The Camino: Physically Preparing

780 kilometers.  485 miles.  (plus whatever walking you do in towns or off-Camino). 31-33 days. 

A little physical preparation is in order.  Most would advise that it would be rather bad judgement to go from fully sedentary to walking the Camino without additional training and muscle conditioning (YOU may be the exception to the advice, but I know I’m not). 

Originally I was going to do my Camino in the 2019/2020 time frame.  We all know what happened.  So I’ve used that time to get into shape, lose weight and train for the walk.  It’s also meant spending a small fortune on new clothes and gear (losing 50+ pounds means new clothes sizes, but I’m much healthier).  That won’t go to waste in the long run.  We’ll get to my packing list in another blog post.

My preparation covered about 9 months and started with simple walking (and improved diet!), first a couple of miles without pack to 12-14 miles a day with a 9 kilogram (20 pound) backpack.  I walk anywhere from 3-5 times a week and walk routes through the area that include hills and valleys.  Once or twice a month I do a much more strenuous hike – for example, the Maryland Heights Trail near Harper’s Ferry that has a 1000 meter (1600 foot) elevation gain in a relatively short distance.  Each time I do a strenuous hike now it’s easier than the previous time.

I added the backpack with weight about 6 months after I started training – and after I dropped a lot of body fat. 

My smartwatch shows the results: I do about 5 km/hour (3.2 mi/hour) on regular walks and about 2/3 of that on very strenuous hikes.  I like to overprepare, so I still don’t know whether that’s enough for the first stage from St. Jean Pied de Port, but I feel much more confidence than I did when I started training. 

I’m as ready as I’m going to be with the Camino approaching quickly.