How to Train for the Camino: Your Fitness 101
It’s quite a daunting task isn’t it. Walking hundreds of kilometers through the European countryside, over mountains and through valleys, under a punishing sun, against the spite of the elements.Its good to be prepared physically to travel such long distances on foot. After following some of the tips for training that we will set out here, an added benefit will be an heightened mental confidence in your abilities which is all so important too!
Go on Local Trails on your Weekends
If you’re fortunate enough to live close to the countryside, which isn’t too hard in the UK outside of the biggest cities, then there’s plenty of nature walks to go on. Many of these are ancient paths, with existing laws to allow walkers to pass through farmer’s land without hindrance. Even in London if you catch the tube out West you can find nature, even if it comes with the drone of Heathrow planes overhead! For a few months before your start date you can plan a few day trips where you walk for 20 or 30 kilometers. This will also let you break in your footwear, and let you play with different arrangements of walking sticks: 1 stick, 2 sticks or none at all.
Hit the Gym
Some of the terrain on the Camino can be very hilly at times, and the better your physical endurance is the better you can cope with these stages. For those who may not be seasoned fitness fanatics – when you go to the gym focus on building your endurance rather than just strength. This means doing lots of activities like the treadmill, rowing machines and exercise bike as opposed to building muscle on the resistance machines.
Start to eat particularly well in the weeks leading up to you pilgrimage. You may struggle to get into good eating patterns when you first arrive in Spain as it takes time to get used to the local foods, brands and eating hours. When it comes to choosing what to eat, look past the marketing of the biggest brands that can easily mislead you to buying products with excess sugar and dubious health benefits. There’s a great site on the NHS website dedicated to looking at the evidence on the latest ‘superfoods’ trend here.
Use Your Pack
Get used to walking with a heavy backpack. If you are going on day walks in your home country, it’s likely you’ll just bring a minimally weighted day pack with you. To really prepare it’s best to bring the same backpack you will use on the Camino itself, and fill it up with clothes or bottles of water to simulate the real experience.
Don’t Worry if You’re Reading This Last Minute
Preparing well will help you enjoy the earlier stages of the Camino with better fitness and strength. However, if you don’t have time to train in advance it’s not the end of the world. You can adjust your walking schedule to have shorter distances towards the beginning of the route, and leave in an extra couple of days as insurance against any minor injuries. If you do have even a few days just start to eat as healthy as you can and walk rather than take the car or public transport.