What is the difference between training for, and walking the Camino de Santiago?

Training for the Camino de Santiago
Training for the Camino de Santiago

The question was:

I guess it’s pretty obvious, but it just occurred to me today that we will be walking day after day after day! So far we have been doing a walk each weekend (usually limited to about 12km because of other commitments) and it’s been easy-peasy. Today we did 16km and 6 year old said at the end of it, “That was my best walk ever. (pause) Because I didn’t grizzle at all.” Interestingly, she has only rarely complained, but she really did not fuss at all today; she just bounced along and at the halfway mark even asked to carry the 8yo’s backpack (an effort which lasted about 100m!!!!).

BUT this evening everyone felt a bit tired. That extra 4km made a discernible difference (and we want to be doing even longer distances some days – and climbing mountains!!). I’m trying to imagine whether it gets easier to walk further each day or whether you just get sorer and sorer! The optimist in me says you end up easily walking 30km in a day. The realist suggests you slowly get worn down.

What’s your experience?

Read this interesting conversation on the difference between training for, and walking the Camino de Santiago here.

9 Replies to “What is the difference between training for, and walking the Camino de Santiago?”

  1. It’s great to build up the distance as time goes by…..it gives you resistance and worked well for me. But….the terrain is never the same….to think you can easily do 30k a day is very optimistic….there are many hills to climb and back down again which is not easy….especially if you are starting in France. To be realistic, 23 to 25k will beat you down little by little but doable. Take a day rest every 7 days…you body will need it.

    Have a great Camino!

  2. I was not an experienced hiker/backpacker. I am 70 years old. I did train some. In training, the longest hike I did without stopping to rest was 10 miles. The longest I carried my pack was 6 miles. On the camino, I walked the last 175 miles in 13 days–a couple of short days and a couple of long ones (with no rest days). I don’t know what it would be like to walk 500 miles in 4 or 5 weeks. But on my walk, yes, I was tired at the end of the day, and yes, I was sore (more so early on than later). But every morning I got up and couldn’t wait to walk! My guess would be if you are walking with a 6 year-old, 30 k per day could be very ambitious. When climbing and descending, it is more rigorous than the same distance on flat ground. Brierley’s guide has some suggested staging, complete with actual km’s and adjusted km’s for climbing. If there are hills in your area I would definitely suggest you train with some climbing. And on the camino, if you have the flexibility, build in a rest day now and then.

  3. I trained a fair amount before leaving for my first Camino journey – what I didn’t prepare for, were the riverbed sections – – these were pretty challenging and I was very happy to have two hiking poles to help me maneuver those sections. Big rocks, uneven surfaces, slippery rocks at times – – all combined to offer a very unique terrain.

  4. My wife and I (ages 63 and 66) just finished the Frances and we had trained almost daily for six months, walking more each week and with our packs the last month. As you suspect, the hard part is doing it day after day, so I suggest you practice that as much as the distance. We never did over 26km and averaged about 20 km a day. I can’t imagine finding 30 km “easy”. The thing we were not able to train for was the mountains. There is a lot of up and down on the Camino and that gave us the most challenge. If you can get some hills or mountains in your practice.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience……..I’m 50 and plan to do Camino in late September this year…..
      God blessed!!!!!!!
      Have a wonderful every day!!!!!!!!!

  5. I just finished my camino last month, I would say 30km a day would be rough, I averaged about 20 to 25 so I would have enough juice to do laundry, go for or make dinner every night, etc. I walked 30-35kms for a couple of days, but I found it was easier to do 20 to 25. You need time to enjoy your camino and like a lot of the other posts have mentioned, the terrain is different from day to day. The day I walked 35 km I wound up spraining my ankle on some rocky terrain so the next day I took it easy and only walked 13 km. Have a wonderful adventure, buen camino! đŸ™‚

  6. Hi. My friend and I walked the Camino during May. Nothing can prepare you for walking day after day. It’s like life. You can’t train for life. You just get on and do it. đŸ™‚ We averaged 27km per day. Our last day we did 40km. It’s never easy. But it does get easier. It was the best life lesson for me. You keep going. Sometimes less distance. Sometimes slower. But you keep moving forwards. Enjoy your walk. Don’t pack too much. Smile.

  7. I started at SJPP in late April and the first day up only to Orisson was a suprise. I was walking with a 74 year old (I’m 53) and couldn’t keep up. I thought I had trained sufficiently (walking with my pack several times a week) but there aren’t many hills in Kansas. As the days of the first week wore on, I developed blisters due to my feet sweating.

    After I learned the basics of proper footcare (second skin foot cream, Compeed, and changing to dry socks at lunch) and lightening my pack, I did much better. I was able to work up to about 23-24k a day with no issues, a few times longer but those days weren’t as comfortable.

    I must say that the downhills were harder than the uphills for me. I relied on my hiking poles to take some weight/gravity off my knees, and they were also very handy for using as a third leg when avoiding mud.

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