The Camino Frances is a 799 km trail that takes you from St Jean Pied de Port located at the base of the Pyrenees in France, across Spain to Santiago. RecWest member of five years and mother of two young adults, Lyn Wilkinson, dreamed of making her own Camino trek and turned that dream to reality.
Two years ago, a friend said to me, “You would love the Camino - think about it.” I did, and the dream became a plan.
The time was right - I had access to long service leave from a demanding job, the health of my aging parents was stable and my family was very supportive and encouraging.
I planned the trip carefully to make sure that it would be a success. I sought advice about the right equipment, my orthotics needed to be updated and a torn cartilage needed repair. I made sure that I took advice from people with specific expertise.
Most importantly, I needed to be physically able to complete the walk, so the team at RecWest Footscray YMCA tailored a year-long series of fitness programs to build my strength and mentally prepare myself.
I undertook a cardio program and participated in Boot Camps to address my conditioning. Motivation was a key element as well and trainers Kirsten and Michelle were the drivers that helped me keep my ‘eye on the prize’.
The planning took time and patience but was the key to my success.
People walk the Camino trails for a variety of reasons. For some it is a spiritual journey or an opportunity to reflect on their lives. Others come to say goodbye to a loved one or raise money for charity, and some just want the physical challenge.
For me it was about taking time to slow down and enjoy a simplified, stress-free daily routine – walk, eat, sleep and repeat. Feeling stronger, leaner and fitter was an absolute bonus as was meeting people from many countries and sharing coffee, wine or a meal at the end of the day.
Finding an Albergue (dormitory type accommodation with bunk beds and shared bathrooms) was an important part of each day and guide books and apps were helpful. Hot showers, foot care, blisters and tired muscles were common topics for discussion. Pharmacies were easily found and well stocked with an assortment of patches, tape, creams and medications to provide relief from the day’s walk.
There was always the physical and mental challenge of completing between 17 and 25 kilometres each day. There were times when the paths were steep and rocky and concentration was paramount to your safety. Walking when you were tired or distracted would often result in stumbles or falls, so it was important to take regular rest breaks.
Yellow arrows marked the path so navigating your way was never an issue. If you overlooked a marker due to fatigue or poor weather, locals would call out to you and point out the correct path. The Spanish people were incredibly welcoming, kind and generous.
So would I do it again? Of course I would… the Camino Portuguese is now in the planning stages.
Lyn values highly her commitment to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle and regularly participates in Boot camps at RecWest Footscray as a precursor to serious training for her next adventure.
To reach your fitness goals speak to a Health and Wellness team member to book yourself into a Person Success Plan. Here you will be given a Planning Session, Program Check and Program Review and best of all it’s free with your membership.
For further information regarding the Person Success Plan call 9689 1322 or speak to reception.