Training for the El Camino de Santiago

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but for the past couple of months I’ve been working on preparing myself for walking the almost 500 mile El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain (well, technically I will start in France, but mostly Spain). This is all possible because I work for an amazing company, Automattic, where I actually get a paid 3-month sabbatical every five years. This year I qualify for my first sabbatical and what better way to spend it than to travel to a foreign country and walk alone for 6 weeks! 😂 Seriously though, I’m really looking forward to unplugging from my life and to experience this solo journey both externally and internally.

Once I decided this was definitely something I wanted to do, I started interviewing a couple coworkers who had also done long distance hiking and the camino and got some fantastic tips. I also wasn’t in the kind of physical shape I needed to be in having only partially recovered from a leg injury, sedentary, and after a couple years of covid, even heavier than I usually am. I started to put together a team: the very excellent Emma Faulkner at TriHealth Physical Therapy , my equally amazing Massage Therapist Dana Briley over at Highlands Healing Hands, and the very strong and very talented Frank Marcone at The Lifestyle Chiropractic. I’ve also been heavily consulting Zack over at REI to get fitted for a pack and other equipment needed for my adventure. I have a morning workout regimen and training walks that I’m doing almost daily. I went from walking the dog around the block maybe once or twice a day to now walking 3+ miles every day and trying to get even longer walks in on the weekend. I’m stretching and lifting weights, and for the past two weeks, I’ve been doing 20/4 intermittent fasting. I joined Dy Ann Parham’s month-long “For Today’s Aging Women” course and am learning a ton not only about IF (Intermittent Fasting) but also about hormones, additives, food macros, etc. The beauty of her course is that she doesn’t tell you what to eat or prescribe a plan, you can be Paleo, Vegan, whatever – her philosophy is we need to figure that part out for ourselves because every body is different and every lifestyle is different. Instead she focuses on benefits of fasting and education around food and mindset. I love it and two weeks in I’m feeling great! I actually feel better now at 45 than I did at 35!

To make my training walks more interesting I started picking a coffee shop I’ve never been to that’s at least 1.5 miles away and then making a route to walk there. When I get to the coffee shop I always order an Americano (espresso in hot water – so I don’t break my fast) and then walk a different route back if possible. There are so many coffee shops in Atlanta it will take me a while to visit all the ones within walking distance of me…LOL!

Today’s Training Route

During today’s training walk I suddenly had an idea. I should take pictures of the coffee shops I visit and then write a short blog post to chronicle my training walks as well as where I’ve been and whether or not I liked their coffee. So here goes!

Today I started from WeWork on 725 Ponce, walked the Beltline to Piedmont Park, walked the park loop, and then stopped at Caribou Coffee on 10th & Piedmont. I ordered a small Americano which cost around $3 and for the first time since starting these types of walks, I actually didn’t finish it. I was kinda bummed about that, but it had some sort of plastic taste to it that I just couldn’t place – maybe it was something in the machine? Not sure, but I wasn’t a fan. Service was great though and it’s location so close to the park was really nice. I may try them again in the future to see if maybe this was just a fluke. I took the Beltline back to WeWork.

Coffeehouse: Caribou Coffee (Americano, $3)
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Total distance: 3.86 miles
Total time: 1:32 (including coffee stop)

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