Last month I wrote about plans to walk a 150-mile stretch of Le Chemin du Puy, a French pilgrimage trail, later this year. It won’t be an arduous journey, but each day’s trek will entail 10–15 miles of walking across somewhat hilly terrain in south central France. It takes training.
I’ve now begun training for the trek, cautiously, after several weeks’ delay for medical consultation about a lingering knee injury. Thanks to professional treatment, healing is now underway, and a knee brace will be delivered soon.
I’ve bought some Merrell hiking shoes that are well suited to our hiking conditions, as long as it’s not raining hard. My early impressions suggest they’ll be adept at handling a mix of walking conditions, including rough terrain along the ancient pilgrimage trails in France. So far they’ve been very comfortable, with just the right amount of support on steep trails. They grip well and keep me from falling on my face in the muddy sections.
Sun breaks have enticed me outside for the past 2 mornings, with just enough time to enjoy 3‑mile walks on nearby forest trails. We’ve had twice as much rain as usual for the past 4 months, so the trails are very muddy.
One of the nearby parks includes a ravine; the trail system features a steep climb down the ravine to a fast-running stream and then back up again. Hiking in this section of Pioneer Park can be aerobic, especially if you go fast (which I’m not ready to do), or repeat some of the trails to increase the total number of miles walked.
Oddly enough, I’ve tended to ignore this park, but am now finding it offers a lovely place to start the training régime to get strong and fit for the trek in France. Best of all, it’s only a quarter mile from my front door.
Training has begun, but frequent knee twinges are reminding me not to overdo these early walks; not to get attached too soon to achieving specific, quantifiable distance goals. Starting is the essential thing.
Right now this is a practice of mindfulness, paying attention to how my knee is performing; reminding myself to slow down, listen to the birds, smell the verdant woodland, and enjoy the privilege of walking during the late mornings in mid-February.
It’s time to heal, feast on the beauty, relish outdoor exercise, and begin a multi-month journey of preparation.