Following in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
The best training for walking the Ignatian Camino is walking and lots of it.
Aerobic exercise (like hours of walking) causes a process of capillarization in the muscles of your legs. The network of capillaries increases which means that more oxygenated blood and nutrients are delivered to your muscles more quickly. This is why you train. Also training strengthens your tendons.
Bushwalking Victoria has an excellent website which gives a Directory of Bushwalks some of which you might choose to walk as part of your training.
It is advisable to put in maybe six months of physical training before the trip which could include:
Walking (sometimes with your backpack on so that you learn to adjust it) for an hour a day would be suitable.
Walking for two hours a day would be ideal (but probably not practical for most people).
Each weekend you should plan on doing a 20 km (or 5 hour) walk.
Going to the Gym.
You need to schedule a rest day or two each week so that your body has time to recover.
If you have done the training and are fit, then you can finish the Ignatian Camino if you take it quietly.
This is not a race but a spiritual pilgrimage, so don’t go too hard.
The Ignatian Camino is physically demanding. The longest day is 25 km.
If the weather is hot (in September the temperature can be over 30°C in the middle of the afternoon) even shorter stages can be difficult.
The shorter stages in the mountains early on in the pilgrimage are difficult too. Stage 2 involves a big climb.
Even on the flat sections the river stones on the road can be felt through your boots and can bruise your feet.
Interested pilgrims should start breaking their hiking boots at least two months in advance.
Sometimes your old boots, even though they feel comfortable, may have lost their cushioning and it may be good to invest in a new pair.
Spend serious money on getting the right pair of boots. Some pilgrims have two pairs of boots — one high cut and one low cut.
Do some of your training walks carrying your daypack. Typically on the Ignatian Camino your daypack will contain 2-3 litres of water (in a water bottle or a camelbak), your lunch, your camera, your credential, a poncho or raincoat, sunscreen, a hat, a change of socks, a map of the route, a mobile phone and some tissues for ‘unforeseen eventualities’.
We highly recommend you use walking poles. They are particularly helpful on the mountain stages. Learn how to use them correctly.
Training in your hiking gear will help you to avoid most common injuries, such as strained tendons, shin splints and blisters that normally occur in the early days of the pilgrimage.
On the Ignatian Camino it will take your body about 4-5 days to adjust to regular walking with light daypack.