Training for the Camino de Santiago: 11 Essential Tips
You've decided to embark on a Camino journey - well done! Now they say half the fun of travel is in the planning, and this can also be said about the training.
Follow these 11 essential tips for training for the Camino de Santiago and you'll find yourself walking the Camino with comfort and confidence. If you have any other questions about training, be sure to get in touch
with our friendly team of Camino experts or post a question in the comment section below.
Here are our 11 essential tips for training for the Camino de Santiago.
1. The Fitter You Are, The More You Will Enjoy The Camino
This rule holds true for any type of active travel trip. While the Camino is never going to be just a walk in the park, you’ll have greater confidence and performance if you have been training in the lead up to the Camino.
2. Break In Your Shoes
Make sure you don’t start the Camino with fresh new shoes as this will result in blisters and pains. Instead, be sure to train in the shoes you will wear on the Camino to attune your feet to your shoes.
Note some pilgrims choose to change their footwear during the Camino. For instance, you might start the day wearing walking boots, and change to running shoes for flat sections. Whatever’s comfortable for you.
3. Gradually Increase Your Distance And Time
The old saying, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, can be applied to the Camino. From the outset, walking the 800km of the full Camino Frances can seem like an impossible journey – how can anyone ever train for that!? But when you break it down into sections it becomes achievable. The same applies to your training schedule.
Don’t go straight from the couch to attempting to walk 30km, you’re only going to hurt yourself (and probably be deterred from walking the Camino!). Instead, walk 10km one day, then when you feel comfortable walking that distance, increase it to 15km. Once you’ve built up your endurance you’ll soon be walking 30km confidently.
4. Train With A Day Pack
Get the feel of the Camino by training with a day pack filled with the things you’d take on the real journey. As daily luggage transfers are included on all UTracks trips, you only to need to bring the essentials for your day’s walking. Things like a light jacket, water bottle, lunch, sun screen, or a book if you enjoy reading on your rest stops.
5. Stick To A Schedule
We recommend starting your Camino training at least three months in advance, with the aim of walking three 1 hour sessions a week. A month before your trip, even earlier if you can, put a day walk in each weekend into the mix to build the endurance you’ll need for your walk.
6. Include Some Hill Training
The Camino de Santiago is generally along flat terrain, although there can be hills in some sections of the trail. We grade most Camino routes as moderate. If there is a hill or incline in your local area, it is worthwhile including this in your training schedule. Walking up hills strengthens different muscle groups to those you use on level surfaces.
7. Dress Rehearsal
Like all great performances, a dress rehearsal is a good way to discover any quirks before the big event. When training for your Camino pilgrimage, we recommend spending some sessions pretending you are actually on the Camino! Don’t hold back: fill your day pack with what you’ll carry on the walk (see our top recommendations here), wear the shoes you will use, find a route of similar length to what you will eventually cover in Spain, even hang a shell onto your bag.
8. Know Your Pace
While doing your training for the Camino you will get an understanding of your pace, i.e. how many miles or kilometres you walk each hour. This is good information to help with making decisions about your trip. For example, if you find you prefer to walk less distance over a longer time, a gentler Camino Rambler tour may be better for you. There are plenty of smartphone Apps to help analyse your walking data, such as Strava
9. Prepare For The Weather
Be sure to train for your Camino trip in different kinds of weather. It’s not necessarily going to be days of perfect sunshine on the Camino trail, so you need to be comfortable walking in various conditions. Not only is this helpful for strengthening your body, but it’s helpful to know what gear is necessary in wet weather. We recommend keeping a poncho and spare pair of socks in your day pack, just in case.
10. Manage Your Food And Water Intake
It’s good to get into the habit of constantly taking sips of water to stay hydrated. Along the Camino, there are many water fountains where you can fill up your water bottle for free.
In terms of food, it’s important to remember to snack during your walking to keep energy levels high. Look into carrying muesli bars and fruit for your Camino training. There are also lots of bars, restaurants and grocers in the small villages you pass along the way.
11. Don't Forget To Stretch!
Stretching before and after a long walking session is integral to keeping your limbs warm and injury-free. Get into the rhythm of including stretch sessions into your Camino training regime. This can take the form of a simple stretch routine, a yoga work out, or however you like to stretch your body.