I started training when we came back from Egypt in late September 2018. Initially it was just walking daily, starting at 10km per day, increasing by 1 km per day each fortnight. That was easy. But from 1 November, I put on a pack with 4l of water, so about 5kg all up and immediately began to get run down, particularly with fatigue in my left leg. The training schedule continued until early December, up to 15km per day. Then we walked the Milford Track, with its 16km over the McKinnon Pass and its 21km last day. I did those with plenty to spare, so was confidant at that stage as I took 6 weeks off for Christmas and a month in India.
We got back to NZ on the 26th January and the next day I got back into 13km per day with a pack. I thought it would be easy, but after a week or so I was quite weak and feeling run down. I persisted, increasing by 1km per day each week. Life intervened so I found I couldn’t walk 6 or 7 days a week, but settled for a minimum of three consecutive then a day off. So by the first week in March I was doing 18km per day, as well as jobs in town and physical work at the farm, doing landscaping. This plan was to continue in this vein with a few longer walks. So that by early April, I’d be doing 22km per day, 5 or 6 times a week. I’m writing this on the 10th of March, so there are still 4 weeks of training before I go and things are looking solid. But I know I have to stick with the programme or I’ll slip back very quickly. The first day from Vézelay to le Chemin is 25km, so straight into it and I’ll have to be ready.
I have found that whenever I push the pace, I pay either that day or subsequent days, so it’s just plodding on at 12-13 minute km on easy surfaces or 14-15 minute km on rough terrain.
On the 25th of March I walked 25 km to Mission Bay and back. I slept well and confidently that I had done what I could and now there was only a wind down to the event, to the Chemin, to the Pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage is of necessity a selfishness and an indulgence, but it is also an opportunity and a compulsion. I’m doing this a year too late for Margie and perhaps for myself as well and a lot of what is driving me on to even leave is inertia and pig-headedness. And the certain knowledge that I have pulled out all the stops over the past year to set up our future life. The few things that need to be completed and haven’t been are either not critical or in hand. Providence will play its part from here and maybe I’ll be home in a couple of weeks, but if I don’t go now it is clear to me the door on this project will be well and truly shut. I’m sure I’ll never be able (or allowed) to train like this again, so it’s now or never.
I’ve been reading recently that one can train on the Camino and that one can’t train for a Camino. I refute that. Without prolonged and intensive training I wouldn’t stand a chance. I was undertrained for the Camino Francés and paid a price in pain. I’m happy that I’ve done what I can in preparation.