I am not in great shape. Twenty years of riding a desk has taken its toll – and although I have done the odd hike now and again, I can’t kid myself into thinking I am good to go 20-30k/day on the Camino when I barely even stand up most days.
So I started off with daily 2k walks on lunch breaks. I have met this goal about 80% of the time. My next goal is to walk something more substantial every other week or so. It needs to be decent distance, but something that I can finish in a few hours so as not to infringe on family / work time too much.
I found a green way nearby that should do the trick. It’s a pretty flat 14k out-and-back if I stick to the bike path (about a normal half day on the Camino). It also offers some minor elevation changes on the single track dirt trails that border the creek. Given my target speed of 5k/hr, this walk should take about 3 hours.
This morning I walked it while trying out a cool app called “Reedy” that reads websites to you (researching for a class I am teaching next week). I am really glad I did as it provided not only a good benchmark for where I am physically but also gave me some good input on gear.
It was a sunny but coldish day (in the 40’s F) which is slightly colder than it should get on the Camino. I wore my long underwear, lightweight convertible hiking pants, polyester shirt, and fleece jacket with the Marmot beanie I bought on my Yosemite Falls hike. Footwear included Darn Tough Merino Wool socks and Keen Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking boots.
After going back and forth a few times in my mind I finally decided to take the trekking poles. I am glad I did, as I got a much better idea of their value. It took some time to get the height and grips set up right, and even longer to get used to the method.
At first I tried to match their movement with my steps, but I was not having much luck because I still thought of them as walking sticks. Instead of my usual stick-step-step-step-step-stick pattern, I had to move the poles with every step. This became habitual pretty quickly, and I found them to be useful – like little outboard motors for my legs. They were great for balance getting around (or through) mud, and provided extra power for uphills. They did vibrate a lot though – I am not sure if that’s normal. Anyway, they were cool.
I started at 9:30AM, it was 40 degrees (F) and by 10:00am I had to take the beanie off. Soon after that, the fleece got unzipped (Note: I am glad I got a full zip and not a pullover, as finer temperature control is possible that way).
It was a nice hike. I stuck to dirt as much as possible (about 90% of the time as it turned out). This felt better and also made for more hills. In general, if I had options, I’d choose the more difficult way. The weather was chilly but sunny the whole time with a nice breeze. Perfect hiking weather. I even found a yellow arrow!
I was at the end of the trail by 11:12 (about 12 minutes later than I’d hoped, but I had several gear adjustment stops along the way, and – to avoid shin issues – I wasn’t hurrying). Since this was the half way point, I stopped for about 10 minutes to stretch and assess.
My legs had maintained perfect temperature equilibrium the entire time and still felt great. They were warm but not hot, and I didn’t even feel the light, cold breeze that had been blowing all day. My shins were fine – I am not sure if that was because of the boots, dirt trails (as opposed to sidewalk), or my pace. I wasn’t satisfied with my shirt, which was wicking fine but somewhat itchy (it was the only thing I had on from my regular wardrobe, I’ll likely get something better soon). Although I’ve had a problem with my right-side inner thigh tightening up on hikes since I was a teenager, it was acting up but not unbearabe. I stretched a bit to work it out.
As I headed back, I took the jacket off even though it was still not in the 50’s, and I did not put it back on. I was back at my car by 12:42, so the total hike time was 3 hrs. 15 min. My walking pace was 4.5k/hr although I averaged 4k/hr total hike time.
I was pretty tired by the time I sat down in my car (and dirty – I may need to get some darker pants haha). My legs were achy but not in real pain. I did not have any additional issues with my left foot (it’s been sore across the front for weeks now ever since I got these new dress shoes for work that seem to be too big). My feet were pretty sore and I had some significant hot spots on the balls of my right foot and the arch of my left. I am going to go with liners and maybe some Compeed patches next time.
All in all I felt OK, but I was very glad to not have to do the same distance again on the same day!