The Importance of Rest Days—and a Re-revised Training Plan

Maybe it’s an excuse to be lazy.  Maybe this is what it feels like to be 64.  Maybe it is just the way it is, but let me say these things:  1) I think I may have been overly enthusiastic with my training plan; and 2) I need rest days. 

I’ve been officially training to walk the Camino del Norte for two and a half months.  I started in January and walked 81 miles during that month.  Most days I walked two and three quarter miles with Sally the dog and a few days I added four miles walking solo.  My training goal, however, was to walk three to five miles each day with a four-pound pack. I did that six times.  Six.  Hum.

A cloudy sunrise in January

In February, I walked ten days.  Yep, ten.  Most days were cold and rainy and I simply wasn’t up to meeting that challenge.  Over those ten walking days, Sally and I did our typical two and three quarter miles and I threw in a couple of four milers without her.  My total for February was 32 miles.  But, my goal for February was to walk six miles a day with a six-pound pack.  I did exactly one of those.  Sheesh…

One of the ten sunny and warm February days (and that’s Sally!)

So far in March, I have walked 12 days, with six days off for weather or other commitments. On five walking days I doubled up my walking—taking Sally for her two and three quarter miles, following up with a few more with my backpack.  Those five days I walked from eight to nine miles each.  To date, I have 59 miles logged in March. Better for sure, but I am still not on track with my training plan.  March was supposed to be seven-mile days with an eight-pound pack. 

A spectacular March day on the American River

Yesterday and today I walked Sally and then did my backpack miles.  I totaled seven and eight miles respectively and did my solo walking with a nine-pound pack.  And today–I’m beat. 

I get really proud of myself when I walk longer and I carry more weight.  That old ego really gets pumped up and pushes me harder and harder.  But it ends up being counter-productive in the long run, when I wake up with sore and tired legs and I don’t even want to roll out of bed. 

In order to alleviate those dog tired mornings, my revised training plan for March is this:  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I will just walk Sally.  We may go three and a half miles, because she did that today and survived.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Sally and I will do our two and three quarter miles and I will do a second solo walk of four to five miles with a ten-pound pack.  The intermittent pack days will hopefully allow me to move slowly and deliberately into longer walks with a heavier pack. And, Sunday I will rest because, while training is important, rest days are too.

And thank goodness I have April, May, June, July and most of August to train before I leave. 


Last month was busy. My Camino del Norte Training Plan was derailed.

My intentions were good when I devised my plan. I knew from past experience that I didn’t want to wait until the month before I planned to leave to begin training for my next Camino. I wanted to begin a slow and steady increase in miles, time and weight so that I would be strong, consistent and confident to walk without much trepidation. If I had a year to make long backpacking walks a habit, I knew I would be just fine. So, I created a plan.

The Camino del Norte Training Plan was developed to begin last month—a year from my intended Camino del Norte start date. Walking regularly and incrementally longer would give Sally-the-dog, her exercise and would give me the increases I knew I needed. The plan was to walk Sally for her three miles and then walk by myself for increasingly more miles. It all seemed manageable enough.

My initial roadblock was getting over the notion of doing a short walk, then walking home, dropping Sally off, and heading out again. I dislike stopping and starting as much as I dislike out and back walks. But I found I could reframe the stop as a café con leche break—like one I might have on the Camino–and I actually did that a couple of times. It seemed to work.

The plan worked for about a week, maybe two. Then the second roadblock happened: the weather got hotter. My morning routine includes about two hours of ritual work: Meditation, yoga, journaling, answering emails, perusing the news. My normal wake time is 6:00 am. That means I finally get breakfast and dressed around 8. If I left the house at 8:30, with the heat the way is was (and is destined to become again) there is no way that Sally could do her three miles, nor that I could do my additional ones afterwards. It was just too hot.

The third roadblock, juggling, was the final straw. My schedule got really busy. There was the impending high school graduation of my grandson and its requisite changes in school pick up times and days. There was in increase in medical appointments for my mom, who, although she is quite fit, at 87 years young her doctors like to err on the side of caution and order every test imaginable for every small anomaly. Not that I am not grateful for their diligence—I am.

Because the Training Plan was not yet part of my routine, it slid off my radar. Yes, it was a plan, a possibility, a desire, and a need, but it was not a done deal. I had not consciously made it a priority and this is what happened: I just stopped walking.

Sally and I just stopped walking—for a couple of weeks. And I was off transporting Grandson and Mother to and from school, work, and appointments. I thought about the Training Plan periodically, feeling a pang of guilt or justification, but I could not imagine how to resolve the conflict. I couldn’t figure out how to juggle all of the important things I had in my life and add yet another.

I write so I can think. As this is written the obvious solution is forming. During the summer, I just have to get up earlier. It’s a simple solution—maybe not easy to begin but do-able. I think, if I can get out of the house with Sally by 6:30 am, I can get all the miles in that I need this summer. In the fall, and as the weather cools and the days start later, I can re-adjust.

Tomorrow, my goal is to rise at 4:30 am and do my meditation, yoga, journaling, emailing, and perusing. Then eat and dress and leash up Sally to begin the walk. After three miles, I will get home and have a delicious cup of café con leche, just like on the Camino. And then I will be off again, by myself, adding distance, time and weight, one walk at a time.


Against All Advice

It was in late 2014, when I was preparing for my first walk (the Camino Frances), that I heard this pronouncement:

Serious hikers don’t care if their clothes match or their backpack is the “wrong” color.  What matters is that everything fits and is comfortable.

So, being the intrepid soon-to-be serious hiker, off I went looking for good deals in clothes that fit, dried quickly, and were comfortable. It mattered not what color they were. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I still wanted to look, at least remotely, sartorially coordinated, so I looked around a bit for things that did not, at least, clash. I ended up taking these pieces:

Brown/hunter green hiking pants that I had to let down because they were too short;
• a blue short sleeved T-shirt;
• a pink short sleeved T-shirt;
• a turquoise long sleeved shirt;
• a teal fleece jacket;
brown socks;
• a tan hiking skirt;
blue hiking sandals; and
grey boots.

I did my best to find a teal backpack to match at least something, and I ended up with a pink one that matched one of my shirts. Pink is not my favorite color but the pack fit exceptionally well. And then I took a multicolored scarf that “pulled it all together.”

Last year, for the Camino Portuguese, I bought an inexpensive light blue sleeveless shirt and got rid of the pink T-shirt. I swapped out my blue short sleeve T-shirt for a light green one. I brought tan shorts instead of the skirt that hiked up my legs with every step. My socks were grey and teal. As far as sartorial eloquence, this was slightly better. The scarf still helped.

This year when the walking bug struck again I made this vow:

I will coordinate the color of my clothes.

I know, it’s shallow. But darn it, I’m worth it.

Here, though, was the problem. That pink backpack (whose color I don’t really care for) fits really nicely. One just does not mess around with that kind of success. I even bought an identical pair of boots for my next trek. Some things you must not change.

Black and grey. Goes with pink, yes? YES!

With more than a year to go and with no significant training under my belt, I’ve gone and purchased my ENTIRE new wardrobe for the Camino Del Norte. Not only that, I’ve bought more than I will actually take. The new “exercise” will be to decide if the new black capris or the new black skirt (which is actually a skort, so it won’t hike up) will go, and whether the new second short sleeved t-shirt will replace the new sleeveless one (both grey).

Grey uppers, black lowers. I’m still in the market for that new coordinating scarf.  (Won’t it be funny when my “after” pictures look just like these “before” shots?)

In the end, I may not look like a serious hiker but I might be fashion forward!

The Journey Continues…

There is a Facebook blog that I started in 2014, at the beginning of my journey.  It can be accessed at

And now I’ve apparently gone big time with my new WordPress Blog called:

Just Kept Walking

Because I did walk the Camino Frances in 2015.  And then I walked the Caminho Portuguese in 2017.  And now I am planning on walking the Camino del Norte in 2019.  I’ve apparently Just Kept Walking.

Below is the last Facebook blog I published, on April 2, 2018.  I will continue my journey here.

I got that old feeling again.

It arises every two years, seemingly without fail. It starts with what feels like anxiety but it quickly morphs into an urgency, a quickening of heartbeat, a rush of thoughts. Over time, it forms into a vague idea, and then one day, the shape becomes clear.

“Just when I thought I was out, it pulls me back in…” to paraphrase an unlikely movie. Another Camino…

It was about this time of year, in 2014, when I was presented with the opportunity to walk the Camino Frances. A couple of friends from Oregon were planning their trip and would allow me to accompany them. Alas, they ended up not being able to go, but I decided to push forward, oddly enamored with the idea of walking 500 miles. And in 2015, I did it and then in 2017, I did it again–on the Camino Portuguese–300 miles.
This time it will be the Camino Del Norte. Early planning has me starting my walk in mid-Spring 2019, from Irun, Spain–in the Northeast corner, finishing again in Santiago de Compostela– about 600 miles, and several weeks, later.

It’s early planning now, with a year to go. Plenty of time to change my mind, get nervous, calm down, train, train more, decide what worked last time and what to do differently. The idea of this walk has, however, taken residence within me. If I don’t do it or something similar, I will undoubtedly regret it.

Consequently, I’m busy researching the route, making lists, reading others’ accounts, and gingerly talking to friends and family who will be affected by my lengthy absence. And writing about it…because that helps me process the magnitude of it all.
So, here I go again! But as my lovely mother says, “You better do it now, while you can.” Amen to that!

215 - tears of joy