On “Training” for El Camino de Santiago

IMG_3998By “training” I mean, wander around Dublin at a reasonably quick pace while stopping for groceries and cappuccinos. I don’t really know how I should be preparing for this, having never attempted anything like it. The internet ranges in advice from, “didn’t train, was fine” to “here’s my guide to the 156 exercises you should master for a long distance hike! Do it or you’ll die!” I’m a reasonably fit person, and don’t have the inclination to walk 800km in preparation to…walk 800km. After all, that’s what this is, a walk. Not a run, not a hard climb. It’s long, but it’s not a grand feat of strength. More like not pushing too hard and wearing proper shoes (to grossly oversimplify). I didn’t train at all for Kili, at best I was acclimated from being in Moshi for a few months. And I made it, granted, with a fair amount of fanfare and struggle. But I did it, so I figure I can do this too. But because it doesn’t hurt to be somewhat prepared, I’ve thrown together a training program to get my body (most particularly, my joints) somewhat acclimated for a daily assault.

This is my second long walk, I mix up distances and pack weights throughout the week, but on one day, I walk (with no weight) a longer distance-with the eventual goal of having 30+km be comfortable. My first walk was pretty brutal as I noted in a previous post, the whole next day was a recovery, and my body wasn’t pleased. This time was immensely better. And a lot faster, though I’m tired and a bit sore, it’s leagues better than two weeks ago.

Love Supreme Coffee

Love Supreme Coffee

I started today off by walking to Love Supreme Coffee, which is located about as inconveniently far as possible while still claiming city center location-aka perfect for a long walk. En route I walked to St. James’s Gate by the Guinness factory. This was the medieval entrance to the city, and the traditional starting point for pilgrims walking the camino. They’d often take a Ferry from Dublin to Northern Spain where they’d walk to Santiago. I love the history of this pilgrimage, dating back to the middle ages. The popularity diminished well into the 1980’s, but recently, there’s been a revival with an project 250,000 walking this year. Though a good portion of those walking will be from Sarria, 100km from Santiago-the minimal distance you can walk and be eligible for the compostela (traditionally you’d start from your doorstep). Of course, these pilgrims are lovingly known as “tourgrinos” or tourist pelegrinos (pilgrims). Often they have pre-planned accommodations and bag transfers arranged. They crowd the trails and are regarded with, apparently, a fair amount of disdain by those who walked further and more independently. Lest you think elitism isn’t alive and well on a trip meant as a spiritual cleanse of sorts.  Though I have to admit, my one concern for this trek (aside from physical difficulty) is dealing with overcrowding on the trail. I’m hoping by going in spring, and avoiding main cities on the weekends (common starting locations/ times) I’ll be able to surf between the waves of joiners.

Irishtown

Irishtown

After lunch I made my way to Ringsend, and down the coast through Irishtown. Despite living a mere 15 minutes from here I had no idea this place existed. It’s a small park that extends down the coast. It’s a beach, though, not the kind you’d probably lay out on. When the tide is out, it extends a few hundred meters off the the shore. Shown above in the picture, that’s a dry beach extending back towards the shoreline. Go around lunch and you’ll see locals with dogs meandering well off shore. It’s a beautiful walk, when the sun is out you can glimpse the mountains in the distance. Living in Dublin, you often forget not everything is flat, thanks in large part, to relatively constant cloud cover.

Herbert Park

Herbert Park

My final 5km took me back to our first year Dublin apartments off Herbert Park. I hadn’t been there in well over a year, though nothing much has changed. I picked up smoked paprika (which is oddly hard to find in Dublin) and end of walk beers from our old shops in Donnybrook. If nothing else, prepping for this hike has enabled me to explore parts of Dublin I might not have otherwise, it’s been a throughly enjoyable side benefit. This was my last long walk for a month in Dublin, next week I head off to the states, and will be walking/hiking in California, Colorado, and Washington.

Thanks body, for taking my constant abuse and adapting.

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