Homer's Travels: Why Is It So Hard ... (Boo Hoo)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why Is It So Hard ... (Boo Hoo)

I want to know why short training hikes seem so much harder than doing a long training hike or even multiple stages along the Camino?  It's one of my life's little mysteries.

I really noticed it this month (though it's not a new phenomenon).  In July I hiked seven training hikes - all but one were greater than ten miles and over half were greater than fifteen miles.  In August I switched to the new shoes I'll be wearing on the Camino next month and, knowing you should always break in new shoes before going on long hikes, I cut the length of my training hikes, reducing them to the six to eight mile range.  Now, I want someone to explain to me why those six to eight mile hikes are more difficult to do than the fifteen to sixteen miles hikes.  I feel just as tired after these short hikes as I do after the long.  I do recover faster but during the hikes I feel like I'm struggling.

I said this wasn't a new phenomenon.  It was one of the reasons I was nervous before my first Camino.  After doing a training hike I didn't feel like I could wake up the next day and hike again.  The nerves turned out to be unfounded.  The Camino proved, if you fool yourself into thinking that the only way home was to get to your destination (even when this really wasn't true), you could get up every morning for almost 36 days straight and walk fourteen miles plus, with a backpack, and end most days with a smile on your face.

So what is it?  Is it physical? Is it psychological?  I always hoped, as I continued to train, that walking would become easier.  It's isn't happening.  Each hike is tough.  Each hike is mentally draining.  Why was the Camino so much "easier"  - I use this term is the loosest possible way - than these once or twice a week training hikes?  The only theory I can think of is the novelty of the Camino.  The new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, the new people I met, they all distracted me from the strain of the hiking.

If this theory is correct will my second Camino be harder?  Only ten of the forty-one stages will be new.  The others will be the same as my first Camino (though I will be stopping in new places along the Camino).

Another thing to worry about ... Boo Hoo.


  1. oh oh oh!! I've read about this in Dan Ariely's predictably irrational. He discusses the point of physical and psychological tolerance. Apparently taking breaks between a task makes it more difficult/pleasureable depending on the task I guess. So a continuous hike like the Camino is less strenuous than a shorter hike because your brain goes "Oh but we were done!" There's a lot more to it, but essentially the point is you should be fine for the Camino. :)

    1. Miss McC: I feel educated. Thank you for the insight :-)