physically and emotionally than I ever have before. Not saying it's the right way to do it, but it can be done.

Great advice above, especially about poles. I would add one more thing thing that I didn't see mentioned previously; when you're out on the trail talk to people! It's amazing how much more quickly the kilometre markers tick by with a bit of company and if my experience is anything to go by it will do wonders for your insecurities, not only will you discover lovely people but you'll also learn that almost everyone has their hang ups. I ended up walking with a 21 year Dutch girl who as well as being half my age was also less than half my weight, that didn't stop her from having hang ups about her appearance and yet on the camino none of it matters, we're all in it together.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 
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
Get medical advise before you go and listen to the advise given. The camino is not a walk in the park buen camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Hey everyone-- just want to send a quick update and thank you.

I'm getting ready to continue on from Burgos, and it's been a good Camino-- even the hard days, like the one over the Pyrenees. My body's been burnt, bitten, and sore, but it's getting stronger. Even lighter-- despite beer, KAS, and tortillas.

If you'd like to see more / come along, I'm posting notes and photos here.

Thanks again to everyone who's supported me-- and other scared, would be pilgrims-- get out here. You rock!

 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (April/May 2015)
Frances (May/June 2017)
Planning Le Puy to SJPDP (August/September 2018)
Hi Joe,
Thanks for sharing your blog posts - I loved reading them and I hope you will continue to share them. It is a great reminder of how one evolves along the Camino. On a different thread you asked about places to stay between Burgos and Leon. We really liked Posada Emebed in Castrojeriz.
http://www.emebedposada.com/en/

It was a splurge - we booked the cheapest room ($65), but a very nice respite after an especially long day. We arrived in late evening and the young woman at the door looked surprised and said most pilgrims arrive much earlier in the day. THEN she asked us if we wanted our clothes washed and gave us a basket to put them in. She brought them back folding and smelling like they hadn't been worn for a couple of hundred miles. I know a real pilgrim probably always washes their own clothes, but it only cost 6 Euros and it was well worth it.

I remember it being a wonderful place and worth the splurge, but I may have been delirious over the laundry. One learns to appreciate small things along the Camino. :)

Looking forward to hearing more!
Fresh Start.JPG
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Hi there. So this happened late Monday

View media item 6660
Don't know if many of the people who reached out with support are still following this thread...but THANK YOU to all who helped make this experience possible.

This Camino didnt answer everything for me. I'm not sure what's next in life, or even on this trip. But it's certainly helped me learn more about the strengths inside me, and the kindness of others. And KAS. Definitely learned about that too!

Thanks again, and much love,

Joe
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
Hey Joe,

Could not be happier about this. I've been following your blog posts and enjoyed seeing you grow into your camino.

I think it's only a very lucky few who arrive in the square in Santiago with all their questions answered but it's a lesson in resilience and self belief that I've found incredibly valuable over the two years since I finished.

And KAS Naranja is the best, got me through some dark days when my camino family bet me I couldn't finish the walk without drinking another coke.

BTW as of my posting the picture in your link is not appearing. Says "Camino De Santiago Forum Error."

Congratulations.

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino francés sept 1, 2015
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
I walked with 300 pounds on a 5' 10 frame. Pure adrenaline got me to roncevelles stopping in orrison for the nite cutting day 1 in half. Highly recommend. But it's just one foot in front of the other and you will learn how to walk uphill, keep eyes on trail by your feet and keep a slow pace. Boom your at the top. Your body will acclimate
 
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2018 Madrid, Salvador& Primitivo and onward
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
If you want to succeed in life... beware of your belittling yourself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
Hi there. So this happened late Monday

View media item 6660
Don't know if many of the people who reached out with support are still following this thread...but THANK YOU to all who helped make this experience possible.

This Camino didnt answer everything for me. I'm not sure what's next in life, or even on this trip. But it's certainly helped me learn more about the strengths inside me, and the kindness of others. And KAS. Definitely learned about that too!

Thanks again, and much love,

Joe
Thanks Joe for posting your blog. I enjoyed your humour, insight, great photographs and honesty. I also like your travel blog format - very easy to read. I will set out on my Camino in September 2018 (just over a year) and your blog has really inspired me! Thanks again.
 

trevorcc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPD to Santiago 2013,2014 planning Camino de Levante Sept. 2016, now planning March 2018
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.
And as the year draws to a close, I am going back in March 2018 never say never...
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
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.
After the first Camino I drew up a pack list for my next one and will stick with Ill fit by the time I get to Santiago.Walkng is easy for people who do manual work it’s the office workers who struggle, well done on your Camino’s at your age Respect ✊
 

WalkonBy

Walk' Wounded
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Fall 2015
Upcoming, Portuguese Comino summer (2018)
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.
Spot on ... 45 fabulous days at our pace. Listen to Trevorcc and you will be oh so glad.

Slow Stroller on the Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances,(Sarria to Santiago) 2016, 2017 start in SJPdP April
Hey dude, go for it, the walk from SJPdP to Roncesvailes on the Napolean route may be tough , but worth it, we stayed at Orrison, still tough, and I can relate to the extra baggage , I had to order an X large belt for my pack lol, tired, sore, and dragging into Roncesvailes late afternoon, after taking the steep downhill, do it just do it , no regrets
 
Camino(s) past & future
Future (2019) Portuguese.
As a soon to be 60 YO overweight male that is working hard to correct the overweight portion of that statement let me add this:
I began walking about 3 miles a day locally to both train and loose weight more rapidly. After the first day my calf muscles were so unbelievably tight I could barely walk the next morning. I walk a lot in my daily life (dog and I am on my feet all day at work) but a rigorous pace (3 MPH) took its toll, despite the walk itself coming relatively easy. Now I have completed three of these walks and already a vast improvement in my calf muscles not tightening. So my answer would be definitely at least try a couple "longer" walks and see how your body reacts. Sure you can most likely walk your way into good walking shape on the Camino but the notion of having to sit out a day or two every other day from being sidelined by something you could have whipped into shape prior would be a bummer. For sure after my first serious walk of just under 3 miles in 50 minutes I paid dearly. No way I could have done another 3 the next day. Now I can. It took less than a week of walking to overcome this. Just be sure no ill surprises arise by making your very first long walk one on the Camino. Just my ¢2 and I have never done a Camino so take it for what it is worth.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
I am 69. I use to run half marathons, and still do 100 mile bike rides and 5 to 10K runs plus hiking. One of the things I learned as a "master runner (old foggy)" was that as you get older the amount of human growth hormone and other hormones decline. These are the things that allow you to quickly recover from over-exercising, i.e. repair the damage you do to your body.

Since you have less, you need to really work harder at recovery than a much younger person. When I would initially train for half marathons in my early 60's, I learned that I needed a full rest day a week plus a very light exercise day a week, otherwise I would get overuse injuries. I now need two rest days a week to remain strong and healthy.

A Camino is much like training for a half marathon in that involves multiple hard exercise days per week lasting a month or more. If you are not in great shape or you do not take it very easy and listen to what your body is telling you, then you will likely injure yourself, unless you focus on recovery each day.

Most folks don't understand what the keys are to recovery. They are (1) proper nutrition and eaten at the right time, (2) lots of sleep, (3) the proper amount of rest days for your body and its condition each week, (4) stretching, (5) proper hydration, and (6) a good massage (self or professional) when muscles get tight.

Now some advice for runners that also is good advice for Camino Pilgrims:
"....Research has shown that if you consume carbohydrates within the first 30 minutes post run, your body will store up to three times more glycogen than if you wait a few hours to eat. And that's not all folks: Science has also taught us that when you consume a little protein with a little more carbohydrate (in a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio), more glycogen is stored (versus just carbohydrates alone). Endurance recovery drinks were born from these studies and they are an easy, convenient means to getting in the right balance of fuel at the right time...." (diet protein shakes and chocolate milk also work in a pinch)

Runners World article on recovery drinks

If you do that above at your lunch break and immediately after you finish your walk for the day (prior to showering and checking in to you place you are sleeping at) you will find that you recover more quickly and are in less pain the next day of your Camino.
 

Denisealldridge

Camino Frances 2014- 2015 Camino Portuguese 2017
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014 first half
2015 Camino Frances Completed -
Camino Portuguese 2017.
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
HI, Did you end up going ? I am about to go on my 4th Camino in September . I just love them...
 

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