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Will my Achilles Survive the VdlP? How Much Road Walking?

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I've been reading lots of accounts and blogs of Pilgrims who have walked the VdlP.

I plan to walk it next year.

But some recent accounts I have read, talk of walking all day on the shoulder of roads?

How much road walking is there, say compared to the Frances?
That's my only point of reference really.

I can cope with the amount on the Frances OK, because it's mainly in short sections of a few kilometres.

But if a whole day on a road, I suspect my Achilles Tendons (old chronic injury) might not survive the pounding. They tend to blow after about 10-15 kms pounding a road and that leads to either a rest day or short day to follow.

Are there long sections of 'hard top'?

.
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I don't know the route from Seville to Merida.

After Merida, I would be concerned about the way out of Caceres (unpleasant walk on the side of a busy road - not too far but not nice), the stage from Grimaldo to Baños de Montemayor (lots of hardtop) and the way into Salamanca (ditto).

To cope with the above, I think you can make a short stage from Caceres to Casar de Caceres. You can split Grimaldo to Baños into shorter stages. You might struggle on the way into Salamanca. I don't see much opportunity to break that up.

The stage from Salamanca to Cuba de la Tierra del Vino isn't much fun ... but I don't think that's to do with the road surface as it is to do with the combination of dull scenery and noise from the motorway.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
There is very little Tarmac road walking on the Vdlp, but there is a lot of rocky path / country road walking, and most days are closer to 30kms then 15 so you can get into trouble literally in the middle of nowhere.

The first time I I did this route I didn't have so much as a blister, but the last time I had a hell of a time and ended up pulling my archillies tendon which meant I pulled up lame in Ourense and spent a week soaking in the thermal springs there trying to recover. I still have problems with it nearly 7 months later.

While I have sworn off the Camino, my daughter has promised to repeatedly hit my feet with a hammer if I mention it again just to remind me of the pain, I would still recommend you try it. Just be prepared to call it quits if it gets too much.
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
rocky path
Yeah. Some unsurfaced sections can, nonetheless, be hard. The agricultural and forest roads are often made up of compacted, hard, aggregate, which can be hard on the feet. I find it to be a little better than blacktop, though.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Yeah. Some unsurfaced sections can, nonetheless, be hard. The agricultural and forest roads are often made up of compacted, hard, aggregate, which can be hard on the feet. I find it to be a little better than blacktop, though.
Yes, blacktop and concrete I find the worst........
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
There is very little Tarmac road walking on the Vdlp, but there is a lot of rocky path / country road walking, and most days are closer to 30kms then 15 so you can get into trouble literally in the middle of nowhere.

The first time I I did this route I didn't have so much as a blister, but the last time I had a hell of a time and ended up pulling my archilles tendon which meant I pulled up lame in Ourense and spent a week soaking in the thermal springs there trying to recover. I still have problems with it nearly 7 months later.

While I have sworn off the Camino, my daughter has promised to repeatedly hit my feet with a hammer if I mention it again just to remind me of the pain, I would still recommend you try it. Just be prepared to call it quits if it gets too much.
Thanks. From studying a few blogs I got the impression the days could be broken into shorter legs.
My tendons certainly won't take 30 km days one after another.

But I'll be sensible and have a plan B. Like hop to another Camino if it gets too much.
 
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Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Yes, blacktop and concrete I find the worst........
My friend, Mahdi, who runs the Caminoloc shop in Cahors (France) swears by “Superfeet” insoles for this situation. Might be worth sourcing a pair near you.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
My friend, Mahdi, who runs the Caminoloc shop in Cahors (France) swears by “Superfeet” insoles for this situation. Might be worth sourcing a pair near you.
Sadly my condition is a bit beyond insoles.
Though I have some custom orthotics that help a bit.
And pre-camino cortisone injections :eek:
They help a bit too.........
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Last edited:

AlexanderAZ

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 (Sept/Oct): CF: SJPdP-->Fisterra-->Muxia (solo)
2019 (late Sept): CF: SJPdP-->Leon (honeymoon!)
But if a whole day on a road, I suspect my Achilles Tendons (old chronic injury) might not survive the pounding. They tend to blow after about 10-15 kms pounding a road and that leads to either a rest day or short day to follow.
As someone who has twice "blown" (ruptured) an Achilles in my lifetime (an injury that requires surgery, not rest), what are you referring to "They tend to blow after about 10-15 kms..."?
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Tendons blown twice? That sucks.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Yes, blacktop and concrete I find the worst........
I'd vote for cobblestones in Portugal being worse than road walking....
 

Moorwalker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
none yet
But if a whole day on a road, I suspect my Achilles Tendons (old chronic injury) might not survive the pounding. They tend to blow after about 10-15 kms pounding a road and that leads to either a rest day or short day to follow.
I would see a sports physiotherapist first, because you can strengthen the tendon and associated muscles with the proper exercises but it takes time.

Shoes and socks are critical, some people with Achilles tendon problems cannot tolerate anything touching the heel at the wrong point, and from frustrated experience the vast majority of trail, running and other sports shoes have a raised heel counter that is a disaster area. Even an elastic topped sock that stops at the wrong place will do it. My tendons haven't given me trouble for many years, but I am absolutely scrupulous about the shoes I wear, to the extent of taking a scalpel and glue to the heel counter on one pair to make it lower.

Stiff soles can provoke inflammation too, that's worth considering.
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
Robbo,
I’m on the VdlP now at Villafranca de los Barros.

There have been a couple of long stretches on roads, the longest was about 15km. That said there were longish stretches of that 15km on a gravel/stoney verge.

You may be disappointed to hear that at the moment temperatures are on the up. Maximum so far was 39c. There have been fluctuations, yesterday was 26c, today was 33c.

I tell you this because the dirt and stone paths are baked dry and are solid. There is little difference between these paths and the tarmac roads as far as I am concerned.

To be honest, from what I’ve experienced so far, starting out on this route with an ongoing or potential foot problem, given some of the terrain and distances involved, and if not hopping a taxi or bus, you can reasonably expect difficulties.

Burn (foot-pain free) Camino
 

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