The Way of St. James requires extra effort in relation to the pilgrim’s everyday life and therefore requires a special diet and healthcare.
Before beginning, in order to get used to the effort, it is advisable to “train” for a few weeks, going for walks or bicycle rides, especially if you normally lead a sedentary lifestyle. You should begin with short distances and gradually increase them.
You are strongly recommended to have a simple medical checkup, so that you can undertake the pilgrimage knowing that you are in good shape and that the exercise will not harm you in the short or medium term.
Since some hostels do not serve breakfast, or they do so when some pilgrims have already left, you should carry foodstuffs with a high sugar content, such as nuts and dried fruits, chocolate, sweets, bread and drink in your backpack, also for snacks. You should have a light lunch, improvising or making use of the ‘pilgrim’ menus served in many bars –such meals are modest but reasonably priced. The heaviest meal should be dinner, rich in proteins, after you have finished the day’s stage.
It is very important to drink a large quantity of liquid whenever possible, in order to make up for subsequent deficiencies, or take along a bottle of water or an energy drink –good for avoiding dehydration and muscular pain- if you think there will be nothing available in the next 15 km.
A good night’s rest is essential, although this might be difficult if the hostel is crowded. Even so, your body will probably respond well after a day’s exercise.
You should also stop whenever necessary along the way, looking for shade in the summer, and using the time to loosen your footwear and put your feet up. To make it easier to carry your backpack, you can load the weight on your hips during some stages and on your shoulders during others.
Do not hesitate to take a day off in a town, if you need to get your physical and emotional strength back.
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