A travel experience can be undertaken in good or not-so-good health. The choice is ours. However, when the travel adventure requires a level of physical exertion and effort, I will need to ‘up’ my usual exercise regime. Our Camino Portugues will be approximately 274 km/164 miles of back packing. Our longest walk will be 34km/20.4miles on Day 1 (when we are fresh, ‘naïve’ and bursting with energy). This Camino will take us 11 days/10 nights on the trail. Our target back packing weight is about 10% of our body weight. So, the target for the physical conditioning has been established. As of late Jan 2018, we will have about 3.5 months before our Camino walk.
Unbeknown to us at that time (of the impact of this on our Camino), we had switched to a mainly pescatarian diet about 3 months prior to deciding to walk the Camino. That nutritional change came about for health reasons, Joon wanting to manage her blood pressure, while I was seeking to manage my cholesterol levels. A couple of documentaries recommended by our son, Matt, was the trigger. This may be a future post. By also eliminating dairy and going gluten free, we both found that we were able to lose about 12 pounds each! Our BMI has always been in the normal range. This dietary change is going to give us a leg up over our old selves.
The primary focus was on building our cardio vascular endurance. We have different approaches, so, I will share mine. I picked the rowing machine, as I know a CEO who took that up. Rowing is reputed to be a complete exercise, similar to swimming. Rowing exercises the arms, legs and the core. Being a Virgoan-analytical, I found a YouTube video that showed the proper and improper ways to row. That visualization became a challenge to me, to see if I can emulate and execute the perfect set of movements in a fluid fashion. During rowing, I can close my eyes, focus on various body parts and movements, and get my breathing into a rhythm. I can adjust the intensity and speed of my rows. Sometimes, I push for longer rowing sessions, but after losing all the pounds, the ‘natural cushion’ on my buttocks starts to wear thin after an hour’s rowing. 😊
There’s also a need to switch one’s routine to avoid boredom, and keep the interest commitment in going to the Y three times a week. The elliptical machine is one of my favorites as it mimics the walking motions without the impact on the knees. I love how I can vary the incline as well as the resistance. The last machine that I use occasionally, is the stair master. This is probably the hardest as it works the glutes and calves. On rare occasions, I carry my back pack as I use the stair master. If we ever walk the Camino Frances, which requires crossing the Pyrenes mountains, this will be a must-do machine.
Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass during their late 30s to early 40s. After middle age, adults lose 3% of their muscle strength every year, on average. So, we consulted a trainer to help show/demo the machines to build/maintain our muscles, and we now fit that routine in during our visits to the Y. Interestingly, I heard from a friend, who swears that one has to pick increasing weighted dumb bells so that one can only do 6 reps. If one can do more than 6 reps, the bar bells are not heavy enough. The belief is that the 6th attempt will result in some micro-tears in muscle tissue, thereby encouraging more tissue build up. I couldn’t find anything to substantiate this on the Net.
Some other routines that our trainer got us doing were planks, lunges, squats. The movements and routines are easy, but doing three sets of 10 reps, is not a walk in the park.
We have started taking hour-long walks in the hiking shoes that we intend to use on the Camino. And that’s when the hip discomfort struck me during one of these walks. It had happened many months ago, during a trail walk and on a golf course. Clearly, there was some mis-alignment and stiffening joints. This prompted us to sign up for a Yoga class at the Y. It was my first Yoga class and it was like, my first ice cream! Or so I imagined. How my joints really relished the treat of being stretched. Straightening the ‘bends’ that had slowly crept into my knees over time. Feeling the ligaments, the muscles getting pulled, like stretching one’s back after hunching over a laptop. A release of accumulated knots hiding in the joints. During Yoga, the breathing, the relaxing and freeing of the mind is the icing on the cake. Flexibility, balance and mental calmness are just as important as the hard regimen of cardio vascular and muscular maintenance.
2/3/18 update. Our Yoga teacher, Alisa, recommended David Procyshyn’s videos on Youtube. Seems he has one for runners/walkers. Here’s a link.