Preparing for the Camino: Physical Training

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Kelownagurl in the Cotswolds July 2014

2016 will be a HUGE year of change for me.  I plan to retire on March 31, and then on April 9, my husband Erik and I will embark on a three month trip to Europe that will include approximately 40 days walking 800 km on the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Taking on the challenge of walking 20-30km per day for over a month requires some planning and preparation. I have run 5 half marathons, one full marathon, and completed three half ironman races, and Erik and I backpacked for 4 days on the Cotswold Way in July 2014, so I know I have the endurance capability to do the Camino, but maintaining a daily 20-25km for 40 days is a different kind of challenge and I will require good general fitness and core strength if I hope to enjoy the walk.

I was a bit lazy exercising in 2015, but I don’t think I will have any trouble getting myself fit and healthy again if I train consistently for the next 3 months. What I really need to do is build up my general cardio fitness so I’m not huffing and puffing along the way, work on my strength and core training so I do not fatigue so easily when carrying a load, and get used to walking longer distances with a 12-15 lb backpack.

I’ve read many books and blogs about people’s varied experiences on the Camino and the preparations they made before setting off. I’ve considered  their advice about what worked and what didn’t, paying particular attention to the stories from people who are similar to me in age and fitness level. I think I know my body well enough to have a pretty good understanding of what I need to do now to prepare.

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A cute cat along the Cotswold Way in July 2014.

So here is my training plan for January 1 – April 9, 2016.

  • Walk home from school (3-5 km) at least 4 days a week.
  • Do core work 3 times a week (15-30 min).
  • Do 30 min strength training at the gym twice a week.
  • Walk 5-10 km on weekends, slowly building up to 15-20 km as the weather warms up. Include some back-to-back days.
  • Do other forms of cardio once or twice a week such as snow shoeing, running, cycling, rowing, or elliptical.
  • Eat healthfully and lose at least 5 lbs.
  • Do yoga or Qi Gong as often as I can.
  • Sleep well.

Over the next three months, I will post regular updates on how my training is going, as well as posts about our other preparations for the trip.

Erik’s training plan is to continue what he has been doing for the last two months – hit the gym every second day and do 30 minutes of cardio (usually running) plus a complete strength training circuit. He also plans to do increasingly longer walks, usually with me on the weekends.

When we arrive in Paris on April 10,  we will spend 2 weeks in Southern France, and will do as much walking as possible in order to maintain our fitness. Our plan is to begin the Camino on Monday, April 25, 2016 and arrive in Santiago no later than June 3rd.

If you want to follow along with my training more closely, you can find me on Daily Mile or Facebook.

If you have questions or you’ve done the Camino and have info to share, please leave a comment below!

PS Here’s a link to my podcast where Erik and I walk about our preparations for the Camino.

KG’s Adventures: Fitness and Travel into Retirement. Episode 6

or you can subscribe to the podcast by clicking the link below.

KG’s Adventures on iTunes

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5 thoughts on “Preparing for the Camino: Physical Training

  1. Barbara Jeffery

    Good for you! What a fantastic life we all lead that we are able to enjoy retirement so very much. I’d love to follow your blog. Hope it is a wonderful time of your lives. You both deserve the happiness this will bring. All the best to you and Erik.
    Barbara Jefffery

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janice Schwartz

    Wow! Sounds like an amazing trip! Not your typical retirement plan that is for sure. I know it will be the trip of a life time. So you are only going to have a 15 pound pack? Where do you sleep? Can’t be in a tent….your pack is too light??

    Liked by 1 person

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