Buen Camino. Folks–this is it, the real adventure begins. Marta and I leave this Friday May 16 for our 800 km Camino de Santiago walking adventure. It has been 50 weeks since I started my fitness training in preparation for this challenge. The journey to train and prepare for walking the Camino has been exciting and physically hard but delivered many rewards: Continue reading →
In 9 weeks (May 16) Marta and I will be leaving for our 40 day pilgrims walking adventure on the Camino de Santiago. As we finalize our preparation I am taking the time to be good to my feet. It has been a long winter in heavy boots and socks and my feet need dedicated exercise and massage to remove the tension, strain and tenderness that has accumulated. Yoga is a great way to take care of your feet. Your feet will get a healthy workout in many yoga postures. Being barefoot and focusing on balancing weight distribution and body alignment is just the start.
For this blog post I have compiled a sequence of 9 yoga poses, and highlighted the different benefits for your feet and lower legs. I kept the postures easy at beginner’s level so that the focus is on the feet. This yoga practice could be a stand-alone session at the end of a long day, or could be added to the beginning or end of a longer Yoga practice or another exercise routine. Continue reading →
For the next few blogs I am going to discuss how to get happy, strong and healthy feet for the Camino (Felices, sanos y fuertes pies en el Camino). It’s very important to get your feet strong, stretched and ready to walk the long distances along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostella.
The function and anatomy of our feet is complex:
1) The feet are our connection with the Earth forming a weight bearing foundation for our body. The feet balance weight distribution and alignment with the body that lines up over them.
2) The feet and toes bear and propel body weight during movement. The feet balance the body during movement and changes in body position. The feet enable mobility, direction and balance. The toes help with balance and propulsion during movement.
I have been a program / project manager most of my working career which means an obsessive focus on planning. This of course runs over into my personal life and I have a Microsoft Project plan, as well as several “To Do” and outfitting lists that I am tracking. Below is my final 14 week Master “To Do” list for my Camino trail planning with Completion dates. All this planning has helped reduce my level of Camino Readiness anxiety.
In my last blog post, as you know, I was experiencing anxiety in regards to endurance training for the long 800 km walk to Santiago de Compostella. I have been focusing on daily training activities and I am feeling good about my level of endurance training which includes hills, deep snow, and engaging the upper body using walking poles. Most of the items below are already in works, but they all need to be completed in the next 14 weeks.
It has been a solid 2 months of walking in nasty winter conditions of varying cold arctic winds, heavy snow, ice storms, and slippery, dangerous surfaces. Last week I had an “I hate winter meltdown’ caused by feeling like an arctic vampire; living without sunlight and warmth and considered moving south. It was time to recalibrate, get perspective and put a positive spin on the winter blues. After all I am Canadian, and there are still 2 months until spring so I better “get a grip” and remember why I am training in these harsh conditions in the first place – to prepare me for the endurance required on the Camino!
One of my first official Camino activities of 2014 was to book our air travel and finalize our full travel itinerary with my walking partner Marta. Although I have been training since June, I still have to deal with the travel logistics including timelines, work approvals, airfares, lodgings, cash flow, cost, passports (mine has expired) and synchronization with travel buddies. The reality of the commitment of time, money and effort hit me full force once I started to receive my ticket confirmations. It was confirmed and official, I was really going to walk 800 km’s on the Camino Santiago de Compostella arriving in France on May 16 and going home from Paris on June 29. Marta and I toasted and congratulated each other on our hard work and ticket confirmations over a glass of good Spanish red wine as we coordinated the travel for our spouses who will be joining us for the last week walk into Santiago.
As I look ahead to 2014, I marvel that it will be the Year that I celebrate turning 60 and becoming a true pilgrim (a wanderer or traveler) for 40 days of walking and exploring the Camino Santiago de Compostela. Last year at this time I had no plans for walking the Camino. I was originally planning a 2 week trip to the North West Territories with friends to celebrate my 60th. In the early spring I had a change of heart. I cannot remember why the Camino Trail became my new travel choice but my friend and fellow walker Marta was as excited as I was and the decision was firmed up. I am proud of how far I have progressed in 2013 on my training and preparation for my Camino sojourn.
I have been training and walking in the snow using trekking poles for the last few weeks to prepare for the Camino de Santiago next year. It is not formally winter yet here in Canada, but the cold and snowy conditions are definitely here, and are early. I think that winter training will prepare me for any harsh weather conditions on the Camino trail. Mental toughness and conditioning are required to deal with:
In this blog post I was planning to write about my shopping search for Trekking poles. However the last 2 weekends have been a snow fest and I have not been out shopping. This is unfortunate since the more it snows, the more I need those walking poles. During my last walk I found a tree branch and used that as a walking pole to help me trudge through the snow on the Trans Canada Trail. Instead I will write about my other major exercise commitment for my Camino Santiago de Compostella training in the form of Yoga warm up and cool down poses for long distance walking.
In June when I started my walking training, I also started my Yoga Instructor Training. My main reason for taking the 200 hour instructor training was to be able to “deep dive” into the Yoga poses for both stretching and strengthening my muscles, breathing (pranayama) techniques to help build my lung capacity and meditation to help with the mental toughness and confidence to complete the 800 kilometer walk. My goal was to be able to design a yoga practice to support my training efforts for the walk, and to keep me stretched and limber during the actual 40 days of walking on the Camino trail.
Now that I am training with my backpack and hiking boots on longer distances and varied terrain trails, it is time to add trekking poles to my training gear. I was debating when to start training with the trekking poles, but the first winter snow, and the additional weight of my backpack convinced me to start shopping for new poles. When I sat down and evaluated the benefits of using walking poles it was a “no-brainer” decision. The 5 benefits of Trekking poles are:
November 3rd is the 5 month anniversary of my Camino training – both Walking and Yoga. It is time for reflection on both my accomplishments and planning of the next steps for my fitness level improvements and training approach during the next 5 months in order to complete the walk on the Camino Santiago de Compostela.
I have walked 278 km’s in 50 hours keeping my pace sub 10 minutes per kilometer.
I have completed 93 hours of Yoga practice, including poses, and meditations.
I have lost 7 pounds, and toned up so that I can reduce a size fitting for my pants.
I have developed an exercise training plan which I update daily and evaluate weekly, making adjustments as required.
I have purchased and continue to “break-in” my hiking boots (95 km to date).
I have developed the mental toughness that ensures the commitment to my training plan. The idea of walking 800 km’s in 40 days, no longer overwhelms me.
I have developed the lung capacity to keep my pace sub 10 minutes per kilometer over longer distances (8 to 11 km’s) This has allowed me to add running and “fartlek” training to my walks.
In this blog post, I am answering the final question asked by Vicki from a previous blog post regarding the safety of the water from the drinking fountains on the Camino trail.
Wherever you travel, always research the quality and sources of local water and food. The risk of travelers’ diarrhea varies depending on the geographic region, and it is contaminated food rather than water that is the most common cause. Traveling in Southern Europe (which Spain is a part of), the risk of contracting travelers’ diarrhea varies from 15 to 20%. (click here to access the Government of Canada site info).
I always ask myself these 4 questions before I travel:
In a previous blog post, I received 5 great questions about training for and walking the Camino de Santiago. One of the questions was how much cash to take on the journey. Below are my 4 recommendations on how to budget for the trail.
1. If you are walking the Camino Frances, there are many ATM’s along the way. I have seen recommendations for carrying at least 3 days of expenses in cash. Below is a table which shows how much cash I will carry with me, as well as the total cost of the trip. This would include travel, lodging, food, emergency stash, and miscellaneous purchases and costs. You will always be able to find an ATM within 3 days of walking (more frequently in many areas). If your bank belongs to the Global ATM Alliance, you can get your fees waived. You may not be able to find a Barclays or other partner bank ATM along your route so be prepared to pay ATM fees –averaging 2 Euros each time. In regards to your bank card (ATM Card), it is a good practice to advise your bank how long and where you will be traveling.
In a previous blog post, I received some great questions about training for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Here are answers to 2 of those questions.
Question: Would you ever during a walk, not make it to a village before dark? Answer: I would never recommend not making it a village before dark, unless that is part of your plan to camp out and you have the requisite gear. Here is a link to a global sunrise, sunset time website. You can choose your location, and print a summary for the year. For the months of June and July In Santiago de Compostela the sun rises around 7 am and sets around 10 pm. Our plan is to start early each morning. This means being on the road by 7 am walking an average of 20 km’s per day.
I recently had a comment submitted asking questions about blisters and shoes for walking the Camino de Santiago. And so Vicky, in answering your questions, I decided to include my guidelines for evaluating, planning for and maintaining foot health in the following 4 tips:
1) Try on and evaluate many boots and buy the best, well-fitted lightweight, waterproof hiking boot/shoe with good ankle support for your foot type. Combine with self-wicking, fast-drying hiking socks. Evaluate socks before you buy your shoes and bring your first choice of socks when you are getting fitted for your boots. When you are buying your boots, ensure your sales help has experience with long distance hiking, and walking in many different terrains. Ask if they have a ramp for testing the uphill, downhill fit / feel of the boot.
Like Winston Churchill, I don’t like worrying in advance about events or activities. I start with understanding the goals, challenges and expected outcomes and then plan for success. That is the reason I developed a formal training plan for achieving my Camino goal of walking an 800 kilometer route to Santiago de Compostela in 40 days. Here are the 10 Steps I followed in creating and maintaining my training plan:
1. I documented my goals, and constraints. The goal was to comfortably walk the 800 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela in 40 days. The key is to start the route with a good level of fitness so I can enjoy the journey. I had to determine a realistic amount of time I could spend each week on exercise considering my time constraints:
As we prepare to walk the Camino de Santiago, for most of us that means starting an exercise program. It is tough to choose and plan the exact program that will motivate us and gets the results we need to accomplish our fitness goals. We first need to understand what our fitness goals are and what is the fitness mindset and mental toughness required to commit to our goals. Our bodies may be ready to start exercising but our minds are what we need to work on when it comes with keeping to an exercise routine. So I thought it might be helpful to provide this quick 10 question survey to help you assess your physical fitness readiness for walking the Camino.
Everyone has their own reasons for walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of St. James. It is a popular pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostelo in Galicia Spain where the sacred remains of the Apostle St James (the Greater) are purported to be buried. The earliest visits to the shrine for St James are recorded in the 9th century and non-stop over the ages the pilgrims kept coming and their origins expanded to include many countries around the world. Today over 100,000 pilgrims annually walk the Way of St James, varying in their distances walked and their reasons for walking. Continue reading →