Nothing beats doing an actual walk with a loaded rucksack on your back as a training exercise for the Camino. So, while we have been doing various other forms of training, both cardio and strength-building, our main focus as the walk approaches is doing exactly what we will be doing when we leave our house on 29th August.
So far, in nine walks, we have done about 220km. I could tell you the exact figure because I am using an app but I have already added up wrong so let's just call it 220km. I have gone from a practice weight of 7kg in my backpack to 11kg which is what I will be carrying on a hot day when both bottles of water need to be filled. The difference is huge. And as I walk I imagine what I could do without and what, actually, I am going to have to add in to the pack. Looking after my feet seems the most important thing so footcream is going in, no matter the weight. I am literally weighing everything to shave off grammes where possible. I am reading Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" at the moment - a moving memoir about a woman dealing with grief who decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. Last night I got to the bit where she described the fact that when she first put her backpack on she had to sit on the floor and push herself to standing because it was probably half her body weight. 11kg feels bad, more is unimaginable.
I have added poles into the mix in recent walks and am a total convert. They help with posture, balance, weight distribution and rhythm, and since I started using them I have no hip or knee pain. Going uphill is tough with or without poles but as long as I think about my posture and ensure that I have my rucksack on correctly, I am finding it easier and easier.
We have done some wonderful walks covering two beautiful departments here in France - the Lot-et-Garonne and the Dordogne. Lots of woods, rivers, views, and castles. Here is a selection of some of the pictures I have taken so far. And remember, I am doing all of this because 14 years ago I couldn't walk a step. Do consider donating to the ME Association via my Justgiving page and read more about my ME experience on the blog.
As an aside, one of the things that helped me recover from ME was yoga. I am continuing with yoga as part of my preparation for the walk: a way of focusing, balancing, connecting with what I can and cannot do, strength building, pre-walk stretches and post-walk stretches. Before we walk I do about 30 minutes of yoga and afterwards I do at least another 30. My love of yoga is one of the best things to have come out of my experience of ME. I used Angela Stevens' Yoga for ME sufferers and I highly recommend it as a starting point.