Fitness tips for walkers
Whilst there are many routes to doing the Camino de Santiago, the most popular route is the French way, which follows the path from St.Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, at the base of the Pyrenees end at the cathedral in Santiago,a distance of some 800 km.
Many have walked this world famous pilgrim since medieval times ,some electing to do the whole walk whilst others settling for lesser distances and returning again year after year to complete the pilgrimage
The level of training you need will depend upon the distance you plan to cover .Naturally, the more you train the more comfortable you will be on your Camino. Apart from the good feel of being fit, training will help you avoid common injuries such as shin splints,strained muscles and blisters.
Here are some simple tips to help you get started.
- Start training early to build stamina for a successful Camino. If you plan to walk the whole French way then start your training six months prior to departure. Alternatively, if you are walking the last 100km from Sarria to Santiago, for example, then start training about two months before departure.
- Be consistent and train at least twice a week for the last month leading up to the walk.
- Challenge yourself to build up stamina and increase your walking distance gradually to ensure you achieve the best results.
- Vary the terrain as the Camino has a variety of trails so it is important that you practice walking on a variety of underfoot conditions. Different terrain requires different amounts of energy so take it easy and build up according to the trails you are on.Get use to walking on some hard surfaces as some of the Camino journey has hard surfaces.
- Increase distances in training on a gradual basis to help build up stamina. Start off with shorter walks of about 5km at the beginning and gradually build up until you are comfortable walking 15km to 20km the week before your trip.
- Don't just walk, try and incorporate jogging and running in your exercise regime to use and work different muscles.
- Test your equipment ensuring you are carrying no more than 10% of your body weight as a rule of thumb. Go for a walk with a packed back pack to get a feel of what it will be like on your Camino. Check that your footwear is comfortable and that boots have been broken in at least three months before the walk to avoid blisters on your walk.
- Stretch every day to improve flexibility. Don't stretch to much before you start walking. Its best to stretch after you have warmed up a little. Take your time to get familiar with some key stretches before you leave to know exactly what to do on your pilgrimage. Its a good idea to join a yoga class or some other stretch class a month or two before the trip. It will pay dividends when you are walking up to 20 km per day on your journey to Santiago.