When I decided that walking the Camino was something I never knew I wanted to do (huh?) a number of thoughts swept over me. The logical Lori thought flights, accommodations, timing, gear, vacation requests and other practical tasks that needed to be addressed. But the other Lori did not know really what she was committing to. It evoked fear. The motivation to do a pilgrimage is, for many, deeply personal. I don't know that I have my motivation ironed out yet - I simply need this experience. So here I sit, preparing...
Planning for a journey such as the Camino de Santiago (or a portion of it) isn't only about flights and gear. There is a physical and mental preparation that cannot be denied or as a very experienced expedition-traveler put it:
The 6 P's - Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
I laughed when he said it, but it really resonates for me. I have (for some months now) been preparing my body to walk 300 kilometres (kms). It's been rewarding and daunting, terrifying and empowering, complicated and simple. I have historically not be in great shape and carry some extra weight so asking my body to walk and walk and walk was like asking it to grow 6 inches vertically.
I started training approximately in September of 2013, about 12 months before my planned Camino - I will try and give you an overview of my plan of attack.
My MethodSeptember 2013 - Getting used to walking 3 days a week. Not long distances, on average 3-5 kms. Some days I would split it into a 2 km walk at lunch and then walk part of the way home after work.
October 2013 - Increasing my daily distance to 5-7 kms. Still at about 3 days a week. I did do 2 10+ kms walks to test the waters.
November 2013 - Up to 7-9 kms, 4 times a week. 1 - 10+ kms walk a week (usually home after work).
December 2013 - I tapered back on distances. Still 4 times a week. I would do a 4 km lunchtime walk most frequently. 2 - 10+ km walks. It's cold, there was snow and sidewalks dodgy.
January, February, March 2014 - See December. I also had some issues with my feet and saw a podiatrist. Orthotics are on order. One long walk of 15 kms.
April 2014 - Here's where the feet hit the street. I have 6 months left. Back to walking lunchtime and after work (on average 7-11 kms), 3 times a week plus a long walk on Sunday of 20+ kms. PS. I am also training to walk the Bluenose 1/2 Marathon.
I expect that May - August will be much of the same. Mid August I will try and taper the distance to 15-20 kms on long walk day. Maybe do more consecutive days of walk and up it to 4 days a week to ensure I am ready to walk day after day after day.
I also want to walk in the heat, cool of the morning and cool of the evening to ensure I can walk comfortably during the differences in temperature, light, precipitation.... Anything I may encounter on the Camino.
I am NOT a trainer and do not play one on TV. I am figuring out what my body can do - that's really what you need to do, listen to what your body can do.
Here's my thoughts on Camino prep...
- It is your Camino. If your body says - "10 kms is what I can do", then you adjust your schedule in Spain to accommodate that. Instead of X days, it would be X + 50%? Don't worry about others schedules, you are the one who is doing the work so EMBRACE the fact that you are doing it!
- Listen to your body. If you hurt and it sticks around for a couple of days, go get yourself checked. Get a massage, go to a podiatrist, take up yoga or whatever (remember - not a trainer or a doctor)!
- Love the walking - explore the outdoors. Chances are there's likely fantastic trails you didn't know existed in your community. Here is one that was unknown to me and fabulous! Bay to Bay Trail from Lunenburg to Mahone Bay.
- GET GOOD FOOTWEAR and BREAK IT IN! It's in all caps for a reason. I will likely have a couple hundred kms on my boots before I hit Spain. I want them to be like silk on my feet - silky slippers treading over rocks. Taking a beating but my feet will feel divine.
Here is another thing I am wondering....Scenario
It's day 5 on the Camino and my body is aching, I've pulled off my boots knowing that in 12 hours I will be putting them on again to do the same thing. How will my mind react? My spirit? My will to continue?
I don't know the answer - I don't expect I will until that point comes. But my body will be as ready as I can make it, and it won't fail me.