I started 2020 training to run in a 24 hours race. It was the first one ever organized in Valencia and it seemed like a good opportunity – no travel, no extra costs, no extra time to get there and back home. Alas, the pandemic changed this, so the race was postponed indefinitely.
I didn’t take this very well, to be honest.
So, when the first relaxation measures started to apply, I decided I do to something about it. Introducing Camino de Santiago. I wrote quite a lot about the experience (here’s a typical day on Camino de Santiago, if you’re looking for the short version), so I’m not going to describe it again. Instead, I’m going to do a very short recap of the year in terms of fitness.
As you can see from the picture above, I ended with an average of 11.3 km / day. That makes a decent total of 4124.5 km for the entire year. Not bad.
A little bit more than 10% of this – about 460km – was walked on various Camino attempts (because there were two, mind you, and only one succeeded, obviously). I also covered a little more than 600 km running, but it was clearly a year in which running wasn’t the most important activity. Walking was. I walked more than 3500 km in 2020.
As expected, there was quite a drastic imbalance in the time spent on these activities. In March / April / May I barely moved from my house, because lockdown. I was out only once a week, walking to the supermarket and back, less than 1 km. I tried a few tricks, like running on the roof of the building I’m living in, or inside the apartment, but none of them succeeded. So, I just had to make peace with the fact that I moved, on average, less than 1 km / day in April.
But in August things reverted heavily. Between half July and the end of August I had 3 days with more than 42 km walked each (that’s more than a marathon), with one of them packing 48km. On average, on Camino I walked around 32 km / day, finishing a 14 days route in just 11.
There was obviously something working very well with this walking routine, because I lost about 8 kg in the process. Because it happened so fast, I even had sagging skin problems (something that I never thought I will experience my own), but these problems disappeared after the first couple of months of cold showers in the morning (more on that in a future post). I had to buy new clothes and face the surprise of people who knew me before the pandemic – some of them literally not recognizing me anymore. Happy to report that my weight is staying at the same level (cutting out almost completely in sugar and carbohydrates may have had something to do with this as well, I reckon).
While it’s true that the bulk of the walking was done in one month, let’s not minimize the impact of the remaining 10 months. I didn’t have any month with less than 10 km / day, on average. Once you get into a minimal shape, the physical challenge is not that big, to be honest, but the logistical one is. If you plan to walk at least 14km / day (which I did in 3 months), you need to put aside at least 3 hours every day.
So I had to do some heavy refactoring of my working routine. In the morning I would walk 1-2 km to the place I was working from (a coworking space or a coffee shop). After that, I would take a 30 minutes walking break around 11:00, for another 2-3 km, and then, at noon, head back home for lunch. That way I was already at 5-6km before lunch. After the second part of the day, starting with 6-7 PM, I was doing the longest part: 9-10km, usually in one go, either by walking to the beach and back, or on various parts of the old town in Valencia (or the Turia park). I seldom listened to music, just walked and enjoying the scenery.
Another consistent part of my fitness activities (not showing up in the picture) was my morning yoga. I’ve been doing yoga almost every day for the last 4-5 years and it’s now part of my auto-pilot morning routine. I just do it, like I brush my teeth. A standard routine consists in about 30 minutes of asanas, from sun salutation to headstand, but there are days in which I’m doing just the sun salutation. Done slowly, it takes between 7 and 9 minutes. So, on top of that walking / running stuff, I should add an average of 15 minutes of yoga every morning. This routine helps me mostly with flexibility and balance and it’s a very important part of my day.
Looking back, it was a good year. The suppressing months (March / April / May) acted like a spring: instead of knocking me down, they just accumulated energy, building a lot of momentum for the explosion in July / August. The same pattern followed in other areas of my life too, especially the emotional part: the confinement months weren’t great at all, but what followed after that was exhilarating (and liberating).
More on that, perhaps, in another post, though.