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What I learned on the Camino

DevereUx

Devereaux
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
Having just finished the Camino Frances, here's some of what I learned:
  1. It's all about shoes! The shoes will make or break a Camino! Test, test and test some more. I chose trail runners, after test walking in 11 different types of shoes (Amazon is very forgiving, but don't abuse them). I found boots and hiking shoes too stiff. Stories of blisters don't begin to describe the pain so many suffer. You are walking; not hiking...walking...day, after day, after day...5-7+ hours a day. And buy one size larger than normal; your feet will flatten over so many miles.
  2. The second most important item is socks. Many people ditched the wool with liners for simple, tight, ultra-thin socks. They keep the friction between your sock and shoe, not your sock and skin. Test, test, test!! Wear what works for YOU.
  3. Changing socks is required about every three hours. If you go over 25 K (15 miles), change at 3 hours. Listen to Lieutenant Dan (ala Forest Gump)! Your feet will thank you!
  4. When you're spent, you're probably not. Take a break, refuel (chocolate croissants are good) and move on...after changing your socks. Short breaks are essential. They refresh, refuel and require little time. Do them often. Oh yes, pilgrims congregate at little bars & cafes...fun.
  5. Beware of dizziness. Sit down, drink water and recoup, refuel and relax.
  6. A breeze is a gift from heaven. Wind is God's breath at your back. You'll see.
  7. Coffee, no matter how good or bad, rekindles the soul and adds miles to your abilities.
  8. Always have an extra water. If not for you, then for a stranger.
  9. Keep one crunchy, cheap, 500ml bottle on you. It is easy to fill, easy to stash and easy to access. Bottled water can be purchased in any village.
  10. Say hello & "Buen Camino" to everyone. When they see you again, they happily reply in kind...even if they didn't the first time.
  11. Make friends. We are communal animals. Even the most self-possessed person requires conversation, however brief. And, the Camino is all about relationships. It is the very essence of the Camino. Some will be deep and enduring, but most will be quick and momentary. You just never know.
  12. Don't talk when walking (this is the corollary to #11). Listen to the silence and observe. Silence is one of the gifts of the Camino. The simplicity of the daily "Camino routine" is an opportunity to listen and observe. You have this singular moment in life to go simple and listen. (P.S. others will thank you for your silence.)
  13. Keep a journal. Nothing stretches the mind like writing. Places, relationships and memories get muddled, run together or are forgotten. The Camino is made of these things. Write them down. I used the dictation app on my phone and transcribed at night.
  14. Start slow and short. Fewer miles in the beginning allow your body to get used to the effort required. Add miles later. So many pilgrims start out hard & fast only to suffer blisters & torn muscles. Too far, too fast, too early can end your camino.
  15. Camino farmacias (pharmacies) are excellent and available even in small towns.
  16. Gaiters are good. They keep dirt & small stones out and the rain off your shoes.
  17. A pair of shorts and a pair of convertible long pants are all you need.
  18. Crocs are great for evening wear and blistered feet. Get the light weight ones.
  19. Cream your feet. Some put Vaseline on their feet every morning. I used Vaseline Intensive Care at night...every night. Both seem to work.
  20. Once you start, forget your plan. It will change anyway. The Camino is at least six weeks long. The long walks, time alone and relationships change everything.
 
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Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Year of past OR future Camino
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.
What works for you probably won’t work for the next person. I agree with the runners for foot ware but most other points.... well everyone does their own Camino’s
 
D

Deleted member 12253

Guest
I only change my socks every 3 days never get blisters. Proper trekking socks gortex boot and keep feet dry 16000km over 25 caminos and long days 25km-40km keep trekking
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Having just finished the Camino Frances, here's some of what I learned:
  1. It's all about shoes! The shoes will make or break a Camino! Test, test and test some more. I chose trail runners, after test walking in 11 different types of shoes (Amazon is very forgiving, but don't abuse them). I found boots and hiking shoes too stiff. Stories of blisters don't begin to describe the pain so many suffer. You are walking; not hiking...walking...day, after day, after day...5-7+ hours a day. And buy one size larger than normal; your feet will flatten over so many miles.
  2. The second most important item is socks. Many people ditched the wool with liners for simple, tight, ultra-thin socks. They keep the friction between your sock and shoe, not your sock and skin. Test, test, test!! Wear what works for YOU.
  3. Changing socks is required about every three hours. If you go over 25 K (15 miles), change at 3 hours. Listen to Lieutenant Dan (ala Forest Gump)! Your feet will thank you!
  4. When you're spent, you're probably not. Take a break, refuel (chocolate croissants are good) and move on...after changing your socks. Short breaks are essential. They refresh, refuel and require little time. Do them often. Oh yes, pilgrims congregate at little bars & cafes...fun.
  5. Beware of dizziness. Sit down, drink water and recoup, refuel and relax.
  6. A breeze is a gift from heaven. Wind is God's breath at your back. You'll see.
  7. Coffee, no matter how good or bad, rekindles the soul and adds miles to your abilities.
  8. Always have an extra water. If not for you, then for a stranger.
  9. Keep one crunchy, cheap, 500ml bottle on you. It is easy to fill, easy to stash and easy to access. Bottled water can be purchased in any village.
  10. Say hello & "Buen Camino" to everyone. When they see you again, they happily reply in kind...even if they didn't the first time.
  11. Make friends. We are communal animals. Even the most self-possessed person requires conversation, however brief. And, the Camino is all about relationships. It is the very essence of the Camino. Some will be deep and enduring, but most will be quick and momentary. You just never know.
  12. Don't talk when walking (this is the corollary to #11). Listen to the silence and observe. Silence is one of the gifts of the Camino. The simplicity of the daily "Camino routine" is an opportunity to listen and observe. You have this singular moment in life to go simple and listen. (P.S. others will thank you for your silence.)
  13. Keep a journal. Nothing stretches the mind like writing. Places, relationships and memories get muddled, run together or are forgotten. The Camino is made of these things. Write them down. I used the dictation app on my phone and transcribed at night.
  14. Start slow and short. Fewer miles in the beginning allow your body to get used to the effort required. Add miles later. So many pilgrims start out hard & fast only to suffer blisters & torn muscles. Too far, too fast, too early can end your camino.
  15. Camino farmacias (pharmacies) are excellent and available even in small towns.
  16. Gaiters are good. They keep dirt & small stones out and the rain off your shoes.
  17. A pair of shorts and a pair of convertible long pants are all you need.
  18. Crocs are great for evening wear and blistered feet. Get the light weight ones.
  19. Cream your feet. Some put Vaseline on their feet every morning. I used Vaseline Intensive Care at night...every night. Both seem to work.
  20. Once you start, forget your plan. It will change anyway. The Camino is at least six weeks long. The long walks, time alone and relationships change everything.
Excellent tips. I would add that warming up and warming down with some basic stretches is also a good practice. I ended up with several days of painful shin splints, but later found that most probable cause was starting walking without warming up properly after stops of 10 minutes or more, when muscles cooled down. I'm no expert, but it seemed that apart from blisters, which most people experienced to some degree at some point, the shin splint injuries were very common. I think the advice to start off slower and build up gradually could also help prevent this. Walking pace is hard to judge, especially when walking in groups. It's so easy to fall into the trap of 'keeping up' with someone, again most likely a prime cause of various ailments which gradually get worse until we wake up and listen to ourselves.
I'm not so sure that walking without talking is a rule to go by. People can decide for themselves who and when they would like to talk, but clearly constant talking would not leave much room for silence and introspective thoughts.
It's good to look back where you have come from, especially in the mornings at/after sunrise, or when leaving a town/village behind you. There are so many beautiful flowers along the Camino, so it's worth taking the time to smell them, take pictures of them, draw them etc.
6 weeks minimum, I totally agree. I took 50 days to walk from SJPP to Finisterre, but I was fortunate enough to afford the time and money to do so. (6 days of that were rest days - 3 off which, on arriving at León, to allow leg to recover fully from shin splint injury).
No matter how much we prepare, I imagine we all will encounter challenges a long the way. We will also have the most wonderful experience of a lifetime, pure magic beneath The Milky Way and walking through the fields of Stars of all our hearts that have beaten along the Way.
 
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