“It’s just a walk. You’re over thinking this,” said the man who had completed firstly the final stage of The Camino Way, then returned a few months later to walk the first stage.
We were at the local pub, Northcote Tavern. The Camino Way maps in the “bible”, Brierley’s Camino de Santiago guidebook was laid out on the table – some 900kms of pathways and road. Feeling a bit deflated I turned looked down at his long narrow feet clad in black leather, red laced converse shoes and said, “Are you a runner?”
“Mmmm, well I’m not running tomorrow, its Sunday. But yes I run every other day of the week.”
I maybe ageing well, but seriously having lived a sedentary life thanks to university studies and a desk bound job with my only exercise the walk to and fro the bus stop, I was not over thinking The Camino Way. Attempting to walk 900kms for my body was akin to tackling Mount Everest.
Training for the Camino Way…
The Camino Way forums, blog sites are full of advice on training for the walk. My head spun reading the threads of mostly contradicting words of wisdom. In the end I decided I needed to understand the terrain and build a fitness regime that challenged me but wouldn’t result in body injuries.
The first stage of The Camino Way goes over the Pyrenees before descending into woodland valleys, small villages and criss-crossing the rio Arga and finally Pamplona. My training regime, walking Northcote Point then across to Birkenhead Point, down towards the ferry terminal, up through the bush and into Birkenhead. A snack break at the Birkenhead library before heading towards Glenfield, a right turn go walk along the ridge towards Northcote and back home means I should survive the first stage.
The forum voices all agree on one matter; break in your gear before you go. Week after week I tried to break in my lightweight raspberry-red Oboz hiking boots, but they were breaking me. Twenty minutes into the walk I would be sitting on a ledge or the bus stop bench fishing out compeed from my trouser pockets, hoping for instant relief from the pain in my heels. Within fifteen minutes I would be searching for another bench, exchanging my boots for running shoes. More weight for the laden-filled backpack.
By the end of my three-hour walk my muscles radiated heat and pain. Thankfully I remember Epsom salts magically relaxed muscle tension, because in the early training days my muscles groaned like an old gear-stick clutch.
Breaking in the boots and the boot, some shout-outs
My first shout out has to go to Mike and Dave at Dr Shoe. In desperation I took my Oboz’s into Mike and asked for help. He spent a day on and off bashing the hell out of the back of the boot. Mike felt he had done little to flatten out the ridge in the heel of the boot, but rubbing my hand along the inside of the boot there seemed to be a difference. And there was; week one – only one blister, but the boots stayed on; week two – no blisters.
The second shout out goes to the body fixers – Julianne Harvey, NeuroMuscular Masseuse and Greg Wade, Osteopath – who have helped keep an ageing body agile.
The boots and the backpack now feel like old friends and the need to soak in a hot tub to ease out stiffening muscles has past. I now ready to catch a plane in the morning. I’ll be spending a week in Pyrenees before starting The Camino Way on the 15th September.
Not too sure if I will carry my MacBook Air in my backpack yet however, there are plenty of internet cafes along the way to allow you to follow my progress.