Although many European countries are easing the restrictions, you might’ve decided to move your pilgrimage or long distance hike a little further into the future (as did I). Yes, it isn’t fun but the good thing is that now you’ll have more time to train! This is a refreshed version of an article I posted back in 2018, and it’ll revolve all around getting yourself ready to hike 20k a day (or more).
Why you should train for a pilgrimage or multi-day hike
Hiking 20k without a plan on a random day should be doable. Covering that distance six days in a row – and keeping in mind your path won’t always be as flat as my country – some groundwork might be required. Oh, and did I mention the 8-10kg you’re carrying on your back?
One of the reasons why you should train for a pilgrimage or multi-day hike, is that you’re significantly decreasing your chance of sustaining an injury. Oh trust me, I know. I didn’t train my back properly due to bruising my ribcage three months before I left on my Camino the Santiago, and it made me suffer through the first month of my journey. Likewise, I didn’t train enough for the West Highland Way which led to a knee injury (still a pain at the moment).
So first advice of the day: be smart, be kind to your body and get yourself properly ready to hike 20k (or more) a day.
You might wonder: how do I do that? No worries, I got you covered! Here are a few tried and tested ways to get ready for that pilgrimage or long distance hike you’ve got planned:
Make movement a daily habit
As you’re about to hike large distances multiple days in a row, you’ve got to be in good shape. “Yeah. No shit” would be my reaction too. But being in good shape doesn’t mean taking three flights of stairs without dying, it means moving on a regular basis.
Make sure you undertake activities that get your blood pumping. Besides walking – which would be great to practice often since you’re going to do lots of it anyway – running and cycling are great alternatives. Mix it up, make it fun and, most importantly, turn it into a daily habit!
Think about that backpack
You’ll be carrying weight on your back. All the time. Every. Single. Day. Anticipating on this is like giving yourself a little prezzy on the road. You could start practicing by doing your training walks with a backpack. If you like, you could add some strength exercises to your work-out schedule. As the Internet offers a plethora of exercises, you can pick different ones each time!
Remember, it won’t be flat all the time
The Netherlands is flat, really flat. Some parts of France and Spain aren’t. Good to know. Good to prepare yourself for. If your environment lacks hills like mine, include some training on stairs or steps. Oh, and don’t forget that backpack ; )
Stretch and listen
Make sure you incorporate some stretching before and after your exercise routine to stay lean and prevent injury. In my opinion, anyone would benefit from taking regular yoga classes. Yoga does not only build strength and increase flexibility, it’ll also encourage you to listen to and communicate with your body. A super handy skill to carry along, when walking on your own for a long period of time.
In order to get good as something, you have to repeat it. Over and over again. So take that backpack, go out for a walk and do it often. Especially in the final twelve weeks leading up to your journey, make sure you walk as much and as far as you can, backpack included.
Although I’m not training for a specific hike at the moment, I try to be as ready as possible so I can take off at any time I’d like! Furthermore, as we’re spending more (passive) time inside due to the current circumstances, I try to keep as active as possible. Writing this post, I do get inspired to amp up the volume a bit on my own training regime… exciting!
Last tip: Start small and increase the amount and intensity of your training gradually (you want to prevent getting injured, remember). Also keep in mind that it’s easier to be active when it fits your daily routine and makes you smile! I’d love to hear if this is helpful getting yourself ready for your pilgrimage or long distance hike, so do leave a message in the comment section below! Happy training!