How To: Train to Walk the Camino de Santiago
A common question for those planning to walk the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain is what is the best way to train for the Camino?
Depending on the route that you will walk, conditions on the Camino de Santiago can vary greatly. The Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port may include a stage over the Pyrenees while the Camino Portugues Coastal is largely a flat walk along the beaches and boardwalks of Portugal. With that in mind, it is important to research your intended route to better understand the specific physical challenges of your planned Camino.
HOW TO TRAIN TO WALK THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
- Follow the Countdown to your Camino schedule training schedule below.
- Make all of your practice/training walks in your Camino footwear (trail running shoes or hiking boots) so that your feet and ankles become accustomed to your shoe system and your shoes are broken in prior to departing to Spain.
- As you practice with your backpack, add filled water bottles to replicate weight until you reach your target weight. This is a good way to test how your backpack will feel on the Camino and how your body will respond to the weight.
- 1 Liter of Water = 2.2 pounds
- 1 Gallon of Water = 8.3 pounds
- Whenever possible, practice on inclines. If you don’t have access to hills on a nearby trail, practice by climbing flights of stairs while wearing your backpack.
- Mix on-road and off-road walking to better replicate the Camino paths, which are a mix of paved and unpaved trails.
- Increase the distance and frequency of your walks until you can comfortably walk 15km with your pack.
- Listen to your body: if you have pain or discomfort rest and alter your routine until it is comfortable.
COUNTDOWN TO YOUR CAMINO
3 Months before the Camino
Walk at least 30 minutes without a break twice per week. Don’t focus on exact distances. The purpose is to train your body for the physicality of walking repeated days.
2 Months before the Camino
Increase your walking time to 1-2 hours twice per week in your Camino footwear. As you become more comfortable, you can begin incorporating an empty back or add 1-2 small water bottles to your pack.
1 Month before the Camino
Continue walking 2 hours per week; add water bottles to match your target pack weight. When comfortable with the weight and time, add one additional hour per week.
3 weeks before the Camino
At this point, distance walked becomes more important than the time you spend walking. Your target should be 10km per walk twice this week. Focus on hydration and stopping at least hourly to drink water. Pay careful attention to how your body feels during and after each walk.
2 Weeks before the Camino
Increase distance walked to 15km at least twice this week. Continue to focus on hydration and creating a routine where you become accustomed to stopping for 10-15 minutes at regular distance intervals.
1 Week before your trip
Your target distance should increase to 15-20km at least twice this week. Develop your routine for walking and ensuring that you are always properly hydrated. Next week you will be walking the Camino de Santiago!
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
- HOW TO: Make Your Own Camino Backpack Shell
- PACKING LIST: First-Aid Kit for Blisters and Foot Care
- HOW TO: Five Tips for Urban Hiking
- Packing List: Backpacking First-Aid Kit
- The Top Hiking GPS Apps for iPhone and Android
- Where was “The Way” filmed along the Camino de Santiago?
- Where are the Apostles of Jesus Buried?
- Packing List: My Recommended Gear for Walking the Camino de Santiago
- The Best Hiking Poles for the Camino de Santiago
- How To: Sleep Peacefully on the Camino de Santiago
Buen Camino! Bom Caminho!
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
My recent treks include the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain as well as section hiking along the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. In 2020 and 2021, I’m walking the California Missions Trail in the United States, as well as England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. Afterward, I’ll begin the Via Francigena, the historic way in Europe connecting Canterbury to Rome.