In 100 days I’ll begin a 3-week pilgrimage, hiking centuries-old trails in southwestern France. I started training for this journey in February, testing boots and equipment, and embarking on some necessary conditioning.
At the halfway point for preparations, I note considerable progress made, as well as unexpected consequences:
- 10+ pounds lost since February
- Feet stronger, but a half size larger
Losing weight was not an explicit goal, but it’s a pleasing outcome… Except for the fact that my pants no longer fit, and much of my wardrobe is now too baggy.
The First 100 Days
I’ve been training with a hiking buddy in the Cascade foothills. We walk together 4–5 times a week, solo otherwise.
We’ve progressed to hiking 8 miles with ease, with 10 or so pounds in our daypacks. We prefer hilly woodland trails, and will tackle some mountains later this summer.
FitBit reports that we’ve already hiked hundreds of miles in the Cascade foothills.
The Northwest foothills offer a good training ground. The terrain is varied, often muddy, with frequent ascents or descents — similar to what I’ll encounter in France. I’ll have to look further afield to find analogs to France’s limestone cliffs and loose scree.
45 Days on Cape Cod
Now I’m visiting Cape Cod until we return to Seattle in early July. Conditioning here requires cross-training to compensate for flatter and less challenging terrain. So biking, kayaking and yoga get added to the mix.
Getting back on my yoga mat will help rebuild core and upper body strength — which have declined during the intense 100-day focus on hiking the Northwest trails. Biking will help with cardio. Kayaking with upper body strength and balance.
Surprisingly, I find myself missing the Northwest: the cooler misty weather, the softer woodland trails, the verdant hillsides and forest glades. Here on Cape Cod I face uneven paved roads, heat and humidity, and tick-infested woodlands that discourage off-road walking. Fortunately it’s easy to find unpaved roads in the village where we’re staying, so not all my training will be pounding on pavement.…
My walks are often blessed with ocean or bay views and constant birdsong, but there’s a challenge to walking solo. Mostly mental…
Sustaining the discipline of daily training walks is harder than expected when staying in a vacation spot without a hiking buddy. There are multiple distractions, like overnight guests, and convenient excuses to avoid walking, like heavy downpours or time conflicts. I have to drag myself away from interesting conversations to find time to walk for two hours.
Walking solo, the miles pass more slowly beneath my feet. Rain is more of a hassle. I’m easily annoyed by biting flies or the heat that rises from the asphalt roads. I miss the woodland trails, the forgiving feel of packed dirt or organic material beneath my boots.
It rains harder here. Yesterday I experienced the downside of breathable sneakers: it takes them no time at all to get waterlogged during heavy rains. So today I learned how to dehydrate sneakers in a low oven when they didn’t dry enough overnight…
On a positive note we’ve launched our kayaks and have already paddled for a couple of hours in windy conditions, so arm/shoulder conditioning is well underway. I’ve also returned to my yoga practice, through classes and at-home asanas, so the cross-training has become reality rather than an abstract concept…
And it’s a good thing, too.
Every time I read the blog posts from pilgrims now trekking the Célé Variant of the Via Podiensis, my commitment to conditioning gets reinforced. This will not be “a walk in the park” next September…