Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hitting the Wall

In endurance sports such as cycling and running - hitting the wall describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles - which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins - maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances or by reducing exercise intensity.

Although we are not running or cycling - we are doing endurance walking or trekking. Today I had the dubious pleasure (?) of hitting the wall. Today was a test hike of El Camino de los Santos.  The first part of the trek to Saint Mary Church went well - the return trek not as well.  At 13 miles or 21 kilometers - I had to call it quits. I suddenly lost all energy - began to have visual issues - did not feel well.

Failure? - not really - that is why we refer to these treks as "training" walks.  This is how we learn what to do - how to take corrective action - how to avoid issues. It is through these experiences here at home that we can prepare ourselves for the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Too often - we read in various forums and Camino groups - of those who trained poorly - hit the wall - and returned home disappointed at their failure.  Better to fail - learn and correct - here at home - than to fail in Spain.
What I learned - 1) have breakfast - today I started walking on an empty stomach - serious error - 2) take a lunch break and actually eat - I did take a break but only ate a handful of grapes - 3) drink water and take electrolyte replacements - I drank plenty of water - but only plain water.  Lessons learned - nutrition is not just a word but an action - I need to plan better and not short-cut on nutrition.

In spite of hitting the wall - today was a great experience.  We made the trek to Saint Mary in approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes which had us walking at 2.75 miles per hour and within our estimate of 3½ hours. Once we arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe - we relaxed - removed our socks - ate our lunch (as little as it was) - drank water - and spent time in prayer.

 Dale Walking the Rosary

 Arlene Praying at Shrine 

One thing we learned today is that the bricks at the Shrine are layed out so that a Rosary encircles the Shrine - so Dale "walked" the Rosary in his bare feet - the pavers were cool under foot - walking on pavers had a "pilgrimage" feel.  Arlene found a spot where she spent her time in private prayer - kneeling on the paver blocks - another "pilgrimage" feel. This is a nice Shrine - plenty of room for many people. A place to relax and sit - to meditate - to eat a light lunch - to connect to God. 

Thirty minutes later we resumed our trek back to our starting point. We did not complete that part - we fell about 4 miles short - still we walked a little over 13 miles - about 21 kilometers - and over all a good training walk - our longest walk to date.  We still have about six weeks before we leave - six weeks to continue training - six weeks to better learn our limits - six weeks to learn our capabilities - six weeks to contemplate El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Buen Camino
Dale and Arlene 


  1. 13 miles is still a great accomplishment and stepping stone for your camino. as you've learned, and i have as well when hiking at elevation here in CO, nutrition is key! have to fuel the engine properly or quits on you. but like you mentioned, that's what training is for... learning these tricks before you're in spain! keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Brookelyn - yes - at first I was disappointed but looking at what we learned and keeping it in perspective is encouraging. It is kind of like doing a half-marathon. Did you see ethe post about walking in Saw Wa Kee Park? That was a good experience also - have to get back there and spend more time on those hills.
      Deacon Dale