Friday, April 5, 2019

Training and Preparations

As previously admitted to, I cannot claim to have ever put in a great range of physical training for any of my Caminos.  I work at a desk, and spend my remaining time either watching TV, reading about other people’s time on the Camino, or reading books in bed. An athlete I am not, nor are either of us incredibly physically gifted.   We are average in the manner that I can admit to having once joined a Gym, but also admit that I went once in the entire year that I was a member.  

With that said, we do walk around our region on local trails for a few kilometres on the weekends.  In addition to which we participate, from time to time, in ‘End to End’ hikes on Ontario’s beautiful Bruce Trail.  In the past few weeks (despite the dodgy winter weather) I have regularly walked around town on treks varying from 5-15 km with a pack on, but not so much that you could call it training.  In all fairness I am more a spectacle for my neighbours than anything else. 

For the most part, I have made sure to trek around enough to have broken in my new pair of Keen hiking boots, with the hopes that they will last me through to my destination in Santiago and further onto Muxia. 

However, ultimately, like our treks in the past, I cannot claim to have extensively prepared to the extent that is likely advisable. 

Then again, from my experiences, aside from a few very challenging days (Camino Frances – the Pyrenees from SJPP to Roncesvalles on day 1, the climb up to O’Cebreiro, and the trek down the slate rocks into Molinaseca; GR65 – the climb out of le Puy, the climb out of Conques, the trek up to Bonneval Abbey, the extreme heat en route to Moissiac) we have not found our Caminos to require intensive training to be prepared.  At the very least our sense has been after a week you are in the type of condition needed to complete the trail. Slow and steady is the key. 

For us Caminos have always been more of a mental challenge than a physical one.  On the trail we have both experienced absolute exhaustion, frustration and despair on one end, and happiness, joy and love on the other.

With all of this said, I suppose my suggestion to anyone about to set out on a Camino is to get used to walking more each day – 5-10 km is ok, then get used to carrying 10-20 lbs on your back while walking.  It is very different.   Make sure you have a comfortable and broken in pair of shoes before heading out onto the Camino.  Make sure you have a comfortable backpack that can carry all you feel you need.  Then get out there and be flexible in terms of how far you feel comfortable trekking and what you still feel you want to carry. While (in my opinion) most of the routes we have undertaken are not wilderness outings, they nonetheless can be challenging in their own way which means you need to be prepared and know what  you can and cannot do.  

Over the years I have seen strong athletes stumble and twist an ankle and I have seen wildly unprepared individuals march proudly from France to Santiago. 

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