It’s been 4 months since I came back from the Camino de Santiago. As happens to anyone who goes on a holiday of any kind, the relaxation you felt and the clarity you found whilst away can quickly recede into the background when faced with an unreasonable boss, irritating neighbour, coughs and colds and the daily grind of general life in London. The Camino isn’t really like any other kind of holiday however. The Camino experience, likely due to its sheer length in time and physical effort, makes an impact felt more deeply at your core than two weeks on a sun lounger in Magaluf. Promises you make to yourself whilst floating on a pink flamingo lilo are less durable than those made whilst sobbing into a pair of sweaty socks, sat on a hay bale under the scorching sun in the Meseta.
This past week, I’ve had a cold, and when recovering from a cold, those first signs of feeling better, when you wake up that first morning and know you’re starting to feel better, this too can be a wake up call on your life’s priorities. Today, I’m really happy and thankful that, in general, I’m not a sick person. I have my health, my family are all alive and relatively well, my dog is cute and wonderful – and so too is my girlfriend. A lifted illness gives you a fresh sense of aliveness, of possibilities, that every day you’re making choices that will, over time, compound to form who you are, what you look like and what you’ll become. Up until my cold, I’d been doing well on my Camino goals, recovery though, spurs me on to do even better!
I was able to progress with my fitness goal that I set back in the Roots and Boots hostel in Santiago de Compostella! If you recall, I wanted to be able to run!
On Sunday last, I was able to complete a 21k, not quickly, I finished in around 2 hours 30 minutes, but I was able to complete it. This from a womam who, up until 4 months ago, struggled to run for 3 minutes without hitting the emergency stop button on the treadmill (not joking!). How did I do it?
Couch25k and then couch210k and then couch221k, there is also the full marathon app but I’m not going to train for the full before completing my first official half marathon road race which is the Barcelona Mitja in mid-Feb. Following a set route of 3-4 days running a week these plans start with a running/walking pattern that anyone can follow even if you’re terribly unfit. You walk for two minutes and run for a minute over eight cycles on day 1, as the days progress, the running gets a little tougher, maybe a little further, maybe a little longer time spent running Vs walking, but it trains you so steadily, that, within 4 months, you’ve gone from no ability to run, to running a half marathon.
This, anything is achievable step by step, broken down into small chunks philosophy, is the number 1 lesson of the Camino de Santiago. As I’ve said before, if you were air dropped into Saint Jean Pied de Port one day and told you had to walk 900km to the other side of Spain, you’d never begin. If someone had told me to run 21ks 4 months ago, I’d never have begun. The body’s (and brain’s) ability to learn, improve and adapt is probably my favourite thing about life and certainly my favourite thing about being a human! You can always surprise yourself and when the humdrum days, and unreasonable bosses and irritating neighbours and coughs and colds come – this knowledge, that things can improve step by step, makes it easier to cope with them!
As for the other goals…
Dressing Better – I do! I’ve bought a wide range of clothes for work. I’m still a bit of a skank at weekends but enjoy getting dressed up when the occasion calls for it.
Learning SQL – I’ve learnt more! However, I’m in no way skilled!
Speaking Spanish – That fell by the wayside.
There may have been another that has clearly fallen by the wayside as I haven’t even remembered it!
Will I do a camino next year? I had a notion of running it thanks to the new found fitness, but seeing how that 21k did me in, that was quite a ridiculous idea. I do have some time off in Jan/Feb coming up, however, the last winter camino I did was pure misery AND I got a cold. Still might!