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The ultimate Camino guide - how to prepare yourself

Fecha: 2019-03-21

The ultimate Camino guide - how to prepare yourself

Read here how you get ready for the Camino

The basic gear

Pilgrim’s rule no. 1: avoid blisters

Training for the Camino – some basic exercises

The three most important things when doing El Camino:

1.Travel light

2.Travel light

3.Travel light

Walking gear:

Walking shoes

Walking pants

Walking shorts

Running tights (short) Very important to prevent friction on the inner legs when walking for many days.

Jersey with collar and long sleeves (protection from the sun)

Rain jacket or Rain Poncho

Sticking plaster

Sun Lotion (Also for cycling)

Hat for sun protection (0ptional)

Hat for the rain (optional)

Extra socks –No cotton- No stitching

 

Cycling gear:

Cycling shorts padded

Long leggings (if cold)

Rain jacket cycling/walking

Helmet

Cycling gloves - short fingers/long fingers

Waterproof bag for small items - mobile, credit card, money, etc

Shoes - walking shoes are very suitable

 

Walking the Camino

Shoes vs. Boots:

Personally, I prefer walking shoes and not walking boots when doing el Camino (if not wearing a heavy backpack or not walking in wintertime, when it normally rains more)

The terrain on The Portuguese/French Caminos have some rocky parts, but in general I find it more important to travel light footed. At the end of the day the extra weight of the boots can make the difference!

It is possible to find a wide range of very good hiking shoes and even Trail running shoes, which also can be very suitable for the Camino. However, if your ankles tend to be easily twisted, it may be a good idea with a pair of lightweight walking boots. Some pilgrims also prefer to have a pair of hiking/walking sandals.

REMEMBER: Never start your Camino with new shoes, boots or sandals. It can be fatal for your Camino and may be the reason for you not to complete your Camino…

What if it rains? 

Well, you’ll properly get wet…

It’s important to keep your feet dry!! This however, can at times be difficult and it is hard to advice whether to walk in shoes with Gore-Tex (or similar membrane) or not. If it rains a lot, it can be very nice to wear shoes lined with Gore-Tex, but if it’s a hot day one might sweat so much, that your feet get as wet as if it was raining, due to the Gore-Tex membrane. The choice is yours, and the best way to choose is, by trying out both options to see what suits you the best.

Rain coat vs Poncho

You can use the same rain jacket for cycling and walking. It is however, an option to bring a rain poncho that also covers your rucksack if your carrying one. A rain poncho gives good protection when it’s raining heavily, and you can still wear a pair of shorts underneath without having to wear a pair of rain pants. The rain tends to enter directly into your shoes or boots when wearing pants!!

But something as simple as an umbrella can save the day - and in some cases - your Camino!! I use I this myself - but of course, it is not a cool Camino gear!!

Pilgrim’s rule no. 1

Avoid blisters!!

A few suggestions how to avoid blisters - the pilgrim’s nightmare!

Physical preparation is the best way!!

General physical condition and speed/walking rhythm:

Blisters are formed due to friction, warmth and sweating/wet feet and a combo of those three. We all understand the role shoes and socks play. Still, that’s where most people stop.

If you are not an experienced hiker, chances are that you’ll be thinking of blisters as the tiny ones that are a bit annoying when you continue walking, well, that could be the case…It could also be something that stops you from walking any longer.

Your skin consists of different layers. Once the top layer is affected with a blister the next, deeper, level of skin can start blistering. This layering of blisters is not annoying, it’s simply going through hell while walking. Proper foot care and physical preparations can avoid this.

It is not the idea to scare anyone, but think twice, before taking your first step the Camino.

Blisters on your feet can cause that you won’t be able to get to Santiago de Compostela

Physical condition - a shortcut to avoid blisters

If your body is not fit enough to walk 25 km in a day, let’s say it’s fit to do 10 km, chances are that you will start to move differently (incorrectly) after those 10 km if you keep on walking.

In the complete body chain effect this means your feet will also have a slightly different rolling from heel to toes; which translates to friction and as a result of that, blisters (as a minimum discomfort). So, foot care is not only about applying the right cream or lubricant, it’s about taking care of yourself in general.

You need to do the proper exercises in order, not only to avoid blister, but also to enjoy your walking/hiking tour and have the strength needed to complete your journey.

Walking speed & Walking rhythm

The secret of how to get Santiago

One important thing related to your own physical conditionis your speed and your walking rhythm. When we are doing the Camino, we will meet other pilgrims and walk with them. However, you need to be conscious of your own walking speed and rhythm.

If you start walking at their speed (be it slower or faster!) it can totally ruin your day.

Walking slower usually means that your hips, knees and ankles will endure longer pressure moments leading to more tired and/or painful joints at the end of the day (or being able to walk less than your daily goal!).

Walking faster than usual, will be an extra effort for your muscles, tendons and if you kick-it real hard, possibly also for your respiratory system. Some advice to give in general is to simply walk at your own pace.

Walking slow compared to other pilgrims doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get there as the last one, somehow you always seem to catch-up with them at the next stop…

The physical preparation of body and mind

Walking the Camino:

Suggestions for your training

When preparing for walking the Camino, your main preparation should be, surprisingly enough - walking!

Nevertheless, there are variation of supplemental exercises to do when you are preparing for your Camino, all depending on your physical abilities. If you are an experienced hiker, you properly don’t have to prepare differently than you normally do. However, the majority of people doing the Camino, will find it necessary with some sort of training before heading out for El Camino.

Basically, the purpose for training before doing the Camino, or for any sport event really, is to prepare your body and mind for the physical challenge and stressed situations that you’re about to expose your body to - and make this physical challenge an almost regular thing to do.

Whether you are a first-time walker on the Camino or an athlete preparing for the Olympics, you will need to practice and first of all, listen to your body’s signals when pushing yourself. Too much training can cause unwanted injuries and force you to have long involuntary breaks from your preparations. On the other hand, too little efforts will not prepare you properly neither, and you might find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation once you realize, that the Camino is not only a nice collection of pictures on the internet, but rather a real adventure in real nature.

Training for walking the Camino

Basic training:

Do physical exercises as much as you can, combining flat and mountainous ground. If you usually get out for a walk or a hike each weekend, then this will suffice for your training fiveand six months prior to your trip.Increase the distance you walk gradually each week, reaching the kilometre you are about to walk during a day on the Camino. Normally, you will be walking between 20-25 km per day. As you get along with your training, you could gradually begin towalk with your daypack, so you will get use to this.

Listen to your body, both during training and during the Camino. Ifyou feel you should take a rest, you probably need one!

Training program for walking the Camino

For first time pilgrim’s

12 weeks programs - 8 weeks of stair training included

First week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes.

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Second week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Third week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Forth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Fifth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes.

1 weekof stair training as suggested

Sixth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Seventh week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Eight weeks:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Ninth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes.

1 weekof stair training as suggested

Tenth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 30-45 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Eleventh week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

Twelfth week:

Walking 2 times a week for about 45-60 minutes

Find a comfortable speed & walking rhythm

 

Stair training - Walking the Camino

Some pilgrim’s experience problems with knees, feet and in some cases also their hips, while walking during several days.

Stair training is an easy and simple supplemental exercise that you can do, to further strengthen your muscles and especially the joints where they attach to the bones.

These joints can often cause problems in the form of soreness and in certain situations severe pain which in turn, can cause you to go and move differently than your normal and natural movement patterns, which, again turns in to problems for other body parts or maybe in to painful blisters due to the different movements.

Advantages from stair training:

Stronger muscles and joints

Improving the body’s respiratory system

Start slowly when doing stair training the first times, and then gradually increase the amount and speed.

Stair & walking training

8 week’s programs

Three weeks of exercises - one week of recovery

(may be changed for hill training)

First week

Once a week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Start with 1 floor and 1 step at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 4 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 20-30 minutes

Second week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Start with 1 floor and 1 step at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 5 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 20-45 minutes

Third week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Start with 2 floor and 1 step at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 8 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 20-45 minutes

Forth week:

Recovery week:

Light walk for about 60 min

Fifth week

Once a week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Walk 2 floors and 1 step at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 6 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 30 - 45 minutes

Sixth week:

Once a week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Walk 3 floors and 1 step at a time

On the second floor take 2 steps at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 5 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 30 - 45 minutes

Seventh week:

Warm up with easy walking for about 30-45 min

Walk 4 floors and 1 step at a time

On the second floor take 2 steps at a time

Walk down slowly in zig-zag

Repeat these 8 times

Cool down with easy walking for about 30-45 minutes

Eight Week:

Recovery week: Light walk 60 - 90 min

 

Cycling the Camino

First time pilgrim’s

In general, everyone can cycle the Camino, although some will have to get off the bikes a little more than others, to walk uphill or passing rocky sections.

If this is your first time cycling the Camino - and you’re not used to cycling, you will need to prepare yourself before jumping on the bike.

A distance suitable for everyone:

Normally you will be riding between 55 - 65 km a day.

In general, the terrain on the Camino is hilly, with rather steep inclines at some parts.

You will need to prepare yourself physically a little before heading out for the Camino on bicycle.

Cycling - Training for el Camino 

We recommend you start cycling once or twice a week.

If you do not have the opportunity to ride outside, then spinning in a fitness center is an excellent substitution.

 The best of course, is to ride your bike in some hilly landscape, similar to the one you will meet on the Camino!

Intervals. should you do it or not? The answer is simple - YES!

We recommend you include some walking routes as well. As you most likely will have to get off the bike a couple of times, and because it is always better to include different kinds of training.

• When you go riding your bike try to incorporate some interval training. This kind of training is hard as… but when you are out on El Camino you will also find out, that this is what brings you up to the top of the hills. and at the end of the day, gives you the strength needed to really enjoy the scenery, the food, company of other pilgrims and the Camino as a spiritual experience.

A few examples:

• 10x1 minutes (2 minutes recovery/slow cycling) in a higher gearing, while you ride on your weekly tour.

• 10x 30 sec. In your highest gearing.

• 5x3 min in low gearing (fast pedalling) 2 minutes recovery/slow pedalling

• 10-15 x uphill.

Find a steep hill while you’re out riding and simply go up and down without breaks. Slowly try pushing your limits - you will be surprised how much you’re capable of!!

And remember – Cycling the Camino is really one the most incredible ways to get to Santiago – and a totally different experience from walking the Camino – Buen Camino!

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