While few would describe the Camino de Santiago as an overly challenging hike because of its relatively easy routes and well-marked paths, walking for between 20 and 30 km a day for a week or more is no mean feat and shouldn’t be underestimated. The Camino requires walkers to put in high numbers day after day, occasionally with gradients that can test even the strongest of knees.

Training for walking the Camino is an absolute must, even for those who consider it on the easier side of hiking. Between 5 and 10% of people walking the Camino drop out and injuries account for by far the most frequent reasons. Shin splints, blisters, back pain, pulled muscles – you name it, they can all be found along the Camino de Santiago.

Even with all the training in the world, accidents and injuries can always be just around the corner. However, with the right level of preparation, both physically and mentally, you can give yourself the best possible chance of staying fit and healthy on the Camino.


How fit are you?

Before we even get into the training for the Camino de Santiago, it’s important to be honest with yourself regarding your own level of fitness. It can be easy to kid yourself and just because you do 10,000 steps each day, it doesn’t mean you’re prepared for the Camino.

Steps are often how we measure fitness these days, but they can be hugely misleading, especially in the context of a more rigorous physical challenge. 10,000 steps are equal to around 8 kilometres or roughly one and half hours of walking and while that is no doubt a decent daily effort, you’ll need to be able to at least double that before starting the Camino de Santiago.

Another factor that people often don’t take into consideration is that you are usually carrying a backpack for the entire day. Even if this is just a small day pack and isn’t an enormous weight, it adds a strain to your body that we don’t often experience.

Before you begin training, strap on a light backpack and head out for a 5 km walk. If that feels good, try 10 km next and see how you get on. Often people try to go too quickly when they’re amazed at their initial progress, but this overconfidence can sometimes lead to problems. If you can, plan for the Camino well ahead, and take your time with the training – you won’t regret it.


Uwalk.ie How Fit are you


If there is a single golden rule about not just the Camino, but walking in general, it is don’t start with shoes that haven’t been properly worn in first. While it might be tempting to turn up in Spain with gleaming new hiking boots, you’re playing with fire if you haven’t used them to the point that they always feel comfortable. It can sometimes take weeks to properly break in a pair of shoes and that period can sometimes be difficult and even painful. Now imagine having to do it on the Camino de Santiago.

However, it’s also worth being aware that those trainers you’ve had for ten years that are always a cosy fit might not provide the level of protection and support needed to walk day in and day out.

Again, planning ahead is important here. Decide on what equipment you’ll be using and give yourself enough time to get used to it.

Uwalk Preparing for the Camino: Advice from Siobhán Treacy



Your training schedule will entirely depend on your level of fitness but if you do want to up your kilometres before arriving in Spain, it’s vital to do it gradually to allow your body to get accustomed.

A 12-week program is often discussed when talking about the Camino, which gives you just enough time to acclimate your body, without the need for the kind of training required for a marathon.

Most training schedules require you to only walk three days each week – say, Tuesday and Thursday for shorter periods and a longer session on the weekend. As the weeks progress, you must begin practising on more and more challenging gradients. It’s all well and good walking for 25 km on flat ground, but try 5 km in the mountains and you’ll really know where you stand.

It’s also a good idea to mix in some general strength training in some of your weeks. This can be done at the gym or simply at home but is designed to strengthen specific muscles that are going to be tested to their limits. You can read more about strength training for walkers here.


Uwalk.ie Training for the Camino


Group 1 – Weeks 1-3

Take things easy in your first few weeks and do most of your training on flat ground.

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday
1 30 mins 30 mins 1 hour
2 45 mins 45 mins 2 hours
3 45 mins 45 mins 3 hours


Group 2 – Weeks 4-6

In the second group, try and introduce some gentle hills here and there.

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday
4 1 hour 1 hour 3 hours
5 1 hour 1 hour 4 hours
6 1 hour 1 hour 5 hours


Group 3 – Weeks 7-9

In group 3, it’s a good idea to begin walking on some steep hills. Don’t overdo it and if you feel that your body isn’t ready, then simply dial it back.

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday
7 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 5 hours
8 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 4 hours
9 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 5 hours


Group 4 – Weeks 10-12

During the final group, you should try and mimic walking on the Camino the best you can by mixing all levels of terrain into your weekend walk. There’s no need to go crazy and start running up hills every day, but the body needs to know what it feels like to do a steep hill followed by a steep downhill.

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday
10 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 6 hours
11 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 6 hours
12 1-2 hours 1-2 hours/Strength training 6 hours

What if I get injured?

In many ways, it’s better to get injured while training than on the Camino itself. The human body, while certainly a wonderful machine, does break down from time to time. If you get injured during a training program, either stop completely if it’s very bad or simply scale back your training to where you feel comfortable.




Mental Training

One aspect of training that is frequently overlooked is the mental preparation often required for physical exertions like walking the Camino de Santiago. While it may not require the same level of mental training as with a marathon, walking along a route for seven days straight, or more, can take its toll on anybody.

Mental training is perhaps even harder to do than physical preparation because you never really know how you’ll react until you’re in the thick of it. For many, walking the Camino is one of the most important things they ever do, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Walking for hours through a dusty, hot landscape in a country where you don’t speak the language isn’t easy. There will almost certainly be times when you’ll want to quit and it’s difficult to prepare mentally for this kind of event.

We often find the best way of mentally preparing people for the Camino is to simply make sure they know exactly what they’re in for. Do some research about the routes, gradients and terrain you’ll be walking through and even check out some of our other blogs on our website that are often a treasure trove of valuable information for first-time walkers including Camino ‘Etiquette’, Spanish Phrases, Camino Stamps & Certificates, Walking the Camino Solo, Walking Tips from a Physical Therapist, Best Time to Walk the Camino, Top Camino Movies & Books and lots more Blogs! If you have specific worries or queries, don’t be afraid to reach out to our expert team at UWalk on 0818 333 990, we’ll be happy to talk you through any doubts you might have.

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