If you’re worried that you’re not fit enough, we’ve got you covered. These training programmes will help you prepare for your own pilgrimage. This adventure is sponsored by Hi-Tec, Trappers, Canon, Atlasware and Caminoways.com.

If you find yourself wistfully listening to friends’ stories of hiking the Otter Trail or the Camino, thinking they’re beyond your reach, I’ve got news for you. If I can tackle the Camino, then most of our readers can, too! (I did it in September last year and I walked more than 320km in 13 days.) 

So when the opportunity to do a second Camino (this time along the Via Francigena in Italy) arose, I promptly did up my laces and hit the road. I am not so brave – or stupid – to tackle this feat without preparation. I mean, if a chance like this comes your way, you need to be fit enough to follow your dreams.  

The go! editorial team shares office space with our fit(ter) colleagues from Runner’s World, Bicycling and Men’s and Women’s Health. They’re a colourful bunch of journalists and editors, who regularly show up at work in Lycra. My colleagues from Women’s Health were quite impressed with my recent interest in health matters, and pointed me in the direction of these training programmes, which they’ve gathered from experts around the world. 
If a chance like this comes your way, you need to be fit enough to follow your dreams.

The first one is a basic training programme, aimed at those of us who don’t get much exercise beyond walking from the parking lot to the office.

Once you’re feeling a bit fitter, you can move on to the second programme. This one is actually designed for runners training for a half marathon (21km), but the distances work for hikers too. The third programme is for the overachievers – the “higher-grade group” who need a more serious workout. It’s a 20-week training programme for runners preparing for a full marathon (42km), but it will also make you super fit for the Camino. 

If you’re going to hike with us in September, you’ll have enough time to build up to each of these programmes. 

Beginners’ programme (for the tortoises among us)

You’re never going to race through the Camino, but you do need to condition your body to be able to handle each day’s walking and weight. So the point of this programme is not speed, but “time on your feet”. Try to walk regularly on weekdays, even if it’s just short distances, and tackle one longer hike on weekends. Use the weekend hike as a practice round for the Camino: Test your gear (does the backpack chafe?) and break in your boots. Include some hills on your route. 

How fast should you walk? Imagine you’re running late for a meeting, and you need to adjust your pace to get there on time. (The pace you used to run out of school when the bell rang at the end of the day is too fast.) 

*Hills: Look for a hill in your area that’s about 150 metres high. Climb it with swinging arms, but stroll down gently to get your breath back. Do this for 30 minutes. A treadmill at the gym also works. 

The 21 km hiking programme (this one’s for the hares)

The 20 week-marathon programme (for the overachieving cheetahs)

Only start with this training programme if you’ve already been exercising at least three times a week, and can easily walk 10km. If you’re running out of time before the Camino, do weeks 1–9, and the last two weeks, but include a distance of at least 20–25km on one Day 7. 

Day 2’s cross-training: This is the day you get to shake up your training programme a bit. So you can cycle, swim, play squash or work out at the gym. 

*Day 7: Walk in your Camino shoes

Remember, the second training programme was initially aimed at runners, and has been adapted for hikers. The original Women’s Health programme includes strength training with weights, which can come in handy. Check out their website: www.womenshealthsa.co.za/fitness/workouts.

If you want to shed some extra kilos, check out these simple weight-loss exercises and diets: www.womenshealthsa.co.za/weight-loss/ 


Book now! E-mail Lyndley.Mitchell@travel.co.za or call 021 880 0025

If you’re on Instagram and are training for a long hike, take a photo for us and use the hashtag #GoWalk. Remember to tag us: @gomagsa.

go!’s Camino adventure is made possible by Hi-Tec, Trappers, Canon, Atlasware and Caminoways.com.