Physical Training

Camino de Santiago

The way, both by the distances as by the different paths, is usually hard so we need to prepare ourselves physically. It's good to think about it with an advance of minimum three months. The age and the personal physical conditions will advise of more or less time.

The success of a good physical preparation it’s to go covering each day over longer distances until you reach without great fatigue, walk the average daily kilometers that we have set in the pilgrimage. It is convenient to take note of the kilometers we are able to cover in a day. Our aim should be realistic, starting with short distances and not very ambitious, or fall into despair.

The frequency of the training sorties will be conditioned by our occupations. Initially, a weekly sortie is sufficient, but we must go on the rise until we reach a daily ((in this case, the number of kilometers does not matter).

During the last month it’s advisable to go out and train carrying the backpack with it’s expected weight. The muscles of the knees and ankles will be strengthened and will not give us unwanted trouble when we are on pilgrimage.

The normal average that usually the pilgrims cover per stage is about 20-25 km day.


Regarding the training for doing the Camino by bike, it should be followed the same way that done on foot.

The luggage should be carried in two bags with weights evenly distributed. Before starting the Camino it is necessary to learn to make small repairs that may be needed during the Camino, patching a tire, adjust brakes and gears, etc.

The normal average that usually the pilgrims cover per stage is about 50-75 km daily, depending on the area through which they pass (flat or mountain).

The luggage and the Pilgrim clothing
Camino de Santiago

Our personal luggage should consist of what is strictly necessary. We must think that we will have to carry it for many km. and the experience shows that overweight on the back ends undermining our energies and damaging ankles and knees. Furthermore, we must remember that it supposes to live the poverty those days. If you plan to cycle, avoid backpacks or weight on the back.

The pilgrim’s dress has been made up over the centuries. At first they took the clothing of a normal traveler: mantle and short tunic for the journey on foot, clothing to keep warm and broad-brimmed hat for sun and water. With the pass of time it became classic on the pilgrim the walking stick, the gourd (which served as water bottle), the backpack and the scallop shell.

The essentiall in the current pilgrim's luggage would be the backpack (light and anatomical), the sleeping bag, mat, tent (in case you don’t go to hostels), one rain poncho that covers the backpack, warm clothes, swimsuit, a dressing case with the most basic things for the personal hygiene, rubber slippers for the shower, a tracksuit, a small plastic bag with laundry detergent, a roll of toilet paper and a basic kit of emergency (alcohol, gauze, silk sticking plaster, Betadine, bandages, sunscreen cream, needle and thread to cure blisters, Small scissors, Vaseline, insect repellent, antihistamines - in case of allergy- and aspirins).

It is also important to remember to take a hat and sunglasses, a notebook and pen and, specially, the National ID and Social Security card. It might be practical at the same time to have a knife, a small flashlight, a lighter and a glass of aluminum or tin.

Appropriate footwear will be walking boots or sneakers, never unused, but already very used and verified that they don’t hurt. Is suggested that they embrace the ankle to prevent sprains that they are also waterproof and breathable to prevent problems caused by excessive sweating. Some pilgrims recommend to wear two pairs of socks (one of fine cotton and other thicker above), but they consider sufficient a single pair of plush foot.

A simple round stick to the height of the person who wears it (bourdon) is helpful and more practical than a cane. The hat will be useful, as it will preserve us from the rigors of the weather.

Contact your health center, they will advise you, especially if you follow some type of treatment or if you have a health problem. People with allergies should take into account the seasonal period. Update your immunization schedule, especially the vaccine against tetanus.

During the pilgrimage
Camino de Santiago
  • Prevent sunburn, wearing the first days long shirts and trousers and, of course, sunscreen. Avoid walking in the heat of the day, starting as early as possible.
  • Foot care is essential. It’s frequent the appearance of blisters in the first days. You have to keep them very clean and if they are very large extract the liquid. It’s recommended to take a shower after physical exertion, but if you do it in the morning you shouldn’t do it with very hot water, as it predisposes the skin to sores or blisters.
  • Do not walk too fast the first few days, do not force yourself to follow the pace of anyone if you are not prepared for it.
  • Drink water frequently, but always make sure it is drinkable. Be very careful with your food, wash the fruit, vegetables and always consume industrial type mayonnaise. It will help to prevent gastroenteritis.
  • Never depart from the paths, avoid walking after dark and follow traffic rules. If you do it by bike, remember that it is compulsory to wear a helmet and the high visibility vest.
  • Those who use support vehicle are strongly advised not to go ahead occupying beds of the hostels, causing pilgrims carrying their backpack not finding a place to sleep, of course, the driver may not use the credential or the network of hostels. We encourage to collaborate with the donation / pilgrim’s offer when requested, hostels and Pilgrim’s Office, of it depends that services can be expanded and improved. Those who access to the Camino without the intention of pilgrimage, we ask them to look for other accommodation for respect to the pilgrims and of the purpose of the Christian reception of the hostels.
Common health problems
  • Stiffness and muscle contractures: We must give rest to the affected area and replenish fluids. If the pain is too intense we can take paracetamol. We can avoid them warming up before starting to walk and following our own pace, without forcing.
  • Blisters and chafing: They can be prevented using comfortable and breathable shoes, which aren’t new (as we noted above).
  • Dehydration: When we find ourselves more tired than usual, with discomfort, dryness ... we must be careful because if this is associated with fever and diarrhea it can be serious. It can be prevented if we avoid walking in the hottest hours of the day and drinking plenty of water. Rest is recommended immediately, and in case of lost of consciousness or mental confusion, we must go immediately to the nearest health center.
  • Sprains, tendinitis: Rest is essential and put local cold will help reduce the swelling. It is recommended an analgesic-anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain. We will go to the doctor in case it doesn’t go better with the rest.
  • Sunburn: We can avoid them wearing hat, sunglasses and using sunscreen factor 20 or higher, but when it happens it is important to wash the area with cold water but don’t rub, and apply plenty of moisturizer. We can take an analgesic in case of intense pain. Healthcare must be asked if there are large blisters or if the affected area it’s wide.
  • Insect bites: We will wash the area without rubbing and apply antipruritic cream. It is important to always use insect repellent and to avoid perfumes which attract them.
  • Gastroenteritis: Its symptoms are usually sickness, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, sometimes also fever and general discomfort. It could be prevented drinking potable or bottled water, washing well fruits and vegetables, as well as your hands before eating, and taking care not to ingest food that degrade at room temperature. It will be necessary generally to rest and also a digestive rest (not eat anything for 24-30 hours). We will gradually reintroduce solid (avoiding dairy products until healing) and it is also important the rehydration (commercial solution 2-3 litres every 24 hours). You must go to a health center in case of uncontrollable vomiting or if it doesn’t go better.
  • Athlete's feet: To avoid them is important to always use rubber sandals in the shower and dry well the feet.
Video: Tips to Make the Camino

Adriano López Vázquez, popularly known as Cándido, offers solutions to the pilgrims who are in any trouble. Here are some tips and tricks to walk the Saint James Way.

Source: Pilgrim’s Office

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