By Cheryl Ryan
I’m getting ready to hike the Camino Francis: Stage 1, a portion of the popular Camino de Santiago. A friend of mine, an organizer extraordinaire, has planned a trip for seven of us to meet up this May. We’re all coming via different routes to start our journey in St. Jean Pied de Port.
The Camino Francis de Santiago is walked by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims (which is what they call us walkers) each year. Our portion starts in St. Jean Pied de Port and continues for approximately eighty-eight miles, ending in Logrono, Spain. People doing the entire route will walk 490 miles ending in Santiago de Compostela.
A Camino is simply a path or route. There are 281 known Caminos spread across 29 countries. The route we have chosen will take nine days. We’re using The Natural Adventure tour group, but many options exist. They’ve arranged all of our accommodations and will transport our luggage from one medieval town to another as we trek through Spain’s Basque country.
The first day will be the toughest, 15.5 miles with approximately 4,500 feet of elevation gain. All other days will be less elevation gain with between 12 to 15 miles each day.
I started my training based loosely on my marathon training. I don’t think I need to do the whole thing but rather try to get to about 70 percent. I decided to hike 50 miles in one week, six weeks before we left. Then do another week of 75 miles several weeks before the trip. I planned to fill in the weeks between with several long (hopefully good elevation) hikes.
It’s Just Too Much…
But phew, after completing the 50-mile week, I couldn’t find another week to dedicate that much time to walking! It took me about 18-20 hours of walking (now I remember why I started running!). So I’ve adjusted my plan and am mostly trying to prepare for the elevation. I’m assuming that building my stamina will make the rest easier.
Yesterday I did 11 miles of just going up and down the steepest hill I could find around my house. I got in about 2500 ft elevation gain in 11 miles. This also meant 2500 ft of elevation decline – which was a bit hard on the knees. I plan to do one more that gets me to 3500 ft gain and will probably be 14 or 15 miles. I’m sure the neighbors on that street think I’m nuts (and maybe they’re right).
When I started training, I didn’t listen to anything other than the birds and occasional running creeks, but with this kind of distance, I needed more. So I started listening to audiobooks from the library. It has been a game changer for these long hikes.
The key is to get a book that is engaging. I started listening to Circe, a book about Greek gods, goddesses and nymphs. Those gods and goddesses were quite horrible to each other, but the narrator was great, and it was very engaging. I looked forward to the hike and getting back to the story.
I’m only two weeks out now, and I look forward to reviewing the trek and trip once I’m back!!
Wish me luck, and I would appreciate any training trips and tricks you might have.