I had a wonderful 2 part holiday recently.  The first wodge was spent walking 6 days on the Camino in the north of Spain, followed by one week at the beach.

Apart from enjoying the beautiful views and walks, here are some reflections that I had after my journey.

1. Keep focused on the end goal – relax and let go

In Galicia, where I started walking, every 150 metres or so, there were signs saying how far we were from Santiago.

This of course is helpful so you can see how far you have to go.  What is not helpful is what I did on the first day, which was to check every single sign.

Each time, I was bitterly disappointed by how little distance I had covered.  (are we there yet, are we there yet, have I only walked 500 metres?!!), and it actually made the walk feel longer and more difficult.

Keep your eye focused on where you want to get to and enjoy the walk.

2. Every day is different – release your expectations

There was one particular day which was a relatively short day in terms of Camino walking (18km) so I thought that I would find it easy-ish.  Instead I found it incredibly tough, and it seemed to take forever.

Another day, which was my longest day, and which I had been dreading, was not nearly as tough as I thought it would be.

I tried to let go of any expectations of how easy or difficult it would be, and just be in the moment.

3. It takes as long as it takes

I’m not a particularly fast walker, but I had presumed that I would be walking roughly the same distance per hour as I did at home.

The terrain was never particularly challenging but for some reason, it took a lot longer than I thought.  So I learnt to let go of my expectations of how fast I should be going, and I get there when I get there.

4. It’s ok to be scared

Before I left, I had had a couple of injuries which meant I hadn’t been able to do as much practice as I would have liked.  This meant that I had concerns about whether or not I would be able to manage the distances.

The longest day of walking was 25km, and I really was worried about whether or not I could complete it.

At the start of this day, I did some tapping – I tapped on being scared I wouldn’t be able to complete it, worried about old injuries stopping me walking – so whatever came into my mind.

And as I was walking if I was feeling challenged or scared at any time, I just tapped away.  (btw, you can do virtual tapping where you visualise tapping on the different points – it works really well).

I also gave thanks along the way to my body for supporting me and allowing to walk this amazing path.

No injuries and I completed the day….. see more below

5. Listen to your body – when you do, you will be rewarded

The day I mentioned above was a particularly cold, wet day, and towards the end, with a few km to go, I could feel that my calf muscle was incredibly tight.  It was so tight that I thought it might snap.

So, we stopped, I gave it a massage, thanked my body again, and just slowed down my pace to what felt manageable for me.

We eventually got to our destination and I had a very long hot bath and massaged my calf for a very long time.  Gradually I could feel it loosening.

After a good night’s sleep and rest, my leg was restored and off we went again.

6. Use all the supports that are available to you

I have a particular knee issue which dates back to a fall I had a few years ago.  Most of the time, it is fine, but I did have concerns that it would flare up.

So, I wore a knee support all the time.  Maybe I didn’t need it but it was a comfort to know that I had that extra bit of support on my journey.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others

There is always going to be someone who is faster or slower than you.  Or who is walking a much longer distance.

I was particularly impressed by a woman who was doing the Camino with her grandson.  En route, she had had an injury, and she was now walking with a crutch.

Her attitude was to let her grandson do his own thing, and that she would do as much as she could during any given day and that was enough.  Plus she took lots of painkillers!

People pass you out, and you will pass people out, that’s just the way it is.  Everyone goes at their own pace.

8. First impressions aren’t always right

We arrived at one particular destination which was described as a village.  My first impression was not that great and I said, ‘it’s not a village, it’s a crossroads!’  I had completely written it off.

But we duly had a little explore and discovered some interesting gems – a beautiful 15th century church and as well as an interesting sculpture garden.

I had been far too hasty in my judgements.

9. It’s ok to ask for quiet time

We met lots of people on the way.  Sometimes you would get to walk and chat for a bit, and sometimes, they would just wish you Buen Camino.

And people were very upfront about when they had enough talking.  They’d say something like ‘I want to walk on my own now’ or something similar.

It wasn’t personal, they had had enough of this interaction and they either wanted time on their own or to go at their pace.

As I am mainly more introvert than extrovert, I do find that I need more space and quiet time away from others.  It was refreshing to see people be so upfront.

And it saves so much time and bother!

10. I’m stronger than I think

We arrived in Santiago di Compastela with me having walked 120km (hubby had done a lot more).

I had done it.  Achieved my goal.

I thought that I would have been completely knackered and not want to walk ever again.

But I felt that I actually could have kept on going for another while yet.  Once you get into the rhythm of it, you can keep on going – and you can go a lot further than you think.

And finally….

11. Reward your achievements

We arrived in Santiago in the morning so we were in time for the Pilgrim’s mass at mid-day.  I’m not particularly religious but it was a lovely way to mark the end of the journey, and celebrate and acknowledge our achievements.

Plus we had booked into a very nice hotel as our reward for all our walking.  Bliss!

So that’s it.

People have also been asking me about some practicalities about walking the Camino.

I have done up a couple of notes so if you would like me to send it on to you, please email me at info@grainnemoneill.com and I will forward them on to you.

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