How I Trained for the Camino

I know I’m not the only person in the world carrying a heavy load of, “I wish I would-haves,” but as I get ready for my Camino walk – or as I like to call it, my Spanish Schlep, I’m really starting to have doubts and my inner loop is stuck on “I wish I would have trained more.”

If you look up training for the Camino there are loads and loads of plans and most of them look something like this:

  • Week 1: Walk 3 days 45-60 min each
  • Week 2: Walk 4 days, 45-60 min each
  • Week 3: Walk 4 days 60 mins each
  • Week 4: Walk 3 days Up & Down hills 60 min each
  • Week  5: Walk 4 days and increase the pace
  • Week 6: Walk 4 days at a quick pace for 60 mins each AND add in a Pilates/Yoga class once a week
  • Week 7: Same as week 6 but add a light backpack, less than 9lbs
  • Week 8: Walk 4 days at a moderate pace – aim for 70 mins
  • Week 9: Walk 4 days but one should be 5 miles, and one 16 miles
  • Week 10: Amp up the distance – aim for one walk at least 12 miles with light backpack, less than 10lbs
  • Week 11: Walk 4 days – splitting up the pace but pushing for one walk to last for at least 3 hours with a 10lbs backpack
  • Week 12:  Nearing the end so take it easy.  4 Walks hopefully in the hills, with the shortest being 60 minutes, the longest 2 hours with a 10lbs backpack

Ummm I didn’t do that.

I walked around my neighborhood, headed up to the hills outside Boulder, Colorado and did something that none of those plans suggested – I took my teen daughter with me.

My view – She always took the lead!

There is nothing like trying to keep up with a young, headstrong, confident college girl.

My daughter could give any drill sergeant a run for their money. There was no coddling, no gentle words of encouragement, and no room for slacking. She worked me to death. And I couldn’t be more proud or more thankful.

I may not have trained the “proper” way, but I wouldn’t trade my training sessions with my girl for all the wine in Spain!

My best day of training: Sitting atop Royal Arch Trail outside of Boulder, CO


Five things you need to know about Camino “training”

  1. It’s all about the feet – you need good shoes/boots. Seriously, this is not a drill – get a good pair of shoes. I’m on my 5th pair! I went to REI so many times, they put up my photo as “Least Wanted Customer.” I am heading out with a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator – not the most expensive, but the most comfortable for me.
  2. Socks – they’re just as important as your boots. A pack of crews just won’t cut it. You need the real deal – invest in a pair of legit hiking socks. My favorites – the Smartwool Hiking Socks from REI.
  3. Forget about the frilly ones – moisture wicking underwear is your best friend. I became obsessed with finding the right tighty whities and tried them all:  Under Armour, Patagonia, Exofficio. I researched this so much, I found a forum where military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan discuss how to avoid swampass. Thank you for your service!
  4. You are what you carry. Finding the right backpack is like finding a good husband – you don’t want any pains, no heavy lifting and something that feels good when it’s wrapped around you. Again, I shopped at REI and was professionally fitted. These folks are incredible – I tried on more than a dozen backpacks until I found “the one”- yep, it’s just like dating. After two or three dates, I finally fell in love with and committed to the Osprey Kyte 36 Ladies Backpack.
  5. Fill ‘er up. Don’t forget the basics – make sure you’re fueled up for the walk. Eat protein, stay hydrated and listen to your body. Too many times I skipped breakfast or forgot my water  – all those efforts ended in disaster: I was too weak to walk, or I was cranky, I even suffered heat stroke.  Learn from my mistakes –  Eat, drink and get out there – it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other.


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