Monday, May 6, 2019

Couch to Camino

Disclaimer:  This is in no way advice for others.  Everyone should see a doctor before making lifestyle changes.  This is my journey.

So I sat on the couch for most of January.  Eating leftover Christmas cookies and making art.  And then one day I thought, "This is not going to get me over the Pyrenees Mountains or finishing over 500 miles of hiking!"

I was super self conscious about my lack of fitness, but I knew the only way to change that was to start moving.  I started walking in the mall after I dropped Sam off at school a couple mornings a week.  Yep, I became a mall walker.  I was slow and steady--just one foot in front of the other.

Then in mid February we started our "long" weekend hikes.  We started with 1.6 miles.  It was cold, rainy, and snowy that first day.  We invited others to join us, but we weren't surprised when we were alone.  If I wasn't worried about making it over the mountains and walking 10 - 12 miles a day for 2 months I wouldn't have been out there either.

The next step was finally showing up at the Y.  The goal there was to gain cardio endurance and core strength.  I was given a plan to work by a very kind young woman, and I showed up.  Sometimes that's the hardest part!  I showed up 3 - 4 times a week for the next couple months.  I felt less foolish and self conscious.  I actually started to take my weighted backpack once or twice a week--usually 14 - 16 pounds on the stair stepper and then to the treadmill for a couple of walking miles--which seems really easy after 20 + minutes of stair climbing!

Our weekend hikes have become longer.  We have varied the amount of hills, number of miles, length of time we stay out.  We've been able to use the time to try out a bunch of gear, too--packs, water bottles and water bladders, trekking poles, socks, shoes, rain gear, hats, sunglasses, underwear (super important to avoid chaffing!), and performance wear pants, shirts, and hoodies.  We've been out in a variety of weather from snow and 30s to rain in 40s - 50s, and sun into the 70s.

I'm not going to focus on the stuff we didn't do because some stuff didn't work for us.  This is OUR camino.  It will be as unique as we are.  I thought we would do more long hikes--12 miles, but instead we have done loads of 6 - 8 miles hikes.  From here my thought is we will do a 6 - 8 mile hike then have lunch, followed by a 4 - 6 mile hike.  I believe are well prepared for this.

And I could not end this without telling you that yoga and stretching have been an essential part of this process for me.  I feel as grateful for yoga as I did when I first discovered it.  Pigeon is opening and relaxing my hips in a beautiful way.  Lots of work on my back in reclined twists, bridge, happy baby, rocking, legs up the wall to name a few.  I am not taking a yoga mat, but I'm sure I will do tons of stretching along the way.

There are a few weeks left, and I don't know for sure that this is going to be enough, but I do know that we have prepared while keeping it fun most of the time.  I feel strong and hopeful that this camino is ours and we have been walking it for a few months now--since the day I decided to get off the couch!  Buen camino!

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